One more headache for Musharraf: Nawaz Sharif is coming back

According to a special report of the Guardian [11/24/07], ‘ Ahsan Iqbal, a spokesman for Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-N party, said the Saudis … “don’t want Saudi Arabia to become an election issue in Pakistan. They conveyed to Nawaz Sharif that there’s no reason why we should keep him.” So Sharif has to go somewhere. He is returning to Pakistan, as if to again challenge Musharraf to throw him out again, as he did only a few weeks ago. One more development putting pressure on Musharraf. We keep wondering how Musharraf can rule when there are so many indications of his general unpopularity among the Pakistani people and of the outright opprobrium of the international community. That he persists says something about his pride; it also reveals something about the ability of an organized, disciplined army to stay in power. Musharraf is the face of the army, which is now and has always been a crucial player if not the one most crucial player in Pakistani politics. These affairs expose how preposterous is his claim that he has to crack down on the middle class in order get control of the extreme Islamist elements in his country. For here it looks like his problems with those elements are a creation of his own willingness to play with fire, to tolerate such radical elements while appearing to be a leader in the “war on terror”.