Nobody outside of news channels and state governments is paying attention to the major crisis in Pakistan, but if the situation escalates, it could potentially have consequences to a lot of people in the world. President Pervez Musharaf has recently declared a state of emergency to “curb extremism”. Curiously, the President also curtailed the powers and authority of the Supreme Court as well as the legislative body of the state. This is a virtual turn around from the democratic status of the country. According to reports, the Supreme Court was about to rule on the veracity of last month’s elections wherein Musharaf was able to muster enough votes to stay in power.
Opposition leaders and returning former head of state Benazir Bhutto has been very vocal in this apparent abuse of power by Musharaf. Why is this internal conflict telling and significant for us outsiders?
Pakistan is one of eight nations that has nuclear capabilities. If the nation were to disintegrate and fall into chaos, the nuclear warheads could easily find their way on the hands of extremists who could use them with wanton disregard for human life and other possible ramifications of their actions. Despite the close ties between Musharaf and the Coalition of the Willing in the War Against Terror, Pakistan continues to be a breeding ground for radicalism and Al Qaeda-inspired splinter groups.
People are protesting in the streets of the major city Islamabad and the police have not been exactly observing maximum tolerance. Reports have been pouring in that even peaceful demonstrations led by lawyers are being dispersed violently by riot police. Ironically, the more the country inches towards regime change, the more likely the fate of the world will be hanging in the balance due to the uncertainty of the security of the potential weapons of mass destruction that Pakistan harbors.
The worst part? All we can do is wait. Let’s hope the Pakistanis can figure this out by themselves.