The Duel: Pakistan in the Flight Path of American Power
Pakistan, the likely home of Osama Bin Laden and safe house for the Taliban forces fighting NATO in Afghanistan, stands on the front line of the war against terror.
Yet, as recent events have shown, this long-time ally of the West and recipient of $10 billion of American aid in the past decade, is in deepening crisis. As President Pervez Musharraf struggles, with ever-diminishing success, to cling to power through states of emergency and imprisonment of his opponents, a range of forces are attempting to fill the vacuum that surrounds him: (before her death) Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, both previous presidents themselves and, Ali, argues, more corrupt than Musharraf himself; a lawyers movement that has taken to the streets demanding adherence to the constitution and the rule of law; and the Islamists in Waziristan and the North West Frontier whose increasingly effective assaults on the Pakistan army threaten to tip the country into full-blown civil war.
With customary verve and acuity, Ali parses the prospects for these contending groups, drawing on extensive first-hand research and personal knowledge of many of the key players involved to assess the causes and consequences of Pakistan's rapid spiral into political chaos.