In the past year Pakistan has suffered its worst violence since the riots that followed its founding in 1947. And in the past six months it has careered from one political and constitutional crisis to another, none of which has been resolved, or is likely to be resolved by parliamentary elections scheduled for Feb. 18. . . . In fact, Pakistan is facing two crises—one political and the other security-related. . . .
There is a solution to Pakistan's political crisis, one that will allow Musharraf to leave on a high note. First, he must hold free and fair elections. . . . Musharraf should recognize that he has become far too controversial to be able to lead his nation and should instead recede from power.
That still leaves Pakistan's other, more dangerous, crisis—the new jihad. . . . The most troubling aspect of this wave of terror is that no one in Pakistan seems to understand why it's happening. . . . Theories abound. The Pakistani military was never fully committed to battling jihadists. Having spent decades training fighters for Kashmir and Afghanistan, the Army withdrew support but would not kill or arrest its former charges.
Washington itself bears a significant part of the blame. The Taliban were never really defeated after the fall of Kabul. They simply went into hiding and regrouped, and yet the American Army declared victory and left. . . . The American debate has been, as is often the case, largely removed from reality.
The real question we face in Pakistan is what to do about the upcoming elections to ensure that they are free and fair. We need to walk Musharraf back from a power struggle in which he is pitted against an independent judiciary and democratically elected politicians. And above all we must find a way to work with the Pakistani people and not a handful of generals. Otherwise the intense anti-Americanism in Pakistan—fast rising because of our support for Musharraf—will produce a new wave of jihadists, born in the mountains of the frontier, tested in battle against the Pakistani Army and thirsting to fight the ultimate enemy, thousands of miles away.