"There are risks and costs to a program of action, but they are far less than the long range risks and costs of comfortable inaction." -- John F. Kennedy
The war on terror, being fought on many fronts, may soon be expanding into another nation, and we're not talking about Iran. Last week, the government in Pakistan made noises about declaring a state of emergency as President Gen. Pervez Musharraf strives to hold on to power.
Pakistan, considered an ally in the war on terror, shares a border with Afghanistan, and the two nations are not on the best of terms. Further complicating matters are persistent reports of Taliban and al-Qaida members hiding in the mountainous regions of Pakistan near Afghanistan.
One of the reasons the Pakistani minister for state information gave for not ruling out a declaration of a state of emergency was talk from the United States about the possibility of U.S. military action against al-Qaida in Pakistan "has started alarm bells ringing and has upset the Pakistani public." He mentioned Democratic presidential hopeful Barak Obama by name as an example of someone who made such comments, saying his recent remarks were one reason the government was debating a state of emergency.
The fate of 21 South Korean relief workers who have been kidnapped and held for three weeks by members of the Taliban, further complicates matters in the region. Twice the South Korean government has called off rescue efforts.
Many Americans believe that Pakistan is harboring members of al-Qaida. Perhaps the federal government of the country is not doing so, but warlords and governors of border regions are at the very least looking the other way.
Pres. Bush is faced with a no-win situation with Pakistan. While the federal government supports the war against al-Qaida and needs support from our country, a blind eye can not be taken on the issue of harboring known terrorists.
The situation is eerily similar to the problem faced by Pres. Nixon with Viet Cong fighters crossing into Cambodia and Laos to avoid confrontations with American troops nearly 30 years ago. Nixon ended up sending troops in after the enemy, and Bush or his successor may no choice but to do the same.