Today the NY Times reported that a top Pakistani general was killed by a suicide bomber on Monday in Rawalpindi. The bomber was linked to militants in the tribal areas. Sharif has called for the resignation of Musharraf as well as negotiations with the militants, citing the negotiations between the IRA and British government as a template for ending the ongoing conflict between the Pakistani government and militants in the tribal areas.
While the assassination of top officials has been par for the course as of late in Pakistan, the clamoring for the resignation of Musharraf make these developments particularly disturbing. Now to be fair, Musharraf has not been an ideal democrat and has perpetrated inhuman acts such as the sacking of supreme court officials (oh the horror...). But in these turbulent times in Pakistan, it is important to remember his potential as a transitional figure and his cooperation with the US still make him an asset for US policy makers. Musharraf's successor may not be as cooperative.
Musharraf's administration/dictatorship has also, on the whole, been good for the country. Musharraf has presided over a booming Pakistani economy and has improved Indo-Pakistani relations. This is far more than Sharif any of the other clowns likely to replace Musharraf will accomplish.
Negotiations are likely to prove fruitless, given the fact that Islamic militants have intangible goals, such as the recreation of the Caliphate of Islam's golden age and seek a complete societal revolution.
While the elections in Pakistan may be hailed as the beginning of the new era for Pakistan, they will most likely pave the way for the return of the incompetence of the administrations that preceded Musharraf.
Pakistan is starting to look like the Middle East, a place where when things can't get any worse, they do.