Absolutely and Completely Frightening
It's getting cursory play in the US media, but the siege of the Red Mosque in Pakistan, which for months has been overtaken by radical pro-Taliban Islamists, is cause for a great deal of alarm. Pakistan's status as an "ally" in the war on terror is debatable even in its nominal form; the radical movements in the country are stronger than the so-called "moderate" governmental forces. This public showdown of the two has the distinct possibility of being yet another spark that would cause the ouster of General Musharraf and the possibility of total anarchy in the nuclear-armed nation, which would be instantly the greatest threat to global security. Today, there was another assassination attempt on Musharraf:
Gunman fired on a plane carrying President Gen. Pervez Musharraf today as the government’s siege of a radical mosque in the center of Islamabad continued for a fourth day.
Security officials recovered three large guns from a nearby rooftop in a congested area of Rawalpindi, the site of two previous attempts on Mr. Musharraf’s life.
“Two antiaircraft guns were found which were not fired,” a government statement said. “However, shots were fired from a 7.62 sub-machine gun with telescope.”
There are ongoing negotiations between the student radicals in the mosque and the government, but at least 19 people have died so far, and this incident is fairly unprecedented for Islamabad, which is why I think it may lead to greater violence. There was an amusing moment when one of the chief clerics of the mosque was arrested while trying to leave the scene in a burqa. There's a chance that tensions could dissipate, as many other students are leaving the compound. But anytime there's fighting on the streets in Pakistan, it's a problem, because that country is a house of cards that could fall at any moment.