Well, I suspected this was the pipelines for a while now. Pakistan has been steadily falling apart for the last few years. What with Al-Qa'ida and elements of the Taliban now being based in Pakistan, the Baloch insurgency, the vital importance of relying on US patronage for Musharraf and the increasing numbers of foreign radicals who gain their training in Pakistan, the situation has been untenable for quite a while now. Something had to give, and it seems that this is the last vestiges of democracy.
I know the Realists in the State Department are probably high-fiving each other right now, because to them a strong man dictator is a better choice for a chaotic state than a democracy, but this is really quite bad, in a way they probably haven't realized.
That this was a political decision based on the upcoming ruling on the election and not because of state security was so blatantly obvious it barely needs pointing out. None of the major systemic reasons behind the failings of Pakistan as a state have changed in recent months - though they may have intensified somewhat. No, the change has been the return of a possible challenger for the leadership of the country (Bhutto), and this ruling.
Now, I don't know the intriacies of Pakistani internal politics. I should make that clear right now. But Pakistan, as an ex-British colony and one time democracy, has a thriving civil culture who very likely wont take this lying down. Already statements have come in from opposition leaders, lawyers and political commentators condemning the move. In short, he's made the situation in the country even more unstable. While before, Musharraf could rely on the support of the national and regional parliaments, to give him that veneer of legitimacy and popular support...well, now that is not looking like a good political move.
Not that it will matter. The Constitution is suspended and law is now dictated by force of arms. So these parliaments will be sidelined, and the supporters of Musharraf will quickly come out of the closet, seeking his favour by backing his actions. Naturally, they will be condemned by their political enemies, and instability will creep up the political system.
And since the rule of law is subject to arms now, expect the Islamic extremists and Baloch insurgency to go into overdrive. In standard terrorism theory, the strategy terrorists normally employ is that of a vanguard, to force the government into repressive measures and out of proportion responses, in order to turn the population against the leadership. Now, while modern insurgencies don't necessarily require that anymore (all they really have to do is show the state is not necessary), its an added and welcome bonus.
In short, Pakistan is a powder keg of instability right now. A nuclear armed powder keg. Now, the US is supposed to have plans to get hold of those weapons and sites should something nasty happen, but the reaction of Rice and Milliband suggests this move was quite unexpected. And since the sympathies of the ISI are hard to guage at the best of times, who knows where such weapons could end up?
Now, I simply could have said Law of Eristic Calculation (Imposition of Order leads to Escalaction of Disorder) but that would have been far too simple.
Anyway, stay tuned. This move is only going to put Pakistan into more trouble, and things are going to get very interesting...