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Zakaria: Raw power and self-interest in Pakistan

  • Story Highlights
  • Zakaria says things look bad for Musharraf to stay in power in Pakistan
  • Political maneuvers in Pakistan are Machiavellian, he says
  • Zakaria says stability in government will help in war on terror
  • "Anti-Musharraf feeling has become anti-U.S. feeling. It's a difficult balancing act"
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Editor's note: Fareed Zakaria is a preeminent foreign affairs analyst and hosts "Fareed Zakaria: GPS" on CNN at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.

Fareed Zakaria says things look bad for Musharraf after Pakistan's ruling coalition said it will move to impeach him.

Fareed Zakaria says things look bad for Musharraf after Pakistan's ruling coalition said it will move to impeach him.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The head of Pakistan's ruling coalition announced Thursday that the government will move to impeach President Pervez Musharraf.

Before pursuing impeachment proceedings, Pakistani lawmakers will demand Musharraf take a vote of confidence in the newly elected Parliament, which he had vowed to do last year.

Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 bloodless military coup, has seen his power erode significantly since he stepped down as the country's military ruler last year and since the opposition parties' victory in February's parliamentary elections.

CNN spoke to world affairs expert and author Fareed Zakaria about these developments.

CNN: Is President Musharraf of Pakistan doomed?

Zakaria: Things look bad for him. Musharraf had managed to stay in power and get himself another term in office by essentially rewriting Pakistan's Constitution and putting a new and compliant judiciary in place.

For a while, it seemed as if this might work because as part of the terms of his new constitutional setup, he had given amnesty to Benazir Bhutto, her family and her associates, who won the recent election.

So they had little incentive when they came to power to restore the judiciary, because it would be the restoration of the cases against them. Bhutto's widower and Musharraf found that, on this issue, they had identical interests.

The problem was that Musharraf had become extremely unpopular and the cause of restoring the judiciary had grown into a large movement with mass support, and the most important political leader in Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, has adopted the cause.

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CNN: So what does this mean?

Zakaria: There will probably be some complicated deal in which the old judges come back but the new ones, whom Musharraf appointed to rubber-stamp his constitution, will not be asked to leave. As a result, the new pro-Musharraf judges will still be in a majority, and -- the crucial point -- they will not restore the corruption cases against the Bhutto family and associates.

What's going on in Pakistan is all being spoken in the language of liberty, democracy and the rule of law. Underneath it is raw power and naked self-interest. It's like something out of Machiavelli.

CNN: Will this help or hurt the war against the Islamic militants?

Zakaria: Anything that produces greater political stability in Pakistan will help. But how to tackle the jihadis is a separate matter.

When I was in Pakistan earlier this year, I was struck by the fact that no one really knew what to do about this new terrorism. Some advocated more troops, others -- like Imran Khan on our program this week -- passionately argued for political dialogue.

I tend to believe that there hasn't been enough political dialogue and efforts to win over the communities in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Right now the military is running those areas, and they aren't particularly good at that kind of thing. That's politics.

CNN: What should the United States do?

Zakaria: Let the process work itself out without getting too involved. The U.S. is seen by Pakistanis as having backed Musharraf for far too long and in too unqualified a manner.

Once he effected an extra-constitutional coup last year, Washington should have pulled back. But it didn't. And now anti-Musharraf feeling has become anti-U.S. feeling. It's a difficult balancing act. Musharraf was good for Pakistan and for America. But like many dictators, he didn't know when his time was up.

CNN: Will more U.S. troops and a more aggressive policy help?

Zakaria: A policy that pays more attention to what's going on there will help. But more troops and more military responses might not. Remember, the tribal areas of Pakistan have been ungoverned for hundreds of years.

Just sending American troops in there, especially without coordination with Pakistan, would be a recipe for failure. But a genuinely political and military approach might succeed over time.

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