Friday, December 28, 2007

Process in Pakistan

Colin Mason's A Short History of Asia speaks about the growing trend toward something called "Controlled Democracy." Certainly this is what exists in Pakistan, where there are democratic institutions, such as a parliament, elections that are contested, etc., but where the real power rests with Musharraf and the (apparently) still loyal army elites. It's nice for our politicians to say that the trend toward democracy must continue in Pakistan, but a certain care must be exercised and a sober course negotiated.

The sudden fall of the government might have the potential to allow the growing terror from Waziristan to topple what's left of the institutions of democracy. What would that nation have then? Pakistan has 165 million people. It's a large nation, and the breakdown of social order there would be a catastrophe. Faced with a radical state of the Khmer Rouge/Kampuchea nature on its border, what would India do? Or Pakistan's other neighbors?

This is not an endorsement of any further weakening or abrogation of electoral process in Pakistan. The community of nations--and our politicians--should exercise restraint and do what's possible to encourage the existing government to deal responsibly with the influential parties in that nation.

By the way: no one's said much about the practical problems of securing the nukes. Surely we have some agents/agencies in contact with the Pakistani army about the realities on the ground where these are concerned.

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