The weakest link (outside the West’s own self-imposed political division and weakness) in the war on terror is teetering.
Fifteen people were killed in Karachi on Saturday in clashes between pro-government and opposition activists, the worst political violence in Pakistan in years, as the suspended top judge arrived to meet supporters.
The suspension of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry on March 9 has outraged the judiciary and the opposition and has blown up into the most serious challenge to President Pervez Musharraf’s authority since he seized power in 1999.
Opposition leaders said Karachi was under siege by supporters of the pro-government Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), which runs Pakistan’s biggest city.
Saturday was declared a public holiday in Karachi and normal traffic was largely absent from the streets, where thousands of paramilitary troops and police were on patrol.
The protest is billing itself as a pro-democracy movement, which it may well be in that it’s opposing a dictator. But democracy in Pakistan would definitely bring a very mixed bag of ideas to power. The powerful Red Mosque is trying to convert the “democracy” movement to a drive to promote sharia. If it’s good enough for the UK, it’s good enough for Pakistan.
But really, it’s just one dictator among dozens in the world. What can go wrong?