Centrifugal Firecrackers

We happen to agree with Pat Lang that Pakistan always was a bad idea. It is, however, what it is. From the Hindu, India’s online newspaper come reports of another lawyer uprising akin to last Spring’s:

Pakistan’s deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry urged lawyers on Tuesday to defy the police and protest against President Pervez Musharraf’s imposition of the Emergency rule.

“Go to every corner of Pakistan and give the message that this is the time to sacrifice,” Mr. Chaudhry, who is under virtual house arrest here, told them by mobile phone. “Don’t be afraid. God will help us and the day will come when you’ll see the Constitution supreme and no dictatorship for a long time.”

“The Constitution has been ripped to shreds. The lawyers should convey my message to the people to rise up and restore the Constitution,” he said. The mobile phones were then cut.

“Condi Rice on Line 3?  Tell her I am  . . . at the mosque, praying”.

Sure, estimates that the Paks have anywhere from 20-100 nuclear weapons makes things a bit dicey. Far more than the AgitProp driven bogey man of Iran. Juan Cole, however, argues that the Warlord didn’t really care about ‘democracy’ in the first place and is happy to support either Musharraf as dicator or his replacement. Cole doesn’t even seem to be all that concerned about rogue elements of the military in conjunction with the Taliban/al-Qaeda sympathetic ISI proliferating. Nothing will change in the end:

But Pakistan’s military is the linchpin of Bush’s policies in Afghanistan and in the no-man’s land of tribal Pakistan. Faced with choosing between an ignominious rout in the region from which the Sept. 11 plot was launched, and perhaps even the fall of the Kabul government to a resurgent Taliban, or otherwise having to suffer criticism for hypocritically backing a military dictatorship, Bush will mouth some polite phrases about the prospect of elections in the future (as he did in 1999), and go on providing for Islamabad’s military machine. Aside from the cancellation of some ineffectual debates in a weak Pakistani Parliament — and the end of the illusion that any vestiges of democracy remain — nothing will change.

Perhaps Cole is right. We still think it is a bit premature to be sanguine that Pakistan and its government will both remain unitary. The Army, in particular, below the high command level, is in disarray and woefully demoralized by their repeated failures to venture into the NWFP. It is not inconceivable for an ambitious colonel or brigadier general building support to oust both Musaraff and Bhutto. Under any circumstances, securing nuclear weapons and designs is of paramount importance. In that regard, one must also ask how India will react to its rival’s potential strategic disintegration.

The Warlord has stepped into a steaming, nasty pile of Mush. And he will turn to the American people and Congress to scrape his shoe.