This could be a sign of real trouble:
President Pervez Musharraf may doff his uniform well before the presidential election to win the PPP's support and remove legal hitches that may invite the intervention of the Supreme Court.
A change of heart in this regard has taken place following meetings held by a Pakistani-American Shahid Ahmad Khan with top presidential aides. Khan, who has been in the capital for the last seven days, is an adviser to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on South Asia and had arrived in Pakistan as the pointman of John Kerry, who is heading this Senate Committee.
Both Shahid Khan and a legal adviser of Musharraf confirmed the strong possibility of the President shedding off the uniform before the polls. The legal adviser declared that the final decision would be made in the next three to four days. The president's spokesman, however, denied having any knowledge in this regard.
If Pakistan democratically elected a president who supported the US, it would be a welcome development -- and one Washington has encouraged. It seems that former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto will return to that country to seek a return to the office she once held. Bob Novak recently wrote about the attempt of the Bush administration to foster a rapprochement between the two rivals:
The Bush administration is the silent matchmaker for an unlikely political marriage of bitter opponents: President Musharraf and former Prime Minister Bhutto. The unstated U.S. goal is a democratic Pakistan, with the unpopular Musharraf retaining his presidency and the popular Bhutto returned to the prime minister's office, from which she twice was ousted by the military. Washington now views this as the means of making Pakistan a reliable, invaluable ally against worldwide terror.
Can Pakistan make the transition? And will there be additional comments from presidential candidates that may make it more difficult?