In Swat the truce has broken down and a series of violent events have taken place across the country. Al Qaeda and the Taliban continue to roadblock the path to democracy by fighting against the current government of Pakistan. Their goal is to create a chaotic state where they can rule in areas through intimidation.
In Swat the Army attacked the militants after receiving fire on a recon helicopter, killing between 15-18 and a close aid to Fazlullah. TNSM threatened suicide bombers over their illegal FM radio station.
In Miranshah the AQAM (Al Qaeda and Allied movements) forces attacked outposts with rockets, initiating return fire from the Army that destroyed a hotel, killing four civilians.
In Rawalpindi motorcycle gunners shot at a police patrol after they were flagged down, injuring one officer.
The investigation into the interupted assassination attempt on Musharraf at Pindi Cantt continues in the background of the funerals for the seven killed when police stopped the bomber at a checkpoint. They’ve reconstructed the head through forensic plastic surgery, collected the bomber’s DNA, and they have three of his fingers to run prints from against the national database. The belt the bombers used matches the explosives and style of the one used in the attack on the Bhutto motorcade, and the police are suspecting Al Qaeda, although they are hedging bets by not stating that directly.
In the Punjab a motorcycle bomber has attacked a bus, killing four and wounding forty.
To survive, terrorists must have sympathizers and supporters who appear normal – that’s always the case unless the support comes directly from a close neighbor state. Recent polls show that only 48% of Pakistanis support the army chasing Al Qaeda, and 80% would oppose US intervention into the frontiers of Pakistan. Until that changes the terrorists will have the support they need to continue waging a war of terror in Pakistan, and the people will have to deal with watching more of their freedom and safety slip away.
In NWFP, the caretaker government in the assembly continues to call for a peace jirga with the TNSM followers of Fazlullah in Swat.
On the political scene, the court is nearing a decision on the challenges to Musharraf’s eligibility to run for president again, and some are speculating that some petitions will be thrown out due to qualifications and standing. Many MMA members of the National Assembly and Parliament have Madrassah diplomas, which lack specific courses and eduction required for office. If the court rules they do not have standing, the precedent would have potential to sweep the MMA politicians out of office.
Benazir Bhutto canceled a visit to Dubai on rumors that the Supreme Court rulings would come soon, on the chance that Musharraf could call a state of emergency if the rulings go against him.
There is also a call to pardon Mujahadeen as part of the National Reconciliation Ordnance, and that might be the payoff that allows it to go forward. One of the political forces in Pakistan is still the old-guard Army and ISI contingents that first postioned and created the insurgents that grew into the evil we see from the Taliban and Al Qaeda today. The original Muj forces fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan, and India int he Kashmir, while the later groups and offshoot rebel groups became the face of terror as we know it today.
Pardoning the Mujahadeen is a knotty problem for Pakistan to deal with – if they pardon the ones who fought solely against the Soviets, that’s one thing — if they pardon those who fought against India it sours relations, which Pakistan needs for the trade ties. Pardoning Taliban and Al Qaeda is the other part — when did the Mujahadeen transform and when did they turn to evil? The exact date could be argued interminably.
The Fox news scroll this morning just got something wrong — the Supreme Court is ruling just on whether Musharraf can stand as president, not as to whether he can hold both offices as the news scroll states. Post 11/15 he cannot hold both offices, that’s pretty much been decided already, and he’s set up a military successor to prepare for that.
The real question is will the ruling come before that date, which gives Musharraf an option — if he can’t be president, he wants to stay as head of the military, if he is president, he will step down as head of army and has promised to do so.
If the court holds it’s ruling until the fifteenth, that puts the steps towards democracy since 2003 into danger. It’s unlikely that Musharraf would call state of emergency if he has a lock on either president or head of army, but if the future is uncertain as to any position, then it inches the decision towards state of emergency, and back to full military dictatorship.