From the perspective of an armchair in the middle of the United States, it is hard to know what to think about Pakistan. There seems to be so much going on, and sometimes the stories seem contradictory. Is the Taliban advancing or retreating? Are the average citizens in Pakistan generally supportive of the Taliban, or frightened by its activities and opposed to the imposition of sharia? And, to top it all off, it seems that Pakistan is experiencing unrest due to food prices.
About the only thing that seems clear is that the United States should be very concerned about what is happening in Pakistan. When the Taliban were in control of Afghanistan, they provided a safe haven where terrorists could train, plot, and execute attacks. Their recent activities provide no basis for believing that they have changed their views or become more civilized. Terrorist groups already are apparently operating in the remote tribal areas of Pakistan where the Taliban is in ascendancy. What could those terrorists accomplish if the Taliban gained control of larger portions the country? After all, Pakistan differs from Afghanistan in at least one crucial respect — Pakistan possesses nuclear weapons. Would leaders who do not hesitate to ruthlessly flog women who are accused of violating a medieval code of conduct hesitate to use nuclear weapons?