Friday, February 29, 2008

Jihadists lose big in Pakistan

Here's the piece I did last week for, on Pakistan in the wake of the recent parliamentary elections. It noted that while the headline was the defeat of the pro-Musharraf party, perhaps the most encouraging news was the decline in support for Islamist or jihadist-sympathetic parties, including the defeat of a Taliban-like party that had actually won control of one province. Such parties had averaged 11 percent support last election and 4 percent in this one.

Now 4 percent of a population can wreak havoc with suicide bombings and the like, but the bogeyman of there being a great danger of jihadists getting control of the government and getting access to nukes, often used to justify the U.S. staying and subsidizing pretty much forever, is extremely unlikely. (There are already Taliban sympathizers in the military and the ISI secret police.)

It's also the case in Iraq, where the war whoopers talk about al-Qaida in Iraq taking control of the country if we leave -- McCain said it almost exactly that way in his recent long-distance campaign trail colloquy with Obama. Most unlikely. More likely is that without U.S. troops as a target it would be harder to recruit AQI members, and the Iraqis themselves would suppress it, probably more brutally and thoroughly than the U.S. would even think of doing.

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