A lot of the headlines are implying that the recent elections in Pakistan, which resulted in Musharraf’s party losing to the Pakistan People’s Party, being led by the late President Bhutto’s husband, was a defeat for Bush’s policies and the war on terror.

This type of superficial reporting (all the bad news all the time, especially if it can be made to bash Bush) is wrong.

Such reporting ignores the nuances of clan/ethnic voting, the growing vigorous middle class entrepeneurs of Pakistan, and the disenchantment of tribal areas with “religious party” politicians who preach nice but aren’t competent enough to guarantee little things like running water.

As I noted a couple days ago:

As a result of violence, public opinion turned against the extremists in the tribal areas, and the incompetence of those politicians in religious based parties led to these parties losing in the recent election.
So the recent elections turn out to be a defeat for Musharraf but not necessarily a defeat for Bush’s war on terror.

So the good news is that the Islamicist party that backed the Taliban in tribal areas was defeated. This means people voted for peace. Whether or not the defeated will stay quiet, or will start a war against elected officials is another question.

The real question for the rest of Pakistanis how the new (coalition) government will be formed…Bill Roggio explains that if the Bhutto party combines with the second largest winner, which is from Kashmir, it may lead to weakening the war against Islamic extremists. The US however had hoped they will combine with Musharraf’s party…something unlikely since many blame Bhutto’s assassination on the failure of the Army (and Musharraf) to protect her life.

William M Arkin in the WaPost is even a bit more optimistic. In an article with the title

The War in Pakistan: Mission Being Accomplished?

he faults the headlines that paint Musharraf’s defeat in the election as a defeat for Bush, and the implication that the war against extremists in Pakistan will now end with the extremists winning.

Arkin then reminds people about the existence of “special ops” and cooperation between countries on a very hush hush level…the real danger may not be the Pakistani election as much as an American election that pulls the plug on this secret but successful war on terror:

Now the domestic changes unfolding in Democratic Pakistan worry U.S. officials: the “new” operations and the “far more aggressive strategy” and the new arrangements arm twisted out of Musharraf could be curtailed. It isn’t at all clear that the new political coalition in Pakistan will actually restrict what is going on (or will be willing to challenge the Pakistani military at a time when it is just attempting to govern), and there is always the prospect that for domestic consumption, the new leaders will say one thing and do another. So the jury’s still out.

The real worry is that Obama, if elected, will fail to reject simplistic cliches of the left and start being realistic.

There are a lot more players in the “great game” …India and China also have interests that Pakistan remains peaceful… and China has ties with Pakistan’s military. If Pakistan falls to extremists and become destablized, the entire area may descend into anarchy and war. And this has wider implications that allowing headlines to slant the news to help certain candidates win elections.
When the left shills about the US trading blood for oil, when it comes to Afghanistan and Pakistan, they are only partly right…it’s China that needs the oil and natural gas from the Central Asian Republic… while the US may have been pacifying the area, China has found this allows them to expand economically into this vital area.

Indeed, China may be the long term “winner” if the US policies establish peace in the area.

But if a pacifist President withdraws US troops, leaving a power vacuum, it will be China that benefits..——————-

Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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