Crisis in Pakistan
Yesterday we were awakened by the sobering news of the assassination of Mrs. Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan. An almost mythical figure in Pakistani politics, she was campaigning for a return to power, promoting democratic ideals and hoping to forge an atmosphere friendly toward the west. While the news was shocking, it was predictable. Pakistan’s population seethes with a hatred the western mind can barely comprehend. With the realization that Pakistan has an operable nuclear arsenal, there is grave concern at the highest levels of the U.S. military and government as to the status and security of those weapons.
Reassuringly, the Pentagon has released a statement declaring that, for the time being, Pakistan’s nuclear assets are secure.
However the best connected, most knowledgeable experts on the region have surfaced to express concern that current instability in Pakistan, bordering on anarchy, could lead to an overthrow of the Musharaff government. Experts agree that there are elements of radical Islam, not only in Pakistani society, but within the Musharaff government, and inside the Pakistani military that could conceivably stage a coup, and ultimately gain control over an estimated eighteen medium range missiles with nuclear warheads.
Two of Pakistan’s four provinces are ruled independently of the Pakistani government. They are tribal regions ruled by Islamic clerics oriented toward the Taliban and supportive of al Qaeda. The people there virtually worship Osama bin Laden. These are remote regions, bordering on Iran to the south, and Afghanistan on the west, that have never been conquered by an outside power, “dating back to, and including Alexander the Great,” according to Monsoor Ijaz, one of the foremost experts on the situation. Osama bin Laden himself, is suspected of hiding out in this area that has a long history of impenetrability.
A hotbed of terrorist indoctrination and training, President Musharaff has long been under U.S. pressure to bring these tribal regions under his control. But it’s seen as politically impossible and it may be militarily impossible as well.
We’ve seen how the people of this region react when society erupts in outrage. They are continuing to riot even now. They destroy everything they can. Buildings and vehicles become targets as crowds fill the streets. Musharaff knows that radical elements within Pakistani society, and possibly within his own military would react with mindless rage if he dared try to interfere in the Islamic tribal regions.
Will Musharaff survive? He’s narrowly survived numerous assassination attempts on his own life. He has enemies, not only within Pakistan, but detractors all over the world, including here in the U.S. Some of them are presidential contenders.
Will the nuclear arsenal remain secure? How might those weapons be utilized in the event they fall into the hands of the Taliban or al Qaeda? How might India be expected to respond to such an event, particularly in light of the fact that they also possess nuclear weapons? Will the U.S. stand by Musharaff in the face of this crisis?
No one “in the know” seems inclined to downplay the importance or the catastrophic potential of the crisis in Pakistan. The whole of “Christian” Europe is surely very concerned to see tensions escalate so dangerously to their south, with radical Islam erupting in a renewed rage. Will this situation contribute substantially to the “King of the North, King of the South scenario of Bible prophecy?
The situation in Pakistan, the whole of the Middle East and Europe has lots of angles and the potential for twists and turns ahead. But the simple answer to the question just posed is YES.
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