Pakistani president Musharraf should finally do what he vowed back in 1999, says Ahmed Rashid: return the government to democracy. H e's too weak to salvage his credibility after recent public protests , and if he can't maintain power, Islamic extremists will seize the opportunity instead. He should disavow his own candidacy and encourage free and fair elections.
The U.S. should support such a strategy—which would leave Musharraf's legacy intact and, by extension, save American political face for having championed him—Rashid says. "No matter what happens to President Pervez Musharraf—whether he survives politically or not—he is a lame duck," he writes. "He is unable to rein in Talibanization in Pakistan or guide the country toward a more democratic future."