The aftermath of Benazir’s assassination will reverberate for a long time.
It will affect not only Pakistan but also its relations with other countries, notably the USA. The US will allow President Musharraf some time and gauge if he can ride out the storm that is to erupt in the next few days.
In case he manages to, he may be able to hold on for some more time. Knives will be out for Musharraf. However, they have been out before and he has managed to dodge them so far.
The biggest strike was after 9/11, but the wily dictator managed to summersault more than once in the air and from being an ardent supporter of Taliban managed to convince the US that Pakistan has turned a new leaf. It was a valuable ally in the war against terrorism, of course only so long as he was at the helm of affairs. Will he be able to keep the unrest that is bound to be unleashed in the next few days?
He has been predicting chaos if the emergency was lifted. That he did so most reluctantly, after continuous admonishing from the US, and world pressure, is obvious. He can very well say now ‘look I told you so’.
He can now reimpose the emergency with few questions asked by external pressure groups. He can even have an election after six months or even immediately.
Even if the elections are staged, With Benazir gone and Nawaz out of the race the Prime Minister so thrown up will be a nobody. This will fit in well with his plan for a sham democracy for show casing, and all powers vested in himself.
Of course, it will depend on Gen Kiyani, the COAS of Pakistan Army. He is the greatest beneficiary of the present circumstances.
If history of Pakistan is anything to go by, Gen Kiyani is in the shadows waiting for the drama to play out.
Musharraf must today be more scared of Gen Kiyani than any one else.