Musharraf is incensed that U.S. intelligence officials and the Democratic presidential candidates have accused him of insufficient action against terrorism. He also faces a precarious political situation: practically every segment of the population is sick of him, but he wants to be reelected as president while still serving as Army chief of staff.
And there's his quandary. In Pakistan, the assemblies and the parliament elect the president. If he waits for those new provincial elections before running again, he might not be re-elected. And if he runs before the elections, in September or October, he might face Supreme Court challenges over his continued role as both civilian and military leader, further deepening his political crisis -- especially given that his political woes began after he sacked the nation's top jurist.
Much easier, by contrast, to declare a state of emergency and defer elections for a year or so, which might buy Musharraf some time. Furthermore, he can blame the emergency on a rising jihadist threat -- precisely the one that the U.S. is warning about, thereby dampening criticism from Washington about democratic niceties. It wouldn't be unusual: on an official visit in June, Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte said -- contrary to Pakistan's constitution -- that Musharraf can decide for himself whether to step down as Army chief of staff.