Why has Musharraf failed so dramatically to stop the insurgency? One reason is that most of the public is hostile to government action against the extremists (and the rest offer tepid support at best). Most Pakistanis see the militants as America’s enemy, not their own. The Taliban is perceived as the only group standing up against the unwelcome American presence in the region. Some forgive the Taliban’s excesses because it is cloaked in the garb of religion. Pakistan, they reason, was created for Islam, and the Taliban is merely asking for Pakistan to be more Islamic. Even normally vocal, urban, educated Pakistanis — those whose values and lifestyles would make them eligible for decapitation if the Taliban were to succeed in taking the cities — are strangely silent. Why? Because they see Musharraf and the Pakistan army as unworthy of support, both for blocking the path to democracy and for secretly supporting the Taliban as a means of countering Indian influence in Afghanistan.
This is an excellent article on how the Pakistanis military’s long hold on power has created a situation where the Talibanization of Pakistan is tolerated even by the people who have a lot to lose from it. He has to step away and let Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto fight it out, but I don’t see it happening unless he loses control of the army.
While on the subject of Pakistan, this blog post by Samia Altaf summarizes the hollowness of Pakistan’s “democracy”. Bhutto and Sharif have, in their past incarnations, been about as corrupt and reliant on the army as Musharraf is. So, are they good alternatives to Musharraf? Not really.