Is This Musharraf's Final Chapter?

His expulsion of a returning rival may signal the endgame for Pakistan's embattled President

Stephanie Sinclair for TIME

A disappointed Sharif supporter participates in a demonstration against the deportation of Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Like a Shakespearean tragedy, the final chapter of General Pervez Musharraf's reign began with an echo of the original sin of its first pages: the October 1999 coup by which he overthrew Nawaz Sharif, the democratically elected Prime Minister. Sharif's highly publicized return from exile on Sept. 10 lasted just four hours; Musharraf had him deported again. But if the general's first expulsion of Sharif--then an unloved head of an inept and corrupt government--brought Musharraf to power amid widespread acclaim, the second may well hasten the President's downfall.

Musharraf's early departure is not guaranteed. He could drag things out by declaring...

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