STEVE INSKEEP, host:

And we are going next to Pakistan, where Pervez Musharraf's political opponents appear to have gotten their way. The ruler who's dominated Pakistan since 1999 says he'll submit his resignation, and by doing so, he avoids being impeached by the opposition leaders who control Pakistan's parliament.

We're going to Fasi Zaka. He's a TV and radio journalist in Pakistan. Welcome to the program once again.

Mr. FASI ZAKA (TV and Radio Journalist): Thank you very much.

INSKEEP: Why didn't Musharraf fight this impeachment, as his supporters said he was going to do?

Mr. ZAKA: Well, largely because most of his allies had been fairly mum on the degree of support they would give to him. And the tide generally between -there was a resolution passed on all four provincial assemblies that urged him to quit, and that showed a degree of defection from legislators who were previously known to be loyal to Musharraf.

So, to some degree, that gave him an indication of the writing on the wall that had they gone ahead, he would've found himself more and more isolated.

INSKEEP: Mr. Zaka, I suppose we should take a moment to recognize what a slow process this has been. It's been far more than a year since Musharraf lost much of his political support. It's been many months since Musharraf lost an election and knew he was facing opponents in parliament. And then he finally gives the speech and I believe he spoke for more than 50 minutes before finally coming out with the news. What was he saying in that 50 minutes?

Mr. ZAKA: Well, actually, to a degree, the speech had everyone in tenterhooks, because the first 40 minutes was - or the first 30 minutes was a very defiant tone that spoke of his achievements, that spoke of the need for reconciliation. And then it took a U-turn right after that, which started to say that he was thinking in the larger interests of the nation, that if he even defeated the impeachment charges, his position as head of state would no longer be tenable because he would be at loggerheads with the government.

So, in that period, he described everything that had happened to Pakistan in the past nine years, which was economic growth, which was a degree of foreign investment that came in, the sort of cultural opening within the country. But crucially, in his speech, whether it was at the point where he was resigning, he didn't own up to much. But he ignored the major issues that had turned the population against him, first of which was deposing judges who were popular for having a degree of integrity. The second of which was increasing his military operations in the province of Baluchistan and the NWFP in the tribal areas, which has created a significant degree of homegrown terrorism, which is directed at our own state. And...

INSKEEP: Well, that leads to another question, if I might. Has Pakistan lost a lot during these many months of delays and political negotiations?

Mr. ZAKA: Well, yes. But at one point where there is some credibility to what Musharraf is saying is that the new government at this stage has proven to be spectacularly inept in getting together and directing - and charting a course for the country. For a lot of people, the question right now is that, you know, what next? Because there is no vision post the Musharraf resignation for the present government.

Because it was serving to be as an excuse that he became the scapegoat, that he had basically made them unable to carry out their role. Once he's gone, there's still a lot of questions open in that what kind of consolidation will happen to make sure that our economic plight is reversed, that the militancy that's homegrown now, that is addressed. These are still major questions that whether or not he resigned had little bearing on because those questions had to be actually addressed prior to his impeachment.

INSKEEP: We've just got about 10 seconds, but Americans will be wondering if there's any leader in Pakistan that they can work with.

Mr. ZAKA: Well, to a great degree, most leaders in Pakistan are very pragmatic and they realize that, you know, American support is crucial. So there are a number of leaders, but the question is how well do they step up to the leadership vacuum that we're facing right now.

INSKEEP: Mr. Zaka, thanks very much.

Mr. ZAKA: Thank you very much.

INSKEEP: Fasi Zaka is a television and radio journalist in Pakistan. We've heard him a number of times, his insights on what's happening there. Pervez Musharraf has resigned, telling his country in an address, I hope the nation and the people will forgive my mistakes.

This is NPR News.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.