The Pakistani leader, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, declared a state of emergency on Saturday night, suspending the country’s Constitution, blacking out all independent television news reports and filling the streets of the capital with police officers and soldiers.
The move appeared to be an effort by General Musharraf to reassert his fading power in the face of growing opposition from the country’s Supreme Court, civilian political parties and hard-line Islamists. Pakistan’s Supreme Court was expected to rule within days on the legality of General Musharraf’s re-election last month as the country’s president, which opposition groups have said was improper.
The emergency declaration was in direct defiance of repeated calls this week from senior American officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, not to do so. A day earlier, the senior American military commander in the Middle East, Admiral William J. Fallon, told General Musharraf and his top generals in a meeting here that declaring emergency rule would jeopardize the extensive American financial support for the Pakistani military.
Ms. Rice personally intervened twice in the past four months to try to keep General Musharraf from imposing emergency rule, telephoning him at 2 a.m. Pakistani time in August. On Saturday, while traveling to Turkey for an Iraq security conference, she reinforced that message, saying, “I think it would be quite obvious that the United States wouldn’t be supportive of extra-constitutional means."
What's obvious is that the United States does not have that kind of clout, anymore. Indeed, as Richard Blair notes, the ironic truth is that U.S. attempts to control Musharraf by threatening to withhold support in the form of money and weapons are likely to result in the opposite outcome from the one intended: Musharraf is too well aware that care packages marked made in the USA are a curse not a blessing:
... Our support for Musharraf has clearly begun to alienate the citizenry from all things associated with the United States and it seems to be fueling a shift towards support for the radical Islamists…extremists who are increasingly seen by Pakistanis as an acceptable alternative to the continuation of a U.S. backed regime.
I suspect the U.S. threat to withhold monetary and military support rings hollow with Musharraf since he may well have calculated his only means to hold power is found in a suspension of the constitution and the cancellation of future democratic elections. If that supposition is accurate, the U.S. seems to have diminishing leverage…at least for the foreseeable future.
You can add that to the list of unintended consequences from Bush's Iraq policy.