Sunday Read: Pakistan After Tomorrow

Why should Americans care at all about Pakistan, beyond the fact that U.S. taxpayers have provided about $10 billion in military and economic aid since 9/11, when Musharraf decided that casting his lot with the United States, (despite the fact that Pakistan’s intelligence services practically created the Taliban government in neighboring Afghanistan), was the better part of discretion?

Two reasons: Pakistan has nuclear weapons, and nobody wants them to fall into jihadist hands. And it would be nice if the Pakistani government managed to weaken the gathering jihadist forces (Taliban, al-Qaida, perhaps bin Laden himself) in Pakistan’s North West Provinces and along the rugged border with neighboring Afghanistan.

Though I may not always agree with his libertarian leanings, I must admit that I’ve always enjoyed reading Alan Bock in The Register. And this morning, he has a great piece of analysis on Pakistan. As you may know, tomorrow is Election Day for Pakistan’s Parliament. But after Election Day, what happens next?  
Even though President Pervez Musharraf isn’t on the ballot himself, other members of his party are. And in many ways, this election is an indirect referendum on Musharraf, his problems in curbing al-Qaeda, and his failure to jumpstart the flailing economy. And of course, this election is also quickly becoming an indirect referendum on slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and the memory of her fight to restore democratic rule in this turbulent nation.

But what happens after tomorrow? If Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party and its allies win as expected, does this mean a victory for democracy? If Musharraf’s party survives tomorrow’s election, can this help establish stability in an unstable nation with nuclear weapons? And what does this all mean for Pakistan-US relations? How should our next President handle Pakistan?

Think about it.