Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Most Dangerous Nation in the World?

The great cocktail that would make Osama Bin Laden drool is apparently being served up daily in one country.

The mix of "political instability, a trusted network of radical Islamists, an abundance of angry young anti-Western recruits, secluded training areas, access to state-of-the-art electronic technology, regular air service to the West and security services that don't always do what they're supposed to do.. and ...a large and growing nuclear program" makes this country more dangerous than any other.

For these reasons and more Newsweek's cover story "Where Jihad Lives Now" (October issue) calls Pakistan rather than Iraq, Iran or Korea (the Axis of evil favorites) "the most dangerous nation in the world". The authors Ron Moreau and Michael Hirsch detail what is considered widely accepted knowledge that "Islamic militants have spread beyond the tribal areas and have the run of an unstable, nuclear-armed nation".

The article calls Pakistan a hot bed of Taliban activity with scores of supporters among the intelligence officers and military men. It calls the truce deals named "treaties with tribal elders" in the areas near the Pakistan-Afghanistan borders an eye-wash. The authors claim that the deals were made directly with militant leaders who either coerced fearful tribal leaders or had willing tribal heads as their frontmen in making the deals.

Retired Army General Talat Massod is quoted as saying that most Pakistani people and senior politicians are ambivalent about the jihadist threats to their country and livelihood seeming to believe this is solely Musharaff's war not theirs. As such people are even accepting of a Taliban presence in their cities.

Benazir Bhutto's arrival in Pakistan was marred by two suicide bombings that killed over a 100 people attending her welcome parade. Bhutto's return to active politics following several corruption charges and a self imposed exile is not entirely popular considering her willingness to cut a deal with Musharaff. Many see the deal with a military dictator as contradictory to her eagerness for the return of democracy and possibly an indication of a her being overzealous for power.

Newsweek paints a very grim picture of Pakistan. If its story holds true it could have grave consequence for the world. It remains to be seen if Musharaff with or without Bhutto can do much to steady the country and steer it away from becoming a vast sanctuary for global jihadists. India stands precariously close to Pakistan and instability of the kind being reported could have huge consequences of the like we are yet to see.

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