Monday, April 6, 2009

Might Pakistan come apart?

Interestingly, Juan Cole at Informed Comment has been trying to reassure his readers that Pakistan is actually in no real danger of coming apart. Analyses such as this onesurely call that into question. What I can certainly envision as a real possibility is an attempted military take-over - something to which Pakistan has become all too accustomed over the years since its creation in 1947. And when you have a character as corrupt and indecisive as Asif Ali Zardari (widower of Benazir Bhutto, who for all of the glorification of her after her assassination was not exactly a model of transparency in democracy) as president, all the more reason for the military to step in if the situation spirals downward even more. However, the pro-democracy feeling has burgeoned among Pakistan's middle class, who will likely not respond well to a military coup. The likely consequence would be urban demonstrations and rioting in Islamabad and elsewhere, as well as a dangerously discomfited India.

How all this might spill out beyond Pakistan would have, of course, a major impact on Mr. Obama's plans for Afghanistan and eliminating al-Qaeda.

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