The Pakistan Risk

Discussion in 'Politics' started by BlueHorseshoe, Dec 30, 2003.

  1. I'm surprised that there isn't a lot of talk about the potentail risk that the death of Pakistan's President would pose to the current political/military status quo in the middle east.

    Instability in Pakistan is very unsettling. I've met/known a couple of Pakistanis who assert that Musharif (sp?) is a great leader, and that the Army is the only professional, semi-reliable institution in the country. This, despite that he only came to power through a military coup.

    That being said, if he gets knocked off and an election is held, there appears to be a good possibility that a religious hard-liner could win election. Barring another military coup, we could then find ourselves w/ a Pakistan administration hostile to cooperation w/ the US.

    I forsee the need for the US getting more involved in Pakistan in the future ... quite a sobering thought. I sure hope the CIA is actively planning w/ Musharrif for an orderly succession. :)
  2. msfe


    Pakistan: the west's soft centre

    If Musharraf is assassinated, the war on terror will also be a victim

    Peter Preston
    Monday December 29, 2003
    The Guardian

    Here is one terrorist threat even Tony Blair doesn't need to vamp up. It is self-evidently real and ominously recurrent. If, one day soon, it claims its target, then the world of Bush and Blair - plus their so-called war against Osama and chums - will be rocked to its core. The peril couldn't be greater, the edifice more ripe for toppling. Yet somehow, when these bombs go off, we shrug and look away. Somehow we don't make the connections.

    Consider the chill facts, though. Twice, during the 10 days before Christmas, General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president, has narrowly survived highly professional assassination attempts. First, the bridge he was travelling over near Islamabad was destroyed by five separate charges only seconds after his car made it to the other side. (An electronic blocking device in his limo bought him the fraction of time that saved his life.)

    Then, as if to signal al-Qaida's return to more tested methods, a Rawalpindi suicide attack killed 14 people and injured nearly 50. Musharraf, again, escaped by seconds. How many more lives does this president have left?

    Not too many, perhaps. He wasn't, on either occasion, following an advertised route. He and his guards were proceeding privately from point A to point B. His would-be killers weren't leaning on a lamppost in case a nice little target passed by. They knew he was coming. They knew where to plant sophisticated explosives. Their intelligence was perfect. They have an inside track. If they keep to it, they'll surely get him in the end. Which is when the core really starts to rock.

    Without Pakistan on board, Afghanistan cannot hold. Without Afghanistan, the campaign against terrorism turns to humiliation. Where's Osama? Somewhere in a cave near the border. Where are his men? Regrouping beyond the reach of the stretched forces George Bush has left behind. Musharraf, grimly pursuing his chosen course to the end, keeps Pakistan as the indispensable foundation of coalition activity. But what happens if he vanishes from the scene?

    The bombers who try and try again aren't stupid. They've asked and answered that question, too. Pakistan hangs in a constitutional void. It has a president, self-selected and sanctified by a dodgy referendum. It doesn't have an anointed successor waiting to take over and carry on seamlessly if the worst happens, only a void.

    By chance, in the Christmas days between assassination attempts, Musharraf concluded negotiations on a legal framework order that slots the details of his qualified return to democracy in place. He will, for instance, take off his military uniform for the last time at the close of next year. He'll become a sort of civilian.

    But this deal has been concluded between his parliamentary mates and the rightwing Islamic parties who did so well in the elections. It snubs the two major and continuing parties of potential governance: the Pakistan People's party and the Muslim League. They're left outside while Musharraf wheels, deals and canoodles with the forces in his land most opposed to America, the war against terror and everything he himself stands for. He is either very brave or very stupid. Take him out of the equation and there is no centre left to hold - except, of course, the army.

    But which self-promoting general, stepping in, is going to plonk his head on the same block? Which intelligence service hierarchy, riddled with the religious fervour President Zia ul-Haq introduced, is going to succour a Musharraf clone? The stakes could not be higher.

    Pervez Musharraf, for all his evasions, is a pretty determined man. He has India's prime minister coming to town for talks about peace. He has chosen a necessary course and, by and large, sticks to it. But Washington and London, applauding benignly, can take absolutely nothing for granted. Here is a teeming country boasting its own brand new weapons of mass destruction. Knock one piece off the board (or blow up one bridge on time) and everything, including the nature of the finger on the button, changes.

    Another 9/11 attack on the White House lawn - or the back side of Downing Street? Maybe. The awful warnings of homeland security are always, rather hysterically, with us. But a calculating, canny Osama has a much easier and more tempting place to strike: and is doing just that. Pakistan is the frontline of 2004, with only one lonely (almost) ex-soldier guarding the gate. When the WMD go off there, then the connections engulf us all.
  3. This is one of the biggest potential sleeper crises I can think of. No upside to Musharef getting knocked off even though his rise to power was the result of a coup and he keeps putting off elections.
  4. traderob


    I was watching pakistan TV,the national channel in a hotel in bangkok in September. The news comes out about yet another bloody raid on Indian held Kashmir by suicide fighters. On Pakistan TV they are called martyrs .....
    That is how many think ..
  5. Without help from Pakistan, we can't catch Osama bin Laden.
  6. The U.S. is highly involved and has propped up Musharrif.

    Here's a pretty good summary article on Musharraf's history and background:
  7. The friendly alliance between Pakistan and the USA is sickening... if there is one war by the USA that I would wholeheartedly support, it would be a US attack on Pakistan to remove its WMDs... unlike Iraq, Pakistan actually does have such weapons... it is unacceptable for a military autocracy to be allowed to have such weapons...

    Just like we created Saddam and Osama (and witnessed how Osama bit it's master's hand), we are continuing to create a real threat to the world through our support to the Pakis...
  8. Yes, a Muslim A-bomb is a nightmare.