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Well, This Is Awkward

Author: Daniel S. Markey, Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia
April 25, 2013
Foreign Policy

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Nearly five years ago, as the reign of Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf was nearing its end, opposition leader Nawaz Sharif stood before a crowd of tens of thousands of supporters in Islamabad and thundered, "Is hanging only for politicians?" Then he added, for emphasis, ''These blood-sucking dictators must be held accountable!'' The crowd responded with a boisterous chant of "Hang him! Hang him! Hang him!"

At the time, Sharif's hostility toward Musharraf was one of the main reasons then-U.S. President George W. Bush's administration worried about the former prime minister's political resurgence. Would Sharif be content to settle scores only with Musharraf, the man, or would he extend his vengeance to Musharraf's military and its American backers as well? As it turned out, those questions went unanswered; Sharif's political power was eclipsed by the Pakistan People's Party led by Asif Ali Zardari, soon to be president, and Musharraf resigned from office and slipped out of the country before a legal noose could tighten around his neck.

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