Thursday, August 09, 2007

Forget Hillary: Obama's Musharraf Matchup

If Barack Obama thought running against the former First Lady was hard, he now finds himself in a tougher contest with the old pro, Pervez Musharraf.

The President of Pakistan, beleaguered to the point of negotiating a power-sharing arrangement with his arch rival, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, is hinting at declaring a state of emergency because of “internal and external threats” to his country.

Explaining the “external threats,” his Minister of Information claims that Obama’s statement last week about going after Al Qaeda "has started alarm bells ringing and has upset (the) Pakistani public."

Musharraf himself is so upset that he changed his mind about attending a meeting this week with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and tribal leaders to discuss ways of cleaning out extremist strongholds on both sides of their borders.

Today Senator Obama tried to reassure him: "President Musharraf has a very difficult job, and it is important that we are a constructive ally with them in dealing with al-Qaeda."

If Obama thought Hillary Clinton was playing hardball, he may not have been ready for Musharraf, who has played political games with the Bush Administration for years and managed to hold down his own militants, at least until now.

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