Christmas is over, definitely. Benazir Bhutto’s assassination has rudely awakened us to the fact that the Middle East is still burning and there is no improvement in sight. Pakistan is ruled by the military and that is not likely to change soon, if the military has it’s will. But this in in fact an important if not the main contributing factor to the current crisis in Pakistan.
What clenches all these fingers into a fist is hostility to the army. Military analyst Hasan-Askari Rizvi said this was new: “The militants define Musharraf the same way they define [Afghan president Hamid] Karzai: as an agent of America. What’s different is that they see the army the same way. Previously there was a kind of understanding. The militants were given some autonomy for not attacking Pakistan. But now they are taking on the army within Pakistan.”
Neither Ms Bhutto, nor Nawaz Sharif, if he survives his campaigning, enjoyed or still enjoy the support of the US, however, and Pervez Musharraf is not likely to stay President for long, either.
The aim of US diplomacy is to replace him in the short or medium term. Not with either of the two main opposition leaders, Nawaz Sharif or Benazir Bhutto, who would serve at best to give a democratic gloss, but with another strong man, perhaps General Ashfaq Kyani – someone the US has on a tight rein.
But will this add stability to the situation? Hardly. So who was behind the assassination of Benazir Bhutto? Militant Islamists will be surely the first to be blamed, but the military and the Secret Service ISI have a lot to lose, too and not only when it comes to political power. The military is one of Pakistan’s main economical players.
A stroll through towns and cities shows the visibility of the army. Besides the huge monuments of ballistic missiles in the urban centres, there are local markets full of products made by factories controlled by the military; as well as tanks, aircraft and guns, they manufacture cereals, bleach, mineral water, cement, fertiliser and knitwear. There is even a bank. The military operates in agriculture, service and manufacturing industries. Military capital engages in the formal, informal and illegal economies, directly and indirectly. The army attracts a far larger share of national resources than any other state institution.
The outlook for Pakistan’s future is bleak at best. Shortly after the news of the assassination broke, shots were heard in Karachi Ms Bhutto’s home town. There are widespread fears that Pakistan will now drift into a civil war. There are doubts whether the upcoming elections will take place now.
Pakistan is not only an ally in the ill-fated and poorly executed exercise, labeled “War on Terror”, Pakistan is, of course, a nuclear power. The United States military has made plans to secure the Pakistani nuclear arsenal in case of increased unrest there, but:
…U.S. officials worry their limited knowledge about the location of the arsenal could pose a problem, it said, a week after Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency.
‘We can’t say with absolute certainty that we know where they all are,’ the newspaper quoted an unnamed former U.S. official as saying.
As for any U.S. effort to seize and secure Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, the official said: ‘It could be very messy.’
Welcome back to everyday life.
However bad the news, “Europeanview” wishes you all a safe and healthy day. Take care!