Pakistan: race between jihad and democracy?

In a surprise ruling July 20, Pakistan’s Supreme Court dealt a harsh blow to President Pervez Musharraf, voting unanimously to restore Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry to his post. The court also voted 10-3 to dismiss charges of misconduct that Musharraf filed against Chaudhry. (AP, July 20) The ruling comes amid a nationwide wave of terror. One day earlier, three suicide attacks left scores dead across Pakistan. In the deadliest attack, 14, many army recruits, died in a blast at a military mosque in the northwest garrison town of Kohat. Seven police officers and 22 bystanders were killed in Hub, near Karachi, in a car bomb attack on a police vehicle protecting a convoy of Chinese mining company workers. Another car bomber detonated his payload when guards prevented him from entering the police academy in Hangu, about 70 kilometers southwest of Peshawar, capital of the North-West Frontier Province. (NYT, National Post, July 20)

The eight-year dictatorship of Pervez Musharraf may be entering an endgame. Pakistan seems to be in a race between democracy and political Islam: will a democratic opening be sufficient—or fast—enough to divert energy from the fast-mounting forces of jihad? And will the Bush administration continue to back the dictator to the hilt, in spite of everything—which will only play into the hands of the jihadist forces? If the political opening proves too little too late—or is actively bottlenecked by Washington—Bush’s post-9-11 intrigues and adventures could ironically wind up bringing about the ultimate nightmare scenario: a nuclear-armed Taliban state.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

See our last post on Pakistan.