Secretary Rice put on her kid gloves with Musharraf today:
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Thursday praised Pakistan’s progress in instituting democratic reforms leading to elections in 2007 and its cooperation in the war on terrorism.
“This is not the Pakistan of Sept. 11. It is not even the Pakistan of 2002,” Rice said at a news conference.
The top U.S. diplomat gave no indication that she pressed President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup, about giving up his control of the armed forces, a longstanding U.S. demand.
Asked about Musharraf’s status, Rice declined to answer, focusing instead on the country’s move toward reform.
Rice is correct, Pakistan has changed since 2002. Here’s an update on the “democratic reforms” Musharraf has instituted recently, from the State Department’s Human Rights Report:
In December 2003, the National and Provincial Assemblies passed the 17th Amendment to the Constitution. The Amendment transfers a number of powers from the Office of Prime Minister to the President, affirms Musharraf’s presidency through 2007, sets the terms under which the President could dissolve the National Assembly, and exempts Musharraf from a prohibition on holding two offices of state until the end of the year, allowing him to remain as Chief of Army Staff. In October, over opposition protests, Parliament passed another bill that exploits a loophole in the Constitution to extend the exemption until 2007. The judiciary was nominally independent but remained subject to corruption and political pressure.