The attempted reopening today in Islamabad of the Red Mosque complex that saw a bloody confrontation between security forces and militant Islamic radicals on July 10-11 is a reminder of the challenges confronting Pakistan's embattled President Pervez Musharraf. The event was descending into rioting as Islamic hard-liners sought to retake the facilities.
Pakistan's recent slide toward political instability could have important repercussions for Central Asian states. One of Pakistan's most fervent Islamic groups, Tablighi Jamaat, also happens to be among the most active in proselytizing in Central Asia.
Pro-Taliban militants in Pakistan's restive North Waziristan tribal region say they are pulling out of a noninterference deal with the government that gave them wide latitude in exchange for security assurances.
The militants accuse Islamabad of violating the agreement by deploying more troops in the region.
The pace of the "Talibanization" in Pakistan's tribal areas bordering Afghanistan appears to be accelerating this spring. The trend has been obscured by recent internecine fighting, pitting mainly Pashtun militants against fighters affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.
As he prepared to return to his homeland after 15 years as a refugee, Hazratullah, a native of Afghanistan's Nangarhar Province, was more anxious than happy. "I don't have a house there and I don't know if I will find any work," he told EurasiaNet about his fears.
The United States needs to change its policies toward Pakistan to better promote stability in South Asia, especially in Afghanistan, leading regional experts argued during a recent conference in Washington, DC.