Was this good or was this bad? Perhaps both.
When Musharraf was the autocrat of Pakistan, he was good for The United States. But when he started to play politician, he became unreliable and undependable simply because he no longer controled all the levers of power in Pakistan. Add to this the intense opposition against him by various branches of the government, which did everything they could to stymie his efforts, and we get a situation that makes his cooperation with The United States difficult, if at all possible, and puts us in a position of supporting a man who has become useless.
Most supporters of Musharraf have been complaining that he veered off track soon after becoming the autocrat. They said, “He should be a general or a politician, not both.” In trying to be both, he essentially shot himself in the foot by opening himself up to being challenged, opposed, and taken down by forces he does not and cannot control. He should have stuck to being a general, with a puppet government and figurehead prime minister, while implementing those measures needed to make Pakistan stable and prosperous. Instead, he decided to usher in a wave of democracy, which brought him down.
This selfsame wave of democracy also moved Pakistan away from The United States. The people, who before had to simply accept Musharraf’s stance because they couldn’t do anything about it, began to express their disapproval of cooperating with The United States, and essentially began implementing measures and stances that hindered cooperation with The United States. In fact, the government of Pakistan turned from strenuously opposing militants to coddling and tolerating them, letting them take over key cities and areas rather then putting them down like it should have.
Having Musharraf in power also contributed to an environment of instability and uncertainty. The opposition to him was doing everything it could to unseat him, and we had no idea how successful they would be, or when they would try which trick, and what tricks would be next.
I hope that with Musharraf’s successor, attention to Pakistan’s military by Pakistanis will wane, allowing the military to take on more robust and active roles in flushing out the militants and preventing the establishment of a de facto Taliban mini-state in the North-West Frontier Province. With Musharraf out, critics cannot accuse the military of following Musharraf’s pro-American (and ostensibly anti-Islamic) policies. What is fortunate is that Kayani, the current head military guy, is our guy (or so it is believed). Without the intense public pressure, criticism, and opposition, maybe with the new president he’d be able to operate more freely.
Forging links with Kayani was a excellent decision by the Pentagon, and will help us move forward regardless of who is president of Pakistan. We cannot be tied down to one person, particularly a politician who, as such, is exposed to unpredictable maneuvers by opponents. I hope we are forging links with other military people so we can move forward regardless of unexpected circumstances that may befall Kayani.
In the end, Musharraf became useless, and part of this was his own fault. While democracy is good, there never has been democracy in Pakistan. It’s all a political game with dirty tricks, everyone manipulating (and even changing) the law to suit their needs and interests. There will never be resolution in Pakistan, and the government (and military) of Pakistan will always have to contend with militants. What we must prevent is Pakistan becoming an active supporter of militants, allowing them to use Pakistan as a base.