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March 15, 2009

Uh-Oh: Protests Against Pakistan Government Turn Violent

Bush was always playing a game apparently too nuanced for Barack Obama, who spoke casually of the Great Overmountain Invasion of Pakistan.

On one hand, we want these Al Qaeda sympathizing terrorist-breeding bastards to straighten their shit out and get right with Jesus.

On the other hand, push them too far and the central, non-insane government may fall and Al Qaeda will have, again, it's own owned-and-operated state. With 170 million people. And nukes.

There's no need for alarmism, but there is cause for some alarm.

President Asif Ali Zardari struggled to maintain his increasingly tenuous grip over Pakistan Sunday as police tear-gassed stone-throwing protesters and authorities tried – and failed – to put the main opposition leader under house arrest.

What began four days ago as a political standoff between Mr. Zardari and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is now "beginning to look like an endgame" for the deeply unpopular president with cabinet ministers quitting and popular discontent growing, said Safdar Abbasi, a senior member of Mr. Zardari's Pakistan People's Party. Analysts and politicians cautioned that it could play out over months rather than days, however.

Sunday's violence in the eastern city of Lahore, Mr. Sharif's stronghold, renewed speculation that Pakistan's military – which has ruled Pakistan for more than half it's 61-year history – could step in to restore order just over a year after the restoration of democracy in this nuclear-armed nation. There was also growing alarm among officials from the U.S. and other Western allies that the crisis had distracted Islamabad from battling the Taliban and al Qaeda.

The military stepping in wouldn't necessarily be bad -- that's what they do. The worry is on whose side do they intervene, and if they defy the Islamists too much, can they keep control this time?

Thanks to JackStraw.

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posted by Ace at 05:01 PM

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