James Forsyth

Can the Musharraf regime keep a lid on the violence in Pakistan?

Can the Musharraf regime keep a lid on the violence in Pakistan?
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The political fall-out in Pakistan is likely to centre around a letter that Benazir Bhutto wrote to Pervez Musharraf on her return home, demanding that in the event of her death three senior figures in the security services be investigated. The government has always dismissed the letter as merely Bhutto settling scores with her opponents, but in the aftermath of her death it takes on new importance even though Al Qaeda has reportedly claimed responsibility for her death.

Already violence in Karachi has claimed five lives and shops belonging to the family of Mohammedmian Soomro, the current Prime Minister, have been torched in Jacobabad. In these circumstances the parliamentary elections scheduled for January are now almost certain to be suspended especially as Nawaz Sharif, the main opposition figure following Bhutto’s death, has pledged to boycott them. The question is whether the Musharraf regime has the authority to restore order. The very real worry is that any attempt by it to clamp down on the violence will simply beget more violence throwing a nuclear armed state into potentially revolutionary chaos.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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