Maybe President Musharraf of Pakistan is made of sterner stuff than I supposed this past Friday. A crackdown on his political opposition has apparently been underway this past weekend. The Guardian reports that the police are detaining "hundreds of activists." The Prime Minister admits to forty or so detentions, calling these people a "threat to law and order."
It seems unlikely that this is in response to Mr. BinLaden's recent call for jihad. Probably, this has been in the works for awhile.
Some demonstrators tried to hold a rally in front of the Pakistani Supreme Court, complete with stone-throwing, and slogan shouting: (e.g. "the US government hired a dog in uniform."). Naturally, the police arrested some of them.
Meanwhile, the Pakistani Supreme Court, which, if it can't follow the election returns, can certainly follow the movements of the police -- has dismissed three legal challenges to the re-election bid of President Musharraf, because they were "filed too late." The Court is still weighing other challenges, including a challenge to the President's dual role as army chief and President. I wonder if the President is going to assist the Court in this process ?
The US embassy in Pakistan is shocked, absolutely shocked at all these developments, mind you: calling the crackdown "extremely disturbing" and saying that the detainees "should be released as soon as possible." Perhaps this release will be possible before the Presidential elections there, than again, perhaps not.
So how is the fix in ? Certainly there is one, the question is, which way does it break ? Have the President's fellow generals signed-off on a new term for President Musharraf ? The Army has pretty much run Pakistan for most of its existence, (and its senior leaders do quite well out of that, thank you) and it seems unlikely that the President could retain his seat without at least the acquiescence of the generals. Probably they could not settle on a successor among themselves anyway. In the short run, this is probably the least-bad outcome: but this stores-up serious problems for the future.
Less likely: President Musharraf has made a deal with some of his civilian opponents ? That's pure speculation, but one would think that this will be necessary at some point. The problem for Pakistan's military leaders is that the civilian politicans and bosses -- crowded out of all the good political jobs by the need to find positions and perks for army bigwigs -- in general have no use for the generals.