Thursday, November 15, 2007

And so it goes

It would be funny to watch the dance of the incompetents now taking place in Pakistan if it was not so depressing. There are not too many options available. The jihadis have moved into the Swat valley and and have been able to hold out against the military. To move against them in force requires that the power centers of the military and the political parties present a united front. The obvious way to do this is through power sharing between Bhutto and Musharraf. The fact that Bhutto is corrupt and venal and Musharraf seems a caricature who does not have any discernible strategy and some difficulty keeping his word is neither here nor there. They represent the power centers which are both threatened by the jihadi challenge and who will both suffer if the challenge is not answered. And unfortunately neither is dispensable. Bhutto leads a party that does not have any mechanism for challenging her leadership. And the military cannot afford to have Musharraf humiliated. I am sure at least some in the military must be furiously trying to come up with some way of removing him without losing face but I don't see what that would be. It is not as if they both don't realize they need the other. While Musharraf put real threats like Hamid Gul in solitary confinement Benazir was allowed to stay in the comfort of her own home - sallying out from time to time to make heroic speeches. On her part Bhutto, at least initially, kept her criticism of Musharraf relatively indirect - blaming those around him rather than him directly. But instead of coming to an agreement and moving on they keep stumbling around while the jihadis consolidate their power and the people who will in the end pay with their blood and treasure for the fight against the jihadis lget more and more disgusted. The support that these two are bleeding away will not easily come back, and it is a support that will be badly needed in the days to come.

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