December 25, 2003


Assassination Attempt on Musharraf Kills 7 in Paskistan (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 12/25/03)

A suicide bomb exploded moments after President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's motorcade passed Thursday, the second assassination attempt against him in less than two weeks, officials said. Musharraf was unhurt but at least seven people were killed.

The bombing in Rawalpindi, outside the capital, occurred near where a huge bomb exploded on Dec. 14 shortly after a convoy with Musharraf drove by. He was unhurt in that attempt as well, and officials said high-tech jamming devices in the president's motorcade had delayed the device and saved his life.

Thursday's blast happened when a suicide bomber rammed a pickup truck into a police vehicle. Eyewitnesses reported seeing body parts, shattered cars and broken glass along the route.

The brutal truth is that these attempts, even if successful, serve American purposes. Either the General will be motivated to crack down on Islamicists himself or, if he were to be killed and his government topple, we'd have the perfect pretext to go after the Islamicists ourselves, especially in the region bordering Afghanistan, and to secure Pakistan's nuclear weapons.

Appeasement is Musharraf's worst enemy (Ahmed Rashid, 26/12/2003, Daily Telegraph)

In recent weeks the extremists have been infuriated by Islamabad's rapprochement with India. After intense American pressure, a major summit next week between Gen Musharraf and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the Indian prime minister, was expected to lead to serious negotiations on resolving the Kashmir dispute.

The extremists, and the fundamentalist nuclear scientists who dominate Pakistan's nuclear programme, are also furious at Gen Musharraf for accepting demands by the US and the International Atomic Energy Agency to investigate the sale of Pakistani nuclear technology to Iran and North Korea.

Fundamentalism is also growing in the army. After a tip-off by the CIA, at least five army officers were arrested in October for helping al-Qa'eda members in Pakistan's border regions with Afghanistan.

Despite all these threats, Gen Musharraf has always tried to appease the Islamic parties and his half-hearted crackdowns on extremist groups have only been carried out because of inordinate pressure from the Americans.

Until recently the army has allowed extremist groups to continue crossing into Indian Kashmir to battle Indian troops, while the intelligence agencies are turning a blind eye to the resurgent Taliban.

Gen Musharraf has refused to talk to the mainstream non-religious parties, who would be his natural allies in any genuine battle against the Islamic extremists. These parties are demanding that the army give up power and return to the barracks, which Gen Musharraf has refused to do.

The result is that he is seriously isolated, trusted by none of the political forces in the country - secular or religious - and increasingly disliked by a public frustrated by his fluctuating policies and the lack of economic development and investment.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 25, 2003 9:16 AM

Wonder if this will prompt Pakistan's meltdown....

Posted by: Barry Meislin at December 25, 2003 9:21 AM

If I lived in Islamabad, I would hope that they print in motorcade route in the paper, so I could be someplace else.
Is this the regular TV entertainment there? Sort of like jacka**, the movie.

Posted by: h-man at December 25, 2003 1:18 PM

Musharraf must know by now that he has to kill about 100,000 moonbats in order to stay alive.

Pakistan is the nexus because even the Saudis drove the fanatics away.

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 25, 2003 3:23 PM

I don't think the collapse of Pakistan's government would serve our interests in the short run. We've got too much on our plate right now, and I think it'd be better to take on some smaller fry next (e.g. Syria). The last thing we need is for Pakistan and India to start tossing nukes at each other.

Posted by: PapayaSF at December 25, 2003 4:49 PM


Why? That option seems pretty good if you think about it.

Posted by: oj at December 25, 2003 5:03 PM

The sobering truth is that one thing we have learned is anyone can be killed, if the killer is determined. We had better be ready for regime change in Pakistan, sooner rather than later.

And after the laughter dies down, I don't think a nuclear exchange serves anyone's interest. Once the fallacy of the "nuclear winter" scenario is exposed, nuclear weapons might become weapons of first resort by the powers that have them, an outcome that no thinking person truly wants to see.

Still, in such an overpopulated corner of the globe, a few hundred million dead might just shake things up a bit, right, oj?

Posted by: Michael Gersh at December 25, 2003 9:00 PM

They've stopped being a deterrent because we won't use them. At a minimum they should be used to impose non-proliferation--you start to develop nukes, we nuke your facilities.

Posted by: oj at December 25, 2003 11:33 PM