Wednesday :: Aug 30, 2006

Spiralling Out of Control

by Mary

A couple of weeks ago, as I noted, Jonathan Landay wrote a piece about how the situation in Pakistan was getting really dangerous and the Musharraf government was trying desperately to back away from the abyss that it faced because it had been relying on the Dick Cheney theory of power: you can make people fear you enough that they will submit to your control. What Musharraf had found was that rather than subduing the border regions, the unrest due to the flawed tactics was starting to threaten his hold on power. Thus, Musharraf was trying to change his tactics and he planned to start to negotiate with the tribal leaders to see if he could defuse the anger and rebellion and once more regain some control of the territory of Pakistan.

Nevertheless, since then, things have gone from bad to worse. A few days ago, the assassination of the leader of the Baluchistan region resulted in riots and bombs throughout Pakistan.

Many analysts say the death of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti was a major blunder by the Musharraf government that may not only fan the flames of Baluch nationalism, but may also siphon precious military resources away from the fight against terror.

...Alex Bigham, an analyst at the Foreign Policy Center in London, says President Musharraf decided to open a military front against the tribal insurgents.

"There have been negotiations with the Baluch, which had broken down. And it seems to be that Musharraf decided that military force was his only option," he noted.

Farzana Shaikh, director of the Pakistan Program at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, says that after Bugti's death, even senior members of the ruling party are questioning the wisdom of the military offensive.

"There is considerably anxiety within senior echelons of the ruling party that Musharraf may have seriously miscalculated the implications of military operations in Baluchistan," he explained.

Isn't it interesting to note that this "military offensive" was taken after Musharraf had already realized that the military offensive could make things worse. Perhaps the problem is that once you start down the path of using only force, it takes some time to defuse the human bombs you sent off to do your bidding.

Furthermore, according to the NY Times tonight, the assignation has played into the hands of the opposition who had called for a no-confidence vote on the Prime Minister of the Musharraf government. Although the vote failed, the opposition garnered 136 of the 172 votes needed to pass the measure.

One need not be paranoid to be more than slightly worried about what would be the consequence of the Pakistani nuclear weapons falling into the hands of the mullahs waiting to grab power when Musharraf is gone. And what's even scarier is imagining what Cheney might do if the Bush administration was faced with this prospect. Damn. I sure wish the grownups were in charge now.

Mary :: 6:26 AM :: Comments (8) :: Digg It!