So, there's been a great deal of talk about the recent situation in Pakistan, where President Pervez Musharraf has taken extreme measures to maintain his hold on power and stifle opposition. Much of the talk thus far has been about the Democratic process and how Pakistanis need to be given more freedom. However, this argument is missing several key points.
First, Musharraf has been a key US ally. Right now, Pakistan is one of the most important battlegrounds in the War on Terror. We need a government in place that will allow the US military to enter its country and continue the fight against terrorists. Unfortunately, it is a delicate balance, because unpopular dictatorships tend to encourage more terrorism. Basically, we need to keep him in power, while ensuring that opposition leaders are placated as much as possible.
Second, and most important, is Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. Having a stable government, even if it is a dictatorship, is preferable to anarchy or unstable democracy when a nation has nuclear weapons, as Pakistan does. The United States needs to do everything in its power to keep a stable government in Pakistan, to prevent nuclear weapons from being in questionable or unknown hands.
Overall, the situation is far from ideal. But presently, our concern should be ensuring that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is secure, and that we are able to use their country to base attacks against terrorists. Unfortunately, for the moment, pressuring for democratic reforms must take a backseat. We should do our best to encourage freedom and democracy in Pakistan, but not to the point where it will disrupt our other priorities.