Pervez Musharraf is gripping not only Pakistan in a tight state of emergency, but also his allies in Washington, the New York Times reports. American officials are stuck monitoring developments as the US-backed military dictator threatens a shaky democracy and spurs civil unrest. Condoleezza Rice called Musharraf’s decision “highly regrettable,” but praised his earlier democratic efforts.
Washington has little choice but to support Musharraf, one expert explains: “They can’t just decide they’re going to blow off Pakistan, because it sits right next to Afghanistan.” But the US, which has given Pakistan more than $10 billion since 2001, may restrict further aid, Reuters reports. The White House is hoping for the best, but an expert calls the situation a “big embarrassment.”