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Musharraf's Smiling Ultimatum

The Hindu reports that Musharraf has convened a meeting among his top aids and officials to deal with the new developments that suggest the PPP/PML-N coalition is bounding toward impeachment and the reinstating of supreme court judges Musharraf sacked.

Pushed to the backfoot after the PPP-PML decision to reinstate the deposed judges, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf on Monday said relations with the new government will be "cordial" and asked the parties to "avoid confrontations" with state institutions.

A high-level meeting chaired by Musharraf at his camp office in Rawalpindi decided to have "smooth and cordial relations" with the new parliament and government and not to adopt a confrontational approach, official sources were quoted as saying by Dawn News channel.

Like his January invitation to the brother of rival Nawaz Sharif to join the government, Musharraf is making overtures of 'playing nice.' Such 'cordial' conduct is unlikely as the first task of the new government appears the reinstatement of judges, a sure confrontation. Musharraf is not negotiating from a position of power.

The winning parties should "avoid confrontations with the state institutions" and "let the system run in accordance with the constitution," sources quoted the President as saying.

But the coalition will almost certainly not be swooned away from the reinstitution of the Pak Supreme Court justices.

Push will soon come to shove and perhaps the above is Musharraf's smiling ultimatum. The question is whether Musharraf will ultimately go quietly, as he suggested previously. He does have other alternatives, none of them very palatable.

The dust stirs...