Thursday, December 27, 2007

Potential Disaster in Pakistan

As you already probably know, Benazir Bhutto, leader of the political opposition in Pakistan, has been assassinated. Here is a link to the very thorough coverage by the New York Times.

I have been watching Pakistan warily for some time now. It is the refuge of Osama bin Laden; it is the only verified Islamic nuclear power; it has been on the brink of all-out war with India several times in the last 20 years; and, as today's tragic events show, it is highly unstable politically. The recent suspension of Pakistan's fragile democratic institutions by President Pervez Musharraf was an ominous sign, as was the recent distressing news that $5 BILLION in U.S. aid money cannot be properly accounted for. The U.S.'s diplomatic efforts are now in a shambles, and the possibility of widespread violence in this volatile country cannot be discounted. Although Pakistan's military keeps a tight grip on that nation's nuclear arsenal, the U.S. government is still deeply worried--as it should be--about the arsenal's security.

Political assassinations in shaky countries tend to have disastrous consequences. If a revolution of some sort against Musharraf were to erupt, or if there was a loss of nuclear material to Al Qaeda (the ultimate horrifying possibility), then all bets are off. Will the U.S. be forced to intervene in a much more significant way than it already has? Stay tuned. This vile and tragic act may resonate for a long time.

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