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May 28, 2007 11:30 pm


PAKISTAN ON THE BRINK



We've got trouble. Nuclear Pakistan is teetering on the brink. Musharraf is assaulted from all sides and is probably on his way out. A Taliban led insurgency is spreading from the tribal lands to neighboring regions while the attempt to get rid of a supreme court judge galvanized the civil society and now a former cricket star from a cricket mad country, Imran Khan, is emerging as the leader of the opposition.

That is not necessarily bad. He claims to believe in democracy. Unfortunately, moderate language is not his forte. He called one of Musharraf's coalition memebrs,"a terrorist party."

A nervous Musharraf tries to contain him by by confining him to his hometown for three days. Musharraf is afraid that he will inspire riots. Imran threatens to appeal to the courts. A Khaleej Times (published in the UAE) editorial recommends that we"Take Pakistan Seriously:"

The wave of Islamic extremism that was to be forcefully removed from Afghanistan has apparently taken firm root inside nuclear-armed Pakistan. To make things worse, it is threatening a forceful takeover of society as an unbelieving polity and international community look on. . . .

The worrying spread of extremism that came Pakistan's way with the 3-million odd Afghan refugees following the Soviet invasion has mutated into a well-organized, thoroughly disciplined force with a strong appeal and constantly growing following. Worse still, it has now developed a thirst for power.

This should appear at the top of any anti-extremist agenda, along with the realization that solving the problem will require understanding it, not bombing it to the stone age. To keep Asia's most important geo-strategic country from tearing the entire region's fabric apart, the West must bolster Pakistan's establishment, which in turn must empower the secular groups rather than shun them.

Easier said than done. While it is true that Pakistani opposition to suicide bombing directed at civilians has increased. 45% believe it is never justified up from 38% in 2002. So did support for such bombing. 44% believe it can be justified also up from 38% in 2002. Imran may turn into Pakistan's Kerensky.

As I wrote, we got trouble. Actually, I think its neighbors India, Afghanistan and the Gulf got worse troubles. Anybody who thinks we can lose in Iraq and win in Afghanistan understands nothing. It is easy to argue that US ineptness in Iraq made matters worse but so did the anti-Americanism and the vociferous and active encouragement given by the Muslim world to those dedicated to insure that a democratic Iraq will not come into existence.

The world is interconnected and the conservative forces has succeeded stalling the American attempt to democratize the region. Now they are going to face the fact that as happened in Iran, Islamists rather that the old oligarchy are going to be the ultimate winners. This may be bad news for the Europe but it is bound to be even worse news for the Muslim world. For unless it helps the US stop Iran going nuclear, it would have to live in the shadow of two reckless death loving Islamist regimes, one Sunni and one Shia both in possession of nuclear weapons.

What about the US? I read that Al Qaeda cells have premission to embark on major operation without seeking Bin Laden approval except in the US. The overthrow of the governments of Afghanistan and Iraq taught them something.

Oh, yes, I came across the following entry in Reagan's diary:

Dec 7 - The weather turned out fine for the official greeting for Pres. Zia of Paksitan. We got along fine. He's a good man (cavalry). Game me his word they were not building an atomic or nuclear bomb.



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