Light touch:

President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan faces daunting obstacles in his quest for another five-year term. The Bush administration has backed Musharraf as a pragmatic partner in a dangerous region. But the US would best serve its own and Pakistan’s interests by supporting the rules of the democratic game, not any particular party or candidate. Benazir Bhutto, the exiled former prime minister and leader of a key opposition party, justifies her recent efforts to negotiate a deal for political cooperation with Musharraf by acknowledging his moderation. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher, in Islamabad for talks with Musharraf, was properly discreet in saying that the general and Bhutto would “make their own choices based on their own calculations.”

The Supreme Court will be asked to decide whether Musharraf can run while still chief of the army; whether Pakistan’s Constitution bars him from seeking what may be considered a third term; and whether he can seek election by the current Parliament, as he wants, or must wait until the new Legislature is chosen this autumn. These are questions that should be resolved by an independent judiciary. The US should clearly oppose any fresh attempt by Musharraf to circumvent the laws of his country or the workings of democracy. — The Boston Globe