The nuclear-armed state of Pakistan appears to be moving closer towards the abyss of Islamic radicalism.Wednesday''s assassination of the country''s sole Christian minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, who was responsible for religious minorities, is a clear warning sign that emboldened militants feel secure enough to target any senior official who publicly challenges draconian blasphemy laws, and by default, the extremist worldview of Salafi jihadis. It is also evidence of the ease with which Pakistan-based terrorists are able to procure arms, scope out targets, and mobilize gunmen to carry out attacks. The shooting, claimed by the Pakistani Taliban, came a little over a month after the governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, who had also questioned the blasphemy laws, was gunned down by his own bodyguard. The assassin is being celebrated as a hero by many ordinary Pakistanis, reports say. Pakistan''s ISI intelligence agency is accused by India and others of cooperating with with radical Islamist groups based inside Pakistan and outside of it. An atmosphere of intimidation continues to prevent other Pakistani officials from openly promoting moderation and pragmatism. The possibility of a jihadi revolution in Pakistan remains the most serious threat to global security, due to the country''s considerable nuclear arsenal. Recent American estimates say Pakistan could possess between 90 to 110 nuclear weapons, and that it may have overtaken Britain as the world''s fifth largest nuclear power, the New York Times reported in January.
My recently published book, Virtual Caliphate, proposes that al-Qaeda has established a virtual state on the internet.