Monday, October 10, 2005

Pakistan is a politically unstable country, WITH NUKES. It is also geologically unstable.

Juan Cole
The Pakistani government is now estimating 30,000 dead in the earthquake, and incidents of civil violence are being reported by AP. CNN is suggesting that 2.5 million are homeless, and perhaps as many as 5 million.

The magnitude of the disaster is only gradually becoming apparent. It will put enormous pressure on Pakistan's government to respond effectively. Its ability to do so is not clear.

The geopolitical outcome could be significant. Governments have been shaken by poor response to smaller catastrophes than this one, e.g. Turkey's in the late 1990s. Gen. Musharraf's future may depend in part on how well he can turn his military and government to disaster relief. Likewise, the future of Kashmir, a global flashpoint, may be affected. If Pakistan cannot show it cares and can come to the aid of the Kashmiris it rules, it will very likely forfeit all claim on the region (in opinion polls, few Kashmiris want to join Pakistan, anyway).

The Bush administration response so far seems to me wholly inadequate to the scale of this problem.

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