Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf got himself elected president in a country where polls show Osama bin Laden is more popular than he is. Of course, the electorate in last week's balloting was confined to members of the national and regional legislatures. And, oh yes, opposition groups all refused to take part.
Even the U.S. Electoral College is more democratic than that. A recent survey found that the one thing Pakistanis want from their government more than anything else is the development of a system with free elections, a free press and an independent judiciary. Mr. Musharraf is trying to thread an especially tricky needle around that aspiration, and it's not at all clear the Pakistani people will, in the end, put up with it.
His war against al-Qaida in the autonomous Northwest Territories is unpopular, and his war against the Taliban, who were originally sponsored by Pakistan, even more so. Pakistanis view the fighting as "someone else's war," that someone else being George W. Bush, and the morale and effectiveness of the army are reportedly decaying. In August, for instance, more than 200 soldiers and officers surrendered to militants in South Waziristan without putting up a fight.