Musharraf's Exit Leaves Alarming Power Vacuum

Washington frets as nuclear nation steps into unknown
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 19, 2008 4:46 AM CDT
Outgoing President Pervez Musharraf salutes as he leaves the presidential house in Islamabad, Pakistan on Monday, Aug. 18, 2008.   (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
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(Newser) – Pervez Musharraf was once Washington's most important ally in the Muslim world, but the general-turned-civilian president of Pakistan had become an increasingly unreliable partner in the combat against Taliban and al-Qaeda insurgents, writes the New York Times. Now that Musharraf has resigned, the US will have to work with Pakistan's squabbling, distracted coalition government, which has shown even less interest in fighting the rebels.

"We’ve said for years that Musharraf is our best bet, and my fear is that we are about to discover how true that was," said a top White House figure. Terrorism is not America's only concern—the administration is deeply concerned about who is controlling Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. Some in Washington are worried about "steadfast efforts" by militants to infiltrate Pakistan's nuclear laboratories.