Our “vital ally in the War on Terror,” as President Bush describes Pakistan, is on the brink of a crisis that could make Iraq look like a Sunday picnic.
To stabilize his situation, President Pervez Musharraf is negotiating a power-sharing arrangement with former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who is taking a hard line about her return from self-imposed exile, insisting that Musharraf give up control of the army that brought him to power.
"The Red Mosque was just a warm-up for what will happen if the religious schools are not disarmed," Bhutto said this week about the recent bloody occupation in Islamabad, adding that Islamist extremists plotting the overthrow of Musharraf's government had converted madrassases into military arsenals.
All this unrest and uncertainty comes amid the Bush Administration’s increasing doubts about Pakistan’s role in rooting out Al Qaeda and the imminent passage by Congress of an aid bill that would be tied to Pakistan’s progress in cracking down on terrorist safe havens.
Add to this volatile political mixture Pakistan’s possession of nuclear weapons, and it may soon make our worries about Iraq and Iran look simple by comparison.