December 29, 2007

Pakistan: What now

"I cannot help but recall Gaza. As the world pushed hard for elections the voters elected a Muslim terror group to power, alas Hamas. This is the risk we face for holding democratic style elections in a nation so filled with fanatics of a militant nature..."

As noted in USA Today, for the United States, Harvard-educated Benazir Bhutto was “the key piece in a belated-but-promising attempt to bring stability to the world's most dangerous nation. The hope was that the popular former prime minister could recapture the job after parliamentary elections next month, then strengthen democratic institutions, helping to keep Pakistan's nuclear weapons away from its large radicalized Islamic population.”

On latest reports President Bush is continuing to pledge support Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf in the struggle against extremism. Whilst praising Ms Bhutto, a twice elected prime minister who returned to Pakistan in October to be part of elections that were scheduled for January 8, the State Department added, “It would be a victory for no one but the extremists responsible for this attack to have some kind of postponement or a delay directly related to it in the democratic process," said spokesman Tom Casey.

Some $11 billion on U.S. aid so far has failed to secure a process leading to the promise of democracy in the ravaged nation and whilst many are shouting that it was Musharraf’s own that contributed to the tragic event and that he should now resign, they need ask themselves; then what?

For as long as Musharraf continues to condemn terrorism the U.S. may have no other viable option but to assist him to root out terrorists and bring some semblance of order to fractious population.

Some important questions need be asked, for someone in Pakistan holds the keys to a small but deadly nuclear arsenal; that someone is part of the military who till now, are loyal to Musharraf but for how long? Although I approve the continuing support offered to the Pakistani leader I cannot help but recall Gaza. As the world pushed hard for elections the voters elected a Muslim terror group to power, alas Hamas. This is the risk we face for holding democratic style elections in a nation so filled with fanatics of a militant nature; we may just be adding our bit to producing another Gaza style result, but this is not Gaza. There are no easy answers and the Bush administration is well aware of the potential pitfalls ahead.

The threat of terror unleashed by the assassination is already swaying the U.S. Presidential campaign with candidates Clinton, Obama, and Giuliani, McCain and Thompson using the assassination to highlight the need for strong foreign policy and war on terror experience in the White House and portray themselves as reliable leaders in a dangerous world. No doubt they are all correct.

As I noted in my November post, 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, was forthright that he does not “know what’s going to happen” and warned then, "I don't think any Pakistan expert knows what will happen even tomorrow”.

The Australian reports today:

“The gloomy predictability of Benazir Bhutto's assassination cannot detract from the diabolical crisis into which it has plunged Pakistan and the free world's struggle against Islamic fundamentalism. Ms Bhutto's death potentially holds the seeds of international catastrophe, allowing radical forces to move one step closer to gaining control of the world's most unstable nuclear-armed state. In her final months, Ms Bhutto foresaw the murderous attacks against her and warned that, left unchecked, Taliban forces would be marching on the Pakistan capital, Islamabad, within two years.”

For all the risk involved to give up the promise of free elections now would serve the terrorists responsible for Bhutto’s death and only to intensify their cause. The attack had all the hallmarks of an al Qaeda or Taliban act, quite swiftly they are weakening the nation, making it vulnerable to yielding a most advantageous prize, those sixty or so nuclear devices.

Over to you…

19 comments:

Goat said...

Good post Otto but the only thing Obama and Clinton offer us is an exposed backside open for rude entry.

MK said...

Pray that Musharraf isn't next, if that's the case then we'd better move in and confiscate those Nukes.

And by we, i mean America, who else has the balls and the ability to do that. Alternatively get the Indians to do it, they have experience with the Islamist nutters.

A Little Revolution said...

I fear that the ultimate goal of this assassination was to stimulate enough chaos or outright civil war/brawls to get in a position to gain Nukes. That is my worst case scenario. Like it or not, we may have to step in to stop that from happening.

A Little Revolution said...

BTW, I came over from tapline's blog.

American Interests said...

Goat: LOL just subtly...not much of substance was offered....thanks for visiting...

mk: Lord forbid Musharraf next...but if it were to...confiscation would be condoned...by me at least...

a little r: Welcome to AI..Looks like a goal that's come to fruition...

Elaine said...

I fear 'The Australian' may be right. 2008 already appears to be a pivotal year in US and World History. The American people better choose very wisely when going to the polls.

Debbie said...

Otto, the question is, who will be Bhutto's replacement candidate? There was no one prepped to step in, so far as we know. Yes, elections must go on, even if they are delayed a month or so to let the PPK organize themselves and pick someone to run.

We need international observers for these elections (and I don't mean people like Jimmy Carter, who LOVES the terrorists).

Nice article as always. The thought of Gaza and Hamas winning elections is scary, when applying that to Pakistan.

Debbie Hamilton
Right Truth

American Interests said...

Elaine: Correct about 2008 and November is an important month in your calender! Thanks for stopping by...

Debbie: I really don't know about a Bhutto replacement and an election delay may now be warranted. I worry about these elections, with a literacy rate of just 50%, a GDP per head of only $610, very strong Islamist support and thousands of premedieval tribal divisions, it's going to be quite a masive task to bring the 160 million population into some semblence of modernity....

Karen said...

Good thoughtful post, Otto. The election here in 2008 is crucial as to the future of the U.S. Most running for president are clueless or stupid. Some are both.

Clinton will not be any good - her husband was a failure in foreign policy. Obama is a nightmare.

McCain is the only one to trust with dealings with other countries. I am slowly coming around to backing him as the candidate of my party. I've been for Giuliani but I don't think he's going to be able to win the nomination. McCain has the experience and this is the time for grown-ups.

WomanHonorThyself said...

hiya Otto!..Unfortunately Goat is right ..sigh...we must wait and see but compromise doesnt work with savages eh!..great work as always!

American Interests said...

Karen: McCain is a worthy candidate!

Angel: Goat has an excellent handle on most issues and does not mix his words...no outcomes can be rushed in Pakistan...As for compromise...sigh...

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

I hope that Pakistan does not go the way Gaza has. And, I think there is some basis for that hope. A recent poll in Pakistan showed 4% of the electorate supported Islamic parties.

I know that "Islamic parties" and "terrorists" are not interchangeable terms, but I think that a minority of Pakistanis actually support terrorist groups. Pakistanis outside the frontier regions, at least. That poll, and 1/10,000 of Muslims at this year's Hajj, suggest that a small-to-tiny number of Muslims actually support terrorism. (I mentioned these points in a December 27 post, "Benazir Bhutto's Assassination and Nawaz Sharif's Near-Miss: It Could be Worse" at http://anotherwaronterrorblog.blogspot.com .)

I suspect, and hope, that the bulk of Muslims fear terrorists at least as much as infidels do, here in America.

Although I think that a victory through election is unlikely, unless terrorists are much more effective at rigging the election than the established regime, it could happen.

A more serious threat, I think, is an armed takeover of Pakistan. And that is a frightening prospect.

Tapline said...

Otto, Great Post...."These are the times that try men's souls." It's sad to say but, I do not trust our own State Department to come forth with the truth of the current situation and believe me, that know what happened and who did it. At least they can talk to each other now. Not so in the past. I do not know what the current rules of sharing information is currently, but it isnt as bad as it was prior to 9/11. With the current intelligence bureaucracy, I don't know how anything gets done. We had better do it right this time. Meanwhile, the administration is worried about a two state solution in Israel!!!! I ramble....stay well....

American Interests said...

brian: With the stats you present there is indeed room for hope...even though some seem indifferent to radical elements of Islam. I'll check the link out soon and let's hope an armed takeover is out of the question.

Thanks for the illuminating commentary and your are invited to chime in more often...

tap: These are challenging times...I hope the intelligence body is more effective today than it was very early in the millenium...

Aurora said...

Goat said: Good post Otto but the only thing Obama and Clinton offer us is an exposed backside open for rude entry.

LOL, I can't disagree with that.

Otto, interesting that you see Pakistan as the biggest problem. I wouldn't have seen your point a while ago, but lately I think you may be right. Pakistan is quite the powder keg and it takes so little to set it off. I hope Mushi can keep things in check for a while longer.

DD2 aka Debonair Dude said...

Great blog Otto.

Happy New Year my friend.

American Interests said...

Aurora: The next few weeks will be critical in Pakistan...let's hope...

dd2: Thanks and for coming by too....

The Liberal Lie The Conservative Truth said...

The US will continue to support Musharraf if for no other reason but his support in the war.

Additionally the US learned a valuable lesson when Carter abandoned the Shah of Iran in the late seventies who was a similar type leader. The Islamic radicals took over and they have been a thorn in the side for the US and the wrold ever since.

Pakistan without Musharraf would follow that sam path especially with Al Qaeda wanting their nukes, so the US must continue to support him even though he is a very unlikely ally.

Don't forget we allied with Stalin in WWII in order to get Hitler. War makes strange bedfellows out of necessity!

Incognito said...

I read somewhere.. or heard.. that they are already infiltrating the military... scary stuff going on over there....
great post, as always.