Monday, November 05, 2007

The Pakinstani Problem

In response to those news organizations lamenting the loss of stability in Pakistan... I hate to break it to you, but Pakistan has never been stable. In fact, it's ironic that Musharraf's dictatorship has been a beacon of stability when contrasted with Bhutto's old (and extremely corrupt) government.

Stability notwithstanding, Musharraf has made a poor move in declaring this state of emergency. He has essentially thumbed his noses at American and British support, without which he (and thus, Pakistan) doesn't stand a chance financially. However, his move, no matter how poor, has a certain amount of (madman's) logic to it. Masharraf had no other choice if he wanted to remain in power. And it seems, despite his platitudes to the contrary, that it is power he wants. He couldn't accept the Pakistani judiciary's looming opinion that he relinquish his military role if he wants to be President, because he would suddenly be vulnerable to Islamic extremists who have been trying to kill him for years. Without the military, he cannot enforce the high level of protection he has been affording himself.

Also, without the military, Musharraf cannot stop the swelling of support for Bhutto now that she's returned from her self-imposed exile. And while I have no love for Musharraf's dictatorship, I have even less love for criminals like Bhutto, who are blindly given support just because she claims to embrace democracy. Given the media coverage, you'd think that she was the savior of the middle east. In fact, it was largely because of her corruption that Pakistani madman and nuclear scientist, A.Q. Khan, was able to sell Pakistan's nuclear secrets to a half dozen rogue nations from Venezuela to Iran.

However, despite the alarm raised by the press, nothing has really changed in Pakistan. Musharraf is still the dictator and the government is still in control of Pakistani's nuclear arsenal (the latter point is a good thing). He will, eventually, have to face the music for going back on his promise of letting go of some power in the form of a likely drawback of US and British financial support. This may force him to relinquish his military title while remaining President, or it may not. If his goal is to remain in power, then this is his best bet. So, why go through the motions of declaring this state of emergency? Well, he may be sending a message to India that he still retains control. Remember, it is in India's best interest that Pakistan's government remains stable - and that means more Musharraf.

The US is in a tough spot, because we also recognize the level of stability under this dictatorship (and in a sense, rely on it). However, we have a problem of hypocrisy to deal with: namely, that we ousted one man (Saddam Hussein) because he was a tyrant, while we support another (again, it is in our best interest to keep Pakistan stable - not only because of the nukes, but because Musharraf has given the US more support in its war against Islamic fascism than any other Pakistani leader). So, we have to condemn his actions, and Congress may vote to reduce our financial support... but in the end, he'll still be President - albeit, one with further-weakened credibility. And, that's not good for anyone. Especially Musharraf.

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