Note: this article was written semi-in a rush, because of the fact that in the middle of writing the article, news of war in South Ossetia broke out
Reuters: Pakistan coalition to move to impeach Musharraf
Pakistan is split between four factions:
1. The ISI (the Pakistani CIA)
2. The army/President Musharraf
3. The PPP (the party of Benazir Bhutto)
4. The PML-N (the party of Nawaz Sharif)
The army, the PPP, and the PML-N have all been in control at one time or another in the past 20 years. All have been relatively ineffective and corrupt. The current alliance is the populist PPP and PML-N in the parliament against the U.S. supported President Musharraf. The parliament made a truce with terrorists who live in the largely unregulated North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). The truce was what the majority of Pakistanis wanted, but neither the U.S. nor Musharraf supported it. The truce has since broken down almost completely.
Now, the PPP and the PML-N in parliament is trying to impeach Musharraf.
The first, most obvious consequence of the impeachment will be further destabilization of the region. With the situation in Afghanistan at the point that it is, the impeachment should be of grave concern to the West, and America especially. Furthermore, the destabilization will not be limited to just Pakistan and Afghanistan: it will affect the Middle East as well.
Other than destabilization, the other (more) serious consequence of the impeachment is the affect on the War on Terror. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban already operate out of the NWFP in Afghanistan at will. If Musharraf is taken out of office, it can be assured that the new president will be softer on terror, which is exactly what we DON’T need right now.
Luckily, it is unlikely the impeachment will be successful. However, Musharraf has said before that he would step down if impeached. Hopefully he will not follow through with that statement.
None of this should have happened. We should never have relied so heavily on an ineffective dictatorship. This is the price we have to pay. Lessoned learned: don’t cozy up with dictatorships.
The good news is that this could be helpful in the long term. It could stop a lot of potential terrorists from becoming terrorists by (a) defusing anti-American sentiment and (b) having the potential terrorists feel like they have a say in their government. Alternatively, it could not. The brief spike in terrorist activity could outlast the long term effects mentioned above.
So, what should U.S. policy be? No matter who is in power, there is one simple effective step that can be taken: reorganizing aid to Pakistan. Islamabad has squandered billions in military aid. Over $7 billion in aid has been ineffectively used in the fight against terrorists and the rest has been spent on buying next-gen fighter planes for use against India.
A better use for aid would be in infrastructure: building roads, schools, hospitals, electrical lines and water lines. Of course, military aid would still most definitely be necessary. However, American aid to Pakistan needs to be more for the people of Pakistan, rather than the Pakistani military.