Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Monday, June 11, 2007

A bleak outlook in Pakistan

The signs have been on the wall for quite some time now. Since the "treaty" between the Musharraf regime and the tribal leaders in Waziristan late last year, Pres. Musharraf has been slowly losing control of his country. Now, according to US military officials, and reported by the NY Sun Musharraf may not make it through the summer:

As a political crisis boils in Pakistan, American analysts both inside and outside the government are expressing new doubts that President Musharraf will be able to hold onto power through the summer.

Over the past month, the military regime in Islamabad has faced a rising threat of violent jihadis in its capital, as well as the struggle between the president and the suspended chief justice of the country, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. The twin challenges have led some analysts in the American intelligence community to begin questioning whether Pakistan's military, traditionally General Musharraf's most reliable ally, will support the current regime for much longer.

A Musharraf exit could deal a stinging blow to America in the war on terrorism. President Bush has lavished the Pakistani leader with arms sales and low-interest loans while keeping mum on his spotty human rights record. The logic has been that the former general, who himself came to power in a 1999 military coup, had dismantled his pre-September 11, 2001, policy of supporting the Taliban and would be the best possible option for American interests in Pakistan.

But the strongman's grip on power appears to be loosening, with a number of analysts citing as evidence last month's showdown inside Islamabad's Red Mosque, also known as Lal Masjid. On May 22, thousands of Pakistani police amassed on the outskirts of the mosque after a pro-Taliban group took four police officers hostage inside.

The hostage crisis was eventually resolved, but only after General Musharraf tried and failed to launch a military strike on the building.

It is now an open question within the intelligence community whether the order the president gave to storm the mosque was disobeyed or never given. The Pakistani press quoted air force officers last month as saying they refused to carry out an order to bomb the building.

The military in Pakistan has grown extremely reluctant in wanting to tangle with the Taliban and it's forces. This is what happens when you have an emboldened enemy like the Taliban. Being given the areas in South Waziristan, and them encroaching on North Waziristan, the Taliban has just gotten bolder -- not only making cross-border raids into Afghanistan against Afghan and NATO forces, but also striking at the Pakistani government, as well. Musharraf, it appears, is slowly losing his grip on the country. For us, that's not a good thing.

Need we remind readers that Pakistan is a nuclear state? Does anyone want to see an Islamic state rise in place of Musharraf's regime? One that will have access to those weapons? This is a nightmare scenario that no intel analyst worth his salt would enjoy wargaming out. Imagine, if you will, an Islamic state replacing the Musharraf regime, and one that'd be willing to share such technology with a certain Islamic Republic that is cruising towards having such weapons. Can we say nuclear blackmail? Worse, how about nuclear holocaust?

To prevent Pakistan's fall, we may have to offer our ally there some of our assistance. It's questionable whether it'll be offered, or even accepted. A fair amount of Pakistanis are sympathetic to the Taliban, and only God knows why considering what sort of society they carved out of Afghanistan. It may well have a great deal to do with Musharraf's domestic agenda, including the suspension of the chief justice.

All I know is that this is a story we'll be watching. The last thing we want to see is the rise of another Islamicist regime int he region, and one that will likely be friendly to their distant neighbor of Iran, despite religious differences. We know Iran is helping the Taliban right now, though the extent isn't exactly known. But the fact that shia Iran has set aside any differences with the predominantly Sunni Taliban speaks volumes to intel analysts watching events unfold.

Publius II


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