Pakistan Losing Control

With a little luck we might get through this economic crisis with just a long, tough recession. A little bad luck and we might be in for a frightful ride. South Asia is just the sort of place where bad luck tends to breed.

Case in point today is a report that the police in the Northwestern sector of Pakistan are either being gunned down routinely by the Taliban or quitting the force out of fear. They are out-manned and out-gunned and the militants know it.

While the U.S. and the Pakistani armed forces can pound the Taliban enclaves in the mountains with bombs and artillery, it is the police that represent the only hope for any semblance of victory. As Iraq has shown, territory has to be seized and pacified, the militants marginalized or eliminated. Without a continuing local peacekeeping presence the terrorists simply slip away to their caves until the assault passes and then move back in to terrorize the locals and extend their effective control of the area.

Pakistan has barely enough money to survive as a nation let alone equip and modernize a police force that desperately needs that sort of assistance. The army has always been a part of the political process and the extent of Islamic fundamentalism among the ranks is thought to be high. To be brief, this is a deteriorating situation, maybe more so than the world now recognizes.

It would be supreme irony if the U.S. is left with strong garrisons and control of Iraq and Afghanistan only to see the Taliban and their allies seize control of Pakistan. Irony is probably not the correct word since Pakistan truly does have weapons of mass destruction. Should that event come to pass then the Obama team and the planet have much more that will occupy them than sick economies.

Events in South Asia have shaken the world for centuries. Should the region begin to replay that role then that would be a bad luck that could turn our recession into something a bit more grim.


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