December 30, 2007


A failed state groping for a way back from the brink:
Poor education, political ineptitude and the power of the jihadis are the forces dragging Pakistan down (William Dalrymple, 12/30/07, Sunday Times of London)

Among Pakistani MPs, journalists and lawyers after news of the assassination there was not only real sorrow but also real fear. Pakistanis are used to crises buffeting their country but many of them at the end of last week seemed on the verge of despair.

[P]akistan now finds itself in a major existential crisis, at the heart of which lies the central question: what sort of country do Pakistanis want? A western-style liberal democracy, as envisaged by Pakistan’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah? An Islamic republic like Mullah Omar’s Afghanistan? A military-ruled junta of the sort created by Generals Ayyub Khan, Zia and Musharraf?

The most pressing crisis now facing Pakistan comes in the shape of the country’s many armed and dangerous jihadi groups. For 25 years the military and Pakistan’s powerful intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) have been the paymasters of myriad mujaheddin groups intended for deployment first in Afghanistan and then Kashmir. While the military may have once believed that it could use jihadis for its own ends, the Islamists have followed their own agendas and have now brought their struggle onto Pakistani streets and into the heart of the country’s politics.

The assassination of Bhutto and the three recent attacks on Musharraf are just the tip of the iceberg. Every bit as alarming is the degree to which the jihadis now control much of the NorthWest Frontier Province. The Swat Valley – once one of the most popular destinations in South Asia for tourists – is now smouldering as government troops and jihadis battle for control.

...that desperate measures require desperate times.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 30, 2007 10:48 AM
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