Who Might Follow Musharraf in Pakistan?

Stephen P. Cohen
Stephen P. Cohen
Stephen P. Cohen Former Brookings Expert

November 17, 2007


For a deeper look at the politics behind President Musharraf’s strategy and tactics, we turn now to Stephen Cohen, a senior fellow in foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution and author of the book, The Idea of Pakistan.

Thanks very much for being with us.

Dr. STEPHEN COHEN (Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies, Brookings Institution): Good to be with you, Scott.

SIMON: And help us understand why President Musharraf has been so touchy about resigning from the army, it’s his base of power?

Dr. COHEN: Well, in Pakistan, the general assumption has always been that if you’re in uniform, you have power. And why this is so is clear because the army can depose whatever leader happens to be in power and has done this on three or four occasions.

SIMON: So if he was no longer head of the army, he thinks that he might become vulnerable to other members of the military who might be part of a coup to depose him, or a move to depose him if ever?

Dr. COHEN: He would say – he would rationalize it by saying that only by head of the army can he be an effective leader of Pakistan because the army has become, by default, one of the strongest, most coherent organizations in the country. It doesn’t mean it can run Pakistan well, but that’s the general assumption.

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