In an eventful day, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf appointed his successor as army chief, even as Pakistan’s opposition quit Parliament for his seeking re-election as President while holding the post of chief of army staff.
In yet another move the Pakistan government has dropped various corruption charges against former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, according to this report.
Gen. Ashfaq Kiani, a former intelligence chief, will become vice chief of the army on Monday but will take the top job of chief of the army only after Musharraf vacates it, according to a report by the Associated Press.
This may be a tactical move by Musharraf ahead of his re-election bid on October 6. By indicating his successor, he hopes to deflect criticism from the opposition about his holding two posts, and makes it easier for him to do a deal with Bhutto. However his opponents want him to quit his army post ahead of the election.
Bhutto may also be doing a terrible political mistake in cutting a deal with Musharraf. For one, Musharraf is seeking re-election from a parliament and provincial councils that are due for re-election this year, and are packed with Musharraf’s cronies. The opposition has been demanding that the election of the President should be after the Parliament election.
Also by leaving another Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif out of the new dispensation, Musharraf is confirming that his new avatar is not genuine, but only reflects his aim to continue cling to power. Sharif is currently in political exile in Saudi Arabia.
Being exonerated of corruption charges by a President who took over in a coup will not also help Bhutto’s image. She may prefer to fight it out in court instead, rather than be seen to be in debt to Musharraf.