The resignation of President Musharraf brings to an end an important yet turbulent chapter in US – Pakistan relations since 9/11. The United States faces today a Pakistan that lacks any form of consensus. The increasingly deteriorating situation in Pakistan can quickly get out of hand and make Pakistan an ungovernable country with potent insurgencies spreading to the various regions of the country, leaving the United States with limited options going forward.
Advice for business professionals, government workers and non-profits who may suddenly find themselves in politically volatile and potentially dangerous situations oversees.
If Pakistan continues to falter in its nascent steps toward democracy; if its government continues to arbitrarily jail leading citizens and silence an independent media; if it continues to focus its security measures against legitimate political opponents and civic leaders rather than the violent extremists and terrorists; then the resulting discontent and repression will make it that much easier to recruit and motivate more terrorists. And if the rule of law and the justice system collapse, and they are teetering on the edge now, then the terrorists will surely operate with even greater freedom and efficiency.
Speaking after the bombing attack on her life when she first returned, she told me that, yes, she was afraid of the assassins bent on killing her, she was afraid of being arrested again, but that she was more afraid of what was happening to her country and she was determined to restore freedom and safety in this land of her children.
Fran Townsend did an exceptional job in a very difficult position for the President as his Homeland Security Advisor. One area of debate has been whether the U.S. should have the office of the Homeland Security Advisor merged with the office of the National Security Advisor so that homeland security work is done under the leadership of the NSA. I think that would be a step backward. It would be difficult for one key advisor to concentrate on international challenges like we’re seeing in Pakistan with Musharraf and Bhutto versus the homeland security challenges that we face domestically.
While Pakistan has been a loyal if sometimes hesitant ally of the United States under the leadership of Gen. Pervez Musharraf, his misjudgments of late — including his transparent effort to maintain political power even if by force of arms against legitimate political opposition such as Benazir Bhutto — have eroded his support among the public. In order for Pakistan to sustain a long-term fight against terrorism, there must be a leader with a public mandate.