What to do? Protestors on the streets, Taliban and al-Qaeda fighting it out, not to mention America's Afghanistan war and a possible attack on Iran. Not a happy opening for Gwadar, was it?
Musharraf has dismissed the idea of declaring an emergency or deploying the army, despite the fact that all armed-forces intelligence agencies have reported the failure of the civilian administration and the police to handle the protests. The agencies say that probably the only way to contain the protests would be the deployment in sizable numbers of paramilitary forces such as the Pakistan Rangers.
The crisis is being compounded by other developments. According to latest reports, the Pakistani Taliban have seized control of settled areas such as Tank in North West Frontier Province, and the leader of the Awami National Party, Isfandyar Wali, revealed on television that the Taliban now control Frontier Region (FR) Kohat, just 15 kilometers from the provincial capital, Peshawar. "I am constantly saying that Taliban are very rapidly getting powerful in the North West Frontier Province, but nobody is listening to me," said Wali...
The crisis has thus severely eroded the credibility of the Musharraf government, and when the dust settles, both he and the military will find themselves on shaky ground.
Compounding the situation are regional developments. The Taliban are about to launch an offensive in Afghanistan, and a US attack on Iran is not out of the question. These events could propel stronger Iraqi resistance to the US-led occupation there, and set shock waves in motion from Pakistan to Israel. As a major US ally in a region where anti-US forces are calling the shots, any weakening of the Pakistani leadership would have far-reaching ramifications.
It would seem that the military card is the only one Musharraf has left to play. He is truly between the proverbial rock and hard place.