November 6, 2007

Pakistan: How dangerous …

Make no mistake, President Pervez Musharraf’s declaration of martial law intended as it were, “to save the nation” is in effect, a savage blow against the West’s war on terrorism.

Pakistan’s constitutional crisis is the biggest problem the world has faced since 9/11. It is quite possible that the nation, a nuclear one at that, could end up being run by radical Islamists or as a failed state. Stephen Cohen, perhaps the pre-eminent Pakistan expert in Washington, is forthright that he does not “know what’s going to happen” and warns, "I don't think any Pakistan expert knows what will happen even tomorrow”.

Osama bin Laden and those allied with his followers are well aware that the nation is disposed to takeover. The General’s imprudent decision to declare martial law has gone firmly against the wishes of Washington (recall the 2 a.m. phone call from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that helped pull Musharraf from the brink of declaring a state of emergency back in August). It will only embolden militants along with enhancing the support that already exists for them. Indeed, it will strengthen militant action aimed directly at Musharraf’s regime.

The nation is facing extraordinary challenges that spell trouble for Western interests. As unsettling as it already is, that democracy remains a distant dream for a nuclear-armed country, we now have Islamic militants with allegiance to al-Qa’ida and the Taliban collectively spreading a campaign of terror beyond the traditional trouble spots of the North-West Frontier and hitting major targets in Islamabad and Karachi. Suicide bombers are repeatedly humiliating the army and extremist madrasa's (I refer to buildings and mosques used for teaching Islamic theology and religious law) remain completely unreformed.

What hope for stability with the dictatorship destroying the very institutions (courts and bodies of law) central to normality, let alone democracy? What hope too, given the media is censored?

However, it is important to note that with al-Qa’ida and Taliban elements having formed sanctuaries in Pakistan, as unpalatable as Musharraf is, he remains preferable to a nation of potential extremists possessing not one, but dozens of warheads. Undoubtedly, the logic behind Bush’s continued support of the regime.

It remains intricate to foresee the path for U.S. policy. A short-term fix may warrant consideration, if only to address the degree of immediate volatility. Above all else, all foreign measures must seek to prevent civil strife for if it were to go that way, the clear beneficiaries would be those groups that pose the greatest menace. Make no mistake, President Pervez Musharraf’s declaration of martial law intended as it were, “to save the nation” is in effect, a savage blow against the West’s war on terrorism.

Finally, for those concerned about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, Washington considered this long ago and has both real and categorical contingency plans in place. For details see here and here.

Your comments are most welcome ...

18 comments:

heidianne jackson said...

first thing this morning i got my daily frontpage mag mail and this is the very topic of discussion. this week jamie glazov interviewed steve schippert who is the co-founder of the center for threat awareness. he is also managing editor for threatswatch.org.

it is a very timely interview and very informative, too. check it out here: http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=C09A66C5-FDA4-405F-B8A5-90F3338A22AD

this is a very telling piece from the interview:

FP: To what degree has Musharraf been a valued ally in the fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban?

Schippert: Simply put, Musharraf's value has always been that he kept Pakistan as a state from aligning against us. Our hope had been that he would aggressively take on the Taliban and al-Qaeda inside Pakistan. But he has not, and now they may well be too strong for him and his army to dispatch. Such are the magnified later dangers granted when terrorists are given safe haven through 'peace accords,' namely in ceding North and South Waziristan. And now it's “later.”

The unfortunate fact remains is that of those in position to cede him, one way or another, he is still the most effective – or least damaging – alternative.

great post here, otto. keep it up!

American Interests said...

Heidianne: Frontpage is good! Will check the link ... Agree that Musharraf the least damaging. In longer term real democracy is the best hope for the nation and region.

Donald Douglas said...

A "savage blow"...

Good imagery, Ottavio. Hopefully Musharraf will restore elections, so America won't have to dump him in favor of a constitutionalist.

Nice posting!

WomanHonorThyself said...

provocative post Ottavio!..worrying bout nuclear fall out from N Korea, Iran and now Pakistan.........and the libs still want to "chat " with them over tea and crumpets!..keep up the great fight my friend!

Paul Champagne said...

I think the main point is ... nobody knows what is going to happen.

Musharraf was a general in the army before he led a revolution. He is probably more in cync with the general population than the folks in Washington. He has proven himself a wiley politician ... let's all hope he is making the right moves now.

American Interests said...

Donald: Agreed! And hopefuly he'll call them soomer rather than later.

WomanHThyself: Thanks Angel, the fight goes on ...

Paul: What will actually happen? The sixty-four-thousand dollar question! Thanks for expresing yur views ...

Incognito said...

We've always traditionally supported the lesser of 2 evils, so to speak.

It's too bad people have not had the courage to nip it in the bud, sooner. Had everyone, including Musharraff, been more proactive and more forceful, perhaps we wouldn't be where we are today...

fighting a p.c. war gets us nowhere.

Good post, Otto!

Karen said...

Enjoyed the post, Otto. I guess all those billions of U.S. dollars just don't buy what they used to.

Karen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Liberal Lie The Conservative Truth said...

Well written! Musharraf may be a military strong arm in some respects but wieghing out the alternatives still makes him the best hope for the country and as a US ally.

People are hailing Bhutto but forget WHY she was over thrown by Musharref in the first place. Her corrupt government that robbed the Pakistani people blind , if returned would make the country vulnerable to Al Qaeda far more than it is now since the people would embrace an Al Qaeda that offered them food, etc. if the government is robbing the people.

Musharref still leans toward Democracy when not threatened and fights Al Qaeda. Under his leadership the country has not fallen to terrorists and the nuclear arsenal is safe.

EVen with the US contingency for the arsenal, all it takes is one oin Al Qaeda hands and who knows how many thousands would die!

Tapline said...

good post.....God knows where this will lead. As your post states, we must be ready to react to the possibility that a undesirables might try to take over the government. Bad, dangerous situation....stay well.....

American Interests said...

incog: Yea, the lesser of the two evils is the only choice the U.S. had here. Thanks for passing by.

Karen: Well said! Too often U.S. financial aid is taken for granted ...

Liberal lie: I am glad you mentioned Bhutto corrupt history and agree that she sould make the nation more susceptible to militants.

Tapline: I feel the U.S. is mostly ready to deal with whatever arises. Let's hope the challenge is not too great.

Goat said...

I saw over at Bill Roggio's that this is a very short term crackdown, a Musharef spokesman said two or three weeks at most and that elections would go forward. That country has been a political mess for a longtime and will continue to be for a long while to come. I see AQ alienating the people the same way they did in Iraq and there are already rifts growing between AQ foreigners and local Taliban hosts, we'll see. I am also sure we have plans to secure the nukes should things completely unravel. I understand the core and the body are stored separately with complicated procedures to assemble them. I doubt the AQ or the Taliban has that ability.

American Interests said...

Thanks Goat. The balanced and considered commentary is most welcome.

Goat said...

Hey Otto, you might want to check out Ray Robison's reporting at the American Thinker much of what I posted comes from his work.
http://www.americanthinker.com/2007/11/al_qaedas_taliban_troubles_1.html
He has alot on the matter if you drill a bit. and this from Bill Roggio's
http://www.adnkronos.com/AKI/English/Politics/?id=1.0.1523986663

American Interests said...

Thanks Goat

Robert (Conservative Commentary) said...

This is a situation that must remain at the forefront. Pakistan has been a key ally, more from geography than from actual interests. The Taliban and al-quada, which is essentially one and the same, have risen to a dangerous level.

We are concerned about democracy, but we should be more concerned about 60-80 nuclear weapons falling into the hands of the Taliban.

I thought Iran might be the next phases, but it very well could be Pakistan. I am very uncomfortable with an anti-war liberal being elected in '08. If we must deal with a pro-militant regime in Pakistan, the Michael Moore crowd is not comprised of the people who would lead us to victory.

American Interests said...

Robert: You make three (3) key points in your comments and I agree with all...Thank you...