Pakistan’s Musharraf Faces Biggest Challenge to His Rule Yet

Pakistan’s Musharraf Faces Biggest Challenge to His Rule Yet

Grossly unpopular and legally questionable changes to the constitution didn't do it. Neither did a farcical referendum to secure legitimacy, nor festering resentment over the economic and social woes that plague the Pakistani population. Instead, Pakistanis have united in a vocal groundswell of opposition to President Pervez Musharraf due to the suspension of a judge -- a rather routine political technique in Pakistan that has unexpectedly morphed into a nightmare of historic proportions for the leader.

It should have been a simple bait and switch.

Musharraf's goal was to remove an authority figure ill-disposed to acquiescence in the general's leadership whims and find a more pliable replacement. The result has been months of growing protests, government crackdowns, deadly chaos on the streets of Pakistan's largest city, and nationwide strikes -- all amounting to the single biggest challenge to Musharraf's rule since he seized power in 1999.

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