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Whither / Wither Pakistan ?

Pakistan is really facing strange days. After the tragedy of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination more than a month back, the country seems to going through some mighty strange days. For one, the President and former army chief, Gen. Musharraf is blamed by large sections of the country’s population for having a role in the assassination; if not directly, then atleast in terms of not providing her adequate security that let a shooter and suicide bomber get within range (and of course there are the conspiracy theorists who believe that for such an incident to happen in a military city means that there has to be intelligence agencies involvement).
At the same time, there seems to be a further game in terms of ensuring that the next elections also lead to a situation where there will be no combination of parties that could gang up against the President. The biggest problem is that of the security situation in the country. Earlier it was recognized that the border areas were the one with the problem of poor state control and security, but slowly the situation has changed, and for the worse. Now, the jihadis have moved far into the interior of Pakistan and the menace of shootings and suicide bombings has become more commonplace, much more than the citizens of Pakistan would appreciate. And all this has happened at a time when the army was in control, making one wonder as to the capability of the Pakistani army to control these elements.

Deadly suicide bombings are becoming an accepted part of daily life in Pakistan, with each new attack appearing to chip away at President Pervez Musharraf’s waning popularity. Close to 60 attacks across the country in 2007, up tenfold from the previous year, increasing security fears in urban areas. Violent attacks are moving from rural parts of Pakistan into major urban centers and some analysts say Musharraf’s legacy is tied to the instability in the country.
While Musharraf’s popularity is plunging at home and abroad, a dearth of good leaders has many Pakistanis reluctant to see him go, nervous about what will follow. “I keep saying that I have introduced the essence of democracy,” Musharraf said.

While it is true that Pakistan’s democratic leaders have been no paragon of virtue, it is the policies of the army run dictatorship that have led to more problems. They have suppressed the democratic leaders and their party, causing dissent to not get properly channeled into the democratic process; instead the dissent has moved into extremism. In addition, the extremists supported by the military in the past to enable weakening of Afghanistan and India have now turned on Pakistan itself, causing a tremendous increase of worry all around the world about the stability of Pakistan and its nuclear weapons.

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