General Pervez Musharraf [former president of Pakistan] has left and Pakistan’s problems are becoming more complicated and even more likely to blow up.
Nuclear Pakistan is vulnerable to more than just a battle over power and influence because of the risk of falling into the hands of terrorists and transforming into a stage where regional conflicts, in all their forms and even their sectarian dimensions, can be played out.
Pakistan is not a marginal state. Pakistan is a Sunni stronghold and a military power that guarantees the stability of an important part of the Arab region, and specifically the Gulf region, in facing the ambitions of Iran and others. Its role in the fight against terror within Pakistan and Afghanistan is important.
The presidential dilemma in Pakistan is centered around the fact that all parties and hopefuls concerned agreed on toppling Musharraf, and this is exactly what happened. However they have not agreed on a plan to bring Pakistan out of a dangerous situation and to make it safe and stable at a time when Pakistan’s enemies, of which there are many both within and outside of the country, are ready to ambush the country’s stability and power.
The conflict with Musharraf united his enemies but they are not in agreement over Pakistan’s stability and protection from political or economic breakdown since political ambitions and the desire for power has caused Pakistan to be the biggest victim of this internal political struggle.
Pakistan is too big and important to be left to its politicians to settle their accounts and this is where fear for the country’s stability is legitimate and justified. For that reason, international efforts, and particularly Arab efforts, must be made to protect the country and to ensure that the situation in Pakistan does not fall apart and that the fight against terror continues strong.
There are many factors that justify fear for Pakistan. There is fear that with the help of neighboring countries, extremist forces will be able to bring Pakistan down into a bloody cesspool that terrorists will benefit from, particularly the Al Qaeda movement, by turning a large part of Pakistan into a stronghold and fertile grounds for terrorists and extremist thinking.
There is a justified fear that certain parties seek to strike a blow against international efforts in Afghanistan in order to widen the gap between Pakistan and Afghanistan so that any attempts to bring Kabul and Islamabad closer together are thwarted, particularly as part of the fight against terror. The British are aware of this and they are attempting to reconcile Pakistan and Afghanistan.
There is also the fear that the lack of stability in Pakistan will be manipulated in order to reignite the armed conflict between Islamabad and India, which could have disastrous results based on the fact that both Pakistan and India are nuclear powers.
Therefore there must be a greater Arab endeavor, especially by Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Egypt, in order to ensure bringing the rivals in Pakistan together to agree upon the necessity of protecting the country and ensuring that the fight against terror continues and that neighboring countries do not exploit the political crisis in Pakistan, which could complicate the internal situation further.
What I would like to say is that we must look at Pakistan’s stability as an extension of the stability of our region and see that Pakistan is at the heart of our Arab security, and the security of the Gulf region in particular.