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Friday, 25 January, 2002, 19:06 GMT
Analysis: Musharraf's intentions for democracy
President Musharraf
General Musharraf now prefers a civilian image
Owen Bennett Jones

When General Musharraf grasped power in 1999 he said he would rule for three years and then step down.

Now he says he needs much longer to put Pakistan on the path to recovery.

We have had elected governments which did nothing for the betterment of the country

General Musharraf's spokesman
Under heavy international pressure President Musharraf has announced a 'road map' for the return to democracy.

His plans allow for national elections this October.

But it is increasingly clear that the people who will be elected in the autumn will have little or no power.

Controlled democracy

"These are not elections. They are just for the international world to see that the people are putting in a vote," said Tehmina Daultana who used to be a minister in the government that was overthrown by General Musharraf's coup.

Pakistani troops
The army cannot be ignored in Pakistani politics

Like many politicians she believes the president is hoping to create a system of managed or controlled democracy.

While some politicians are demanding the restoration of full democracy in Pakistan, others are accommodating themselves to the fact the army will continue to hold most of the power after the elections.

"Whether its legal or constitutional is a different matter," said former President Farooq Leghari.

"But we do need stability and order."

Blaming the generals

The army has ruled Pakistan for half the country's existence.

Even in times of civilian rule, senior generals have played a decisive political role behind the scenes.

Benazir Bhutto
Bhutto faces arrest if she goes home

Privately, senior officers admit that if Pakistan is a failed state, the generals must take much of the blame.

But General Musharraf is convinced he can do better than his predecessors.

His spokesmen, General Rashid Qureshi, does not deny that the army will play a leading role after the elections.

"Pakistan needs a sort of guidance," he said.

"We have had elected governments which did nothing for the betterment of the country."

Pakistan's two most prominent politicians, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, are both in exile.

Ms Bhutto shuttles between London and Dubai while Mr Sharif lives in Saudi Arabia.

It is thought unlikely that either will return for the election campaign.

Both face a whole series of corruption charges and could be arrested if they returned to Pakistan.

See also:

12 Jan 02 | South Asia
Pakistan to regulate religious schools
12 Jan 02 | South Asia
Analysis: Musharraf's gamble
12 Jan 02 | South Asia
Musharraf speech highlights
04 Jan 02 | Americas
Powell urges Pakistan to do more
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