Musharraf losing grip on power: study
May 18, 2007 - 12:20:48 PM

Washington/Lahore, May 18 - Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf is 'losing hold on power', and may yield the army chief's post to vice chief, Lt. Gen. Ahsan Salim Hayat, says a US-based study on Pakistan.

Strategic Foresight -, the Texas-based intelligence and strategic think tank that had done two studies on Pakistan recently, in its third study has named Hayat as the likely next army chief.

Hayat, who has worked with the US, is to visit Washington shortly with another top Pakistani general, Ehsanul Haq, Daily Times said quoting the Stratfor study.

The study perceives a 'shift' in the US attitude towards Musharraf, since it is heavily dependent on Pakistan in its anti-terror operations in Afghanistan and on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Stratfor says it is unlikely that one successor will hold both positions - head of state and chief of the army - because the domestic and international situation precludes the possibility of a military takeover of the country.

If Musharraf continues to try and tough it out, the growing unrest and violence in Pakistan could prompt corps commanders and agency heads to force him to step down, the study says.

'In such a situation, Senate Chairman Muhammadmian Soomro would become acting president and an interim prime minister would be appointed to lead a caretaker government. Such a government would then be tasked with holding new elections. The interim administration would be based more or less on a consensus between political forces and the military.'

In the long run it is in Washington's interest to see the military come under civilian control because such a government allows for relatively smooth transitions of power. But in the current circumstances, such a political dispensation could create hurdles in the path of ongoing counter terrorism cooperation because elected regimes are answerable to the masses, which in this case resent US foreign policy toward their region of the world.'

National Democratic Institute -, a human rights body based in Washington has recommended the situation in Pakistan could still be saved if Musharraf decided, 'as soon as possible' on dividing the two posts that he has been holding for long.

NDI had recently sent an international delegation to Pakistan headed by a former Canadian defence minister David Collenette.

'We have made our position clear that holding the posts of the president and the chief of the army in a democratic society is not acceptable,' Collenette told media after the team spent four days meeting people in Pakistan earlier this week.

The NDI report called for the setting up of a neutral caretaker cabinet in consultation with political parties and civil society and repeal of the law preventing anyone from serving as prime minister for more than two terms.

Meanwhile, Musharraf's likely political alliance with the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto is off, for the moment at least, in the wake of last week's Karachi violence that killed 48.

In an analysis based on interview with Bhutto, Christian Science Monitor - said a deal with Musharraf appeared 'dead'.

Bhutto said the killing of dozens of citizens in Karachi by a pro-government mob Saturday had shattered her interest in cooperating with Musharraf. 'With 42 people dead in Karachi, I just cannot envisage such a thing at this moment.'

Bhutto told CSM 'tempers are running so high' that she could not be part of any Musharraf's effort to forge an alliance with the moderates.

Musharraf also remains defiant in the face of criticism and adverse analysis for striking a deal with Bhutto.

He told Aaj TV Friday that both Bhutto and another exiled former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, cannot return till after the elections.

While some would have viewed the Bhutto-Musharraf deal as 'pragmatic,' others would have seen it as Bhutto blessing Musharraf's military dictatorship, effectively splintering opposition to the regime.

With the deal called off, the impact on the emergence of a united opposition would be 'dramatic,' the CSM report adds.

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