Amid so much uncertainty, the U.S. government may have no other choice but to more closely embrace Musharraf, said Steven Clemons, director of foreign policy programs for the New America Foundation.
Musharraf has received billions of dollars in U.S. aid to fight terrorism and is regarded by Bush as a key ally, despite the continued strength of al-Qaeda and other militant groups in Pakistan.
The Bush administration had hoped Bhutto could share power with Musharraf, pairing her democratic credentials with his military support. Now, Clemons said, "we're stuck" with Musharraf.
Continuing to support Musharraf has its perils for the United States, and could unsettle things in Pakistan even further. The former general's popularity has declined steadily since he seized power in a 1999 coup, and many Pakistanis are keen for democracy to return. Musharraf himself has been the target of several assassination attempts.
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