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Benazir Bhutto Assasinated
December 27, 2007 5:43 AM   Subscribe

Benazir Bhutto was killed in an apparent assasination. Previously thought to have escaped the blast unscathed, she was killed by a shot to the neck.

NewsFilter, but this seems like a big deal.
posted by Lord_Pall (485 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
no no no no no! damn it!

.
posted by moonbird at 5:48 AM on December 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


CNN is reporting that 5 shots were fired at her car – which was supposedly bullet-proof – and 1 hit her in the neck, killing her.
posted by Poolio at 5:48 AM on December 27, 2007


I was able to get a sense of Musharraf's soul, a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:50 AM on December 27, 2007 [6 favorites]


It is important, but it's not even known if she's dead yet. A quick scan of Google News indicates most reports have her injured, with varying degrees of severity. Only the BBC has reported her dead.
posted by ardgedee at 5:51 AM on December 27, 2007


NBC is reporting her dead.
posted by ColdChef at 5:52 AM on December 27, 2007


Shit. I hope it's a ploy to get her into hiding until the elections. If not and this ends up being confirmed then it's time to stock up on canned goods and bottled water.
posted by vito90 at 5:52 AM on December 27, 2007


I, for one, find it reassuring that the billions of dollars in aid we send Pakistan are helping to stablize the country.

'Cause otherwise it'd just be pissing money in a hole and we already do that in so many other places around the world.

Bhutto was no paragon of probity and her re-entry into Pakistani politics seemed a seat-shuffling among the same-olds, but the ease and impunity with which she, as a national figure, has been murdered shows just how unstable that country is.
posted by the sobsister at 5:52 AM on December 27, 2007 [5 favorites]


Now they're saying she was shot in the neck and chest. This seems to be coming from the AP.

ardgedee - It's been confirmed by her party that she's dead.
posted by Poolio at 5:52 AM on December 27, 2007


Oh my God.

(FWIW, CNN is now saying she died too.)
posted by kalimac at 5:53 AM on December 27, 2007


NYT is still saying "may have been."
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:53 AM on December 27, 2007


It's on every news outlet now - looks like she is dead. Pakistan was already a pressure cooker - this is going to be VERY bad. Musharraf will be declaring another state of emergency any minute now, I expect.
posted by deadmessenger at 5:53 AM on December 27, 2007


AP, MSNBC, BBC, CNN all report that she is dead.

Plus the Pakistani Interior Minister is reporting her dead as well.
posted by Lord_Pall at 5:53 AM on December 27, 2007


Her death is confirmed by newsmen on the scene via MSNBC. Her official site.

David Bhutto interview with Frost in November after failed assassination attempt, in which she names her potential enemies who wanted her dead.
posted by madamjujujive at 5:53 AM on December 27, 2007


Benazir Bhutto killed by bomb at rally
posted by ColdChef at 5:54 AM on December 27, 2007


The Bush admin is now confirming it.
posted by Poolio at 5:55 AM on December 27, 2007


.

Saddened but not terribly surprised....
posted by pax digita at 5:55 AM on December 27, 2007


Bizarrely, I was listening to Dutch radio news here at work at 2PM CET, and it opened with something along the lines of "In the run up to the general elections Pakistan faces growing disquiet", then going on to report today's suicide bombing in which "Bhutto was unharmed because she was elsewhere at the time".

.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:55 AM on December 27, 2007


Sad--yes. Surprising--no. I cannot imagine how f'd up the middle east is going to be, or for how long, because of Bush/Cheney cowboy diplomacy.

Weren't we (the US) responsible for pushing her back into Pakistan in order to hedge our bets against Musharraf? T
posted by zerobyproxy at 5:55 AM on December 27, 2007


This is chilling.

.
posted by desjardins at 5:56 AM on December 27, 2007


Now CNN is saying the admin is not confirming it... but they have.
posted by Poolio at 5:56 AM on December 27, 2007


crap crap crap oh crap...not good. Not good at ALL.
posted by konolia at 5:57 AM on December 27, 2007


Buy stock in booze and dry cleaning.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:57 AM on December 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


This is terrible news as she represented a potentially stabilizing and Western friendly alternative in the country. It would not be good if the government weakens and control of the nukes falls into the hands of the Taliban. The US would of course attack.
posted by caddis at 5:57 AM on December 27, 2007


That's not good news at all.
posted by seanyboy at 5:58 AM on December 27, 2007


@pax digita---JINX! You owe me a coke!
posted by zerobyproxy at 5:58 AM on December 27, 2007


She's being reported dead on Pakistani media (or at least the media that's being broadcast here in India). People speaking on the air (presumably her aides, have broken down). The scenes seem pretty grim, and it doesn't look like a ploy; I think they really got to her this time. Such a shock.
posted by hadjiboy at 5:58 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Her lawyer issued a statement confirming she'd been "martyred".
posted by Poolio at 6:00 AM on December 27, 2007


.

Very upsetting news this morning.
posted by sugarfish at 6:01 AM on December 27, 2007


Holy shit.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 6:01 AM on December 27, 2007


Oh shit. This is not good.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:02 AM on December 27, 2007


(Correction: "elsewhere at the time" was probably my mishearing of "rushed away from the scene" or similar.)

hadjiboy, if you could keep us posted if any important/interesting things about this in Indian media come through that would be much appreciated.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:03 AM on December 27, 2007


.

fuel meet fire.
posted by analogue at 6:04 AM on December 27, 2007


.
posted by Happy Dave at 6:04 AM on December 27, 2007


I only hope this will make a martyr of her and will work to turn the moderate Pakistani majority against the extremists, don't know how likely this is though.
Very sad, saw her interviewed a couple of times, seemed like she was intelligent and cared.
posted by greytape at 6:05 AM on December 27, 2007


Sweet merciful shit. Stock up on rubbers, shells and grain alcohol.
posted by notsnot at 6:05 AM on December 27, 2007


.
posted by p3t3 at 6:07 AM on December 27, 2007


This sucks.

Peace be with you, Benazir Bhutto.

I'm stunned. (...though not surprised...)
posted by rmmcclay at 6:10 AM on December 27, 2007


Pakistan was already a pressure cooker - this is going to be VERY bad. Musharraf will be declaring another state of emergency any minute now, I expect.

Very bad? Let's not forget that Bhutto was far from a saint and further still from saviour of her nation. Surely she didn't deserve a bullet in the neck, but she proved herself as corrupt as the rest of them.
posted by three blind mice at 6:10 AM on December 27, 2007 [5 favorites]


damn.
posted by contessa at 6:10 AM on December 27, 2007


I hate Bush as much as the rest of you, but what does he (and Cheney) have to do with the way Pakistan has 'turned out'? That country was filled with extremists and militants all carrying AK-47s long before Bush was even the President.

Sad to see anyone assassinated, but violence is the way of life over there. It has been for a very long time, and will continue to be for a very long time.

I feel for her and any moderate in the Middle East right now.
posted by eas98 at 6:11 AM on December 27, 2007


Bullet wounds in the aftermath of the bomb blast? This is sounding like someone in her bodyguard made the coup de grace after the bomb failed to kill her. I am reminded of the assassination of Indira Ghandi.

That is, if these early sketchy reports are at all to be trusted. It may well have been some kind of shrapnel.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 6:12 AM on December 27, 2007


I'll agree with what was said above, this wasn't terribly surprising. They tried to knock her off the day she arrived, after all.

I was fortunate enough to see her in person at a talk between her and Ehud Barak. The subject of their talk was about peace in the Middle East. Ah well.




.
posted by Atreides at 6:13 AM on December 27, 2007


They're discussing the possibility of an inside job on CNN now, Henry C. Mabuse.
posted by Poolio at 6:15 AM on December 27, 2007


Holy shit.

.
posted by jonp72 at 6:16 AM on December 27, 2007


what does he (and Cheney) have to do with the way Pakistan has 'turned out'?

Because after 9/11, they told Musharraf, "Support our War On Terror (TM) or else." And Musharraf was like, "OK, whatever." And then nothing happened. And then we invaded a totally different country and forgot about Osama Bin Laden, who was given carte blanche to assume the ayatollahship of the western part of the country.

We'll need a deep shovel to clean up the world in 2009.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 6:16 AM on December 27, 2007


.

While it's true she was no saint, this is still quite spectacularly bad for millions and millions of people.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:19 AM on December 27, 2007 [7 favorites]


.
posted by jepler at 6:19 AM on December 27, 2007


Just another shining example of how religion stifles progress.
posted by Mr_Zero at 6:19 AM on December 27, 2007 [11 favorites]


I knew this was going to happen as soon as she set foot back in Pakistan.
posted by brujita at 6:20 AM on December 27, 2007


As terrible as this is (and is terrible), I wonder what this changes, if anything at all. Bhutto has never been a particularly stabilizing or mollifying influence in Pakistan, and as such, was never a legitimate counter-balance to Musharraf's heavy handed tactics. The miscreants responsible for this atrocity were just going to keep on trying to kill her until they got it right. I suspect that this may have a chilling effect on any other reformers with an inclination for public service in Pakistan, but otherwise this is, sadly, business as usual.
posted by psmealey at 6:20 AM on December 27, 2007


This is not good for Pakistan.

.
posted by furtive at 6:21 AM on December 27, 2007


Heckuva job, Paki.

Um, WTF?
posted by afx237vi at 6:24 AM on December 27, 2007


violence is the way of life over there
Do you know anyone from "over there"? I'm not from over there -- just read the history, and do the dances -- but violence is not the normative "over there", it's an abberation of the last century or so, if you're talking about the Middle East/East Asian regions.
Considering we armed many of the militants in that region to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, yeah, that part isn't Bush's fault. But the current arming of the military is his fault, there's been multiple hints that the money we're pouring in is finding it's way into extremist hands, and certainly his Cowboy Diplomacy has made the extremists moreso, just as it did after we invaded Iraq.

People "over there", by and large, want peace. And it only takes a handful of crazies to make things not Peaceful.
posted by Asim at 6:24 AM on December 27, 2007 [19 favorites]


.
posted by desuetude at 6:24 AM on December 27, 2007


I just listened to a report on NPR. More details:

She was shot as she was getting into her vehicle. News analysts that NPR is talking to is saying that her security was lax.

The actual bomb blast seems to just be incidental.

More stuff that analysts are saying:

Pakistani Security may be culpable. And has been hostile toward Bhutto
Musharraf may be culpable.
Islamists are also being blamed.
And Afghanis are really pissed off.
posted by Sam.Burdick at 6:26 AM on December 27, 2007


Pakistan is so totally fucked.


.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:27 AM on December 27, 2007


I only hope this will make a martyr of her and will work to turn the moderate Pakistani majority against the extremists, don't know how likely this is though.

The problem is it's not a "moderates vs. extremists" situation, it's a "Pro-Democracy vs. Musharraf vs. Extremists". I don't know all that much about the situation, but Bhutto was Pro-Democracy, obviously. And Musharraf was using the guise of "fighting extremists" to clamp down on civil liberties of judges and lawyers. So it's not at all that simple.

Anyway, this is a huge blow. My understanding is that there was one other moderate political leader who was running. Bhutto was certainly very well known in the west. It's really awful that she was assassinated :(
posted by delmoi at 6:27 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Bhutto was assasinated in the same town where her father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was executed.
posted by furtive at 6:27 AM on December 27, 2007


Heckuva job, Paki.

Um, WTF?


I was hoping the hints of echoing W twice ("heckuva" and "nobody could have predicted") would recall the early episode of him referring to "Pakis". I guess I was wrong.
posted by DU at 6:28 AM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


Serious question: Why is that important? What sort of impact will it have? Why does it matter?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:30 AM on December 27, 2007


Nobody could have predicted. Heckuva job, Paki.

Hmm... You probably don't know this, but the word "Paki" is a offensive racial slur in the UK, about the same as the n-word in the U.S. and used for any "South Asian" (i.e. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc).
posted by delmoi at 6:31 AM on December 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


.
posted by cass at 6:34 AM on December 27, 2007


I was hoping the hints of echoing W twice ("heckuva" and "nobody could have predicted") would recall the early episode of him referring to "Pakis". I guess I was wrong.

Apologies. A bit too obscure for me.
posted by afx237vi at 6:34 AM on December 27, 2007


One could imagine that Mussharraf was right about the extremist, and that he is right to do without all the legalities when murderous terrorist are killing important political figures, right ?

One need a strongman, not flimsy lawyers to fight terrorists, right ? So Mussharraf has to be the next leader, for greater justice !

I'd like to read attentively all of the paki newspapers and media to see in which direction they'll spin the event. If I had Murdoch like power, I'd immediately sell the country to Mush while betraying him with a more malleable opposition.
posted by elpapacito at 6:34 AM on December 27, 2007


From what I've gleaned, Bhutto was not "Pro-Democracy". She had a bit of the megalomaniacal about her, was more than a bit corrupt, and was really more "Pro-Benazir" than anything else.

While an articulate spokesperson for herself and something of a favorite among Western oligarchs, I don't think removing her from the political scene irremediably harms the prospects for democracy in Pakistan, as there are so many other factors that could comfortably smother democracy in its cradle by themselves.
posted by the sobsister at 6:35 AM on December 27, 2007 [6 favorites]


This is the sequence of events that they’re reporting on the news here:

Benazir Bhutto arrives at Rawalpindi where she gives a speech to a large gathering. She then leaves the site in a white SUV, which a few minutes later, is approached by two gunmen armed with AK 47 assault rifles, who then open fire on her, shooting her in the head and the neck. This is then followed by a suicide bombing right next to the car. She’s then taken to the hospital, where it is said that the shot to the neck was the fatal one. 20 people have been killed in the suicide bombing, and 42 injured. Her supporters are holding General/President Pervez Musharraf personally responsible for this. People in Karachi, where she has popular support, have already started grieving, as have other people who they are showing on the air. It is being reported that Nawaz Sharif appeared on air and broke down after hearing the news. Miss Bhutto is survived by her three children, and her husband.
posted by hadjiboy at 6:35 AM on December 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


They're discussing the possibility of an inside job on CNN now

Well, duh. Rawalpindi is a garrison city, and she was already targeted once. If the Pakistani police / security services didn't have their hand in this I'll eat my hat.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:37 AM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


Sad to see anyone assassinated, but violence is the way of life over there. It has been for a very long time, and will continue to be for a very long time.

This is, of course, absurd. After all "violence was a way of life" in Europe for thousands of years, culminating in a war that killed 40 million people in a decade. There is plenty of violence in U.S. history as well.
posted by delmoi at 6:37 AM on December 27, 2007 [23 favorites]


You probably don't know this...

I'm going to assume that it's the offensiveness is why it was used, since it's a term our wise President has been known to utter. Apparently the joke failed, but I'm willing to place the offensiveness where it belongs.

On topic, this news made me suddenly very appreciative of the good times I spent with my family this week, hoping that the world won't go even more to hell between now and next Christmas.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:37 AM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


Not unexpected, but too bad.

I'm surprised that the news outlets, which have so obligingly called Musharaf's martial law a "state of emergency" are gutsy enough to call this an assassination. Isn't this really just a "life adjustment"?
posted by OmieWise at 6:40 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


.

we probably paid for the gun that killed her too, tragically--and we still haven't stopped the flow of unaccountable money going over there.
posted by amberglow at 6:41 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Hildegarde at 6:41 AM on December 27, 2007


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posted by rainbaby at 6:41 AM on December 27, 2007


This is so fucked up. Sadly this seemed not to be a case of IF it ever happens, but WHEN.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 6:44 AM on December 27, 2007


.
posted by lucia__is__dada at 6:45 AM on December 27, 2007


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posted by jquinby at 6:48 AM on December 27, 2007


A.P.P and List of Pakistan news sources
posted by elpapacito at 6:50 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


To be expected - and it could as likely be true or not - Al-Qaeda is claiming responsibility for Bhutto's death, saying in a statement that they "terminated the most precious American asset."
posted by madamjujujive at 6:50 AM on December 27, 2007


Some finance guy on CNBC (the financial news) this morning saying that he had met with Musharraf a while ago about managing some of Pakistan's money, and Musharraf explained that he didn't need the financial aid the US was giving him (that's why they had surplus money to invest). What he needed was for the US to send teachers. The guy related that Musharraf explained that the country had a 28% literacy rate, and that what he needed to combat the mullahs was a more educated public. This is what the guy said, so take it with a grain of salt, but it makes sense to me.
posted by Pastabagel at 6:50 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Bad news for Pakistan, obviously, but I'm not sure why anyone outside her immediate family would be "saddened" by her loss. She was just another corrupt pol, one who showed marginally more promise than the ones running the country... but who knows what she would have done in power? (Or what the sobsister said.)

@pax digita---JINX! You owe me a coke!

What are you, fourteen?
posted by languagehat at 6:52 AM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


To be expected - and it could as likely be true or not - Al-Qaeda is claiming responsibility for Bhutto's death, saying in a statement that they "terminated the most precious American asset."
posted by madamjujujive at 9:50 AM on December 27

I don't buy it. Musharaf is the asset. Support we give to anyone else is designed primarily to give the appearance that he isn't our ally, and is therefore somehow more legitimate. Musharaf has control of his country's nuclear weapons, he isn't crazy, and he isn't an extremist. We'd be stupid to abandon him, and we aren't that stupid.
posted by Pastabagel at 6:52 AM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


It's important because Pakistan has nukes. Musharaf was being held up in more ways than one by the US, but he was losing more and more of his popular support. Bhuto wasn't perfect, but she was an alternative that could have been the least disliked by all parties.

I've been following her progress for a while now, hoping something could be worked out. As for who could have killed her or wanted it done, the list seems endless.

Before she returned to Pakistan, she had been in talks with Musharaf's government about a power sharing deal. Last month, however, she said there'd be no deal.

She knew what she was getting into, and she went anyway. I think her end was inevitable, but I also don't think this will automatically derail a democratic movement. You can try, but you you can't kill them all.
posted by lysdexic at 6:53 AM on December 27, 2007


How is this fucked up? How is this even a bit of a surprise? The only surprise here is that it didn't happen the instant she set foot back in Pakistan. Don't think for an instant that the US hasn't "planned" for this contingency, and that it will be more of the same at least until the next US president tries to "clean up the mess".
posted by Gungho at 6:55 AM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


.
posted by Bromius at 6:56 AM on December 27, 2007


I don't buy it. Musharaf is the asset.

Al-Qaeda has had it pretty sweet in Pakistan under Musharraf.
posted by furtive at 6:56 AM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


What he needed was for the US to send teachers.

Yes, and send more kids on exchange programs. The more people become educated the less power the reactionaries have. That's why I am here.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:56 AM on December 27, 2007 [13 favorites]


Saddened.

To me she seemed to be just what Pakistan and the region needed: An eloquent and unafraid woman who had the support of her people.
posted by Rabarberofficer at 7:00 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


"The attack shows that there are still those in Pakistan trying to undermine reconciliation and democratic development," the [U.S. State Department] official said.*

Really?

I can't help but think that this might've been prevented had we taken a stance on Pakistani freedom amounting to something more than just trusting Musharraf to do the right thing.
posted by grabbingsand at 7:01 AM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


This is, of course, absurd.

In sweeping terms, yes. What's more pertinent is that Pakistan has been subject to military rule for most of its post-independence history. That makes democracy a fragile thing, because the standard political cycle has been 'elections - corruption - coup - military rule - elections'. The army is the most important institution in Pakistan. It is perhaps the only national institution in a fragmented state. It has massive investments in areas that would be civilian-run elsewhere.

When the army is wrapped up so tightly in the political process, politics heads to the extremes, because there's only a shallow foundation upon which to build a moderate polity. By comparison, Indian politics has had its share of corruption and political assassinations, but it has preserved civilian rule since 1947.
posted by holgate at 7:03 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


ISLAMABAD, Dec 27 APP: President Pervez Musharraf has condemned in strongest possible terms the terrorist attack that resulted in the tragic death of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and many other innocent Pakistanis in Rawalpindi Thursday evening. The President convened a high level emergency meeting at Aiwan-i-Sadar, here soon after the tragic development which is also being attended by the caretaker Prime Minister Mohammadmian Soomro. He urged the people to stay calm to face this tragedy and grief with a renewed resolve to continue the fight against terror.
More of the same, keep the course.
posted by elpapacito at 7:03 AM on December 27, 2007


To be expected - and it could as likely be true or not - Al-Qaeda is claiming responsibility for Bhutto's death, saying in a statement that they "terminated the most precious American asset."

You'd have thought that Musharraf was America's most precious asset in Pakistan, but so much for my understanding of Al Qaeda's logic. Bhutto was probably equally a western stooge.

Here's the guy that gives me hope for a future in Pakistan that doesn't end in a big smoldering mess.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:05 AM on December 27, 2007


Pretty sad and tragic news, but it's no reason to start duck-and-cover drills. There will be riots, but, Christ, you had to wonder why she chose to return to Pakistan. It was almost suicidal. And even if, by some miracle, Bhutto managed to lead the country again, how could an assassination be prevented? I agree with sobsister, too. Bhutto must have been somewhat insane to return to Pakistan. Like any politician. But she didn't deserve to die like that.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:05 AM on December 27, 2007


@languagehat--Ageism is ugly. Be as serious as you'd like now.
posted by zerobyproxy at 7:08 AM on December 27, 2007


State Dept states that Musharraf was "powerless" to stop the assassination. Interesting choice of words, and coming from the Bush White House, quite dubious.
posted by moonbird at 7:19 AM on December 27, 2007


Nawaz Sharif had better watch his back very carefully.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:19 AM on December 27, 2007


Ageism is ugly

Maybe so, but I sure as hell do not owe you a Coke.
posted by pax digita at 7:20 AM on December 27, 2007


Shot then bombed. They weren't taking any chances.
posted by scalefree at 7:24 AM on December 27, 2007


State Dept states that Musharraf was "powerless" to stop the assassination. Interesting choice of words, and coming from the Bush White House, quite dubious.

Sure, it's kinda like how someone with OCD is "powerless" to stop washing her hands or an alcoholic in a 12 stepper has to realize that he is "powerless" to defeat his addiction. Musharraf was powerless to stop himself from ordering the hit.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:25 AM on December 27, 2007 [10 favorites]


The Prime Minister of India has just expressed his condolences through one of his aides to Miss Bhutto’s family, and the people of Pakistan, and it is being reported that there has been an alert sounded on the Line of Control with Pakistan. General Pervez Musharraf is in talks with his commanding officers and it is being speculated that this will now surely legitimize the Martial law that he was hoping to declare. (It’s kind of ironic, but when she was being interviewed right before coming to Pakistan, she was asked if she feared death—if she feared being assassinated—which there was ample proof of what she might have to face, and she said “No, not at all,” and I’d thought she’d said it a little too candidly. And now, they’re saying whether she truly grasped the danger that she was in.) Also, it was being said earlier that the “jammers” that were given to her security men, were faulty, and that even though her aides had written to Musharraf and complained about them, I’m not sure if anything came about it.

mjjj—thanks for the link.
posted by hadjiboy at 7:25 AM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


Here is my Theory Completely Unsupported By Facts (i.e. Tinfoil Hattery):

Muslim extremists in Pakistan gain absolutely nothing by Bhutto's death. They aren't strong enough to topple Musharraf as long as he has the confidence of the military, and that doesn't appear to have been shaken. Their only possible path to power was to win democratic elections and then undermine democracy by working towards the development of an Islamic state within the existing legal framework.

Musharraf, however, gains a great deal: he emerges as the only viable leader of the nation; moderates calling for reconciliation with Islamist elements are discredited; and he's provided with a good reason to suspend the elections he didn't want to have, probably indefinitely.

Thus my theory: Musharraf was behind the assassination, with our complicity or without it. (And correct me if I'm wrong, but assassinating individual politicians doesn't seem to be Al Qaeda's modus operandi, if the various groups that compose it can be said to have one. The associated suicide bombing seems to be little more than than a distraction... although of course not to the victims.)

.
posted by Makoto at 7:26 AM on December 27, 2007 [11 favorites]


How sad. So it goes.
posted by elmono at 7:27 AM on December 27, 2007


Al Jazeera, last october: "Blowback, Pakistan-style"
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:27 AM on December 27, 2007


fwiw, margaret warner's recent reports from pakistan i thought were pretty informative, including this interview with bhutto.

re: sharif, as seen on the agonist: "The latest bombing was the second outbreak of political violence in Pakistan today. Earlier, gunmen opened fire on supporters of another former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, from an office of the party that supports President Pervez Musharraf, killing four Sharif supporters, police said."

btw, i think the "real" contingency the US has planned for is musharraf's assassintation...
posted by kliuless at 7:28 AM on December 27, 2007


Pollomacho, on reading that article about the Imran Khan, he sounds really bad. "...Khan entered politics under the tutelage of Lieutenant General Hamid Gul, the former Pakistani intelligence chief famous for fueling the Taliban's rise in Afghanistan and for his anti-American viewpoint."

Are you seeing something I'm not?
posted by tizzie at 7:28 AM on December 27, 2007


Imram Khan is not part of the entrenched political scene and being an Islamist albeit a moderate does not have the backing of the USA whom he publically opposes. As such he is therefore a political lightweight even though his original backing came from one of the generals. Pakistan though highly destabilised is still in the grip of the military. It will be interesting to see if the elections are postponed after this tracic though not unforeseen event.
posted by adamvasco at 7:30 AM on December 27, 2007


Honestly -- how can people be shocked by this? You could pretty much see it coming from the day she returned. Sad, yes. Tragic, indeed. Shocker? Hardly. What a mess.
posted by VicNebulous at 7:31 AM on December 27, 2007


"but I'm not sure why anyone outside her immediate family would be "saddened" by her loss."

Watch out, they'll tag you for an Aspie or worse in here if you don't show the requisite emotion.


I'm more concerned about the craziness spilling over and allowing the fundies to gain control of the Pakistan government, which, as has been abundantly pointed out, has nukes. Every little bit more crazy violence over there brings this nightmare closer to reality.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 7:35 AM on December 27, 2007


I'm not sure why anyone outside her immediate family would be "saddened" by her loss. She was just another corrupt pol

languagehat, stick with language and leave the more difficult matter of humanity and compassion to others. She is beloved by many people, your insensitivity to someones immediate death is ugly.

You could pretty much see it coming from the day she returned.

This is true. She was warned not only by her enemies but by her supporters that it was a suicide mission.
posted by stbalbach at 7:35 AM on December 27, 2007


Obituary via BBC
posted by adamvasco at 7:38 AM on December 27, 2007


My understanding as someone totally unable to seriously understand the radioactive hornet's nest of subcontinental politics:

Muslim extremists in Pakistan gain absolutely nothing by Bhutto's death.

They gain by limiting America's options. With two corrupt, pliable, pro-Western potential leaders on the scene, Washington could play them off each other and promise Pakistan to whoever would do more to root out the Taliban. With Bhutto gone, Musharraf can relax a little and continue to allow Talibs to chill out in Pakistan, knowing there's nobody credible that America can replace him with. Good for Musharraf, good for the Taliban - good for everyone, actually, except George Bush, the Bhuttos, the people of Pakistan, and the rest of the world. Without America and Britain waving Bhutto in his face, Musharraf has no reason to seriously take on the terrorists - they're more popular than he is and, no matter how much he drags his feet in the War on Terror, he's irreplaceable now.
posted by stammer at 7:39 AM on December 27, 2007


I don't buy it. Musharaf is the asset. Support we give to anyone else is designed primarily to give the appearance that he isn't our ally, and is therefore somehow more legitimate. Musharaf has control of his country's nuclear weapons, he isn't crazy, and he isn't an extremist. We'd be stupid to abandon him, and we aren't that stupid.

Are you kidding? Musharaf? An asset to the U.S.? The guy who let Osama bin Laden hide in his fucking country before and after the 9/11 attacks? The head of the country that actually housed the majority of the training camps used by al-Qaeda and the 9/11 hijackers?

This is an absolute victory for al-Qaeda. There are only two options now- either Musharaf gets his dream of continuing military emergency rule with a "legitimate" excuse in the eyes of the West, or elections continue toward absolute disaster with Musharaf rising relatively unscathed. The status quo of a quasi-dictator who turns a complete blind eye to the breeding ground of one of the major Islamic terrorist movements within his own country continues, and the White House, both now and whoever's in it in 2009, continues to do not a fucking thing because they're scared to death of destabilizing a nuclear-armed country now that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have given al-Qaeda a massive foothold in the region.

Musharraf is a boil that could have, and should have, been lanced on September 12, 2001. Instead, six years later, he's an incurable fucking cancer that we spend thread after talking about how we can still "lead an active, healthy lifestyle" while it's throbbing on our necks.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:40 AM on December 27, 2007 [10 favorites]


And correct me if I'm wrong, but assassinating individual politicians doesn't seem to be Al Qaeda's modus operandi, if the various groups that compose it can be said to have one.

Ahmad Shah Massoud
posted by stammer at 7:41 AM on December 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


I've said it before and I'll say it again. Musharraf's rule wasn't bad for Pakistan in terms of governance - most of my (upper-middle) Pakistani friends actually like the army for their no-nonsense approach, and surely, the Pakistani media was and mostly is, free - but the real problem is in terms of alternatives.

The great thing about democracy isn't just about freedom, but that keeps churning out newer and newer possibilities in a messy, chaotic, multi-ethnic (and let's face it, despite all that Islam thing, Pakistan is more of a national identity and less of an ethnic identity) environment like Pakistan. Churning is good; it keeps the field well-watered, it brings people to the fore, it brings newness. Pakistan's tragedy isn't that it hasn't democracy for so long, but that it hasn't seen any churning in political figures; you know you're disheartened when the closest possible alternatives to a military dictator would be two landed gentry who've ruled over their feudal fiefdoms for generations.

That is to say, like with all such regional satraps, like Modi, Chandrababu Naidu, Deve Gowda, Mayawati, Jayalalitha etc etc in India, Benazir's party never has had a second-in-command ever. She ruled the party with an iron-fist, and she will leave the party rudderless. Someone was asking about impact here, and here's what's happened: one of the two "mainstream" political parties out in Pakistan doesn't have a leader anymore. If I may venture a guess, it will continue to not have a leader for some more time, unless they get their act together.

What does this bode for Pakistan? Well, since I'm in a pundit mode, I'll venture a guess: it will still survive, it will still tide along. PPP may or may not want to share the optimism. But yeah; it sure has converted a rich, corrupt lady with not-so-stellar credentials into something of a martyr. And that, my friends, is why Pakistan should grieve, not just for the tragic circumstances of her death.
posted by the cydonian at 7:43 AM on December 27, 2007 [11 favorites]


languagehat, stick with language and leave the more difficult matter of humanity and compassion to others.

Screw you too, pal. Did you know her personally? Then I call bullshit on your "humanity and compassion." You "mourn her loss" because you saw her name in the newspapers. Unless you're equally full of hot burning compassionate tears for every single human who dies anywhere, you're a canting hypocrite. I don't see any reason to pretend to feel emotions I don't in fact feel, but that doesn't make me lacking in humanity, it makes me lacking in bullshit. You, on the other hand, are full of it.
posted by languagehat at 7:44 AM on December 27, 2007 [61 favorites]


And correct me if I'm wrong, but assassinating individual politicians doesn't seem to be Al Qaeda's modus operandi

Ahmad Shah Massoud, leader of the Afghanistan's "Northern Alliance", was assassinated by al Qaeda operatives in advance of the 9/11 attacks.
posted by edverb at 7:45 AM on December 27, 2007


I see stammer beat me to it.
posted by edverb at 7:46 AM on December 27, 2007


Muslim extremists in Pakistan gain absolutely nothing by Bhutto's death. They aren't strong enough to topple Musharraf as long as he has the confidence of the military, and that doesn't appear to have been shaken

We're talking about Al-Qaeda here. For them, chaos is it's own reward. Plus, she's a woman and they've been trying to kill her for a long time.
posted by delmoi at 7:47 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


From goodnewsfortheinsane's "blowback" link:

Left unsaid, and unquestioned, was why Bhutto is so familiar with "these people," most of whom are hiding out in the NWFP: The governments she led during the late 1980s and mid 1990s were, in conjunction with Pakistan's notorious intelligence services (ISI), among the most important sponsors of the Taliban.

Successive Pakistani governments supported the Taliban and the militants who would form the core of al-Qaeda not just because of their role in expelling the Soviets from Afghanistan. As important was the need to co-opt and keep busy this potentially destabilising new force in the complex political landscape of the NWFP. The problem is that Pakistan's leaders were...seeing the region as a bastion of backwards tribes which could be manipulated and cajoled into preserving a status quo that left most of the people living in the region among the most underdeveloped people on earth...

Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto is being called upon to save the country from the Taliban, when her government did perhaps the most to build up the Taliban. She is supposed to bring a breathe of political fresh air (which would be much appreciated, given the pollution levels across the country), but she was twice removed from power because of corruption.

posted by mediareport at 7:47 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, and:

.
posted by mediareport at 7:47 AM on December 27, 2007


It's so complicated it makes my head spin. Even Makoto's batshintinsane theory has a Ron-Paul-y sort of relevance. Instead of speculation I'll simply clarify that my dot is for the poor of Pakistan, who so desperately need a leader who is strong but not militaristic or corrupt - not Bhutto. Though perhaps it could've been. My dot is for a lost future.
.
posted by DenOfSizer at 7:48 AM on December 27, 2007


Can anyone quickly explain to me why people leave only a period as a comment? Is it to track the thread as it is ongoing in "Recent Activity" or does it have some other significance?
posted by greekphilosophy at 7:48 AM on December 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


Like I said, if you don't genuflect and make a display of the kind of emotional reaction (that no mentally healthy person could at this remove) to this kind of story, and you get pegged for not being human.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 7:51 AM on December 27, 2007


Just another shining example of how religion stifles progress.

Classy.
posted by hermitosis at 7:53 AM on December 27, 2007 [6 favorites]


"We're talking about Al-Qaeda here. For them, chaos is it's own reward."

/facepalm

thanks for that, foreign policy genius. I'm sure that 1950s red scare-esque bullshit is right on the money. Jesus.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 7:53 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


greekphilosophy - check the f.a.q.'s - it's a moment of silence type jesture.
posted by cashman at 7:53 AM on December 27, 2007


Musharraf is a boil that could have, and should have, been lanced on September 12, 2001.

And how exactly would that have played out, in your opinion? We just bomb Islamabad on 9/12? Have him assassinated? He's not just the head of state, he's also the head of the Army. How do you think the (Nuclear armed) Pakistani army would have felt about it? And what would they have done?

Glad you weren't running U.S. Foreign policy. And despite what you might think, the U.S. can't just run around changing other countries leadership on a whim (See Iraq). So how would you "lance the boil" without empowering Islamic radicals?
posted by delmoi at 7:53 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


To me she seemed to be just what Pakistan and the region needed: An eloquent and unafraid woman who had the support of her people.

What a coincidence! That's exactly how her character is described in the script notes for this year's episode of Pakistan...
posted by fairmettle at 7:54 AM on December 27, 2007


This is a frequently asked question. This is the answer.
posted by grabbingsand at 7:55 AM on December 27, 2007


.
posted by ltracey at 7:56 AM on December 27, 2007


The dot signifies voters switching their vote to Giuliani.
posted by phaedon at 7:56 AM on December 27, 2007 [11 favorites]


It's a placeholder for a moment of silence, greekphilosophy.

Also, could we keep the "you're inhuman! you're a hypocrite!" stuff to MetaTalk? I'd much rather discuss whether Bhutto's support for the Taliban (in this op-ed, her niece says Bhutto's Pakistan was one of only three countries to recognize the Taliban in the 90s) was a necessary bit of realpolitik or something more insidious.
posted by mediareport at 7:56 AM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


Are you kidding? Musharaf? An asset to the U.S.? The guy who let Osama bin Laden hide in his fucking country before and after the 9/11 attacks? The head of the country that actually housed the majority of the training camps used by al-Qaeda and the 9/11 hijackers?

Kill Ossama bin Laden? Are you kidding? Why would Bush want to kill bin Laden, the man most responsible for his reelection?

Pollomacho, on reading that article about the Imran Khan, he sounds really bad.

Imram Khan is one of the few voices calling for moderation, rule of law and the elimination of corruption. To say that he was groomed by Anti-American, pro-Taliban Gul is a bit of a misstatement. Gul worked with the US to fight the Soviets (along with the Taliban) during the time in which Khan and he had a political relationship. Khan formed his own moderate, liberal, (Sufi) Islamic based party prior to Gul's falling out with the US and his slide into hardline Islamic absolutism. Khan is no love child of the Taliban, he's got enough personal baggage to be wholly disliked and actively attacked. He's also a Sufi, not a hardline Wahabist.

It is true that his party does not have much pull, but he seems to be growing in popularity and is beginning to gain ground and be considered seriously. The fact that he doesn't have the backing of the big powers, the West, the Islamists, nor the political machines actually makes me feel like he's a figure to watch.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:56 AM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


The dot signifies voters switching their vote to Giuliani.

I laughed, then I cried. It's funny because it's true. His image as Mr. 9/11 gets him a boost from stuff like this, doesn't it? Scary.
posted by mediareport at 7:59 AM on December 27, 2007


"We're talking about Al-Qaeda here. For them, chaos is it's own reward."
thanks for that, foreign policy genius. I'm sure that 1950s red scare-esque bullshit is right on the money. Jesus.

Hmm. Maybe that didn't come out right. I had originally typed "Chaos is an end in itself" but it sounded clunky. What I meant was, everything they do is designed to increase chaos and instability. Do you really think that they thought that we would just pull our troops out of Saudi Arabia, and cut off support for Israel after 9/11? Everything they did was an attempt to draw us into a war in Afghanistan (And Iraq was just icing on the cake for them). It isn't just that they like Chaos, it's that when things are chaotic they prosper. And of course they want to destabilize Pakistan and weaken the government.
posted by delmoi at 8:00 AM on December 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


DenOfSizer-style dot.

This is very, very sad.

.
posted by picopebbles at 8:02 AM on December 27, 2007


.
posted by awesomebrad at 8:02 AM on December 27, 2007


the former Pakistani intelligence chief famous for fueling the Taliban's rise in Afghanistan and for his anti-American viewpoint.

You have to remember, though, the situation in Afghanistan during the 'forgotten years' after the ousting of the Soviet-backed regime: the mujahedin split into ethnic alliances led by warlords, and they tore the country apart in a civil war. Supporting what became the Taliban was a no-brainer, as mediareport's quote suggests, because it shored up the Pashtun border regions for short-term stability and offered the prospect of mid-term stability in Afghanistan through the eventual winner, more or less, of that civil war.

The PM at the time? Benazir Bhutto.

Churning is good; it keeps the field well-watered, it brings people to the fore, it brings newness. Pakistan's tragedy isn't that it hasn't democracy for so long, but that it hasn't seen any churning in political figures; you know you're disheartened when the closest possible alternatives to a military dictator would be two landed gentry who've ruled over their feudal fiefdoms for generations.

Squaring that circle is the problem. I think it's important, though, to emphasise the extent to which the military in Pakistan has its fingers in so many pies, meaning that you get the establishment of parallel institutions. Iraq was a more extreme case: the opposition groups that stuck it out till the invasion were necessarily more militant in character than the ones who campaigned from London and DC, but they were also ones best placed to enter the power vacuum, because of their organisation and the popular sympathy that comes from sticking it out.
posted by holgate at 8:02 AM on December 27, 2007


.
posted by laminarial at 8:03 AM on December 27, 2007


they
posted by hayeled at 8:04 AM on December 27, 2007


thanks for that, foreign policy genius. I'm sure that 1950s red scare-esque bullshit is right on the money. Jesus.

Groups that want radical change of any sort do benefit from shaking things up for the sake of shaking things up; more than any particular group, their enemy is stability and the status quo. The old order--say, secular military dictatorship--has to be proven ineffective before a critical mass of people will begin to seriously consider an alternative. And judging by the supposed reasoning behind Al Qaeda in Iraq's activities, delmoi's statement doesn't seem to be unsound.

But while I'm really in any position to know, I don't really think that Bhutto's death will lead to widespread destabilization in Pakistan. That was only threatened by what Bhutto represented when she was alive: the specter of reasonably fair and free elections, and a third choice between military autocracy and Islamism. Now that she's gone, unless her movement proves to have life independent of her leadership, Pakistan will return to its former shaky status quo. Musharraf will continue on as dictator, albeit in a suit rather than a uniform, and he will promise just enough to the United States to keep the aid money flowing, while allowing the Islamist-controlled border regions operate as they always have.
posted by Makoto at 8:06 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


There are only two options now- either Musharaf gets his dream of continuing military emergency rule with a "legitimate" excuse in the eyes of the West, or elections continue toward absolute disaster with Musharaf rising relatively unscathed.

XQUZYPHYR, you may want to look at the end of that op-ed from Bhutto's niece:

Since Musharraf seized power in 1999, there has been an earnest grass-roots movement for democratic reform. The last thing we need is to be tied to a neocon agenda through a puppet "democrat" like Ms. Bhutto.

By supporting Ms. Bhutto, who talks of democracy while asking to be brought to power by a military dictator, the only thing that will be accomplished is the death of the nascent secular democratic movement in my country. Democratization will forever be de-legitimized, and our progress in enacting true reforms will be quashed. We Pakistanis are certain of this.


I'm far from informed about Pakistan, but the more I learn about its recent history the more I find myself closer to the cydonian's position above.
posted by mediareport at 8:06 AM on December 27, 2007


Really NOT in any position to know, that is.
posted by Makoto at 8:07 AM on December 27, 2007



And how exactly would that have played out, in your opinion? We just bomb Islamabad on 9/12? Have him assassinated? He's not just the head of state, he's also the head of the Army. How do you think the (Nuclear armed) Pakistani army would have felt about it? And what would they have done?

We had the basis of a plan; we just employed it on Iraq. There are and were no doubts about the superiority of U.S. forces over any Arab nations; invading Pakistan was just as plausible as Iraq, as was offering Musharraf the "offer" we gave Saddam to get the hell out of the country and never return. Yes, it would have been harder and more dangerous, but this is where the concept of "diplomacy" and "actual military planning by people who aren't Paul Wolfowitz" come in. As for the nukes, they are as irrelevant as they were when we pretended Iraq had them. The fantasy of some cornered dictator thinking he has nothing to lose and going "ahhh fuck it" and launching nukes is just that- fantasy. There's no magic "nuke the country" red button on a desk. Musharraf, like Saddam and other more secular dictators, want other people to be martyrs for them- they don't want to be martyrs themselves. The Idi Amin route would have saved thousands upon thousands of lives.

Glad you weren't running U.S. Foreign policy. And despite what you might think, the U.S. can't just run around changing other countries leadership on a whim (See Iraq). So how would you "lance the boil" without empowering Islamic radicals?

Did you understand the very comment you're chastizing? My point is that we would have hindered the empowering of Islamic radicals by actually invading the country that was empowering Islamic radicals. I'm not in favor of war, buddy. I'm just pointing out the war we should have had if we actually did want to go to war on "terror." Look, this whole technique of "oh, you think there was a better military option than the one we employed? Well I expect a full battle plan on my desk tomorrow" of yours is a tad boring. I'm not claiming to be a military strategist here but this isn't a fucking hard concept. Afgahnistan provided almost nothing strategically or economically to al-Qaeda; Pakistan provided both.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:12 AM on December 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


Makoto's batshintinsane theory

Fixed that for you.

In all seriousness, it seems to me to make the most sense. If that idea is accepted, the assassination is a calculated move, predicated on the idea that no general uprising or actual civil war would follow her death (although a full-fledged civil war would effectively resolve in favor of the military, unless the military itself split, an unlikely outcome). AFAIK, polls were showing Bhutto's popularity to be limited to a core base and not to have bridged out to the general populace.

Of course, the huge crowds that met her on the occasion of the first attempt are the debating point here. I suppose we'll know which way the dice landed by midday.

FWIW, this appears to support the cydonian's position as well.

I wonder if the midday talking heads in the US will be picking up this talking point - 'this tragedy is unlikely to radically destabilize Pakistan' - from us. ;)
posted by mwhybark at 8:13 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Maybe the best thing woudl be for Pakistan and India to re-unite.
posted by DenOfSizer at 8:13 AM on December 27, 2007


.
posted by brevator at 8:13 AM on December 27, 2007


CNN is already absolving Musharraf of responsibility and just said "ludicrous" that he would have been responsible. They're going all Al-Qaeda all the time (i'm sure the WH will too). That horrible Kyra woman just was shocked--shocked--that people in Islamabad are protesting Musharraf and that they blame him--appalling.

And i bet now we give Musharraf even more money "to fight the terrorists who did this"-- ugh.
posted by amberglow at 8:14 AM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


We had the basis of a plan; we just employed it on Iraq. There are and were no doubts about the superiority of U.S. forces over any Arab nations; invading Pakistan was just as plausible as Iraq

Pakistan is not an Arab nation.
posted by stammer at 8:18 AM on December 27, 2007 [6 favorites]


and Bush's statement was about "terrorists and extremists"--he doesn't mean Musharraf when he says that.
posted by amberglow at 8:19 AM on December 27, 2007


wrt delmoi's comment

they can't be as cavalier about pakistan as they have been with afghanistan and iraq [btw, anyone remember the 'world' putting sanctions against russia for invading afghanistan for no good reason?]

why?

its too close to india and china and shares borders with both. doing anything too militarily aggressive that close to those two nations is a bit more of a risk than even they'd want to take, imho

this situation is either completely under their control and of their design or sheer chaos and they have no idea what to do. an earlier comment about about the statment that musharraf was 'powerless' leads me to believe in the former theory [ insert requisite tin hat disclaimer here] rather than the latter

however, as actions taken and their consequences over the past 6 years have demonstrated, do they know the full ramifications of what will happen now? does anyone?

I'm with the packaged food and bottled water brigade myself.
posted by infini at 8:20 AM on December 27, 2007


. for her
. for peace in the region
. for U.S. interests in the region (many of which I disagree with, but . anyway)
posted by jdfalk at 8:21 AM on December 27, 2007


XQUZYPHYR: The fact that you don't know that Pakistan is not an Arab country tells me all I need to know about your plan, but you still have the wrong country. The country that provided the majority of the terrorists and the funding for the 9/11 attack was Saudi Arabia. Afghanistan was just a convenient place to hide training camps.
posted by empath at 8:23 AM on December 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


from Stratfor (subscription only, but they are offering a 7-day free trial by which you could access these articles)
A source in Karachi, Pakistan, told Stratfor on Dec. 27 that everything in the city has shut down in the wake of opposition leader and former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. Cars reportedly are on fire all over the city, even in the quiet residential areas where such events normally do not occur. Even journalists in Karachi are staying off the streets, and people have had to abandon their cars and walk home because of the burning cars in the streets. The source was not aware of any military presence in the streets of the city.

The source added that rumors are flying about a civil war in Pakistan; some Sindhis in the town of Sheikhapura have been shouting in the streets, calling for separation from Pakistan.


more analysis of the likely fallout:
The killing of top Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto has triggered a storm of political unrest in the South Asian country. For now, Pakistan People’s Party activists are the ones engaged in rioting and arson against facilities of government and rival parties in the two main provinces of Punjab and Sindh. But soon this violence could lead to clashes between various groups. The situation already is getting out of hand for the police, and it is likely that paramilitary and military forces will be called in to quell the growing disturbances.

As the guarantor of state stability, all eyes are going to be on the Pakistani military to see how quickly it can contain the fallout from Bhutto’s death. Given that the country was already going through a period of significant instability coupled with the unprecedented jihadist insurgency, questions remain about whether the army will be able to gain control of the situation quickly. Bhutto’s death creates a major vacuum in Pakistan, and will make it difficult to stabilize the situation since her Pakistan People’s Party, which is the only true national-level party, is going to weaken without her. This will lead to a fragmentation of the political landscape and by extension the country.

The Pakistani military is strong and large, and eventually will take care of the situation. It can make a strong showing in the major cities, especially in Punjab. Even so, stout resistance from an urban population is a very challenging thing.

It is highly unlikely that elections can be held any time soon, and the imposition of martial law is also a distinct possibility because that will give the army direct control of the situation. Meanwhile, the double polarization of the country — where Islamist forces are struggling with mainstream ones on one hand and the pro-democracy forces are competing with authoritarianism on the other — will further complicate matters if the army takes direct control of the situation.

Depending on how rapidly the situation deteriorates, army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani could step in and take charge. But he will have to tread carefully and work with an array of civilian forces because direct military rule could worsen the situation. There is also the potential for Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who could see Bhutto’s death as an opportunity, to reinsert himself in a new military junta. Either way, a cooling-off period will be required before stabilization can be achieved.
posted by edverb at 8:23 AM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


Maybe the best thing woudl be for Pakistan and India to re-unite.

Seems pretty unlikely as long as the Army is in charge, since the whole point of it's existence is to fight a hypothetical war with India. The two are essentially in a "cold war" at the moment.
posted by delmoi at 8:25 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Amberglow I just saw that as well. There isn't even the pretense of waiting for the facts to come out before rendering judgment.
posted by archaic at 8:26 AM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


languagehat wrote: Bad news for Pakistan, obviously, but I'm not sure why anyone outside her immediate family would be "saddened" by her loss. She was just another corrupt pol, one who showed marginally more promise than the ones running the country... but who knows what she would have done in power?

Ignoring the gross inhumanity present in your statement, you acknowledge that she showed somewhat more promise than the other choices, in a political situation that absolutely sucks.

Personally, I'm a little disappointed whenever assassination is used to shape the political landscape, and more so when it's done to remove one of the least bad available options.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 8:26 AM on December 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


I'm guessing Musharraf thought making it a suicide bomber too would cover for the assassination part and deflect blame onto Al Qaeda?

Every single sentence now on CNN by everyone contains either "extremists" or "Al Qaeda" when talking about this.
posted by amberglow at 8:28 AM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


My point is that we would have hindered the empowering of Islamic radicals by actually invading the country that was empowering Islamic radicals.

That's ridiculously simplistic. The Islamists in Pakistan would have been *disempowered* by a U.S. invasion of Pakistan? No, forget simplistic; that's outright loony.
posted by mediareport at 8:29 AM on December 27, 2007


she showed somewhat more promise than the other choices

Not according to her niece, who claims the Pakistani middle class much preferred Musharraf.
posted by mediareport at 8:30 AM on December 27, 2007


I am sure Pakistan will be stable now. Good job guys.
posted by blacklite at 8:32 AM on December 27, 2007


I agree with posters above who say this is the exact opposite of surprising. It is not a tiny bit of a shock for even a casual observer.

Are any of you who seem to be regular followers of this region's politics at all surprised? My only surprise was that it took this long. It makes me wonder if there have been other attempts we just haven't heard about.

Also, LH may have been a bit harsh, but I agree with him. A western commenter being truly "saddened" by her death is theatre. She's a name, an idea. Not a person anyone knows.

To grieve her loss is to grieve the loss of an idea or philosophy, not a person. And to scold someone for not being debilitated by grief over a public figure who was a stranger is childish.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:33 AM on December 27, 2007


Ignoring the gross inhumanity present in your statement, you acknowledge that she showed somewhat more promise than the other choices, in a political situation that absolutely sucks.
Personally, I'm a little disappointed whenever assassination is used to shape the political landscape, and more so when it's done to remove one of the least bad available options.


I assume by "gross inhumanity" you mean "honesty." If you're claiming to grieve deeply for her, see my earlier remarks to stbalbach. Otherwise, I don't see why you think I disagree with you. Are you under the impression that because I refuse to pretend to grieve for a woman I didn't know and didn't think much of (except as "one of the least bad available options"), I approve of assassination? Christ, political discourse is debased around here.
posted by languagehat at 8:34 AM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, the double polarization of the country — where Islamist forces are struggling with mainstream ones on one hand and the pro-democracy forces are competing with authoritarianism on the other — will further complicate matters if the army takes direct control of the situation.
That about sums it up.
posted by furtive at 8:35 AM on December 27, 2007


Well put, lh.
posted by OmieWise at 8:38 AM on December 27, 2007


Do Muslim women get 72 virgins when they are martyred?
posted by plexi at 8:38 AM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


To grieve her loss is to grieve the loss of an idea or philosophy, not a person.

Isn't this always the case? I didn't know Oscar Peterson, but I loved his music. How is the fact that a 'western commenter' (an assumption anywhere on the internet) claims that she is saddened by her death "theatre"? Would you think the same if Jimmy Carter happened to die? After all, I doubt that you know him personally...
posted by suedehead at 8:40 AM on December 27, 2007


this tragedy is unlikely to radically destabilize Pakistan

Well, I look at the situation with the eyes of an interested amateur, as I am sure many others here do, rather than an area expert. So my thoughts run along these lines: who are the people who will be pissed off by Bhutto's death? Secular moderates. And secular moderates as a group are about the least likely of any possible political permutations to radicalize and take up arms, plunging Pakistan into a civil war. (And frankly, if they tried, they'd be squashed in short order by the military, unless they have supporters there that we're not aware of.) Bhutto's death doesn't change the balance of power between Musharraf and the Islamists, and that seems to be the important thing, at least in terms of "regional stability."

My only question is whether the assassination was intended to remove someone who would shake up that relationship, or whether it was intended to rally anti-Musharraf secularists to support him against the Islamists. (Although that doesn't seem to be happening right now.)

And as long as I'm wearing my tinfoil hat, this tidbit (which someone mentioned upthread) stuck out from the CNN story:

The attack came just hours after four supporters of former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif died when members of another political party opened fire on them at a rally near the Islamabad airport Thursday, Pakistan police said.

Several other members of Sharif's party were wounded, police said.


Two assassination attempts on the two most prominent non-Musharraf political figures in the country by two completely unrelated groups, both on the same day? What are the odds?
posted by Makoto at 8:41 AM on December 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


The death and the violence of this is tragic, dramatic.

Even if Bhutto was corrupt, she was a moderate voice against military rule. Now the Pakiatani people will really feel the squeeze between that 'rock and hard place' (terrorists/fundamentalists vs. military/Musharraf). Can any politician there openly challenge Musharraf's government now?

I hope Americans can see the lessons in this ... so long as this administration continues to sell its constitution for 'security,' it is taking us steadily down the same path.
posted by Surfurrus at 8:44 AM on December 27, 2007


Amberglow I just saw that as well. There isn't even the pretense of waiting for the facts to come out before rendering judgment.
It's fascinating and disgusting to watch CNN's language change like this in real time --our media is appallingly unindependent.
posted by amberglow at 8:44 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


just another corrupt pol? I don't know enough about Pakistan's history to judge the corruption charges against Bhutto but many of them appear to be of the alleged sort used in political attacks. Whitewater anyone?
As far as her support for the Taliban early on, don't forget that the US also saw them as a
stabilizing force in post-soviet Afghanistan.
posted by archaic at 8:45 AM on December 27, 2007


We had the basis of a plan; we just employed it on Iraq. There are and were no doubts about the superiority of U.S. forces over any Arab nations;

This is so retarded it has to be sarcastic.

Anyway, comparing Musharraf Idi Amin? Come on. Musharraf was a Dictator, but he was well liked by the west, I mean the guy was on The Daily Show just a few months ago where John Stewart slobbered all over him (Kind of embarrassing, but whatever). He's no Pol-Pot, he's not out killing his rivals, and our biggest complaint is that he's not doing enough to kill extremist. The most he's done is put his opponents under house arrest.

And let's not forget Pakistan's best friend and neighbor, China. Perhaps we could offer the same "deal" with the "Secular dictator" Hu Jintao. After all, if we can take out a country with 164 million people (Iraq has 27 million) Then why not a country with a billion?

(Another major difference, unlike Saddam, where the army and everything was there to support him, Musharraf is just one general out of the The Army as an institution would be fine without him, and he could be replaced pretty easily)
posted by delmoi at 8:48 AM on December 27, 2007


While I agree with a lot of the criticism that's been leveled in this thread, there's another perspective that I think is being missed or given short shrift to. For some of us who lived in the subcontinent during her leadership of Pakistan (I lived in India during her first term), she represented a radical, welcome change in Pakistani politics when she was first elected. Time proved the illusoriness of this promise, when she subsequently became mired in charges of corruption, but I remember feeling happy when she was elected in 1988. She was the first female prime minister of a fundamentally religious and deeply chauvinistic country, educated abroad in a Socratic tradition that encouraged questioning authority, and promising modernization. She was also not (or less) beholden to the military establishment in Pakistan, distinguishing her from Zia-ul-Haq, the military general who hanged her father, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. She owed her election in some part to the sympathy induced by the death of her father, but there was more to it than that. She was part of the optimism that characterized Rajiv Gandhi's ascension to power in India, a belief that a new, more modern, brighter day was dawning in the subcontinent. Of course, Rajiv Gandhi's tenure ultimately ended as ignominiously as her own, and in much the same brutal, graphic way.

As time went by, she showed that she had feet of clay, particularly in her imperialistic approach to policy making, and in the way she let her husband's scandals tarnish her own reputation. This was unfortunate, not least since it dashed the hopes of so many people who believed that a secular government was a cure for the many ills that plagued Pakistan. But for a brief time, she represented the possibility of change in a region that desperately needed it. There is, of course, much, much more to her story than what I've written out here, but these are the thoughts that struck me most forcefully when I saw this news item this morning.
posted by lassie at 8:48 AM on December 27, 2007 [15 favorites]


As far as her support for the Taliban early on, don't forget that the US also saw them as a
stabilizing force in post-soviet Afghanistan.


The U.S. practically invented the Taliban's precursors in Afghanistan.
posted by delmoi at 8:49 AM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


State Dept Pakistan Chief: Ask Me Later About Bhutto -- ...As the assassination of Benazir Bhutto throws U.S.-Pakistani relations into turmoil, it's worth pointing out how the staffing of the U.S.'s Pakistan team indicates that Pakistan isn't exactly a priority for the Bush administration. Boucher is a career foreign service officer, but he has no prior South Asia experience, ...

Matthew Yglesias recently noted how we've got the C-Listers on Pakistan, and suggested Dick Cheney was exploiting the dearth of expertise to control our Pakistan policies. All of which, it should be noted in fairness, are looking super-awesome right now. ...

posted by amberglow at 8:52 AM on December 27, 2007


Do Muslim women get 72 virgins when they are martyred?

According to the Prophet (peace be upon him), she would become the most beautiful and most beloved of the hoor al 'ayn of her husband and will be the mistress of the 71 others.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:54 AM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


Damn damn damn.

Not out of any great love for Bhutto; as I said in the last thread, the corruption charges were probably true, as they were for Sharif. It's the way things are done there. Bhutto, of all Pak* politiicans, was probably the one who could most effectively express herself in Western terms (she was "Pinky" Bhutto when she went to Radcliffe, believe it or not). Musharraf has also been able to frame his own needs in terms we like to hear, e.g. using the words of the UNDP to criticize the lack of literacy across the Islamic world. But Bhutto was quite the eloquent spokeswoman on Western TV. If you didn't know her past and context you could easily idolize her.

Is Mushy responsible? Or Al Qaeda? I'm not sure it matters. Just as Bush needs bin Laden, they need each other, and they both benefit. Both Musharraf and Bhutto were apostates and targets to al Qaeda and affiliates, but killing Bhutto means that Musharraf will retain power. In the short-term, this means a crackdown, which will turn people in the provinces against the regime, boosting the parallel governance of the extremists.

This isn't really good for the US. The US had pushed Bhutto to return, because Musharraf, while an "asset" of our policy, has not been a real asset. He's managed to piss off just about every part of Pakistan except the Army, and was increasingly viewed as a problem the US needs to bypass. Bhutto offered us that opportunity in a power-sharing arrengement that could give Musharraf legitimacy and keep a friendly hand on the Army's rudder (because there is no doubt that he is indebted to us, and after this would be even more so).

Now what we likely get is an unpopular and marginalized dictatorship that will only fuel extremism in the provinces. So, no, I don't think the WH really wanted this. They had unrealistic hopes placed in Bhutto, who has well-placed friends in the US, especially at State.

I guess the only part of this that's not clear is what this does to the Iowa caucuses.

* Pak is an abbreviation for Pakistan used in Pakistan, distinguished from "Paki", OK?
posted by dhartung at 9:07 AM on December 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


Pollomacho, that hardly sounds appealing.

I hope she finds the peace that this world could never give her.
posted by tommasz at 9:08 AM on December 27, 2007


Christ, political discourse is debased around here.

And it's typical that three days after the date of his holy birth you'd take the name of our lord in vain. Have you no shame sir? Your oh-so-carefully-constructed commie "New York" words sound clever, but they are the words of the Devil. Shame on you for wishing harm on a woman and a mother. Does the blood of innocents wash so easily from your hands? Shame on you sir.
posted by seanyboy at 9:12 AM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


Monkeys, monkeys and more monkeys. Extremists are like wild monkeys, but with more weapons and less intelligence.

Ten years ago, I thought the world was finally shaping up. I can't believe how naive I was.
posted by GoodDesign at 9:17 AM on December 27, 2007


Do Muslim women get 72 virgins when they are martyred?

Keep posting comments, please, this post needs your insightful commentary.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:19 AM on December 27, 2007


Al-Qaeda has had it pretty sweet in Pakistan under Musharraf.

And Musharaf has had it pretty sweet, taking the money we give him to fight Al Qaeda and using it to arm his military against India. Al Qaeda has to appreciate the humor in that.
posted by homunculus at 9:23 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Slate on the possible effects of this on the US presidential race (interesting, if brief and mostly unsurprising).
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:25 AM on December 27, 2007


"The United States strongly condemns this cowardly act," Bush said

When will those cowardly fucks learn to kill people who are living thousands of miles from them? And when will those courageousless dicks learn to kill someone by issuing an order to someone else? And how is dying for your own cause or risking your own life possibly courageous? Isn't it more courageous to enjoy your killing from the comfort of your own home via video?

Cowardly fucks.
posted by flarbuse at 9:25 AM on December 27, 2007 [12 favorites]


Two assassination attempts on the two most prominent non-Musharraf political figures in the country by two completely unrelated groups, both on the same day? What are the odds?

Wolf Blitzer is both doubling down and letting it ride. Stay tuned.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:26 AM on December 27, 2007


Ten years ago, I thought the world was finally shaping up. I can't believe how naive I was.

I blame Nader for all of this, but the seat belts were a good idea, so it evens out.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:28 AM on December 27, 2007 [6 favorites]


Its a sad thing for any life to be ended in such a manner. It certainly is predictable given the history of pakistani political assasination.

In the grand scale of things this matters a lot though. Putting idealistic notions of a real democracy any time aside, Bhutto was a key player (a US asset in fact) in making a transition from a ruling military junta to a civilian led government. Its been quite clear that Musharraf wanted Bhutto back in the country and was working on an agreement that would allow him to keep control of the military and direction of politics. Her popularity and his strong-arm control would have given the country a serious boost in progressing towards a stable future.

We can argue how likely a democracy is to take hold in a country where politics is so institutionally corrupt and armed militias control critical border territories but the fact is this is a very sad outcome. The only hope is that she will be seen as a martyr but not to further entrench divisions but as a wake up call that political violence achieves nothing and whatever the faults of Musharraf, the previous poltiical leaders and moderate Islamists they need to work together to combat a culture of political violence that seems to be taken for granted now. However, if history is any indicator I suspect this will lead to further polarisation and disillusionment and greater violence. A very sad day indeed.

And for Westerners, what we should remember is Pakistan is not just a key player in the battle of ideas (or against terrorism if you must) but a pretty typical model for other key theatres and its continued failure will have a larger impact on the world than even a failing Iraq or Afghanistan.
posted by monkeyx-uk at 9:28 AM on December 27, 2007


Pollomacho, that hardly sounds appealing.

Ah, yes, but that is why one of the names of Allah is the All-Powerful. He has the power to make her like it.

(Please Note: I am not the source of this philosophy, so please don't cast any stones in my direction.)

I guess the only part of this that's not clear is what this does to the Iowa caucuses.

Since Pakistani news events are always on the forefront of every Iowan's mind, I'm sure this will radically change the results. Seriously though, how many people do you think will know or care about this other than those that are already being lead around by the pedants on 24 hour "news" outlets? American voters are many things, but informed on issues and news they ain't.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:29 AM on December 27, 2007


Regardless of the geopolitical implications (a pretty huge "regardless") Bhutto was the mother of three children. She did a Slate diary in 1997, which contains this heartbreaker of a vignette. Mom is heading out on a business trip:

As I come down the stairs to leave for the airport, my 7-year-old daughter, Bakhtwar, looks up. Casually waving, she says, "Bye, it was nice seeing you. Come back soon."

"What do you mean," I say. "I am your mother. I am stuck to you like that arm of yours for life."

"But, Mama, my arm keeps going away," she complains.

"But it always comes back," I reply.

"Yes, it does, it does," says my 8-year-old son, Bilawal, as he gives me a hug.

posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:31 AM on December 27, 2007 [10 favorites]


languagehat: I don't see any reason to pretend to feel emotions I don't in fact feel

All well and good but it's nonetheless insensitive of you to bother rhetorically stating that you can't understand how anyone outside of her family and party are saddened. I don't think you're inhumane at all but I do think your original comment was unnecessary. Just because you hold your own views about Bhutto's politics and worth doesn't mean other people can't feel saddened. Also, just because someone is not known personally shouldn't be a barrier to having emotions about their demise (eg. John Lennon). And if your response is that Lennon was a force for peace and great musician then it seems to me that you are only allowing emotional response in those that agree with your characterisation of the victim.

And what's this bullshit about having to have feelings for every other person that dies?! That sounds likes a piece of dyslogic I'd usually see you combat. We know many people through the media who touch our lives and the justification of our feeling sad at the death of any of them shouldn't be conditional upon whether we cared about the death of every other person we haven't met.
Any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.
posted by peacay at 9:33 AM on December 27, 2007 [51 favorites]


Here is an article from the Guardian, who did it? We won't every no, but probably not Musharraf.
posted by shothotbot at 9:33 AM on December 27, 2007


(oops I meant "we wont ever know.")
posted by shothotbot at 9:34 AM on December 27, 2007


Well said, peacay.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:35 AM on December 27, 2007


.
posted by e.e. coli at 9:38 AM on December 27, 2007


Tariq Ali's essay on the Bhuttos from the last issue of the LRB is an eerily well-timed background piece.
posted by RogerB at 9:46 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Some months later, in September 1996, as Murtaza and his entourage were returning home from a political meeting, they were ambushed, just outside their house, by some seventy armed policemen accompanied by four senior officers. A number of snipers were positioned in surrounding trees. The street lights had been switched off. Murtaza clearly understood what was happening and got out of his car with his hands raised; his bodyguards were instructed not to open fire. The police opened fire instead and seven men were killed, Murtaza among them. The fatal bullet had been fired at close range. The trap had been carefully laid, but as is the way in Pakistan, the crudeness of the operation – false entries in police logbooks, lost evidence, witnesses arrested and intimidated, the provincial PPP governor (regarded as untrustworthy) dispatched to a non-event in Egypt, a policeman killed who they feared might talk – made it obvious that the decision to execute the prime minister’s brother had been taken at a very high level."

The London Review of Books looks at the Bhutto family in Pakistan.
posted by plexi at 9:49 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


The blog "The Pakistani Spectator"
posted by adamvasco at 9:54 AM on December 27, 2007


So apparently, if my notes from lh's Ethics 101 class can be believed:

-Some dead people are more "mournable" than others;
-However, if you mourn for an unpopular person, you must mourn for all persons equally lest you be labelled a hypocrite.

Nice paradox you got going there. What peacay said, and as with what they say about incompetence and malice, a sufficient level of obstinate intellectual posturing is indistinguishable from trolling.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:00 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


.














So glad I didn't go to my friend's wedding yesterday...in Pakistan.
posted by mds35 at 10:02 AM on December 27, 2007


Extremists are like wild monkeys, but with more weapons and less intelligence.

No, they're as intelligent as anyone else and they are doing what they believe is for the greater good. It is beliefs you need to change (or it is wild beliefs that you need to prevent from developing, before it is too late) through education and investment, and by setting a good example.
posted by pracowity at 10:07 AM on December 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


Seriously though, how many people do you think will know or care about this other than those that are already being lead around by the pedants on 24 hour "news" outlets? American voters are many things, but informed on issues and news they ain't.

That's the problem. The overriding noise for the next few days will be "Al Qaeda! Al Qaeda!" and uninformed voters probably won't analyze much deeper than that. Certain candidates will, of course, make sure to keep this noise louder than everything else in the caucus states. Not that he'll be the only one exploiting this, but Rudy's rhetoric (and desperation) is about to get ratcheted up to new, nauseating heights. Yay.
posted by General Zubon at 10:08 AM on December 27, 2007


So glad I didn't go to my friend's wedding yesterday...in Pakistan.

Why not? You'd have one hell of a better story to tell at cocktail parties/to you grandkids than, "instead of bearing witness to the unfolding of a historical event I stayed home, watched a little tv, played Wii bowling and then commented on some blog."
posted by Pollomacho at 10:09 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Maybe the best thing woudl be for Pakistan and India to re-unite.
posted by delmoi at 11:25 AM on December 27 [+] [!]


Every Pakistani I know, and we're friends with Pakistani neighbors, among others, absolutely HATES Indians. (I assume if the Indian turns out to be a Muslim, they're okay, I don't know.) But my neighbors were so incensed over the recent arrival of Indians in the next neighborhood that they were thinking of moving away. It's irrational to me but it is deeply felt. They also hate Egyptians. And Indian-American reporter I know refused to invite other Indian-American reporters to her wedding because they weren't of the same class and refused to help my Pakistani friends who were being abused by a black family in the neighborhood. And the one Afghan guy I know, a computer expert at work, cannot stand Pakistanis at all. So it's a really happy world. I realize I can't necessarily project their thinking onto an entire country but it's still enlightening.
posted by etaoin at 10:14 AM on December 27, 2007


Why not? You'd have one hell of a better story to tell at cocktail parties/to you grandkids than, "instead of bearing witness to the unfolding of a historical event I stayed home, watched a little tv, played Wii bowling and then commented on some blog."

"And that's when the police clubbed me! What a riot that was. See, Jenny? See? The big purple mark right there? Go on, touch grandpa's forehead. Feel that? That's the big metal plate that holds grandpa's head together!"
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:16 AM on December 27, 2007


I hate Bush as much as the rest of you, but what does he (and Cheney) have to do with the way Pakistan has 'turned out'?

Weren't we (the US) responsible for pushing her back into Pakistan in order to hedge our bets against Musharraf?
Bush’s $10 Billion to Pakistan All for Naught?

“The Bush administration scrambled Thursday with the implications of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's assassination after investing significant diplomatic capital in promoting reconciliation between her and President Pervez Musharraf.

…‘This is a critical moment for Pakistan, for the region, and for the community of nations as we encourage democracy and stability in Pakistan,’ said Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, leading Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee.

The United States had been at the forefront of foreign powers trying to arrange reconciliation between Bhutto and Musharraf, who under heavy U.S. pressure resigned as army chief and earlier this month lifted a state of emergency, in the hope it would put Pakistan back on the road to democracy. Bhutto's return to the country after years in exile and the ability of her party to contest free and fair elections had been a cornerstone of Bush's policy in Pakistan, where U.S. officials had watched Musharraf's growing authoritarianism with increasing unease.

Those concerns were compounded by the rising threat from al-Qaida and Taliban extremists, particularly in Pakistan's largely ungoverned tribal areas bordering Afghanistan despite the fact that Washington had pumped nearly $10 billion in aid into the country since Musharraf became an indispensable counterterrorism ally after Sept. 11, 2001.

Irritated by the situation, Congress last week imposed new restrictions on U.S. assistance to Pakistan, including tying $50 million in military aid to State Department assurances that the country is making ‘concerted efforts’ to prevent terrorists from operating inside its borders.

Under the law, which provides a total of $300 million in military aid to Pakistan and was signed by Bush on Wednesday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also must guarantee Pakistan is implementing democratic reforms, including releasing political prisoners and restoring an independent judiciary. The law also prevents any of the funds from being used for cash transfer assistance to Pakistan, but that stipulation had already been adopted by the administration.

Despite the congressional move, Richard Boucher, the assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs who had been instrumental in engineering the Bhutto-Musharraf reconciliation, said he had little doubt that the administration would get the money.”
posted by ericb at 10:18 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I must be full of compassionate bullshit because I was actually moved by her death. But then again she has a special place in my childhood memories. But then again I'm also the type of person who starts getting teary eyes just for seeing a photo of a African mother digging a grave for her dead baby son, lying on the ground by her feet. Yes, I must be full of bullshit. Glad I read Mefi so I can understand how full of bullshit I am.
posted by lucia__is__dada at 10:25 AM on December 27, 2007 [9 favorites]


"And that's when the police clubbed me! What a riot that was. See, Jenny? See? The big purple mark right there? Go on, touch grandpa's forehead. Feel that? That's the big metal plate that holds grandpa's head together!"

Still say it's a better story. Rarely in documentaries do they interview people who almost went to the scene of the event.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:25 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Bhutto was a pretty big piece of shit but assassination is also bad. More thrilling shoulder-shrugging political commentary after the break. Oh also anyone who thinks that Musharraf wasn't directly involved should get a neurological checkup.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:26 AM on December 27, 2007


Actually, the wedding was to begin on the 27th at 7 PM in Lahore. I wonder if this delays their wedding?
posted by mds35 at 10:28 AM on December 27, 2007


.
posted by arcticwoman at 10:28 AM on December 27, 2007


Meanwhile, at this moment of crisis, hard-hitting "breaking news" site salon.com keeps us all appraised of what really matters.

(Not absolutely on topic, I know, but...seriously, what the fuck, Salon?)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:32 AM on December 27, 2007


Related: Securing Pakistan's Nukes. I was going to make it a comment here but with as many substantial links I found, I figured it deserved its own post.
posted by scalefree at 10:33 AM on December 27, 2007


Metroblogs and some pictures
Lahore
Karachi
Karachi Flickr Group
posted by Lord_Pall at 10:40 AM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


Here's some more recent analysis that should be taken into account & updated in light of today's news: The J-Curve Effect in Pakistani Politics (about this J-Curve not this one).
posted by scalefree at 10:41 AM on December 27, 2007


I'll admit I don't have enough information about the corruption charges against Bhutto to make a judgment on them, but I do know first-hand that she came across as a very intelligent, articulate and dedicated woman. Years ago I had the privilege of hearing her deliver one of the most eloquent, cogent and inspiring speeches I have ever heard.

.
posted by trip and a half at 10:46 AM on December 27, 2007


A Nuclear-Armed Pakistan Teeters on the Edge
posted by homunculus at 10:54 AM on December 27, 2007


Just curious, why do we give Indians and Pakistanis a pass when they're practicing overt racism? Shouldn't they both be taken to task for this?

And why aren't we demanding nuclear disarmament from both India and Pakistan? We should embargo both countries until they disarm, and pressure all our trading partners to do the same. India wouldn't be as keen on keeping their nukes if it meant losing their economy. Pakistan wouldn't be as happy with the nukes if it cost them $10 billion in aid. Nuclear weapons in that region are no better than nukes in Iran, perhaps worse.
posted by mullingitover at 10:58 AM on December 27, 2007


Three hours ago, the Tiger-Racoon Alliance to Eliminate Humanity (SF Chapter) had ~3,100 articles on Google News, whereas Bhutto's muder had only ~1,900. Now they are almost equal with ~3,300 articles for the Tigers and ~3,100 articles for Bhutto. This is progress of sorts.
posted by meehawl at 11:02 AM on December 27, 2007


Apparently this wasn't worth its own post after all.

U.S. Secretly Aids Pakistan in Guarding Nuclear Arms (NYT), Inside Pakistan's Drive To Guard Its A-Bombs (WSJ), Pakistan Nuclear Security Questioned (WP), The Stand-off (New Yorker), The Times’s Three-Year Silence on Pakistan’s Nukes (CJR), Securing Pakistan's Nukes (Danger Room), Pak nukes already under US control (Stratfor Report) & finally a Permissive Action Link Primer. Enjoy.



posted by scalefree at 11:03 AM on December 27, 2007 [6 favorites]


Just curious, why do we give Indians and Pakistanis a pass when they're practicing overt racism?

Explain? India and Pakistan are divided by faith rather than religion.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:04 AM on December 27, 2007


tin foil hat/

An unending battle against an unbeatable foe and manifestation of a severe political crisis shortly before an election are tools of emerging fascism.

I'm waiting for Clinton, Obama and all their supporters to accidentally trip and fall on 15kg of U-233 at the Democratic primaries in Denver this summer.

/tin foil hat
posted by CynicalKnight at 11:04 AM on December 27, 2007


or race as opposed to ethnicity?

(oops, I meant faith rather than race)
posted by Pollomacho at 11:04 AM on December 27, 2007


I'm just wonder on what basis people accuse Musharraf and her of being murderers and corrupt despots. Bhutto had a 69% approval according to polls I'd seen (veracity? Musharraf around 40%) and by all accounts I'd read prior to that seemed to echo trip and a half's view of her. As far as judging Musharaff, I wonder who else on this board has ever tried to keep a 100 million people from killing each other as a head of state. Sure, the border extremist issue and the martial law are questionable, but I'd have to have a better understanding of all the complexities to judge them. The internal politics of Pakistan is quite convoluted, as much as anywhere I'd say, and to navigate it takes a level of intellect and altruism. No matter what the trappings of power, its hard for me to believe that both of them are not motivated to some extent by nationalism and altruistic desire to lead their people. Each has been the target of multiple assassination attempts. Who knows, I don't, but on a human level its sad that ignorant people have to resort to this to make political statements.
posted by sfts2 at 11:11 AM on December 27, 2007


divided by faith rather than religion

Good one, actually!
posted by pax digita at 11:12 AM on December 27, 2007


Do Muslim women get 72 virgins when they are martyred?

well hopefully she's gone to a better place where she has her choice of 72 eunuchs and/or well-endowed (and experienced) boys...

The U.S. practically invented the Taliban's precursors in Afghanistan.

and it's a movie (and a book ;)

cheers!
posted by kliuless at 11:15 AM on December 27, 2007


kliuless writes "and it's a movie (and a book ;) "

And another movie!
posted by mullingitover at 11:19 AM on December 27, 2007


As far as judging Musharaff, I wonder who else on this board has ever tried to keep a 100 million people from killing each other as a head of state.

With those kinds of criteria, I can't imagine you being able to judge when your oatmeal is done, let alone anything of a more intellectual nature.
posted by OmieWise at 11:20 AM on December 27, 2007


Pollomacho writes "faith rather than race"

Ah, never mind. Carry on then!
posted by mullingitover at 11:20 AM on December 27, 2007


What's going to happen in Iowa next week is that good, honest Americans are going to finally reject the politics of fear and militarism have made the world far less secure and threaten to bankrupt this country. They will understand that Musharraf is another in a long line that includes the Shah of Iran, Hussein, and Noriega. A charismatic dark horse will emerge in the caucuses who will unite the country, indeed the world, with promises of investments in education, diplomacy, and security through peace and economic prosperity for all. We will look back and see that the assassination of Bhutto provided the catalyst that finally caused all people to rise up and fight for the justice and stability the whole world is craving.

Wow. This is some fantastic crack. Anybody else want some?
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:23 AM on December 27, 2007 [10 favorites]


VicNebulous said: Honestly -- how can people be shocked by this? You could pretty much see it coming from the day she returned. Sad, yes. Tragic, indeed. Shocker? Hardly. What a mess.

That was almost exactly what my husband said this morning when I was scanning the AP feed and said "Oh no!", and then told him why I said it. I suppose that in some cases, I'm a little too optimistic for reality, and had hoped that Ms. Bhutto would make a difference not just in Pakistan, but region wide.

It has been a long time since there was a high-profile, respected, intelligent female in that part of the world. I was, perhaps quixotically, hoping that were she to rise to power, that perhaps some of the insane restrictions on women would begin to loosen their hold on people's minds and actions. That perhaps she could be used as an example of why women should be educated, should be allowed to go uncovered, to show that they were equal contributors in the public sphere.
posted by dejah420 at 11:24 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


languagehat: Screw you, pal.. I call bullshit on your "humanity and compassion.." ..unless you're equally full of hot burning compassionate tears for every single human who dies anywhere, you're a canting hypocrite.

Are you drunk, or just out of your mind today, languagehat?

People die all the time, certainly. However, being shot in the neck and burnt by a fiery suicide bomb, while trying to live up to the mantle of being the only person who can lead a country of 150 million souls out of a political death spiral, is not simply "business as usual" for the human race. To the contrary, it is a serious tragedy by the classic and accepted definition, and it saddens me deeply.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:28 AM on December 27, 2007 [18 favorites]


I don't expect thats all that you cannot imagine.

Isn't it so much more insightful to make comments like that rather than actually bringing something of value to the table, like a reason for calling someone a murderer. I mean a reason other than oh so fashionable ignorant cynicism.
posted by sfts2 at 11:31 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


We know many people through the media who touch our lives and the justification of our feeling sad at the death of any of them shouldn't be conditional upon whether we cared about the death of every other person we haven't met.

Absolutely. So don't tell me who I can and can't feel sad about, and I'll extend you the same courtesy. I cared a lot about John Lennon; I didn't about Bhutto. In general, I tend to mourn musicians (and other artists) a lot more readily than politicians (and other people who make it their life's goal to tell other people what to do). Those may not be your priorities, and that's cool. But don't tell me I'm inhuman because I don't mourn one particular politician. (For what it's worth, like lassie, I welcomed her arrival in 1988. She proved a big letdown.)
posted by languagehat at 11:32 AM on December 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


Are you drunk, or just out of your mind today, languagehat?

I don't react well to being attacked by assholes for no good reason. As someone who was recently the subject of just such an unmerited attack, you might be more understanding. But feel free to join the hypocritical pileon if that gives you pleasure.
posted by languagehat at 11:35 AM on December 27, 2007


A charismatic dark horse will emerge in the caucuses who will unite the country, indeed the world, with promises of investments in education, diplomacy, and security through peace and economic prosperity for all.

If it does come to pass, I bet you anything that his number be six hundred and sixty six.
posted by psmealey at 11:35 AM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


Nawaz Sharif Also Blames Musharraf for Bhutto Killing
posted by homunculus at 11:39 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


And another movie!

well, that didn't work :P

wait, the tiger had help?
posted by kliuless at 11:42 AM on December 27, 2007


Background on scalefree's post above.
posted by AwkwardPause at 11:42 AM on December 27, 2007


Who Will Succeed Bhutto?
posted by homunculus at 11:47 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I lived in Pakistan for a year before university and while I don't grieve for Benazir, I'm horrified by her death. When a country you have an abiding fondness for conducts its political discourse through the medium of suicide bombing, you can have no other response.
posted by pots at 11:48 AM on December 27, 2007


--don't tell me who I can and can't feel sad about--

I won't and didn't -----> "All well and good"

--But don't tell me I'm inhuman because I don't mourn one particular politician.--

I won't and didn't -----> "I don't think you're inhumane at all"

I think you are folding in things here said by stbalbach and Tacos. I said what I said which is fairly clear I think. Your comments in this thread contrarily appear to be saying who other people can and can't feel sad about. I don't doubt that's not what you actually believe but I'm here telling you that's the way they are coming off.
posted by peacay at 11:59 AM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Screw you too, pal. Did you know her personally? Then I call bullshit on your "humanity and compassion." You "mourn her loss" because you saw her name in the newspapers. Unless you're equally full of hot burning compassionate tears for every single human who dies anywhere, you're a canting hypocrite.

Absolutely. So don't tell me who I can and can't feel sad about, and I'll extend you the same courtesy.
posted by PugAchev at 12:03 PM on December 27, 2007


Maybe the best thing woudl be for Pakistan and India to re-unite.
posted by delmoi at 11:25 AM on December 27 [+] [!]


!!!! That comment was posted by DenOfSizer, not me. I quoted it here saying I thought it was pretty much never going to happen.
posted by delmoi at 12:04 PM on December 27, 2007


Benazir Bhutto was one of the good guys.

Had she lived and been given power, she would have been very conscious about past allegations of corruption, and would have tried to rectify her legacy.

Should I be reluctant as an American to say that I admired this Pakistani leader? I don't think so. Though she was not universally loved, look at all of those photos of the crowds that were coming out to hear her speak. Those crowds have lost a potential representative.

She represented to me enlightenment, tolerance, and education (and gender equity). Of course she was foremost a politician and thus flawed. But as a public politician in her return to Pakistan she was up against something else--operatives and a military state.

She may have ruled her party through personality, but that is a powerful political tool. The Republicans in the US are still united now only through Reagan.

.
posted by Schmucko at 12:04 PM on December 27, 2007


well hopefully she's gone to a better place where she has her choice of 72 eunuchs and/or well-endowed (and experienced) boys

Hey! That's my idea of heaven, thank you very much!

And I don't like sharing my toys.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:06 PM on December 27, 2007


america has outsourced its financial backoffice to india. somewhere in bangalore or mumbai is a server with a little spinning disk inside. on that disk live your checking account, brokerage account and 401k. across the border are nuclear weapons in an unstable country where there are people, if they get their fingers on the nuclear button, they'll push it just because they can, never mind indian retaliation, paradise in a mushroom cloud! if one of those nukes goes off over where your accounts live, it'll be a deep personal tragedy for you in addition to millions of casualties.
posted by bruce at 12:09 PM on December 27, 2007


"And why aren't we demanding nuclear disarmament from both India and Pakistan? We should embargo both countries until they disarm, and pressure all our trading partners to do the same. India wouldn't be as keen on keeping their nukes if it meant losing their economy. Pakistan wouldn't be as happy with the nukes if it cost them $10 billion in aid. Nuclear weapons in that region are no better than nukes in Iran, perhaps worse."

Just how much power do you think the US has? The time when the US could do something like this is now long gone.
posted by YouRebelScum at 12:10 PM on December 27, 2007


Q: Does President Bush plan to offer any guidance to President Musharraf regarding whether to hold the elections next month? And, also, does he plan to discourage any imposition of, for example, martial law in Pakistan?

MR. STANZEL: Well, the conversation hasn't happened yet, so the President does look forward to his conversation with President Musharraf. But we would urge calm -- and there is a risk of -- after an assassination like this of a political leader, there is a risk of people turning to violence to express their anger. And we would urge calm and hope that all the Pakistanis would mourn her death, celebrate her life, and unite together in opposition to the types of extremists that are trying to stop the march of democracy.


Seriously -- is this the best boilerplate BS doublespeak that these guys can come up with? Even Dana "I Really Know Nothing About the Cuban Missile Crisis" Perino would have done a better job than this.
posted by blucevalo at 12:11 PM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


on that disk live your checking account, brokerage account and 401k. across the border are nuclear weapons in an unstable country where there are people, if they get their fingers on the nuclear button, they'll push it just because they can

Looks like someone forgot the first rule of Project Mayhem.
posted by psmealey at 12:14 PM on December 27, 2007


.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 12:16 PM on December 27, 2007


I'm intrigued by the idea, seeming to be very hot on MeFi of late, that one can't be saddened by the death of a person one didn't know personally. I saw it in the tiger thread, and here.

Here it seems the most misplaced, and I'm genuinely intrigued because I'm seeing it mentioned by people I think of as generally cool-headed and warm-hearted. So I suspect there's more to it than the obvious superficial interpretation, which I think is blatantly silly.

So - please elucidate. To make it less visceral, please explain with an example. Suppose some public/artistic figure I have some respect for but have never met were to die suddenly - say Cormac McCarthy or Taj Mahal or something - I claim I would feel some sadness about it. Are you really saying that would just be "theater"? Just a show to prove my depth and sympathetic nature to others?
posted by freebird at 12:18 PM on December 27, 2007


This assassination was 100% predictable. And it's still 100% bad news.

That woman, no matter what you think of her principles or her past, walked into that country knowing she had a big target on her back. She wasn't an idiot. For fuck sake she hadn't been back in the country fifteen minutes when they tried to kill her. They killed lots of bystanders with those bombs showing how far they would go. So she knew she was a marked woman and it was only a matter of time before they got her but still she went right ahead talking and walking.

And they got her. She faced her death more admirably than most of will face ours. So I say facing that kind of threat day in day out takes some serious balls (or serious ovaries). Balls that coward poseurs like Bush will never have. I got give her some credit just for that.

And this is bad news. Because basically it affirms what most of us know but are very afraid to admit. And that is dangerous extremism is on the rise. Everywhere. Including here. And the extremists are going to win.

They are going to win becuase they don't give a fuck. They don't give a fuck that their actions will bring down misery and ruin upon themselves and their cultures. Their values are inside out and backwards. They will always take violence a step farther than we will or a step farther than we ever should. You can't fight that kind of ignorance and blind hatred. Not with guns anyway.

Pakistan is fucked. If you live there now get the fuck out while you can.
posted by tkchrist at 12:24 PM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


that they still got to her after the first attempt on her life only shows just how dysfunctional the system there currently is. this really is a constitutional crisis for this country like so many which have lead to terrible outcomes.
posted by krautland at 12:28 PM on December 27, 2007


That's a little bit hysterical, tkchrist. The Japanese during WWII were "going to win becuase they don't give a fuck. They don't give a fuck that their actions will bring down misery and ruin upon themselves and their cultures. Their values are inside out and backwards."

But we dropped the bigger bombs, and their kamikaze pilots died in defeat. Just because your side's warriors are idiots doesn't mean you automatically win.
posted by plexi at 12:30 PM on December 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


Did I read that right? Did somebody up-thread ACTUALLY say we should have invaded Pakistan when we into Afghanstan?

Jebus. Afghanistan and Pakistan have the most dangerous and insane geography this side of the god damned moon. Pakistan is also insanely dangerous. Some of the toughest mother fuckers on the planet live up there.

We have what two or three Special Forces mountain divisions? The 10th being the most experienced. And they were smart enough to hire those Northern Alliance guys to do some of the work in Afghanistan. The Soviets couldn't. The British couldn't. Alexander couldn't. But nineteen year olds from Compton and Philly.... they can take 'em.

There is nothing short of nukes or fifty foot tall robots that would conquer both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
posted by tkchrist at 12:33 PM on December 27, 2007 [6 favorites]


That comment was posted by DenOfSizer, not me.

attribution, folks! attribution...
(before the retribution sets in ;)
posted by kliuless at 12:33 PM on December 27, 2007


america has outsourced its financial backoffice to india. somewhere in bangalore or mumbai is a server with a little spinning disk inside. on that disk live your checking account, brokerage account and 401k... if one of those nukes goes off over where your accounts live, it'll be a deep personal tragedy for you in addition to millions of casualties.

If only there was some way to copy those bits from one disk to another in a sort of 'backup' scheme. Perhaps even in different locations around the world?
posted by delmoi at 12:34 PM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


america has outsourced its financial backoffice to india. somewhere in bangalore or mumbai is a server with a little spinning disk inside. on that disk live your checking account, brokerage account and 401k. across the border are nuclear weapons in an unstable country where there are people, if they get their fingers on the nuclear button, they'll push it just because they can, never mind indian retaliation, paradise in a mushroom cloud! if one of those nukes goes off over where your accounts live, it'll be a deep personal tragedy for you in addition to millions of casualties.

Does my debt live there too? Because I think I could come out ahead in this deal.
posted by stevis23 at 12:38 PM on December 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


Sad thing?

Yes.

Bad thing?

Yes.

Cui Bono?

Almost everybody in Pakistan who's got a gun:

a) Musharraf has been teetering for some time; in fact, I'm surprised he's still running things. At this point, increasing his own unpopularity via an assassination wouldn't really be a big concern. He's kept in place via the remnants of institutional power, not popularity. More to the point, the power-sharing deal he had apparently worked out with Bhutto was collapsing. It looks as though she soon wouldn't be a fig leaf for him so much as a simple (and very powerful) rival. And much more to the point, this gives him, obviously, an excuse to clamp down hard and secure himself.

b) Al-Qaeda really does benefit from the simple appearance (and reality) of destabilization.

c) ISI, the sprawling and ambiguous link between everyone else and AQ, may have benefited from Benazhir Bhutto in the past, but that was because back then, such a deal helped BB out. Post 9/11, it wouldn't be in BB's interests to support ISI all that much-- particularly ISI's more extreme Islamist factions. Having BB gone means more chaos and more need for ISI... so that it can "contain" AQ, of course.

The only major group that doesn't seem to benefit from Bhutto's death is that vast and conservative business syndicate known as the Army-- and the Army has seemed on the verge of replacing Musharraf for months now.

The weirdly amateurish attack on Sharif's supporters-- what, a day ago?-- in conjunction with Bhutto's assassination today would suggest that Musharraf is being framed. On the other hand, Musharraf's rapidly deteriorating position, the account of Musharraf's rambling speech, and the messy history of Pakistani execution politics, tends to finger, at least for me, Musharraf-- or, pardon me, "rogue elements" among his supporters.

Note: that London Review of Books link cited by RogerB and plexi is definitely worth reading... particularly the gut-wrenching account of the assassination of Benazhir's brother (probably by Benazhir's husband, and quite possibly with her complicity).

I'd say, "Forget it, Jake. It's Pakistan," but then, there are the nukes...
posted by darth_tedious at 12:39 PM on December 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


That's a little bit hysterical, tkchrist. The Japanese during WWII were "going to win becuase they don't give a fuck. They don't give a fuck that their actions will bring down misery and ruin upon themselves and their cultures. Their values are inside out and backwards."

That is a terrible analogy. You couldn't come up with a worse one. The Japanese certainly DID give a fuck. The only people saying they were consumed with "blind hatred" were propagandists. The Japanese were a NATION STATE. They were tied to a specific culture and national identity with goals, hierarchy, an identifiable chain of command, and a logistics base that was fixed.

"Extremism" is a disease. A virus. It has no nation. It spreads as a default reaction to prevent it. You can't bomb an idea.

But we dropped the bigger bombs, and their kamikaze pilots died in defeat. Just because your side's warriors are idiots doesn't mean you automatically win.

Who we gonna bomb, dude? Who? More women and children? Against an idea you don't win with bombs. That's the problem.

And those people aren't idiots. They are smart. That is the common and terrible misconception.

What they have is an extreme belief. The belief that no matter what they do for their cause here on earth it is justified in the next world. While we - the non extremists - know, or we should know, that the ends do not justify the means.

So what happens? How do we fight this hydra?

I can only tell you what we HAVE done. What humans usually do.

We BECOME extremists ourselves. It's what is happening now in this country. We convince ourselves it's just temporary. We are just temporarily suspending our rights. We are just temporarily torturing people.

THAT is how they win. Not with bombs.

Secular democracy is blip on the historical radar. And I see all the trends taking us diametrically opposite of that little blip into what historically appears to be a more constant state for humanity. Ignorance, sectarian conflict, and despotism.
posted by tkchrist at 12:48 PM on December 27, 2007 [7 favorites]


But don't tell me I'm inhuman because I don't mourn one particular politician.

This, coming from the very same man who slagged me for getting a fucking minor hoot from this bit of impotent stagecraft. Not even close to hoot number one for that day!

...but I'm not sure why anyone outside her immediate family would be "saddened" by her loss. She was just another corrupt pol... who was shot in the face and carbombed...

Gentlement, I present to you... The Voice of Reason!
posted by prostyle at 12:49 PM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Unless you're equally full of hot burning compassionate tears for every single human who dies anywhere, you're a canting hypocrite.

LH, I agree that there can be a real overstatement of emotion and drama around here, but that's a bit of an overstatement itself, don't you think?
posted by freebird at 12:53 PM on December 27, 2007


I think everyone's been waiting for some sort of breakdown in Pakistan for quite a long time-- just as everyone eventually expects something dramatic to happen in Saudi Arabia. This'll probably wind up ending Musharraf's rule-- or speeding that end along-- but probably won't dramatically change the direction (whatever that is) the country is headed. In a sense, it doesn't disrupt things; it reinforces them.
posted by darth_tedious at 1:01 PM on December 27, 2007


XQUZYPHYR: The fact that you don't know that Pakistan is not an Arab country tells me all I need to know about your plan

Umm... yeah, so please feel free to tell me where I said Pakistan was an Arab country. I compared it to the Arab Middle East when I said "There are and were no doubts about the superiority of U.S. forces over any Arab nations; [i.e., you know, the two Arab nations we invaded and the handful the previous President bombed. We've been invading Arab nations for a while now. Where've you been?] invading Pakistan was just as plausible as Iraq." But thanks for having a legitimate concern about the issue instead of trying to find a "gotcha" argument. That's both really cute and incredibly helpful.

The country that provided the majority of the terrorists and the funding for the 9/11 attack was Saudi Arabia. Afghanistan was just a convenient place to hide training camps.

Guh? That's kind of like saying "Oh, my dad doesn't buy me the crack; he just lets me smoke up in his rec room." I said pretty clearly in my comment Pakistan provided the training facilities for the 9/11 hijackers and I wasn't arguing whether or not Saudi Arabia provided funding. I'm puzzled as to why you felt like refuting a point I never attempted to make. I also fail to see why the concept that the 9/11 hijackers training in Pakistan doesn't seem to bother you about Pakistan's relationship to al-Qaeda. Or the intelligence reports that suggested bin Laden was hiding, and likely escaped to Afghanistan via, Pakistan following the 9/11 attacks. Or the fact that Musharaff allowed the Taliban into Pakistan in 1999 to fight India along the same border regions that bin Laden likely fled to in late 2001. Or how one of the heads of Musharaff's intelligence agencies gave $100,000 to Khalid Sheik Muhammed in 2004.

Or was it just still "a convenient place?" What, did the Pakistani border have cable or something? Exactly how facilitating of a mass murderer does Pakistan and Musharaff have to be before you agree they are highly complicit in the attacks?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:10 PM on December 27, 2007


tkchrist, you are arguing, er, hurling a healthy dose of all caps at an argument that is either too nuanced for you to detect, or you are attempting to muddy the waters. I like to think it is the former. You are also responding in well-worn talking points like a Pavlovian dog, slobbering to get out what I have read 1000 times on this site, or reddit, or huffington post, the moment someone mentions something contrary to a comfortable belief system engendered by the poster.

That is a terrible analogy. You couldn't come up with a worse one. The Japanese certainly DID give a fuck. The only people saying they were consumed with "blind hatred" were propagandists. The Japanese were a NATION STATE. They were tied to a specific culture and national identity with goals, hierarchy, an identifiable chain of command, and a logistics base that was fixed.

The Japanese during WWII provide not an analogy, but historical interest in terms of a group of people, here specifically the kamikaze pilots, or for example the Japanese army inducing the mass suicide of their own people, as a reference point of those who will throw away their lives for the Sun King and/or Japan. Theirs was an ideology that they would die for, the same as the Islamic suicide bombers. They are idiots here, as a warrior that kills himself can no longer fight. It is not a strategy for success. You may be able to induce chaos. You may be able to incite the world's lone superpower to attack you. But you cannot win by blowing yourself up. You will die, firstly, and your ideology will never be able to afford to win. The machinations of war, and subsequently victory, will never be in the slums of the Third World.

And those people aren't idiots. They are smart. That is the common and terrible misconception.

Again, being in idiot is not a sign of the uneducated here. Some of the hijackers that flew planes into the wtc were college educated engineers, for example.

Who we gonna bomb, dude? Who? More women and children? Against an idea you don't win with bombs. That's the problem.

The point here is not that we can bomb away our problems, but that the Islamic ideology cannot win, as they do not possess the military to control what they want. They have no stock market. No capital. A more refined argument would be - what is it, exactly, do these goatfuckers want? Your argument skips from "I am wrong, dude" to "they are totally going to win." What are they going to win?
posted by plexi at 1:11 PM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


I don't know if this link was posted earlier - I may have missed it - but Wonkette has a snark-free post about the assassination, and posts some horrifying, sorrowful photos of the bombing's aftermath. She says, in part:
And, of course, there are much, much larger political implications to Bhutto’s assassination and so the news tonight will likely focus on the implications for us as a country and on the campaign and blah blah blah, yes, it’s all really important. But, also, a lot of regular people died today, too. Some of them were poor, some were old, and they died taking advantage of their (current) right of free assembly, which most of us probably take for granted. They died and were horrifically injured participating in the political process of their country, even knowing that in the end it might not make any difference because they might still end up under the thumb of a dictator.
.
posted by rtha at 1:20 PM on December 27, 2007 [5 favorites]


Your comments in this thread contrarily appear to be saying who other people can and can't feel sad about. I don't doubt that's not what you actually believe but I'm here telling you that's the way they are coming off.

Well, that's certainly not what I believe or what I intend to be saying, so thanks for giving me the opportunity to clarify. Feel sad about whoever you want.

that's a bit of an overstatement itself, don't you think?


Yup. I was pissed off.

Suppose some public/artistic figure I have some respect for but have never met were to die suddenly - say Cormac McCarthy or Taj Mahal or something - I claim I would feel some sadness about it. Are you really saying that would just be "theater"? Just a show to prove my depth and sympathetic nature to others?

Of course not. (I can't help but notice that you picked a writer and a musician as examples. It may be that, like me, you tend to find them more sympathetic figures than politicians.) Anyone who genuinely spent time caring about Ms. Bhutto while she was alive, felt a personal connection to her, should be grieving for her, the way I grieved for Anna Politkovskaya, a brave reporter I never met. I have no problem with that. But I strongly suspect that a number of people here are going "OMG she's dead oh how sad" who until now thought of her, if at all, simply as a marginally sympathetic character in Pakistani politics, and it's that kind of manufactured sadness that rubs me the wrong way—especially if such manufacturers of sadness insult me for not playing the same game.

Just to be clear, I think it's terrible that Bhutto was killed, and if I could reach back in time and prevent it I would. It's horrible for her family and for many Pakistanis who were devoted to her, and it's bad news for Pakistan's near future. All I said is that I don't personally mourn her. any more than I personally mourned, say, Sadat, another leader whose assassination was bad news for his country.
posted by languagehat at 1:22 PM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


They are idiots here, as a warrior that kills himself can no longer fight. It is not a strategy for success.

Asymmetric warfare | Back to the Future with Asymmetric Warfare
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:22 PM on December 27, 2007


YouRebelScum writes "Just how much power do you think the US has? The time when the US could do something like this is now long gone."

"India and Pakistan, we're afraid we're going to have to ask you to dismantle your nuclear weapons programs.

What's that, you refuse?

Well we tried. Time to impose economic sanctions. Welcome to the 'Iran Treatment.' Those Microsoft, Google, IBM, Cisco, Adobe, Yahoo campuses you're so proud of? Gone. We will also go full-court press, carrot and stick with our trade partners to ensure they see things our way. Remember that as soon as those nukes are gone, your trade comes back. We're sorry it's come to this, but it's for your own good."

I don't understand why we're ready to go to war with Iran, which might get nukes in a decade but we turn a blind eye to a country teetering on the edge of collapse and has the means to deliver nuclear weapons to US cities today.
posted by mullingitover at 1:27 PM on December 27, 2007


I am so very sorry for Pakistan.

.
posted by verveonica at 1:27 PM on December 27, 2007


I also fail to see why the concept that the 9/11 hijackers training in Pakistan doesn't seem to bother you about Pakistan's relationship to al-Qaeda. Or the intelligence reports that suggested bin Laden was hiding, and likely escaped to Afghanistan via, Pakistan following the 9/11 attacks. Or the fact that Musharaff allowed the Taliban into Pakistan in 1999 to fight India along the same border regions that bin Laden likely fled to in late 2001. Or how one of the heads of Musharaff's intelligence agencies gave $100,000 to Khalid Sheik Muhammed in 2004.

You're just one of those loony coincidence theorists!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:29 PM on December 27, 2007


I don't understand why we're ready to go to war with Iran, which might get nukes in a decade but we turn a blind eye

cough

this has been another edition of "Name That Lung Ailment"
posted by panamax at 1:33 PM on December 27, 2007


Asymmetric warfare | Back to the Future with Asymmetric Warfare
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:22 PM on December 27


This is fairly obvious. But Muslims trying to grind history to a halt by killing themselves is not the same as Ghandi's India against the British, or the Vietnamese against France and the United States in the 1960s and 1970s.

What they are blowing themselves up for is essentially to halt history. Sometimes, such as the USS Cole bombing, it is for immediate concerns, such as the United States having bases in Saudi Arabia, or a general distaste for American foreign policy. But the Taliban is not fighting for Palestine, or the disenfranchised in Pakistan, or against US naval maneuvers in the Indian Ocean.
posted by plexi at 1:39 PM on December 27, 2007


I don't understand why we're ready to go to war with Iran

Perhaps the leadership in Saudi Arabia wants Bush to fight a war for them:

Considering the PetroEuro

Robertson says a shift [from petrodollars to petroeuros] would send a clear signal that oil producers “didn’t have as much confidence in the future of the United States”—a sentiment that could deeply undermine investor confidence.

This, in turn, could further hamper the strength of the dollar. As Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister says “the mere mention that the OPEC countries are studying the issue of the dollar is itself going to have an impact,” adding that a dollar collapse could take a severe toll on OPEC (UK Telegraph) economies. Indeed, several of the main oil-exporting nations would be among the most vulnerable parties, globally, should the dollar’s value decline. Having accepted dollars in payment for years, countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates have compiled massive dollar reserves (Economist), rivaling those held by China. They have a compelling interest in keeping those dollar piles as valuable as possible. [emph. added]

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:43 PM on December 27, 2007


you know, the two Arab nations we invaded and the handful the previous President bombed? We've been invading Arab nations for a while now. Where've you been?

Well, I suppose Iraq mostly counts as an Arab nation, what's the other one?

Syria? Nope.
Egypt? Nein.
Saudi? No.
Kuwait? No.
Oh, Oman? Naw.
The Emirites? Nope.
Yemen, gotta be Yemen? No.
Jordan? Nyet.
Lebanon? No, not since Regan pulled out.
Palestine (does that count as a nation)? Not directly (somewhat).
Libya, must be Libya? No.
Tunesia? Nope.
Morrocco? No.
Algeria, did we invade Algeria? No.
Sudan, well at least partly Sudan, right? No, though it would count for partial credit if true.
Well, I'm stumped. Bahrain? No.
Mecca-lecca? Now you're just talking crazy talk.
Mauritania? Djibouti? No and no.
Somalia? Not this Bush.
Eritrea? No, and only the slimmest of credit there if we had.
Well then I give up. What was the other Arab nation that Bush Jr. invaded?

The answer is none. He invaded Afghanistan, but it's not an Arab nation either.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:45 PM on December 27, 2007


I don't understand why we're ready to go to war with Iran, which might get nukes in a decade but we turn a blind eye to a country teetering on the edge of collapse and has the means to deliver nuclear weapons to US cities today.

I agree with the general thrust of your argument, but I'd like to say that Pakistan, as of now, doesn't have ICBMs. "Today" is overstating things quite a bit.

The machinations of war, and subsequently victory, will never be in the slums of the Third World.

Well, I'd like to venture Vietnam as, if not a refutation, something that that statement would have to account for.

Yes yes, I'm aware that, technically, Vietnam was second world back in the day, but lets use those terms as we define them today
posted by Weebot at 1:48 PM on December 27, 2007


What they are blowing themselves up for is essentially to halt history.

Um, not exactly. What you must understand about the Middle East is that there is a difference between "history" and the past. History is very much alive and present there. What they are blowing themselves up for is what we in the West consider as history, aka, the past. Events of 1000 years ago matter more to them than events of last week mean to us.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:50 PM on December 27, 2007


But the Taliban is not fighting for Palestine, or the disenfranchised in Pakistan, or against US naval maneuvers in the Indian Ocean.

I'm not sure if the Taliban still exist, as such, but Al Qaeda in general is fighting to have the US and its associated cultural, economic, energy and military interests leave the Middle East.

So it sends a few here and there on suicide missions that cause wildly asymmetric cultural, economic and military damage.

Looking at 911 alone, significant, long-term damage has been done to the Bill of Rights, general financial health, energy prices, and the mission in Iraq — which affect all Americans — all from American ineptitude in responding to attacks from a literal handful of people with meager, nearly non-existent resources.

A warrior killing himself isn't necessarily the main point: the warrior has the enemy harm himself many-fold from his own actions. Killing oneself only highlights the determination to carry out the task at hand, but it isn't necessarily the end in itself.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:54 PM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Nobody should forget that we sent her there. This is another death we're responsible for--one of way way way too many just in the past 7 years.

Pakistanis know that we sent her too, and that we're propping up and vastly enriching Musharraf and his buddies.

... Rice persuaded Musharraf to let exiled former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto back in the country—and persuaded Bhutto to go back—as part of a power-sharing deal. The idea was that Musharraf, who doubles as army chief of staff, would retain control of the military in the fight against terrorism, while Bhutto would attract the loyalty of Pakistan's increasingly discontented democrats. That ploy, too, turned out to be illusory: Bhutto was attacked the moment she got back; Musharraf showed no interest in sharing power....
posted by amberglow at 1:57 PM on December 27, 2007


Pollomacho: Lebanon? No, not since Regan pulled out.

While true, I suspect that Israel's shenanigans last year don't reflect too well on the United States.
posted by Weebot at 1:59 PM on December 27, 2007


America's tragedy isn't that it hasn't democracy for so long, but that it hasn't seen any churning in political figures; you know you're disheartened when the closest possible alternatives to a military dictator would be two landed gentry who've ruled over their feudal fiefdoms for generations.

Italicized the correction for you.
(what's cross-out, anyway..)
posted by Balisong at 2:01 PM on December 27, 2007


In October e-mail, Bhutto said she would hold Musharraf 'responsible' for her death
posted by homunculus at 2:07 PM on December 27, 2007


amberglow: I've been critical of this administration's foreign policy for a while now, but I think it's a bit of a stretch to say that Bhutto's blood on our hands. Bhutto, as stated before, was well-aware of the risks returning to Pakistan.

The worse you can say about Bush and Rice vis-à-vis Bhutto is that they were incredibly myopic. Which is otherwise known as a good day, at least for this administration.
posted by Weebot at 2:08 PM on December 27, 2007


and Bhutto herself from 97 in a diary at Slate: A Week in the Life of Benazir Bhutto
posted by amberglow at 2:14 PM on December 27, 2007


I had met BB several times this year, and while she had previously been a flawed Prime Minister, she was an inordinately charismatic, courageous and astute woman who said that she had learned from past mistakes. Her death is a great personal loss and an incalculable loss for the people of Pakistan. She was, more than anything, a symbol for national unity, of progressive beliefs, for democracy and for enlightenment (whether accurate or not). Her party was the front-runner in the election and she would likely have been the next Prime Minister.

All fingers point to Musharraf and his henchmen. Benazir herself wrote in an email to her friend Mark Siegel saying that if she were killed, Musharraf would be the one who is responsible. He is a killer; he has killed before and will likely to do so again to stay in power. Unsurprisingly, he is going to blame Islamic extremists, but as someone pointed out earlier in this thread, he has the most to gain from her death. He will cancel/postpone elections where his party would have been routed, despite the fact that his party is openly using government funds at the rate of million dollars a day on its election campain. A sniper took her out ... if it were an Islamic extremist, why would he have blown himself up immediately? She was murdered in cold blood not more than two miles from the headquarters of the Pakistan Army. Musharraf keeps saying that they had warned BB about those out to get her: but beyond that they did little. Musharraf's government has not even investigated the blast about a month ago that nearly took her out. They denied BB's requests for foreign forensic experts. Musharraf will doubtless use this incident to postpone or cancel the elections because who is going to vote for his already discredited and beleaguered party now?

As a nation, Pakistan is mourning. The despair followed by outrage is reported to be everywhere. My heartfelt sympathies go out to her one remaining sibling (the other three all likely killed by the Pakistan Army) and her three teenage children.
posted by Azaadistani at 2:15 PM on December 27, 2007 [30 favorites]


mullingitover : I don't understand why we're ready to go to war with Iran, which might get nukes in a decade but we turn a blind eye to a country teetering on the edge of collapse and has the means to deliver nuclear weapons to US cities today.

Or not even turn a blind eye but pump them full of aid and political support, just not quite enough to avert collapse or make anything better for anyone.

But to concur with verveonica, I am very sorry for Pakistan. Forceful violation of the sovereign political process and murderous destruction of hope shouldn't happen to any country.
posted by XMLicious at 2:17 PM on December 27, 2007


rtha, thanks for the wonkette link- I wouldn't have found it.

I know I should be over it, but it's always shocking to see such large groups of people and not a woman among them.

posted by small_ruminant at 2:19 PM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think it's terrible that Bhutto was killed, and if I could reach back in time and prevent it I would. It's horrible for her family and for many Pakistanis who were devoted to her, and it's bad news for Pakistan's near future. All I said is that I don't personally mourn her.

Fair enough, well said, and pretty much what I'd figured. All I'd add is that there is also a certain amount of sorrow I think some of us may may feel not so much for her as a person, which can be a bit overdone, but for the collective. Yes, it should come as no surprise -- but as someone thinking about having children and hoping to live a long and fairly pleasant life, it is a bit disheartening to have our noses rubbed in the fact that we still live in a world where brute violence - whether fanatic or machiavellian in its provenance - is always on menu, and where it's becoming easier to find a nuclear power than a rational one.

However one may feel (have felt, rather) about Bhutto as a person or a leader, her assassination reminds me of these things, and thus makes me sad for entirely selfish reasons.
posted by freebird at 2:21 PM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Weebot writes "I agree with the general thrust of your argument, but I'd like to say that Pakistan, as of now, doesn't have ICBMs."

Who needs ICBMs? If anything an ICBM would be a stupid choice as a vector of attack. A short-range missile fired from a small ship or sub at a populous costal city would give no warning and give no indication of the source of the attack, preventing a wounded US from knowing where to direct its fury. This is also why a missile defense shield is a monumental folly.
posted by mullingitover at 2:23 PM on December 27, 2007


.
(For clarification, I follow the news closely and admired her efforts)
posted by janedoe at 2:28 PM on December 27, 2007


or against US naval maneuvers in the Indian Ocean

AQ/El Taliban/OBL/S.P.E.C.T.R.E/ISI -- whoever the * they are -- are employing asymmetric methods -- terrorism -- against American presence and influence agents. Vietnam illustrated to the world the limitations of the US/"Free World" to permanently intervene in the 3rd Word's affairs.

The US has spent trillions of dollars constructing a force structure to support armed intervention in the SW Asian Theatre. The USS Cole happened to be the low-hanging fruit that AQ plotters could hit that day in 2000. To pretend that AQ objects to our harmless USN presence in their part of the world is rather missing the point.
posted by panamax at 2:31 PM on December 27, 2007


All fingers point to Musharraf and his henchmen.

Even if al Qaeda operatives were the ones who actually did the killing, Musharraf was pretty clearly complicit in the conspiracy. Just 2 days ago Bhutto complained that the IED remote trigger jammers lent to her security detail were faulty. I wouldn't be surprised if we learn that the sniper was fed intelligence that came from someone aligned with Musharraf too.
posted by scalefree at 2:32 PM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


.
posted by heartquake at 2:39 PM on December 27, 2007


.
posted by Mil at 2:40 PM on December 27, 2007


(Rolls eyes) Ah. Yes, Pollomacho, you've got me. I referred to Afghanistan as an Arab nation, which it is not. Clearly this has rendered all that stuff I said about Pakistan and terrorism and al-Qaeda tires to Musharraf completely irrelevant, which is why I guess you didn't have anything to say about it and instead got down to the real issues. While I'm here, I'd also like to apologize to everyone for a comment I made about George W. Bush a few months back. It turns out I misspelled a word or two in it, and as such you should have paid no attention to anything I had to say. My bad.

God I hate this place sometimes.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:40 PM on December 27, 2007


Not an exact parallel, I know, but all day long I've been thinking about this guy....
posted by pax digita at 2:43 PM on December 27, 2007


I'd like to thank all of you for clarifying, in detail, when it is and when it is not appropriate to mourn the loss of human life. And when it is appropriate to accuse someone of caring too much or too little. And who is an asshole, and who is a ludicrous asshole.

As for me, I'll follow the same rule I use for apologies. If somebody says they feel awful that somebody died, you accept it at face value.
posted by Nahum Tate at 2:57 PM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


All political arguments aside - the woman had style and courage.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 2:58 PM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


First heard about former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's assassination here on MetaFilter. She was the first woman prime minister of an Islamic nation. Immediately called a friend in the know to discuss the fallout and the fears inherent in the situation, from nukes to sticky wickets...like:

Could or would Pakistan now nuke India? Could or would a faction/splinter group created because of this assassination get hold of some of Pakistan's nuclear arms and nuke some other part of the planet?

How would this assassination impact the global economy ie oil prices?

What will the impact of Benazir's assassination have on the Muslims in India and the Kashmir separatists situation?

And how will this play out among the key Pakistani players in the situation?

So I did some reading and collected some relevant articles/links, pieces of the mosaic:

NYTimes: U.S. Secretly Aids Pakistan in Guarding Nuclear Arms Published: November 18, 2007:

Pakistanis do not want to reveal the locations of their weapons or the amount or type of new bomb-grade fuel the country is now producing....In particular, some American experts say they have less ability to look into the nuclear laboratories where highly enriched uranium is produced — including the laboratory named for Abdul Qadeer Khan, the man who sold Pakistan’s nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya.

An assessment of the safety and security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.

The Implications of Unrest in Pakistan for Nuclear Security

From the History of Pakistan and nuclear arms:

Benazir's father, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, also former prime minister of Pakistan (founder of the PPP= Pakistan People's Party), was hanged on charges of conspiring to murder a political opponent. He was the founder of Pakistan's Nuclear Program. "The initial package from the United States was for US$3.2 billion over six years, equally divided between economic and military assistance. A separate arrangement was made for the purchase of forty F-16 fighter aircraft."

Worth reading to get a grasp of the complex brocade of events happening in Pakistan and the USA's part in them: Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 by Steve Coll

On Friday, Musharraf said that he had released hundreds of Pakistanis who had been detained under the emergency rule, including former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, but he insisted that the threat from "suicide bombers and terrorists" has made the crackdown necessary. - See Musharraf stands up to pressure from U.S. for the complete article.

Oil price spikes close to 97 dollars after Bhutto death

From the Informed Comment Global Affairs blog:

Benazir Bhutto was killed at a PPP rally in Rawalpindi. The rally, with foolproof security [sic] was held at Liaqut Bagh - a site which had already seen the assassination of another Prime Minister of Pakistan,

Liaqut Ali Khan
. Collection of images taken at the rally moments before her assassination and the aftermath. [warning, some images gruesome, graphic]

NYTimes: Senior officials in Ms. Bhutto’s party said she was leaving after addressing the rally and stood up in her car, putting her head through a window in the roof to wave at the crowd when she was hit in the head by a sniper in a nearby building. Witnesses said that they heard two or three shots in total, and that the car moved on for another 50 yards before a suicide attacker blew himself up.

Washington has poured some $1 billion a year into Pakistan in the last five years for what are described as reimbursements for Pakistan’s counterterrorism efforts along the border with Afghanistan.


Pakistan in a Nutshell

Here are some of Pakistan's key political figures:

_ Pervez Musharraf: The former army chief has ruled Pakistan since leading a 1999 coup.

_ Benazir Bhutto: The two-time former prime minister led Pakistan's biggest opposition party before her assassination Thursday.

_ Nawaz Sharif: The premier ousted in Musharraf's coup is among Pakistan's most popular leaders.

_ Qazi Hussain Ahmed: The leader of Pakistan's main Islamist party and a critic of Musharraf's role in the U.S.-led war on terrorism.

_ Fazlur Rehman: The head of a pro-Taliban party with strong support among the ethnic Pashtuns living along the Afghan border.

_ Imran Khan: A former star cricket player who used his fame to elbow his way into Pakistan's political elite. An eloquent and outspoken critic of Musharraf.


Seconds from death: The final image of Benazir Bhutto moments before fatal suicide attack
posted by nickyskye at 3:15 PM on December 27, 2007 [30 favorites]


.
posted by lapolla at 3:18 PM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


[We've nixed a few comments from this thread today. It's a heavy subject, but please try to not completely fly off the handle, or redirect to Metatalk if you want to explore the validity of telling another user to "fuck off and die".]
posted by cortex at 3:18 PM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/asiapcf/12/27/bhutto.photographer/ :O
posted by yeoz at 3:32 PM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Getty Images photographer just yards away captures carnage.

He was worried about getting run over by her car so moved ahead, apparently saving his life. He reacted to "three gunshots" by turning on his camera's motor drive, allowing him to capture the subsequent explosion.
posted by dhartung at 3:40 PM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Holy crap nickyskye, that's freaking informative, thank you!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:47 PM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


However, being shot in the neck and burnt by a fiery suicide bomb, while trying to live up to the mantle of being the only person who can lead a country of 150 million souls out of a political death spiral, is not simply "business as usual" for the human race.

Sadly, it is precisely that. We are a savage people, and de rigeur political murder is neither something that's in the rear-view mirror for most of the planet today nor an aberration from historical norms.

But, as LH said, everyone is entitled to feel how they want to feel about people who are killed, whoever the dead may be. Any of a wide range of emotions are all equally reasonable.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:54 PM on December 27, 2007


some horrifying, sorrowful photos
[isn't wonkette a he now at this point?]

lying dead on the pavement balls deep in your own blood certainly helps put things in perspective.

it's always shocking to see such large groups of people and not a woman among them

I think some of us may may [sic] feel not so much for her as a person, which can be a bit overdone, but for the collective.
cf. Whether or not Benazir Bhutto was a fit leader is hardly the main thing. The main thing is that a whole nation, already torn between progressive and backward-looking forces, is now that much closer to chaos. Exactly which Pakistani is benefited by the removal of Bhutto from the power equation by violent means? No one is better off now, or safer -- certainly not those who labor for a lawful democracy, and certainly not Musharraf. Where there is chaos, history shows us, there is fertile territory for the most repressive rule. At the very least, this is a time to think of the millions upon millions of mostly poor Pakistanis who had placed hope in Benazir Bhutto -- misplaced hope, many looking from the outside in would say -- and to reflect on what may await them now. Are they closer to social justice, now that she is dead? Are they nearer to a way of life that includes education for girls and employment for women? It is not at all necessary to romanticize or whitewash Benazir Bhutto to see that great suffering, and much wondering which way to turn, will come of her death by violence, and to feel sorrow for the people who must endure it.
Events of 1000 years ago matter more to them than events of last week mean to us.

isn't that a more 'imagined' "history" tho?

re: coincidence theory and petroeuros

if i may triangulate: "A Chinese official warned further U.S. interest-rate cuts would have a 'negative impact' on the dollar's exchange rate."
cf. When wealth-holders look at the scale of indebtedness in the US, they might conclude that the Fed is indeed going to be under vast pressure to choose inflation.
One big fact is that foreign governments can now credibly peg their currencies against a basket of currencies or even just the euro alone. Another one is that both they and others with liquid wealth now have a choice of two currencies. When the renminbi is at last made convertible, they will have another one. Competition among currencies is good for actual and potential holders, but painful for those used to their currency monopoly.
cheers!?

posted by kliuless at 3:54 PM on December 27, 2007


US lawmakers asked to leave Pakistan after assassination.
posted by telstar at 4:00 PM on December 27, 2007


[isn't wonkette a he now at this point?]

perhaps, but that particular post was written by Megan Carpentier.


After seeing some of the footage of her motorcade in the previous assassination attempt, and now this successful one, and having lived in DC for (too) many years and thus familiar with U.S. presidential motorcades, I'm amazed and kind of shocked at how loose security looked to me - everyone knew that Bhutto was a target, and yet it looked as though there was always a crush of people around her car and the cars of her security forces. When Bush or Rice go to Pakistan, I can't imagine that anyone is allowed within touching distance of their cars. Does the same sort of set-up (i.e. lots of random people on foot close to the car) apply when Musharraf is out and about?
posted by rtha at 4:17 PM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


... Benazir Bhutto had been shot. I ran inside the store to tell my mother this, and as we were running out of building filled with small shops, all I saw was mass amounts of dust in the air and people running all over the place panicked. All I heard was people yelling and telling us not to go outside....
posted by Huplescat at 4:32 PM on December 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


OK, I'll respond to the substance of the post not related to your defense of calling Pakistan an Arab nation by calling Afghanistan an Arab nation.

Of course we support Musharaf in Pakistan, duh, he's the head of a nuclear powered army. We also let him not destabilize his country by riling the warlords in the north. We press him too hard on the pro-taliban forces that hide bin Laden and we end up with them rising up against him. They rise up against him and take over then bin Laden has a nuke, hooray.
posted by Pollomacho at 4:42 PM on December 27, 2007



The point here is not that we can bomb away our problems, but that the Islamic ideology cannot win, as they do not possess the military to control what they want. They have no stock market. No capital. A more refined argument would be - what is it, exactly, do these goatfuckers want? Your argument skips from "I am wrong, dude" to "they are totally going to win." What are they going to win?

Goat fuckers? That's some potentially pretty racist shit right there. But I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. (Which you did not give me, btw.)

I do see your confusion. You assume this extremist threat all comes from "over there" some where. That this threat is exclusive to Islamists. You under the mistaken assumption that extremism is only something that happens to brown people in dirty far off places. Obviously you're wrong.

Yes. There will be no victorious tanks with an Islamist logo on them rolling down 5th avenue in Manhattan. There doesn't need to be.

You are also wrong about claiming these folks have no capital. They DO have capital. They have plenty of capital. More than us, actually. It's simply in a different form than we are unused to dealing with. It's called people. And, the rate we are going, there are more and more potential extremists in this world.

What are they going to win? What they already are winning. These extremist movements are gaining strength all over the world, including here. There are extremist factions who are in control, or nearly in control, of several places on this planet vital to our interests. Perhaps you have been asleep during this thread but a major candidate of a nuclear power was just assassinated by extremists and the country is now in chaos. What do they win? Wow. You need to pay attention.

To rephrase your question: What they win is what we lose.

In order to "fight"these movements we have done exactly all the wrong things. As a result we lose liberties. We loose treasury. We lose the lives of our young people in fruitless wars. We lose our collective humanity killing a couple hundred thousand innocent people. Like the hundreds of thousands of people we have killed (or as a result of our presence let be killed) in Iraq.

What do we lose? We lose us. We become them. That is how they win. They don't need a military or GNP in excess of ours. All we need to do is keep doing what we have been doing and we lose. We ARE losing.

And I don't see our tactics changing anytime soon. Thus why I see them "winning" in the long run. It's not my fault you define victory and losing so narrowly.
posted by tkchrist at 4:44 PM on December 27, 2007 [8 favorites]


loose er..."lose"
posted by tkchrist at 4:46 PM on December 27, 2007


what is it, exactly, do these goatfuckers want?

IMO, the same thing the Đảng lao động Việt Nam wanted in Hanoi . . . complete and total control of their society, the eviction of all unwelcome exgeneous cultural forces.

IMV us Americans made the same fatal mistake over-weighting Ho Chi Minh's role in the Global Communist Conspiracy; LBJ sold the Vietnam War on preventing Communism (and its asian agents) from eventurally overrunning the Phillippines if not our Pacific possessions like Hawaii.

AQ/KAOS/S.P.E.C.T.R.E still exists. AQ's beef with us, and Israel, and the Wahhabis, and the decadent, westernized Gulf States, exists. However, the tools we have to resolve this conflict without having thousands if not millions of people killed in the crossfire are . . . limited.

As Ashleigh Brilliant said, "I don't have any solution, but I certainly admire the problem".
posted by panamax at 4:57 PM on December 27, 2007


What do we lose? We lose us. We become them. That is how they win.

getting enemies as ruthless and merciless as they are isn't winning for anyone - it's not good for us to become that - but it sure isn't good for them

i think one of the things we need to lose is this win/lose mentality when it comes to fighting this kind of enemy - one contains, prevents and arrests these people as they appear

but "winning" is the president's game - and it's fool's game that he's suckered everyone else into believing
posted by pyramid termite at 4:58 PM on December 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


I don't care who runs Pakistan as long as they keep the nukes under lock and key. Period
posted by A189Nut at 5:01 PM on December 27, 2007


Tariq Ali's turned out a rather good piece in the Guardian.

I first met Benazir at her father's house in Karachi when she was a fun-loving teenager, and later at Oxford. She was not a natural politician and had always wanted to be a diplomat, but history and personal tragedy pushed in the other direction. Her father's death transformed her. She had become a new person, determined to take on the military dictator of that time. She had moved to a tiny flat in London, where we would endlessly discuss the future of the country. She would agree that land reforms, mass education programmes, a health service and an independent foreign policy were positive constructive aims and crucial if the country was to be saved from the vultures in and out of uniform. Her constituency was the poor, and she was proud of the fact.

She changed again after becoming prime minister. In the early days, we would argue and in response to my numerous complaints - all she would say was that the world had changed. She couldn't be on the "wrong side" of history. And so, like many others, she made her peace with Washington. It was this that finally led to the deal with Musharraf and her return home after more than a decade in exile.

posted by stammer at 5:02 PM on December 27, 2007


The USA has to realize that the billions they're throwing at the problem today create far worse problems for tomorrow. The money spend on the muj's in the 80s has taught them that they can topple empires. The USSR and its Afghan puppet have been done away with, so it's not too hard to figure out who's up next.
posted by clevershark at 5:06 PM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


one contains, prevents and arrests these people as they appear

The American People, in their collective democratic wisdom, explicitly rejected that measured approach in 2004.

The "Gates of Vienna" / LGF / Neocon creative-destruction / "Foot In Their Ass" approach is what plays in Peoria, alas.
posted by panamax at 5:08 PM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


one contains, prevents and arrests these people as they appear

I guess I agree but I think maybe it's too late.

Prevention potentialy implies all sorts of civil liberty issues, obviously.

Arrests? This is proving very difficult to pull off. How do "we" arrest people in Karachi, Riyadh or even Madrid? Plus. We have to wait until after they do these awful things. Pakistan is not the only country one bombing away from social chaos. Sometimes arresting people is too late.

I think containment is the right idea but to do that we will have to identify and contain our OWN extremists and that is a troubling exercise ripe for abuse.

I don't know. I frankly see little hope for stemming the growing tide of extremism. It's too closely tied to religion and sectarian cultures and that's not going away ever.

I think the best we can hope is that we contain the violence and extremism will burn itself out naturally as it's dysfunctionality will become self evident. Hopefully this will happen without taking the rest of civilization down.
posted by tkchrist at 5:14 PM on December 27, 2007


.
posted by streetdreams at 5:23 PM on December 27, 2007


.

:(
posted by perilous at 5:30 PM on December 27, 2007


Well, CNN is now conceding the possibility that "Musharraf is responsible", based upon that Mark Siegal email. About damn time they got around to the theory of Musharraf culpability (or complicity) in her assassination. I hate Wolf Blitzer, but I can't turn it off!
posted by msali at 5:34 PM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


without wishing to make too much light of this, the bbc website says :

" Bhutto assassinated - Joey Barton charged with assault ".
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:36 PM on December 27, 2007


a major candidate of a nuclear power was just assassinated by extremists and the country is now in chaos

This is the central point of the entire matter. All the palaver above about sadness, humanity and compassion is just beside the point. This is not the Kennedy assassination. This is Pakistan, where Bin Laden is waiting his chance, where crazy scientists made nuclear weapons and tried to sell them to sketchy regimes around the world, where there has been a decades-long standoff with the neighboring nuclear power, India; where a military regime (which supported the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan until bought off with US aid) has an unreliable grip on power over 150 million people. Bhutto may or may not have had a chance to bring some stability to all of this, we'll never know, but her assassination will bring more unrest and uncertainty to the region, or some kind of massive reactionary crackdown by Musharaff, or, conceivably, an opening for Bin Laden and his allies to gain influence and a stronger base of operations. Not a good situation any way it turns out.

Unfortunately, in the US we have a president who has no idea in the world what to do about this.
posted by beagle at 6:16 PM on December 27, 2007 [5 favorites]


the subhead for this guardian piece:

Investigation made more difficult by sheer number of former PM's many enemies

RogerB and Plexi both posted links to this LRB piece, again from Teriq Ali. It is a very good read, a vivid picture of the backstabbing, viciousness and corruption which has made up Pakistani politics for the last forty years. If his picture is at all accurate, BB was a very complicated person. Corrupt focus of a personal fief, but also hoping to move Pakistan forward and willing to work with the world as it actually exists today. The wheels within wheels aspect is dizzying and it makes the late ottoman empire look like switzerland. Fewer eunuchs, however.
posted by shothotbot at 6:26 PM on December 27, 2007


Great, Anderson Cooper is on now and apparently she was Mother Theresa.
posted by Artw at 7:06 PM on December 27, 2007


Every Pakistani I know, and we're friends with Pakistani neighbors, among others, absolutely HATES Indians.

What you need is cricket. Down here in Australia, the Pakistanis and Indians I know take great pleasure in trying to whip each other's arses on the cricket pitch each weekend. Indeed, they also do this in India and Pakistan. I often wonder if it's the pressure release valve that prevents a nuclear war on the subcontinent.

I should also note that the Pakistanis I work with are outstanding in their kindness, cheerfulness, optimism, and moderateness. Pakistan must indeed be a divided country if there are a whole other group of people there capable of carrying out acts like this. It is a sad day.
posted by Jimbob at 7:13 PM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Benazir Bhutto was one of the good guys.

It's astonishing to me that anyone could read the section about Butto's likely role in the assassination of her brother in that London Review of Books piece (3/4 of the way down, starting with "By the time she was re-elected in 1993, she had abandoned all idea of reform") and still make a simplistic statement like "Butto was one of the good guys."

I have respect for her courage in returning; it's more than I have, certainly. But the story of her brother's assassination is a very difficult sticking point. Be sure to read the details, and this bit of aftermath:

Anyone who witnessed Murtaza’s murder was arrested; one witness died in prison. When Fatima rang Benazir to ask why witnesses were being arrested and not the killers she was told: ‘Look, you’re very young. You don’t understand things.’ Perhaps it was for this reason that the kind aunt decided to encourage Fatima’s blood-mother, Fauzia, whom she had previously denounced as a murderer in the pay of General Zia, to come to Pakistan and claim custody of Fatima. No mystery as to who paid her fare from California...

The tribunal said there was no legally acceptable evidence to link Zardari to the incident, but accepted that ‘this was a case of extra-judicial killings by the police’ and concluded that such an incident could not have taken place without approval from the highest quarters. Nothing happened. Eleven years later, Fatima Bhutto publicly accused Zardari; she also claimed that many of those involved that day appear to have been rewarded for their actions. In an interview on an independent TV station just before the emergency was imposed, Benazir was asked to explain how it happened that her brother had bled to death outside his home while she was prime minister. She walked out of the studio. A sharp op-ed piece by Fatima in the LA Times on 14 November elicited the following response: ‘My niece is angry with me.’ Well, yes.


Killing your brother because he was critical of your corruption is hardly the move of "one of the good guys."
posted by mediareport at 7:14 PM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Tragic and senseless.

.
posted by billypilgrim at 7:19 PM on December 27, 2007


fwiw, here's a realpolitik version of events from UR (previously)
posted by kliuless at 7:34 PM on December 27, 2007


I'll be honest, the politics in that region of the world have always been bewildering to me. I have no idea whether she was a confused puppet of the current administration, or honestly trying to take back some power from a military run government to help the masses.

What I do know is that watching the US media coverage of this event, and listening to official statements is making me feel uneasy. I get the feeling that there is something larger in this event that will seem obvious in the not so distant future.

That said, right now I think beagle's reiteration of tkchrist's point is the real thing to be worried about.
posted by -t at 7:56 PM on December 27, 2007


Nice link kliuless. Thanks.
posted by -t at 8:08 PM on December 27, 2007


Killing your brother because he was critical of your corruption is hardly the move of "one of the good guys."
Well, it kind of depends on how many critical brothers the other guys have killed.

Also, is it me, or is the world getting more fucked up on a daily basis?
posted by lenny70 at 8:32 PM on December 27, 2007


With Bhutto gone, does Bush have a Plan B?
posted by homunculus at 9:12 PM on December 27, 2007


Great, Anderson Cooper is on now and apparently she was Mother Theresa.

And at the same time, this appears on his CNN page: “Did Hillary Clinton Kill Benazir Bhutto?”
posted by amberglow at 9:20 PM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


And at the same time, this appears on his CNN page: “Did Hillary Clinton Kill Benazir Bhutto?"

Well, that's got to be the topper in a day of utter mass media horseshit.

Nonetheless, what David Axelrod said was shitty in and of itself, even prior to the spin cycle.
posted by blucevalo at 9:26 PM on December 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Fatima Bhutto is a writer and poet. She is the daughter of Mir Murtaza Bhutto, who was killed in 1996 in Karachi when his sister, and Fatima's aunt, Benazir, was prime minister. This is Hell telephone interview from Bhutto's hometown in Pakistan .
posted by hortense at 9:32 PM on December 27, 2007


Any first female PM of a muslim nation gets a candle lit by me. I don't give a shit how nepotistically her fortunes derived. Is any American who labors under GWB really going to get uppity on that issue?
posted by scarabic at 9:55 PM on December 27, 2007


My condolences to Benazir's children, Bilawal, Bakhtawar and Asifa.

They have faced staggering and repeated losses, all in the the public eye. It is still an ongoing ordeal for them, as their father, Asif Ali Zardari, was imprisoned for 11 years on charges ranging from alleged corruption to alleged murder, is still facing charges in both Pakistan and England.

They lost their mother today, grandfather and uncle to assassinations. Their uncle's wife, their aunt (who has has vowed to bring her husband's killers to justice ) is in a right wing group connected with the Pakistan People's Party. Their grandmother, who is Iranian by heritage, Nusrat Bhutto, the widow of the assassinated former Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was a cabinet minister and Deputy Prime Minister when Benazir was in power. In the 1990s, she and Benazir became estranged when Nusrat took the side of her son Murtaza during a family dispute, but they later reconciled after Murtaza's murder. She currently resides in Dubai and suffers from the combined effects of a stroke and Alzheimer's Disease.

Their cousin, Fatima Bhutto, the daughter of their murdered uncle, Murtaza Bhutto, is active in Pakistan's socio-political arena and is considered likely to enter electoral politics.

I hope Benazir's children find a way out of the mayhem of their family's and Pakistan's political chaos.

Supposedly Al-Qaeda claims Bhutto killing.

But such a claim has not appeared on radical Islamist Web sites that regularly post such messages from al Qaeda and other militant groups.

The source of the claim was apparently an obscure Italian news agency, Adnkronos International (AKI), which said that al Qaeda Afghanistan commander and spokesman Mustafa Abu Al-Yazid had telephoned the agency to make the claim.


From threatswatch.org:

New 56:10 tape from as-Sahab on the way featuring Usama bin Laden
called "The Way to Foil the Conspiracies" Is announced as a major
speech on Iraq and AQ's Islamic State of Iraq.

SITE Intelligence Group has learned that a new message is forthcoming from Usama bin Laden, the head of Al-Qaeda, addressing Iraq and the Islamic State of Iraq. The message is produced by As-Sahab, the multimedia arm of Al-Qaeda, and is titled, "The Way to Contain the Conspiracies". The announcement of this impending released was posted to jihadist forums today, Thursday, December 27, 2007, and gave the duration of the tape as 56 minutes and 10 seconds. It also stated: "May Allah demean the Front of Shame and Dinar, and may the Merciful One reveal the confusion of Al-Jazeera, the station of the infidels."

posted by nickyskye at 10:18 PM on December 27, 2007


Politics of Pakistan
posted by nickyskye at 10:25 PM on December 27, 2007


http://karachi.metblogs.com/ and Escaping Chaos - A personal account

Dow falls nearly 200 points amid thin trading, heightened geopolitical risk

plexi, they have no stock market

Wrong. Karachi Stock Exchange. The Karachi Stock Exchange is the largest stock exchange in Pakistan. In 2002, it was declared as the “Best Performing Stock Market of the World” by “Business Week”.

My condolences also to the families of the bystanders who were injured or killed in the blast.
posted by nickyskye at 11:19 PM on December 27, 2007


Whenever something like this happens, I always wonder what the discussion would have been like, had Metafilter existed in June of 1914. It's not my intention to be melodramatic -- I don't think we're quite at the powder-keg stage that the world was then -- but merely to point out how difficult it can be to see the forest for all the trees.

If you're looking for an interesting way to spend a few minutes, you can read the relevant New York Times articles from that day in chronological order. Few of them -- only one that I've found so far -- really seem to appreciate the severity and consequences of what had happened. Others seemed to miss the point entirely (or do they?).

Why bring this up? Ferdinand's death was much more straightforward, on the whole, than Bhutto's, and the geopolitical situation more black-and-white (at least in retrospect). But at the time it wasn't immediately clear, at least to the press, how bad the situation would rapidly become. Reading those articles is painful when you know exactly where it's all leading, in its ponderous inevitability. It's like watching a bad horror movie: you want to scream "don't go in the basement!" but you know they're going to do it and get stabbed anyway.

Where are we on that staircase, I wonder?
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:24 AM on December 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


.
posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar at 2:09 AM on December 28, 2007


It's times like this that I wish I was uber-rich and had secret agents all over the world. You know what I'd do? I'd go straight into Pakistan with super-secret nuke finders, steal all the nukes, kidnap everyone who had anything to do with the nuclear design, and then? Then I'd go straight over to Argentina, dump all the nukes on their front step of Parliament, and paint on the bombs in big sparkly letters, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY FROM AL-QAEDA NOW YOU'RE A NUCLEAR POWER."

I would do this because really, a good dose of absurdity is what some of these people need. Face the Legions of the Pampas and tremble, Bin Laden.

No, really, don't you feel better after thinking about that? I still have enough faith in humanity to believe this won't screw up the world too badly, but I really wish that just for once, world events could be shaped by the ridiculous and improbable than the tragically predictable.
posted by saysthis at 5:58 AM on December 28, 2007


Kadin2048's link to NYT is well worth a look, particularly for Franz Ferdinand's outburst to his host upon arriving at Town Hall official greeting ceremonies, after the first attempt on his life that day:

"Herr Burgermeister, it is perfectly outrageous! We have come to Sarajevo on a visit and had a bomb thrown at us!"

The Archduke paused a moment, and then said, "Now you may go on."


"Buzzkill," the mayor muttered under his breath, before launching into proclamations of welcome to the Austrian dignitaries.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:33 AM on December 28, 2007


saysthis, I like your thinking, but I'd prefer Monaco, Andorra or Liechtenstein to Argentina. No sense tempting them with the means for any future brinksmanship, y'know....
posted by pax digita at 6:57 AM on December 28, 2007


Well, it kind of depends on how many critical brothers the other guys have killed.

No. It doesn't.

Bhutto's letter blaming Musharraf for not providing enough security is kind of ironic, given that it was her police force that assassinated her brother:

...as Murtaza and his entourage were returning home from a political meeting, they were ambushed, just outside their house, by some seventy armed policemen accompanied by four senior officers. A number of snipers were positioned in surrounding trees. The street lights had been switched off. Murtaza clearly understood what was happening and got out of his car with his hands raised; his bodyguards were instructed not to open fire. The police opened fire instead and seven men were killed, Murtaza among them. The fatal bullet had been fired at close range. The trap had been carefully laid, but as is the way in Pakistan, the crudeness of the operation – false entries in police logbooks, lost evidence, witnesses arrested and intimidated, the provincial PPP governor (regarded as untrustworthy) dispatched to a non-event in Egypt, a policeman killed who they feared might talk – made it obvious that the decision to execute the prime minister’s brother had been taken at a very high level.

Again, I find it very difficult to keep that incident away from my feelings about this one.
posted by mediareport at 7:43 AM on December 28, 2007


An excellent Language Log post (by Mark Liberman, MeFi's own myl) on the linguistic situation in Pakistan, which is an important part of the political situation. Here's part of a long quote from Alyssa Ayres:
A crucial event early in Pakistan's history helped to precipitate Sindhi-Urdu tensions: On July 23, 1948, the provincial government of Sind offered the city of Karachi to the federal government for use as the new capital of Pakistan. The federal government, headed by Jinnah, accepted the offer and then decided to reconstitute the city as a federal territory. When M.A. Khuhro, then chief minister of Sind, objected, he was dismissed by Jinnah on grounds of being both a poor administrator and a corrupt government official. Karachi thus became a federal territory with a heavy Urdu presence. Most important, however, the economic and cultural capital of Sind was perceived as having been hijacked by the Pakistani state. From the Sindhi point of view, these developments created a painful inequality: To obtain government jobs, Sindhis would have to learn a "foreign" language. At the same time, the newly arrived "foreigners" (i.e., Mohajirs) did not have to learn Sindhi to go about their daily lives in urban Sind, where most of them lived. There was no compelling reason for Mohajirs to integrate with Sindhis -- a situation that struck the latter as highly discriminatory.
Bhutto was (and was seen as) very much a Sindhi politician, and many non-Sindhis resented her for that reason (and are not mourning her death)—see this excellent piece by Tristan Mabry from the Philadelphia Inquirer (linked in Mark's post).
posted by languagehat at 7:47 AM on December 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Again, I find it very difficult to keep that incident away from my feelings about this one.

Yup, mediareport, my feelings too.

However For decades, the United States has backed the military dictators who have ruled Pakistan, so I can only speculate about which dictator the USA was going to support.

An interesting article that I disagree with in some ways re the psychology but am interested in the comparisons: Benazir and Indira as Papa's Puppets
One sentence jumped out at me,
Ms. Bhutto blatantly supported the Taliban regime in its initial years to make certain that the Afghans did not breathe down her neck?

My totally tinfoil hatted speculation on this particular 3-D political chess game: Benazir and her proxies were aggravating to Musharraf as his so-called election as voted dictator is coming up January 8. The USA possibly made a deal with Musharraf, to placate him in our so-called alliance with him, by encouraging the corrupt Benazir, who they feigned caring about, to return to Pakistan, while possibly giving the head nod to Musharraf to off Benazir. Benazir's assassination was particularly efficient, not only was she shot, she was also exploded. This serves Musharraf by adding legitimacy to his military rule, without pointing the finger at the Pakistani jihadists he really fears. He can possibly blame martial law on Benazir's assassins. The result is possibly that Musharraf, by assassinating Benazir, will possibly lose power as Pakistan splinters and possibly set the stage for America to put in another, preferred, puppet and have better access to Pakistan's now chaotic nuke situation and more direct control in the area. There is also the possibly Wag the Dog election year potential in this assassination and fears of nuclear disaster for the Republican hawks. Tin hatted musings inspired in part by the film, The Chess Players by the great Bengali film maker, Satyjit Ray.

Related MetaFilter post by homunculus a couple of months ago: The man who knew too much
He was the CIA's expert on Pakistan's nuclear secrets, but Rich Barlow was thrown out and disgraced when he blew the whistle on a US cover-up. Now he's to have his day in court.

The USA has had its own nuke oddities this year, in September when the nukes on Minot base were flown over the USA. MeFite related post.

PAKISTAN is an acronym, made up of sections of countries stitched together = Punjab, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Iran, Sindh, Turkmenistan, BaluchistAN at the time of the Partition of India in 1947 when the British left India, now partitioned into India with 2 Pakistans, one on the West side of India and another one on the East side, which was controlled politically initially by Western Pakistan.

Map of the sections of Pakistan which were stitched together in 1947.

In 1971 East Pakistan decided to break from West Pakistan and renamed itself Bangladesh (because it was situated in the formerly Indian province of Bengal ie Bangla. Desh in that part of the world means country).

Formerly West Pakistan, now just plain Pakistan, may splinter once again...which might serve those with complex vested interests in the area well.

Timeline of the Kashmir conflict

Just this August:

An Islamic alliance ruling Pakistan's North West Frontier Province bordering Afghanistan has proposed changing the region's name to "Afghania", a provincial minister said on Wednesday.
posted by nickyskye at 9:36 AM on December 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


For journalists, friends or family concerned about the events/safety of people they know in Pakistan, apparently Twitter Karachi and Snitter are functioning in Pakistan as well as Twitter Karachi news updates from Pakistan.
posted by nickyskye at 10:02 AM on December 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


It turns out she wasn't assassinated after all! Yeah, Pakistan says she just accidentally hit her head on the sunroof. It was just an accident, an act of Allah, so, nothing to see here people, move on...
posted by whatgorilla at 10:47 AM on December 28, 2007


Instead, her fatal injuries were sustained when she tried to duck back into the vehicle and shockwaves from the blast knocked her head into a lever attached to the sunroof, fracturing her skull.

That's a distinction without a difference really, isn't it? The blast killed her, but miraculously, no shrapnel was involved. Uh, OK.
posted by psmealey at 10:53 AM on December 28, 2007


Everything is an act of Allah, including political assassinations.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:57 AM on December 28, 2007


Accident is probably the wrong term...turns out it was actually her fault:
"According to the [Pakistani] Ministry, the bomber struck when Bhutto was leaving the rally and she stood up out of her bullet-proof vehicle’s sun-roof to wave to supporters just outside the venue."

A saddened ministry spokesperson opined, "I wish she had not come out of the roof top of her vehicle...It pains me, I say with a lot of anguish, that we wish she had not come out of that vehicle to wave to the people."

If only she'd listened to the government who tried to protect her and all the lawyers it arrested for their own protection!!!
posted by whatgorilla at 11:00 AM on December 28, 2007


Wired: Who Killed Benazir?

London Times: The main suspects in the assassination are the foreign and Pakistani Islamist militants who saw Ms Bhutto as a Westernised heretic and an American stooge, and had repeatedly threatened to kill her.

But fingers will also be pointed at the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, (ISI) which has had close ties to the Islamists since the 1970s and has been used by successive Pakistani leaders to suppress political opposition.


Good article, Council On Foreign Relations: Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), has long faced accusations of meddling in the affairs of its neighbors.

Council On Foreign Relations: Bhutto Coddled Snakes and They Bit Her
posted by nickyskye at 11:27 AM on December 28, 2007


Unfortunately, in the US we have a president who has no idea in the world what to do about this.

Does anyone, really, have a good idea about what to do about this?
posted by cell divide at 11:37 AM on December 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Accident is probably the wrong term...turns out it was actually her fault:

No, it wasn't her fault. All decent politicians wave to their supporters and show their faces. It's appalling to blame her for doing what politicians do when campaigning.

Al Qaeda Did It?--...Amazing how Pakistani authorities could know such a thing since no autopsy was performed. Must be the equivalent of psychic healing. ...
posted by amberglow at 11:47 AM on December 28, 2007


*
posted by Football Bat at 12:18 PM on December 28, 2007


Does anyone, really, have a good idea about what to do about this?

It's a complex situation. Any easy answer will sound stupid. At the risk of sounding stupid:

Assumptions that are the basis for my speculations:
The USA oil magnates are obsessed with making money from oil at the expense of countless lives endangered due to war and undermining countries in order to gain power and access to oil reserves, heightening the possibility of another global war and massive destruction.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are at a critical geopolitical spot in connection with the Persian Gulf and oil reserves in the area.

When the Russians invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the American CIA decided to corrupt the Russian Army with heroin, opium grown in Afghanistan and refined in Pakistan. See MeFite post Geopolitics of Opium. Pakistan made major money shipping heroin to the USA, which, after the Russians left, became the main market for that trade. With the money made off the sale of heroin to the USA (which has funded the Taliban) Pakistan purchased arms from the USA and was also given arms by the USA and billions of taxpayer dollars annually, supposedly to help keep Afghanistan under USA control, aided by Pakistan. Bribed basically. Pakistan is enmeshed financially with the USA, while being a malignant dictatorship with nuclear arms and fundamentalist factions at large.

Afghanistan's geopolitical position became more important after the rise in oil prices in 1973 and the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979. The rise in oil prices focused renewed attention on the strategic importance of the Persian Gulf region, which contains 66 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves and 36 percent of total natural gas reserves.

My ignorant speculative answers: Americans must become less petroleum dependent on the oil producing countries?

Legalize drugs and tax them like other dangerous and addictive substances?

With the revenues saved offer Americans universal health care and pay schoolteachers a decent wage?

And nation build rather than nation destroy, so as to win allies, not court terrorists?

The ricochet impacts of Benazir's assassination:

Oil prices jump above US$97 to 97.61 dollars per barrel. It earlier struck a one-month high of 97.92 dollars -- just 1.37 dollars away from the record 99.29 dollars hit in November.

Gold jumps after Bhutto death, platinum hits record

The indices witnesses extreme volatility but managed to close flat.

While less than 10 percent of this $70 billion-plus market is so far held by foreigners, flows have been rising especially from the oil-rich Middle East, as the attraction of a fast growing economy outweighed the rising political risks.

The euro breached 1.47 dollars on Friday: The greenback was also under pressure as traders reacted nervously to the assassination of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto
posted by nickyskye at 12:20 PM on December 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well we tried. Time to impose economic sanctions. Welcome to the 'Iran Treatment.' Those Microsoft, Google, IBM, Cisco, Adobe, Yahoo campuses you're so proud of? Gone. We will also go full-court press, carrot and stick with our trade partners to ensure they see things our way. Remember that as soon as those nukes are gone, your trade comes back. We're sorry it's come to this, but it's for your own good."

Right, and that would be a huge price for Americans to pay as well, so much so that I doubt U.S. voters would support it. And there is no reason to think the rest of the world would go along with it as well.
posted by delmoi at 12:38 PM on December 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


.

so it goes.
posted by schyler523 at 12:38 PM on December 28, 2007


Benazir Bhutto said Osama bin Laden was dead
posted by homunculus at 1:36 PM on December 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


delmoi writes "Right, and that would be a huge price for Americans to pay as well, so much so that I doubt U.S. voters would support it. And there is no reason to think the rest of the world would go along with it as well."

There are tried and true methods, like going on Fox and saying "The smoking gun might be a mushroom cloud," and/or simply ignoring the voters as the government is doing now with the occupation of Iraq. Principles over popularity and all that. Isn't that the whole point of having a republic instead of a democracy?

I guess I'm playing devil's advocate (?!) by suggesting that the US behave more assertively with regard to proliferation in the region. Pakistan with nuclear weapons is more scary to me than Iran, given that Iran is (by comparison) stable. Sure their president is wacko, but he's impotent in terms of actual power and the Supreme Leader is pragmatically keeping him in check. (Plus the president was actually elected by Iranians as opposed to taking over the country with force.) Pakistan, meanwhile, is more like Iraq with nukes except Musharrif has less to lose than Saddam did.

Meanwhile, if that doesn't fly, the alternative I propose is to establish a program which distributes a multi-warhead tactical nuke ICBM with global reach to each country on the planet. I'd throw in a matching nuclear sub to each country for second strike capability. Mutually assured destruction for all, and the only way to win is not to play.
posted by mullingitover at 2:08 PM on December 28, 2007


Benazir Bhutto said Osama bin Laden was dead

whoa. Interesting how that info didn't hit the mainstream media less than two months ago.

This implicates Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) even more in Bhutto's assassination and it makes the about to air latest bin Laden tape even more bizarre.

The man she names for killing bin Ladin, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, originally recruited by British intelligence agency, MI6 and most well-known, prior to killing bin Ladin, for his alleged role in the 2002 kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who had been investigating the case of Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, and alleged links between Al Qaeda and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence.

According to ABC, Sheikh began working for Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence in 1993. By 1994 he was operating training camps in Afghanistan and had earned the title of bin Laden's "special son."

US authorities have also named Saeed Sheikh as a key figure in the funding of the 9/11 attacks.

What an incredibly complex story. It just goes on and on and on with the complexities.

Just discovered that not just one of Benazir's brothers was murdered but another one in 1985, the youngest, Shahnawaz Bhutto. Benazir's husband was suspected of the assassination.

This dysfunctional family clan reminds me increasingly of the murderous first century of Caesars' saga, I, Claudius or a real life Sopranos with nukes attached. yikes.

The one remaining Big Player in this family -at the moment- is Mumtaz Bhutto, cousin to Benazir's father. His political agenda is 'provincial autonomy'.

William Arkin from the excellent John F. Kennedy School For Government at Harvard, article in today's Washington Post, Bin Laden Killed Bhutto? How Blind Can We Be?

The man who devised the Bush administration's Iraq troop surge has urged the US to consider sending elite troops to Pakistan to seize its nuclear weapons if the country descends into chaos.

The Real Islamic Nuclear Threat

Renowned Pakistani journalist, Hamid Mir, speculated this November that end is near for Musharraf because of his shutting out the media.

Others speculate that Bhutto's End Could Mean Musharraf's As Well

An apology to MeFites for spamming this thread with info, I am genuinely frightened by this assassination and the potential it has for setting off global events, as depicted in kadin2048's speculations. Of course, having the puppet chimp at the helm in the USA makes this kind of situation a real source of anxiety, since he obviously cannot think and I'm wondering who the hell is doing his thinking for him and what is their agenda?
posted by nickyskye at 2:24 PM on December 28, 2007 [5 favorites]


nickyskye writes "An apology to MeFites for spamming this thread with info"

That's ok, just don't let it happen again. We hate relevant information here. Got any good links to what Ron Paul thinks about the situation?
posted by mullingitover at 3:37 PM on December 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


It's hard to believe that Bhutto didn't have at least some idea what she was exposing herself to by emerging from the sunroof of that car. Her first public tour since coming back was marred by an assassination attempt already.

And frankly, who puts a openable sunroof on a bulletproof car in the first place?
posted by clevershark at 3:39 PM on December 28, 2007


Interesting tidbit: Andrea Mitchell of NBC Nightly News just reported that Bhutto had sought Blackwater to provide security for her, since she felt that that which Musharraf was providing was inadequate. Blackwater turned down the contract.
posted by ericb at 4:13 PM on December 28, 2007


In related news --

Mike Huckabee:
“We ought to have an immediate, very clear monitoring of our borders and particularly to make sure if there’s any unusual activity of Pakistanis coming into the country.”
Huckabee Clueless After Bhutto’s Death, Says Pakistan Has ‘Eastern Borders’ With Afghanistan.
posted by ericb at 4:21 PM on December 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Democracy Now makes sense of tragedy... for what its worth.
posted by Huplescat at 4:31 PM on December 28, 2007


Huckabee Clueless After Bhutto’s Death, Says Pakistan Has ‘Eastern Borders’ With Afghanistan.

Ah, the tyranny of low expectations... and the humor in seeing a major Presidential candidate failing to meet even those.
posted by clevershark at 4:42 PM on December 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


clevershark writes "Ah, the tyranny of low expectations... and the humor in seeing a major Presidential candidate failing to meet even those."

I'm pretty sure Bush couldn't locate Pakistan on a map when he was a candidate, so Huckabee being clueless doesn't say much for his prospects in this country. Think about it, people in the US voted for a man who didn't have a passport until he became President.
posted by mullingitover at 5:28 PM on December 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


It's OK that Bhutto wasn't sitting down in her bulletproof car, since the Pakistani government now claims that no bullets hit her.
posted by lukemeister at 5:39 PM on December 28, 2007


I'm pretty sure Bush couldn't locate Pakistan on a map when he was a candidate

Just when he was a candidate?
posted by psmealey at 6:21 PM on December 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


the Pakistani government now claims that no bullets hit her.

it hardly matters - musharraf is a dead man walking - if al queda can't be bothered, i'm sure some of bhutto's supporters can - if they can't get it together, i'm sure someone in the pakistani army will

he has become a liability
posted by pyramid termite at 7:11 PM on December 28, 2007


Prior to traveling to Pakistan she told UPI Editor at Large Arnaud de Borchgrave in an e-mail message that she had received intelligence that three men -- Baitul Masood, an Afghan, Hamza Bin Laden, an Arab, and a Red Mosque militant -- had been sent to kill her.

Could this be Bin Laden's 17 year old son, trained as a child assassin?

Hamza bin Laden (born c. 1991) is a son of Osama bin Laden, and a senior member of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Hamza Laden is his father's true successor

Fascinating the denial of Benazir being shot when there were professional, international journalists who were eye witnesses. Among them:

Getty photographer, John Moore, eye witness to the assassination, who heard two shots, witnessed Benazir being hit with the bullets before the explosion.

Rasheed, a journalist who was present at the rally and who witnessed the event from close quarters
:

As soon as she entered the car, the car was surrounded by supporters of her party who were shouting slogans. Always known for reaching out to the public whenever she got an opportunity, Benazir Bhutto, put her head out of the car and waved to the supporters who were shouting slogans. Just then, a few bullets were fired two of which hit Benazir on the neck and then on the face.

At the same time, a bike ridden by a suicide bomber hit the car from which Benazir was waving to her supporters. After the bullets were fired, the bike hit the car and caused a huge explosion killing nearly 30 people on the spot. The assassins also reportedly blew themselves up after the bike hit the car. Benazir was taken to the Rawalpindi Genreal Hospital where she was declared Dead.


Another eye witness account:

According to rediff.com columnist Hamid Mir, "Benazir was shot at by a sniper rifle from close range and a few moments later a suicide bomber created the blast to make sure that she is assassinated. It was a determined effort. They made sure she doesn't survive the attack. She died due to the injury in her neck. I was told about it by injured party leader Ibne Rizvi before he went into a coma."

Yet another
: A first-person account by The Hindu’s Pakistan Correspondent who was close at hand

I was about 30 feet away from the blast in a crowd of people waiting to leave the rally from a parallel gate. A wall separated the two gates. The police had stopped us so that Ms. Bhutto’s convoy could leave.

I heard two rounds of automatic gunfire, which I mistook to be firecrackers at first. In the next second, a huge ball of flame went up in the air, accompanied by a massive explosion.


Have been thinking about her standing up through the sunroof and at that moment her being shot and the explosion right after. All three occurring at about the same time. Who in the car would have opened the sun roof to an otherwise bullet proof car and urged her to stand up?

Interesting that after the explosion Ms. Bhutto’s car had apparently sped away from the scene. I would have thought a car in the center of a bomb blast would not have been functioning. Did the other people in the car survive, just not Benazir? The driver of the car survived or he couldn't have driven the car. It would seem the assassination depended on her standing up, out of the sunroof and the timing hinged on that, so she would die both of the shots and the shrapnel/explosion.

More about Omar Saeed Sheikh, the man Benazir said killed Osama bin Laden, here referred to as the British Jackal.
posted by nickyskye at 7:32 PM on December 28, 2007


it hardly matters - musharraf is a dead man walking

Musharraf has faced down more gun barrels than a roadside speed limit sign in rural America. He's no more favored by the mujehaddin than he is by the PPP. This is precisely why he retains his links to (ownership of?) the Pakistani military and the United States Government. General Mushy has little more to worry about today than he ever has. Although, obtusely, you could be right in a way. I think this is what motivates him more than anything to stay in power; he knows that once he's stepped away from the trappings of state power and protection, he's vulnerable on all sides.
posted by psmealey at 7:40 PM on December 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Interesting factoid: In the Dec 03 Sir David Frost interview, Bhutto1 states "...Omar Sheik, the man who murdered Osama bin Laden."

The next day she spoke as if bin Laden was still a going concern.

Pakistan also almost immediately reverted to military rule and Bhutto was detained in her quarters.

Odd, all that.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:53 PM on December 28, 2007


1 Sorry. Meant to be asking: are we going to confuse Benazir Bhutto with another Bhutto? Strikes me as odd how often her first name is used.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:55 PM on December 28, 2007


Well, hell, I guess I shoulda just come to Mefi to get learned! I just spent a half-hour pursuing much the same path as Nickyskye. Coulda saved myself a good bundle of time!
posted by five fresh fish at 7:58 PM on December 28, 2007


Have been thinking about her standing up through the sunroof and at that moment her being shot and the explosion right after. All three occurring at about the same time. Who in the car would have opened the sun roof to an otherwise bullet proof car and urged her to stand up? ... The driver of the car survived or he couldn't have driven the car. It would seem the assassination depended on her standing up, out of the sunroof and the timing hinged on that, so she would die both of the shots and the shrapnel/explosion.

So who else entered the car?

Nickyskye, you should be a paid journalist!
posted by five fresh fish at 8:04 PM on December 28, 2007


Here's the front pages of various newspapers on the assassination, international and US (from newsdesigner.com).
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:36 PM on December 28, 2007


Who in the car would have opened the sun roof to an otherwise bullet proof car and urged her to stand up?

Nicky, the story I heard on NPR, repeatedly, was that Bhutto had wanted to wave to the crowd and had insisted on being allowed to do it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:41 PM on December 28, 2007


you should be a paid journalist

aww, that's a lavish compliment five fresh fish. How really nice of you to say. Usually I'm the one learning from fellow MeFites. This is a topic that really interests me, having lived a decade in that neck of the woods and I feel quite anxious about it.

Brandon, Bhutto had wanted to wave to the crowd and had insisted on being allowed to do it

That's what is being said, that she wanted to stand up. Perhaps she was urged to do so by somebody in the car who could have alerted the assassin. Or she did so and that was communicated to an assassin.

She was in a bullet proof car, having had an assassination attempt made on her in October, when she first arrived there after 8 years away. She had asked Blackwater to protect her; she had complained about lax security; she had received intelligence that assassins were out to kill her. How would anyone/an assassin know she would stand up out of the bullet proof car? The car withstood the blast but her standing out of the bullet proof car did her in.

Interesting she wasn't shot while giving her speech or a bomb went off as she was exposed at the rally, which is how Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by suicide bomber.

Somehow a man on a bicycle found his way through the densely packed crowds, took out a gun, shot her in the neck and face, banged into the car, detonated his suicide bomb, just moments after she stood out of the sunroof. It seems unlikely that in throngs of people surrounding the car that an assassin could have come close enough to the car on a bicycle, shot her and bombed the car just at the brief time she stood out of the sun roof without this timing being planned by somebody who knew she would stand up through the sunroof.

Just wondering about the timing and thought it might be worth thinking about, is all.

Other interesting tidbits:

For Benazir Bhutto, the decision to return to Pakistan was sealed during a telephone call from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice just a week before Bhutto flew home in October. The call culminated more than a year of secret diplomacy — and came only when it became clear that the heir to Pakistan's most powerful political dynasty was the only one who could bail out Washington's key ally in the battle against terrorism

So she was sent to her death with second rate security as a cover.

Washington's reasoning for her return was that Pakistan would be more stable if power was broadly shared between a civilian dispensation (led by a popular political party) and the omnipresent military. Benazir Bhutto and Pervez Musharraf represented the two forces.

Benazir's price for her return was withdrawal of all corruption cases against her and a power-sharing arrangement with the military which would return her to the prime ministership for a third term. General Musharraf balked at the last condition and there was uncertainty how the arrangement would proceed.

posted by nickyskye at 9:32 PM on December 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


The Guardian has an excellent profile of Benazir Bhutto by Ian Jack, wko knew her for 30 years.
posted by lukemeister at 9:38 PM on December 28, 2007


This WaPo analysis summarizes a lot of the info in nickyskye's last set of links, spelling out the U.S.-driven diplomacy that was trying to make Bhutto the "democratic facade" on the Musharraf government:

The turning point to get Musharraf on board was a September trip by Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte to Islamabad. "He basically delivered a message to Musharraf that we would stand by him, but he needed a democratic facade on the government, and we thought Benazir was the right choice for that face," said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer and National Security Council staff member now at the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy.

"Musharraf still detested her, and he came around reluctantly as he began to recognize this fall that his position was untenable," Riedel said. The Pakistani leader had two choices: Bhutto or former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, whom Musharraf had overthrown in a 1999 military coup. "Musharraf took what he thought was the lesser of two evils," Riedel said.

Many career foreign policy officials were skeptical of the U.S. plan. "There were many inside the administration, at the State and Defense Departments and in intelligence, who thought this was a bad idea from the beginning because the prospects that the two could work together to run the country effectively were nil," said Riedel.


That was the administration plan. What a mess.
posted by mediareport at 10:14 PM on December 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


You know who'd do a good job portraying Benazir in a bio pic, Angelica Houston.
posted by nickyskye at 10:46 PM on December 28, 2007


The Musharraf Problem
posted by homunculus at 11:39 PM on December 28, 2007


Bhutto: cui bono?
posted by telstar at 3:30 AM on December 29, 2007


One thing I keep thinking of is that given the bombing upon her return to Pakistan and the situation in the country, Bhutto had to know with near certainty that there was going to be another bombing and that many of the people who came out to support her would be killed. How did she deal with that? What did she think of it? Why was that not her biggest concern? What kind of person thinks her rule is worth that?
posted by shothotbot at 6:49 AM on December 29, 2007


had Metafilter existed in June of 1914

maybe because there weren't forums like this available in 1914, where more people can voice their concerns (about others' lack of concern), that things escalated (devolved) in the manner and degree that they did?
posted by kliuless at 7:56 AM on December 29, 2007


The ordinary citizen has little enough ability to influence world events now, but they had zero in 1914. I assure you that any equivalent of MetaFilter, had it somehow been allowed to survive by the various Departments of Internal Security, would have had exactly as much impact on the situation as the Dadaists. World War One was brought about by a few people at the highest levels in the governments and (especially) armies of Austria-Hungary and Germany in the first instance and then Russia, France, et al. Nothing anyone of lesser stature could say or do would have affected them in the least. (I remind you that millions of people in the allegedly democratic U.S. protesting in the streets in early 2003 did nothing to affect the decision to go to war with Iraq.)
posted by languagehat at 8:24 AM on December 29, 2007


What kind of person thinks her rule is worth that?

One who understands that she's the only opportunity her country has to shift from military rule to democratic rule. One who understands that without her involvement, another generation countrymen are going to suffer. One who is willing to risk her own life as a mother, to do the right thing.

Watch the Frost interview.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:17 AM on December 29, 2007


Thanks for all your useful links nickyskye. The search for a successor to lead the PPP is now on.
Many commentators seem to think the party is doomed unless someone from the Bhutto dynasty fronts it.
Meanwhile Pakistan is in turmoil. Tariq Ali and Manan Ahmed (chapati Mystery + Juan Cole's igca) and discuss this and how it might affect US politics with Amy Goodman + Juan Gonzalez of Democracy Now!
BB's husband Asif Zardari is meeting with Nawaz Sharif the leader of the other opposition party.
posted by adamvasco at 9:34 AM on December 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


The ordinary citizen has little enough ability to influence world events now, but they had zero in 1914.

the assassinators of franz ferdinand WERE ordinary citizens

but actually, it wouldn't have mattered in 1914 because the various socialist parties tried to make a stand against war and unite internationally against it and failed utterly - because their own membership deserted them

ordinary people wanted this war, mostly because they, along with everyone else, seemed to think it would be over in a couple of months - they had no idea

sounds like recent history
posted by pyramid termite at 9:37 AM on December 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


A CLOSE aide to Benazir Bhutto says she saw a bullet wound in the Pakistani opposition leader's head when she bathed her body after her assassination.
posted by homunculus at 9:54 AM on December 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


A CLOSE aide to Benazir Bhutto says she saw a bullet wound in the Pakistani opposition leader's head when she bathed her body after her assassination.

The eye witness accounts are accumulating that the death only by hitting head on car handle is a fabrication. Why would this deceit about her being shot be told? She's dead by deliberate assassination.

The ordinary citizen has little enough ability to influence world events now

Disagreeing with that statement. "Ordinary citizens" can and do impact world events all the time in countless ways, all over the world, throughout history, in monstrous ways and wondrous ways, unexpectedly, unlikely and sometimes strange transformations. Protests may not have an impact to begin with but they can have an accumulative, and successful impact, over time.

It would certainly seem that the Bhutto family is corrupt through and through. The last democratically elected leader was, I think, Shaukat Aziz, handpicked by President Musharraf for the position of Prime Minister after the resignation of Zafarullah Khan Jamali on June 6, 2004. As a former Citibank executive, it would seem he might have Pakistan's education and future in mind, more than war. I don't know why Musharraf was backed by the USA, except to think Shaukat Aziz was not going to be a willing US puppet the way Musharraf could be bribed? It's so complex over there politically, I wish a person more politically savvy about Pakistani politics than I might come and comment in this thread.

A suspicion comes to my mind, does the USA have an agenda to keep Pakistan poor, unstable and militarily/economically dependent on the USA so as to have a better grip on the Persian Gulf?

Perhaps the more prosperous and successful Pakistan is in business, the larger the middle class, the less fundamentalism will spread. I see radical Islam, especially that which is connected with terrorism, and uneducated poverty completely intertwined.
posted by nickyskye at 10:30 AM on December 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


There's bound to be video of her taking the bullet.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:54 AM on December 29, 2007


* I meant to say Why would this deceit about her not being shot be told?

There's bound to be video of her taking the bullet.

Seems likely and when it is found and shown it will be further proof to the already accumulated proof that Musharraf and his government are lying about this.

Since the explosion went off why would there be an attempted cover up that she had been shot? With the countless cell phones being used these days it would be strange if somebody didn't film this assassination. Perhaps they are in fear of their life or being in danger if they revealed the truth?
posted by nickyskye at 11:31 AM on December 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


video

video 2

boy, do i feel ghoulish
posted by pyramid termite at 12:48 PM on December 29, 2007 [3 favorites]


With reference to nickyskye's point about her untimely emergence from the sunroof, I seem to recall that the opposite timeliness was in effect in the first assassination attempt shortly after her arrival in Pakistan this fall. Namely, that she had been riding on the top of an open doubledecker bus, but had descended to the the washroom at the moment the bomb went off, which killed something like 150 people. At the time, I have to confess, I wondered about the timeliness of that descent and was it a supremely cynical staged attempt to raise her prestige and profile -- opposition leader returns home with a bang.
posted by Rumple at 12:49 PM on December 29, 2007


There it is, pyramid termite, the visual proof she was shot and that Musharraf and his government are lying.

Yes, it's almost as ghoulish as Saddam's death you posted exactly one year ago.

I wondered about the timeliness of that descent and was it a supremely cynical staged attempt to raise her prestige and profile

Rumple, These days, and possibly always in the past, it would seem canny to be suspicious of any politicians actions and the events surrounding them. It seems the nature of most politicians is that they are untrustworthy and that, if people are in the fortunate position to vote, the choices voted for are made naively unless there are some reservations.

In an overt dictatorship, such as Pakistan, when the so-called democratic choice, such as Benazir, has a gory, corrupt history of her own and almost her entire political family documented as corrupt, it would seem unwise not to be suspicious about anything she or anybody around her were doing.

I was wrong, Nawaz Sharif was the last democratically elected President of Pakistan. Maybe the USA did not back him because "He is best known internationally for ordering Pakistan's 1998 nuclear tests in response to India’s nuclear tests"? And his alleged meetings with Osama bin Laden?

Apparently, and in my estimation, somewhat troublingly, the Saudi Royal Family has backed Musharraf's opposition, Nawaz Sharif:

Musharraf swiftly booted Sharif back to the kingdom when he flew into Pakistan in September. But the Pakistani leader appears to have lost the support of the Saudi royal family, who provided a special flight to carry Sharif and a host of his relatives home.

The Saudis had warned Musharraf not to interfere with Sharif's return, said a diplomat from a Muslim nation who asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.


The Pakistan government has said that it's ready to exhume Benazir Bhutto's body to prove its claim that she died after hitting her head on the lever of her jeep's sunroof.

Benazir's husband Asif Ali Zardari had refused to allow a post mortem to be conducted on her body.


Columnist Shaukat Qadir, a former Pakistani Army Brigadier, claimed that her assassination might be pre-planned but was not willing to speculate on who could be behind it.

''It is entirely possible that a certain segment of the crowd was placed at the exit to Liaquat Bagh with instructions to chant slogans to a crescendo at a time when the assassin(s) was in position, to which she would inevitably respond by exposing herself, thus offering the assassin(s) an opportunity to target her,'' he wrote in the Daily Times.


''Eyewitnesses claim having heard three bullets being fired but if one or more AK-47s were in use, it is likely that many more were actually fired. While it is assumed that the same individual who fired upon her blew himself up a few seconds later, it is possible, even likely, that more than one individual were involved,'' the daily said.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan government has now said that it has more evidence that Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud was the mastermind of the Benazir's assassination (Mehsud has of course denied it).


The Al Jazeera video says she was assassinated "as she was getting into her car", which has been well documented as untrue.

Pro-Taliban militants deny hand in Bhutto's killing

In Bhutto Stronghold, Sharif Seeks a Political Alliance Against Musharraf

The latest, allededly Osama bin Laden info of an audiotape

The tape did not mention Pakistan or the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, though Pakistan's government has blamed al-Qaida and the Taliban for her death on Thursday.
posted by nickyskye at 1:35 PM on December 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow, blogland is really all a-twitter over the Bhutto-Frost 'bin Laden murdered' thing. I bet we hear from Frost this weekend, and I bet he speculates that she misspoke, intending to say Danny Pearl's name instead of bin Laden.
posted by mwhybark at 2:57 PM on December 29, 2007


The Pakistan government has said that it's ready to exhume Benazir Bhutto's body to prove its claim that she died after hitting her head on the lever of her jeep's sunroof.

they'd be better off proving that jeep had a sunroof lever - because everything i'm looking at indicates that these sunroofs are powered
posted by pyramid termite at 3:30 PM on December 29, 2007


My understanding of the "official" reading is that shots were fired, none of them hit, then the explosion took place, and she was killed slamming her head into the lever (or another part of the car), by the shock wave or otherwise.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:47 PM on December 29, 2007


In other words, am I just being naive, or does the video not really prove anything?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:49 PM on December 29, 2007


blogland is really all a-twitter over the Bhutto-Frost 'bin Laden murdered' thing

It would be nuts not to be all a-twitter. But with the media why the deafening silence one way or another? There is just no mainstream comment of any kind,. That seems odd in light of her assassination. What's up?

This is supposed the content of the latest Osama bin Laden audio.

Update:

The attack yesterday at Rawalpindi bore the hallmarks of a sophisticated military operation. At first, Bhutto’s rally was hit by a suicide bomb that turned out to be a decoy. According to press reports and a situation report of the incident relayed to The New York Sun by an American intelligence officer, Bhutto’s armored limousine was shot by multiple snipers whose armor-piercing bullets penetrated the vehicle, hitting the former premier five times in the head, chest, and neck. Two of the snipers then detonated themselves shortly after the shooting, according to the situation report, while being pursued by local police.


Prior to traveling to Pakistan she told UPI Editor at Large Arnaud de Borchgrave in an e-mail message that she had received intelligence that three men -- Baitul Masood, an Afghan, Hamza Bin Laden, an Arab, and a Red Mosque militant -- had been sent to kill her

A day after PPP leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated, the Pakistan government has released the text of alleged al-Qaeda phone call. In it Baitullah Mehsud (who intelligence sources reported to Benazir would perform the assassination) communicates with "Maulvi Sahib", which translates in Urdu as meaning Mr. Cleric.

They say the assassins were, in this alleged transcript: Saeed (is this the man Benazir said killed Osama), Bilal from Badar and Ikramullah.

CNN on the suspect
Robert Grenier, former CIA station chief in Pakistan and former head of the CIA's counterterrorism center, describes Mehsud as an Islamic radical leader in northwest Pakistan's South Waziristan closely associated with the Taliban.

A decent suspicion on another blog:
if the Pakistanis could produce the translated intercept so quickly, there's a lot more that they could have done and didn't do. A lot more that they knew and weren't telling us. The Musharraf Government has no credibility against Mr. BM's [Baitullah Mehsud] denials

Militants, PPP punch holes in Pak govt story on Bhutto death

Mehsud heads Tehrik-i-Taliban, a newly formed coalition of Islamic militants committed to waging holy war against the government.

“The story that al-Qaeda or Baitullah Mehsud did it appears to us to be a planted story, an incorrect story, because they want to divert the attention,” said Farhatullah Babar, a spokesman for Bhutto’s party.


The agenda of Tehrik-i-Taliban (the Pakistani Taliban):
“Our main aim is to target the US allies in Afghanistan but the government of Pakistan’s ill-strategy has made us to launch a defensive Jihad in Pakistan”

Not much credibility from anyone in this picture.
posted by nickyskye at 3:57 PM on December 29, 2007


It's a wonder it didn't chop her head off.

Criminal families seem to run these countries.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:13 PM on December 29, 2007


Back from the dead: Link to the latest Osama bin Laden audio/video.
posted by nickyskye at 4:15 PM on December 29, 2007


That bit from OBL seems to come just in time to wash over BB's comments about him having already been wiped out by Omar Sheikh. Interesting....
posted by moonbird at 4:26 PM on December 29, 2007


Yup, moonbird, you're right.

Interesting also that the videos of Benazir being shot are not focused on by Google News American mainstream media either.

Images of Benazir's skull after the assassination and a photograph of the latch on the sunroof.

Video of the car and what is being said in the video is the pistol used to kill her.

Video of Sherry Rehman, Benazir's aide, discussing the Pakistani government cover up.

Here is another copy of the same video of Benazir being shot from IndiaTimes.

An easier link via Sky News to the latest audio from the possibly not living, according to the now deceased Benazir, Osama bin Laden.

Interesting, this September 20 2007 story bin Laden encouraging Pakistanis to oust Musharraf.

Then why would Al Qaeda, who are being blamed for the assassination of Benazir, eliminate Musharraf's opposition?
posted by nickyskye at 4:59 PM on December 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


Are we certain that the man firing the shots in the video is the same guy as the suicide bomber?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:04 PM on December 29, 2007


What I've read is the reason that people are saying she died hitting her head are essentially trying to take away her "martyrdom". I.E. she died a coward, ducking from bullets. They're trying to control her legacy.
posted by delmoi at 5:15 PM on December 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


goodnewsfortheinsane, Are we certain that the man firing the shots in the video is the same guy as the suicide bomber?

You're talking certainties when there seem to be none.

As I said above,

According to press reports and a situation report of the incident relayed to The New York Sun by an American intelligence officer, Bhutto’s armored limousine was shot by multiple snipers whose armor-piercing bullets penetrated the vehicle, hitting the former premier five times in the head, chest, and neck. Two of the snipers then detonated themselves shortly after the shooting, according to the situation report, while being pursued by local police.

The BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan is one of the few journalists to have met Baitullah Mehsud, the man the Pakistani authorities say ordered the killing of Benazir Bhutto.

Baitullah Mehsud himself is said to command about 20,000 pro-Taleban militants.

Supposedly what happened:

* Benazir Bhutto was leaving Liaquat Bagh after addressing the rally when her vehicle, a Black Lexus bulletproof vehicle, stopped near the venue’s gate where PPP workers were shouting party slogans.

* Benazir came out from the sunroof of her vehicle to respond to her supporters’ slogans when a motorcyclist opened Klashnikov fire on her.

* Benazir fell inside her vehicle after receiving bullet injuries on her head and neck.

* The attacker blew himself up after firing the shots.


But it was not a black Lexus car she was in, it was a white Toyota Land Cruiser.
posted by nickyskye at 5:25 PM on December 29, 2007


Throwing this into the mix:

Written English translation of supposed Osama bin Laden's audio tape.

and

Terrorist Hunter: The Extraordinary Story of a Woman Who Went Undercover to Infiltrate the Radical Islamic Groups Operating in America
posted by nickyskye at 5:33 PM on December 29, 2007


Images of Benazir's skull after the assassination and a photograph of the latch on the sunroof.

so, the blast was strong enough to send her head into the latch and kill her, but it wasn't strong enough to bend the latch or the sunroof

i call bullshit - the pakistani gov't is lying
posted by pyramid termite at 5:39 PM on December 29, 2007


Photograph of Benazir's assassin
posted by nickyskye at 5:48 PM on December 29, 2007


why the deafening silence one way or another? ... What's up?

Dude, it's a) a weekend b) a holiday. I'm sure there are plenty of newsies on the case, but I doubt we'll be getting much shakeout on your stellar linkfest here (and the rest of blogland) until Jan 2 or 3.

Seriously, your work here is exactly why I'm a newsfilter proponent - when stuff like this happens, despite Matt's thoughts on the subject, nothing and nobody can touch Metafilter as a primary aggregator.
posted by mwhybark at 6:10 PM on December 29, 2007


why would Al Qaeda, who are being blamed for the assassination of Benazir, eliminate Musharraf's opposition?

Well, Bhutto's open declaration of resistance to them, for one. Don't forget that AQ and ISI are related entities in that each developed as power centers due to the Afghani resistance to the Soviets and ISI is not necessarily entirely loyal to Musharraf or the Army. It's not necessary that the Army or Musharraf personally directed an assasination like this - it's enough to create the possibility of such an event via, oh, lax security. which I take to be the PPP leadership's emergent line on things.

Additionally, AQ et al benefit from any destabilization and isolation of Pakistan's current leadership. Concurrently, Musharraf and the Army benefit in that they may gain greater opportunities to exert direct military control over the country. That is to say, neither the Islamist radicals who presumably actually carried out the assassination and bombing nor the Army are guaranteed to benefit from the killings, but each presumably sees opportunity in the aftermath.

Cui bono? Not the West, that's for damn sure.
posted by mwhybark at 6:27 PM on December 29, 2007


dudette, dear mwhybark (although perhaps dude transcends gender these days they way hey you guys also refers to females now).

I don't think journalists holiday when it comes to globally impacting news like is Osama bin Laden dead. In fact, that video of Benazir speaking about Osama being killed November 2 2007. For almost 2 months it has been a deafening silence about this video, one way or another.

I think Matt has no objection to newsfilter posts when it's something like this, just not making MetaFilter a heavyhanded political/election linkfest as front page posts.

Thanks a lot for the compliment.
posted by nickyskye at 6:52 PM on December 29, 2007


A whole passel of links to various stories reporting Osama bin Laden is dead.

Looks like he died a whole bunch of times of a variety of causes. huh. In December 2001, 2002, a couple of times in 2005, 2006 with French cover up.

It did seem so odd that Benazir said this Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh killed OBL and that she was informed though intelligence sources that he would assassinate her. In that video of her in which she says this, she looked bright eyed, clear thinking and I cannot imagine she accidentally put the name OBL in the place of a completely dissimilar name Daniel Pearl. Possibly Frost didn't bat an eyelid because he also thought/had been informed OBL was dead.

She speaks of a letter to be sent to Mr. Musharraf in the event of her death in which she claims 3 individuals might have financed and planned such an act, one of whom is a "key figure within security" in the [Pakistani] government, who amongst others that he has had dealings with, has had dealings with Omar Sheikh, the man who "murdered Osama Bin Laden." (6 minutes 10 seconds into the video).

Watching that video I thought she was a brilliant speaker, very believable and what she said, about looking for the roots of who is funding the terrorists/assassins who might assassinate her, prompted me to research Arabic funding of Pakistani terrorists, including the funding of Nawaz Sharif, who might win the election in Pakistan, should Musharraf be ousted. The first link I came across has this disturbingly hilarious photograph of George W being kissed by, I think, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz.
posted by nickyskye at 8:13 PM on December 29, 2007


Even those x-rays don't look like real x-rays.
posted by Rumple at 8:58 PM on December 29, 2007


Photograph stills of the assassin. Am I bad to say he looks like Tom Cruise?

It seems the Pakistani Taliban are being blamed but Benazir pointed at somebody in Musharraf's security and the financiers of the Pakistani Taliban, like Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh.

A little more digging, think I found the retired officer Benazir thought might assassinate her because he was the one in charge of her security in October, when the earlier assassination attempt was made.

The retired brigadier who was given the responsibility of securing former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's car journey through Karachi on Thursday, used to be the handling officer of Osama bin Laden and Taliban chief Mulla Omar when he was attached with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

That article details the connections between Ejaz Shah and Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh.


Disclosing this information in an article for the rediff website, former Additional Secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat, B.Raman says that Brigadier (retired) Ejaz Shah, whose resignation is being demanded by Benazir Bhutto, is a close confidante of President General Pervez Musharraf.

In the letter, according to The News, she named Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, Director General, Intelligence Bureau, Ejaz Shah, former director National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Waseem Afzal and former ISI chief Gen. (Rtd) Hameed Gul as conspirators.

Good links and comments at this site about the assassination.

The man, Rehman Malik, who replaced Ejah Shah as Benazir's security for this particular rally also lied when he said she was inside her vehicle at the time of the attack because there are numerous photographs and videos of her being outside the sunroof at the time of the assassination..

Rehman Malik, Bhutto's security adviser, said she was inside her vehicle at the time of the attack.

"Then I saw a thin, young man jumping toward her vehicle from the back and opening fire. Moments later, I saw her speeding vehicle going away," he said.

Bhutto was rushed to the hospital and taken into emergency surgery. She died about an hour after the attack.


Could she have lived an hour after being shot?
posted by nickyskye at 9:08 PM on December 29, 2007


nicky's video link didn't work for me, but I think this is the one she means. The Osama reference comes about 6:12 into the clip.
posted by trondant at 9:35 PM on December 29, 2007


Funny how bin Laden seems to come out with a new tape at every fucking convenient time, isn't it.
posted by clevershark at 9:38 PM on December 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


Audio over an archive photo? That OBL message smells. Does OBL?
posted by dhartung at 10:17 PM on December 29, 2007


I don't think journalists holiday when it comes to globally impacting news like is Osama bin Laden dead. In fact, that video of Benazir speaking about Osama being killed November 2 2007. For almost 2 months it has been a deafening silence about this video, one way or another.

Well, maybe, maybe not. My impression (garnered in large part from your linktrawling) has been that non-Western news sources have been doing a more active job in covering the various developments in the story (new video, pics, OBL dead? etc) than the mainline western sources (BBC, to an extent, aside).

The OBL dead? thing only becomes a story in the wake of BB's death if you accept a) it's not a misstatement (and I believe you point out she was not speaking of his beardness in the past tense the next day) and b) that Frost knew that OBL was dead and that motivated his failure to follow up.

Mind you, I'm as interested in the tale as you, but it's overly complicated. Occam's razor cuts away the idea that BB and Frost knew the guy was dead, colluded to broadcast this tidbit and then went back to the party line in favor of the possibility of a misstatement. I concur that Danny Pearl's name is not remotely like OBL but there are days when I cannot recall my own middle name and I know for damn sure I haven't ever tried to keep as many balls in the air as Ms. Bhutto has been over the last three months.

The same blade trims the idea of a sunroof handle away, as well. It's quite a tool, never loses its' edge.

And dudette, keep it up. Good stuff, tragic circumstances.
posted by mwhybark at 10:23 PM on December 29, 2007


Thanks trondant, yes, that's exactly the link.

And yes, mwhybark, that trusty Occam's Razor. It's quite possible she meant Daniel Pearl, but weird Frost didn't catch it and correct her. And it seems OBL has been dead for some time now.

John Bolton on Bhutto's death (about John Bolton)

The country is extremely unstable and control of those nuclear weapons is now up for grabs.

the possibility of losing command and control over them or having control over them fall into the hands of militant Islamists within the Pakistani military. That's a very grave danger at the moment, I believe.

I'm worried about, for example, Musharraf being assassinated. He's been the subject of at least three attempts already. And a small group within the military taking control. That is the gravest risk I think at the moment, if that small group were radical Islamicists.

A subsidiary threat is that you lose command and control over even some of the nuclear weapons, and they get lost to Al Qaeda.

posted by nickyskye at 11:02 PM on December 29, 2007


Further investigating one of nickyskye's links above I found this information about the four people named by BB as to where the authoritities should look should she be assassinated. Further down this page is a reprint of an article by UPI editor at large Arnaud de Borchgrave about Pakistan as a failing nuclear power. de Bouchgrave is suspect as an independent reporter.
Some more perspective from William Dalrymple in todays Observer ( Guardian Sunday edition)
This is why Washington does not support or trust opposition leader Nawaz Sharif.
Meanwhile I wait for the will to be read, which will doubtless give rise to more questions than answers.
posted by adamvasco at 5:10 AM on December 30, 2007


Benazir Bhutto's 19-year-old son has been chosen to take over her Pakistan People's Party, alongside his father Asif Ali Zardawi.
posted by adamvasco at 6:42 AM on December 30, 2007


Benazir Bhutto's 19-year-old son has been chosen to take over her Pakistan People's Party, alongside his father Asif Ali Zardawi.
posted by adamvasco at 9:42 AM on December 30


To my mind the least attractive aspect of Buttho's political carrier is the PPP as a feudal droit of the family. I am disappointed, but not surprised, that continuing this tradition seems to be the path being chosen.
posted by shothotbot at 7:10 AM on December 30, 2007


The Sind like the rest of Pakistan is indeed feudal.
posted by adamvasco at 7:57 AM on December 30, 2007


I guess AQ will get their hands on some dirty bomb materials soon enough.

Just in time for elections, I bet.

Sheep to the slaughter.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:12 AM on December 30, 2007


Just in time for elections, I bet.

Yup, five fresh fish, this is the Wag the Dog scenario I've worried about, to keep the talons of Republican hawks clenched around the remnants of USA's broken democracy.

Map of Benazir's assassination in Rawalpindi, North East Pakistan.

Waziristan and Swat Valley, where the Pakistani Taliban are taking hold. Here is a map of the FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) and North West Frontier Provinces where the Taliban have the greatest power in Pakistan, where Afghanistan's tribes and Pakistan's tribes are mixed.

A few images of Rawalpindi and its people.

Bhutto's 19-year-old son has been chosen

adamvasco, Some democratic leader, you're right, this is feudal. It's a dynasty. Well, George Sr. put George Jr. onto the throne with Uncle Jeb paving the way with the voting scam. Pretty fuedal as well.

That poor 19 year old Oxford student. Some fun he'll have at Oxford now, probably barraged by secret service agents from numerous countries. It's hard to imagine with the whole loose nukes thing going on in Pakistan now, what the rest of his life will be like.

Unfair that he is being pushed into this role. Lamb to the slaughter. This is similar to the time Rajiv Gandhi was bullied/guilted into taking the reins when his younger brother, Sanjiv, and then his mother, Indira Gandhi, were assassinated. As she took the reins when her father, Jawaharlal Nehru, died. Perhaps Bilawal will be sagely counseled by his cousin, Fatima Bhutto, 25, whose father, Benazir's youngest brother was allegedly assassinated by Benazir. Fatima seems to be the sanest politically connected person in the family. But who knows? In the meantime, his corrupt father, Asif Ali Zardari, is taking power. This family has vampired their poor country of major money, billions.

adamvasco, Thanks for the excellent link of SourceWatch and for the info about Arnaud de Borchgrave (what a name) being a Moonie puppet. yikes. Sinister the way he labels disinformation in the news business as "management of the news". It seems that he was/is a dedicated "disinformation agent". wow.

The photographs and info of the people behind the assassins is also interesting (disturbing) reading.

Some astonishingly brazen statements in the articles you linked. This sentence jumped out:

Pakistan’s army chief and the head of the ISI, its intelligence agency, [Gen. Aslam Beg and ISI director Gen. Asad Durrani] propose to sell heroin to pay for the country’s covert operations, according to Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s prime minister at the time.

Just mind blowing.
posted by nickyskye at 10:54 AM on December 30, 2007


Business as usual then.
posted by adamvasco at 12:20 PM on December 30, 2007


National and International mafia run this world. Crime families are in control of our nations.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:43 PM on December 30, 2007


NYTimes, HOUSE OF GRAFT: Tracing the Bhutto Millions -- A special report.; Bhutto Clan Leaves Trail of Corruption
By JOHN F. BURNS Published: January 9, 1998

BBC 2004 Profile: Asif Zardari

Some more info about the Pakistani Intelligence, ISI.

adamvasco, from that great article you linked: 'elective feudalism'

oooh. ouch. Nastily accurate term.

Another excellent article in the Guardian by Kamila Shamsi: Only real understanding can cure Pakistan's problems

But the problem is, imo, that into this mix of Pakistan being divided very much into the middle-class urban educated haves who are more liberal and the rural, uneducated have nots, whose agricultural lives are interwined with the Afghani tribals and fundamentalism, is the USA's interest in access to the Persian Gulf via Afghanistan and Pakistan and because of that the US military presence in Afghanistan, which is enmeshed, especially in the growing of opium and refining it into heroin, in Pakistan.

The USA's military presence in Afghanistan, as long as it has to do with the heroin business there, is corrupting the chances of any healthy political situation in Pakistan. The USA has armed Pakistan with the arms now available to Islamic militants and Al Qaeda operatives to be turned against us, much as what happened in Iraq.

It seems to me that when it comes to complex political situations, that the USA covertly participates in the complexity in a dark and bad way and then offers the world a seemingly simple answer, just barge in and take over, which is what happened in Iraq.

I remember traveling across Afghanistan in 1975. Half the country's roads were built by Russia and half were built by the USA. Both countries had an eye on Afghanistan. But neither of these countries were sinking their money into building schools, hospitals, helping businesses come into the 20th Century. But hundreds of millions of dollars were being pumped in for arms. The same has been happening to Pakistan.

The heroin/poppy biz is undermining both Pakistan and Afghanistan:
A NATION CHALLENGED; Army of Addicts, At Kabul's Door

NYTimes, Adding to Pakistan's Misery, Million-Plus Heroin Addicts

President Bush, who previously linked the Afghan drug trade directly to terrorism, has now decided not to destroy the Afghan opium crop,

Before 1980, Afghanistan produced 0% of the world’s opium. But then the CIA moved in, and by 1986 they were producing 40% of the world’s heroin supply. By 1999, they were churning out 3,200 TONS of heroin a year—nearly 80% of the total market supply. But then something unexpected happened. The Taliban rose to power, and by 2000 they had destroyed nearly all of the opium fields. Production dropped from 3,000+ tons to only 185 tons, a 94% reduction! This enormous drop in revenue subsequently hurt not only the CIA’s Black Budget projects, but also the free-flow of laundered money in and out of the Controller’s banks.


ISLAMABAD : A senior Pakistan official on Monday claimed that Afghanistan has had a bumper poppy harvest this year and close to US$10 billion worth of heroin would likely be on sale.

Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat said an estimated 4,000 tonnes of opium would be produced from Afghanistan's poppies this year and refined into heroin.


How can Pakistan even begin to have a healthy political system when the money funding a lot of the corruption in Pakistan is coming from the USA for arms and the heroin business?
posted by nickyskye at 2:35 PM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Poppies are the new oil.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:23 PM on December 30, 2007


New video, quite damning.
posted by moonbird at 6:49 PM on December 30, 2007


NBC News on moonbird's Channel 4 News video footage:
"Footage obtained by Britain’s Channel 4 throws into question the official version of how Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto was killed; tape could further challenge the credibility of Musharraf government."
posted by ericb at 6:59 PM on December 30, 2007


quite damning, indeed - it's pretty clear she was shot
posted by pyramid termite at 7:51 PM on December 30, 2007


it's interesting how those in foreign policy circles regard pakistan as a client state:
we should [...] be scouring the ranks of high-ranking Pakistani Army brass for mostly secular (or moderately Islamist) personnel reasonably sympathetic to the West, so as to at least identify possible replacements to an increasingly discredited Musharraf as prophylactic measure (in case orderly elections in the near term prove impossible or lead to bouts of violence). If the Army ends up having to step in more forcefully, and after an appropriate caretaker period (hopefully relatively short), the U.S. could then more effectively use its good offices to push for a coherent electoral process once reliable replacements to Bhutto emerge (or at least the massive flux currently consuming Pakistani politics steadies itself some), with Sharif's position better understood as well...

it's nonetheless not the time to pull the rug out from under Musharraf whole-sale, but rather put out discreet, if serious, feelers to other players in the military that they may need to step in the lurch if popular anger at the current Government (as embodied by Musharraf) becomes untenable...
i'm guessing some in the state dept. view turkey's military as a model:
The Turkish military has traditionally held a powerful position in domestic Turkish politics, considering itself the guardian of Turkey's secular democracy. It has several times within the last decades forcibly removed elected governments believed to be straying from the principles of the state as established by Atatürk and enshrined in the constitution.
cf. thailand's coup and its unfolding aftermath (with its own PPP now trying to form a gov't that could usher in thaksin's return, the ousted PM...)

not that musharraf (mushie mush) or the army is in any way close to becoming a 'caretaker' of nascent secular moderate democracy, but it does seem to be a working assumption that the US can somehow shepherd pakistan to greener pastures (even as the US courts india and the balance of power is inexorably seemingly shifting towards china, while iran exerts its influence, albeit somewhat surrounded).

what's also interesting to me, comparatively in pakistan, turkey and thailand, is the institutional role the military plays in "guarding" the urban population (rich, educated and secular/'moderate' elites) against the rural peasantry (relatively poor, uneducated and religious populists) and the conflicts that arise from such. iran seems to be an example where the latter 'prevailed' and, of course, where the army duly switched their allegiance. (btw, the same could be said for china and i'm sure many other states thru history and cross sectionally, cf. zakaria's illiberal democracy and i guess bremmer's j-curve.)

i think the urban/rural split (blue/red even) internally among some states is ordinarily subsumed by some overriding national founding mythos/ethos -- say the constitution or ethnic homogeneity or whatever -- but when the army, the real 'power behind the throne' as it were, chooses sides and becomes politicised and involved in particular outcomes, then you have a recipe for instability, repression and/or civil war. in which case, military prowess, who's able to field the better army, becomes the deciding factor...

perhaps, because the US feels that whoever it backs will have an edge militarily, that is why they treat pakistan as a client state? of course, if you look at regimes the US has backed in the past, there's not a very good track record; indeed, it appears that the more the US has tried to control the destiny of others, the more it has failed... perhaps, there is a lesson in all of this?
posted by kliuless at 8:42 PM on December 30, 2007


Interesting comment kliuless. The thing is that the USA has obviously documented financial interests in Pakistan because the petroleum in the area and access to the Persian Gulf. There is the heroin business too.

During the years I lived in India I couldn't believe why the hell America was backing a dictator (Yahya Khan, Bhutto then Zia) in Pakistan and not supporting India, the world's most populous democracy.

in December 1971, the United States dispatched its then frontline aircraft carrier USS Enterprise to the Bay of Bengal in an effort to intimidate New Delhi, then in the thick of a war with Pakistan. India refused to blink, and an ugly American effort at gunboat diplomacy, engineered by the subsequently disgraced Richard Nixon and his minion Henry Kissinger, passed off without incident.

December 1971 was when the US was negotiating with China and
info has recently been released (really worth reading) that Pakistani dictator Field Marshal Yahya Khan, as a secret go-between greatly influenced US policy.On December 9, when the CIA director warned Nixon that 'East Pakistan was crumbling', Nixon decided to send the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise into the Bay of Bengal to threaten India.

The US not only sent a war ship to threaten India in December 1971, the US got China involved: On November 10, Nixon instructed Kissinger to ask the Chinese to move some troops toward the Indian frontier. 'Threaten to move forces or move them, Henry, that's what they must do now.'

Finally, on December 16, Niazi surrendered to Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora. Nixon and Kissinger congratulated themselves for achieving their fundamental goal -- the preservation of West Pakistan. They were also happy for having 'scared the pants off the Russians.'

Right on the heels of the US threatening India that month Benazir's father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, came into power as the President of Pakistan in December 20 1971.

The US sided with dictator after dictator after dictator over a democracy, pushing India towards greater relations with the USSR. It was nuts.

In 1979 I was friends with the Field Marshall of India, Sam Manekshaw, who told me what a betrayal this was and how this hampered Indian diplomatic relations with the US for many years and if I recollect, it was John Kenneth Galbraith who helped keep diplomatic relations going between India and the US in those years.

Re Benazir's assassination:

1. An assassination was planned in advance

2. She was shot at

3. A suicide bomber exploded by her car killing dozens of people around the car

4. She died within the hour because of this event

The event is clear cut, Benazir was assassinated.

It's crazy making for the Pakistani government to even try for any disinformation, deceitful embellishment or diminishing of the event. To what purpose is this disinformation?

Others have gotten away with outrageous lies in recent history and the public's bewilderment about the disinformation left a disturbing aftermath. OJ, Clinton, Enron, Nixon come to mind. And then, when people suspect deliberate malice, see through the transparent lies, discuss there being a large scale collusion, a conspiracy, that is ridiculed.

CNN national security analyst Ken Robinson, who worked in U.S. intelligence in Pakistan during the Clinton administration, said he suspects Bhutto's enemies are attempting to control her legacy by minimizing the attack's role in her demise.

"They're trying to deny her a martyr's death, and in Islam, that's pretty important," Robinson said.

Bhutto, he said, threatens to become more influential in death than she was in life. "Her torch burns bright now forever. She's forever young; she's forever brave, challenging against all odds the party in power and challenging the military and Islamic extremism."

Columnist Shaukat Qadir, a former Pakistani Army Brigadier, claimed that her assassination might be pre-planned but was not willing to speculate on who could be behind it.

''It is entirely possible that a certain segment of the crowd was placed at the exit to Liaquat Bagh with instructions to chant slogans to a crescendo at a time when the assassin(s) was in position, to which she would inevitably respond by exposing herself, thus offering the assassin(s) an opportunity to target her,'' he wrote in the Daily Times.

''Eyewitnesses claim having heard three bullets being fired but if one or more AK-47s were in use, it is likely that many more were actually fired. While it is assumed that the same individual who fired upon her blew himself up a few seconds later, it is possible, even likely, that more than one individual were involved,'' the daily said.





posted by nickyskye at 11:03 PM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Can't help wondering with all the YouTube videos documenting the assassination, contrasted with the lies the government is handing out, what would have happened if such hand held cameras had been available in other assassinations in the past, like JFK's.

In an opinion piece in the newspaper, titled 'Planning an assassination,' columnist Shaukat Qadir, a former Pakistani Army Brigadier, claimed that it might be pre-planned.

"Since the attempt on her life was contingent upon her exposing herself through the sun roof... it is entirely possible that a certain segment of the crowd was placed at the exit to Liaquat Bagh with instructions to chant slogans to a crescendo at a time when the assassin(s) was in position, to which she would inevitably respond by exposing herself, thus offering the assassin(s) an opportunity to target her.

"It is incomprehensible that so many analysts have begun to bay for blood and have called upon the government to identify those responsible. If such a call was to be answered, some scapegoats would be found and sacrificed," it said.


I'm prompted to wonder to what benefit is it to stir the pot with false allegations about the assassination. There's the attempted taking away her martyr status but it also puts the focus on less significant aspects of her death, the details of her assassination, rather than the impact of her death and what will now happen at the expected election, Jan 8. It puts a burden on Musharraf to cook up a scapegoat.

Could this bay for blood, hunting the scapegoat, be a way for the US to clamp down on certain Taliban or Al Qaeda in Pakistan? Now Benazir has been assassinated the Pakistanis, who might otherwise have rejected further connection with America are now over a barrel and forced to think "What may have begun as America’s war is now Pakistan’s war." Is the assassination a credible reason for outsiders (USA) to be called in? The imminent elections are also looming, 8 days away. Maybe they'll be delayed as part of a traditional 40 day mourning period and during this time "an emergency" rule be put into force? Should Musharraf be obliged to step down? There are two corrupt choices other than Musharraf, Benazir's widow, Asif Ali Zardari , and Nawaz Sharif.

In the meantime, HarperCollins rushing Benazir-written book

Since his statements so far seem to be sane and astute, I read more about Brigadier Shaukat Qadir, and subsequently learned about Track II diplomacy.

It would seem that this post assassination situation in Pakistan is a good occasion for Track II Diplomacy. Functions of Informal Intermediaries, which were used during the successful India-Pakistan peace talks.
posted by nickyskye at 11:05 PM on December 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thanks Nicky,

Part of it is, surely, that the Pakistani government is accustomed to getting away with outrageous lies in a climate of acquiescence by the foreign media and subservience by the domestic ones. So their cooked up lie may really have been meant to be believed, which itself is hard to believe. But could they really imagine that somehow it would not be perceived as martyrdom if concurrently with shots being fired and a bomb going off, she slipped and hit her head? Not even the dimmest peasant would buy that. So I think it may have been a brazen lie, perhaps panicky, which itself makes me think it was not Musharraf himself ordering it, though he may have done nothing to stop it. Truly she had a lot of enemies.
posted by Rumple at 12:20 AM on December 31, 2007


I'd like to add my thanks, nickyskye—you (and kliuless) are doing a great job putting facts and theories out there. This is the most informative NewsFilter thread in ages.
posted by languagehat at 6:34 AM on December 31, 2007 [1 favorite]


Bhutto murder: the key questions The BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Karachi has been examining the differing accounts of her death and the direction in which the murder inquiry is heading.
posted by adamvasco at 12:57 PM on December 31, 2007


Benazir Bhutto's Political Future: The murdered former leader may help Pakistani democracy more in death than in life.
posted by homunculus at 11:55 AM on January 1, 2008


Quoting the article in case the link doesn't work later:

London Times by Jeremy Page: On the day she was assassinated, Benazir Bhutto was due to meet two senior American politicians to show them a confidential report alleging that Pakistan’s intelligence service was using US money to rig parliamentary elections, officials in her party said yesterday.

Patrick Kennedy, a Democratic congressman for Rhode Island, and Arlen Specter, a Republican member of the Senate sub-committe on foreign operations, have confirmed that they were planning to have dinner with Ms Bhutto on Thursday evening

Sarfraz Ali Lashari, a senior PPP official who works in its election monitoring cell, told The Times that he had helped to compile a 200-page report on the Government’s efforts to rig the poll, which Ms Bhutto planned to give to the Americans and to the press the day she was killed.

The second report, which Ms Bhutto did not plan to release to the media, alleged that the ISI was using some of the $10 billion (£5 billion) in US military aid that Pakistan has received since 2001 to run a covert election operation from a safe house in G5, a central district of Islamabad, he said.

the report that Ms Bhutto allegedly planned to share with the US politicians made the more serious allegation that the ISI was directly involved in rigging the coming parliamentary elections – and was using American money to do it. The United States has given Pakistan at least $10 billion in military aid since President Musharraf agreed to back the War on Terror after the September 11 attacks.

The money was supposed to be used to help Pakistan’s armed forces to fight al-Qaeda and Taleban militants sheltering in northwestern tribal areas near the porous border with Afghan-istan. But there has been almost no accounting for the funds, most of which have been transferred in cash directly to the Defence Ministry, and critics of President Musharraf say that much has been diverted towards other aims, such as upgrading forces on the border with India, or into private pockets.
------------------
"Her whole family maintained enmity towards India. Her father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto used to vow to fight with India for 1000 years and talked about the concept of Islamic bomb to target India," it said.
------------------
The Pakistan government has retracted its contention that former prime minister Benazir Bhutto died after striking her head against the sunroof lever of her SUV and has "apologised" for floating the theory. Ministry backtracks on Bhutto sunroof claims
--------
[pdf] Medical report after Benazir was taken to the hospital.
--------
Benazir Bhutto's son and political heir Bilawal shows off his wilder side as he dons a devil costume during a fancy dress party.
posted by nickyskye at 12:20 PM on January 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


"An editor again questioned why Cheema had overstepped by saying that a car lever had killed her when the manufacturers of the car and (husband) Asif Ali Zardari had stated that there was no metallic lever which could have caused the wound to her head. The medical report also did not mention any such cause of death," The News said.

"Then the Interior Minister said the spokesman's comments may have been a mistake as 'we are faujis (soldiers) and we are not so articulate in presenting our views as you journalists can. I am sorry if that happened and please forgive us and ignore the comment', Nawaz told the editors


I seem to recall that Cheema not only specified the handle, but specified that there was blood on the handle. I can understand there not being an ultimate cause of death given (massive head injury leading to cardiac arrest), but, it is a far cry from not being articulate to proposing a scenario of falling and hitting a handle, to actually claiming that there was blood on a handle that didn't exist.

Either way, this confirms my suspicion that they are so used to lying to the population that they do it incredibly sloppily.
posted by Rumple at 1:17 PM on January 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sloppy lying seems to be the norm for politicians these days.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:02 PM on January 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


A very eloquent farewell from Fatima Bhutto; one of the possible heir apparants. Fatima was a political opponent and strong critic of her aunt; referenced in this comment by mediareport. There is a good radio interview with her referenced above by hortense. A new generation of internationally educated Pakistani political leaders is starting to appear who will hopefully be able to continue to dismantle the feudal state.
posted by adamvasco at 1:52 AM on January 2, 2008


Benazir / analysis by Indian intell (ret)

A new generation of internationally educated Pakistani political leaders is starting to appear who will hopefully be able to continue to dismantle the feudal state.

Excellent thought. and there there still is America's interest in the Persian Gulf and the heroin business in Pakistan/Afghanistan, plus billions and billions of US dollars sent to Musharraf's Defense Ministry as the London Times article by Jeremy Page says. Those who would wish to move towards a healthier future in Pakistan will need not only to cope with moving out of a feudal state but that huge obstacle of America's vested interests in the area.
posted by nickyskye at 9:42 AM on January 2, 2008


Cheney
posted by hortense at 9:46 AM on January 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


ps adamvasco, That's a brilliant and moving article by Fatima. What comes to mind reading it is that her family is riddled with pathological narcissists but that Fatima is not one. I hope that Bilawal, Benazir's son, is also not one. And at the same time perhaps only a person who has a very small range of feeling as a pathological narcissist could survive such an intense political environment with the constant threat of assassination, year after year.
posted by nickyskye at 9:52 AM on January 2, 2008


What ‘Good Time Charlie’ Brought
posted by homunculus at 9:58 AM on January 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


wow homunculus, that Robert Scheer article reads like it was based on the content of this thread. Very validating.

"During her visit and for many months afterward, Bhutto and her aides repeatedly lied to American government officials and members of Congress about the extent of Pakistani military and financial aid to the Taliban."

Pretty damning that.

hortense, paragraphs in the article you linked are just the kind of thing to make one wonder what the hell is going on with the US sending billions to a country offering refuge to the Osama clan.

Washington, Jan 1 - The US Defence Department has awarded a $498.2 million contract to Lockheed Martin Corp to supply 18 F-16 aircraft to Pakistan just ten days after the US Congress slapped restrictions on military aid to Islamabad.

Lockheed will sell 12 F-16C plus six F-16D planes to Pakistan under the contract, the department announced in a list of defence contract awards Monday, but did not say how soon the fighter jets would be delivered."

Pakistan -under the Musharraf regime - continues to give aid and comfort to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, the very people who attacked this nation on 9/11. Prior to the attack on my country, Pakistan's then-chief of the ISI wired money to one of the 9/11 hijackers and had an American journalist murdered


This time, the subject of our nation-building fantasy does have weapons of mass destruction and, thanks to our previous military sales of advanced jets, the means to deliver them.

It's no wonder people have conspiracy theories. What kind of military game is this?
posted by nickyskye at 5:59 PM on January 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Most Dems no better than Bush on Pakistan: The Bush administration's bungling in Pakistan and Afghanistan have led to a resurgent Taliban and al-Qaida and loss of U.S. influence in the region. But Democrats did little to stop it.
posted by homunculus at 8:27 PM on January 2, 2008


But Democrats did little to stop it.

That's like a condensed history of the democratic party from the 70s onwards.
posted by Artw at 8:30 PM on January 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


......Bhutto was certainly a marked woman from the time she returned to Pakistan. If parts of the ISI detested Musharraf, they abominated her. She said two things that sealed her fate. She said that if elected PM, she would allow US forces to hunt for bin Laden on Pakistani soil, and that she would allow the Vienna-based IAEA to interrogate the rogue nuclear scientist, AQ Khan about his nuclear smugglings to North Korea, Iran, Libya, etc. After those statements, she had no chance of surviving.
posted by hortense at 11:24 PM on January 2, 2008


The Destabilization of Pakistan and the advance of American Empire. "Already in 2005, a report by the US National Intelligence Council and the CIA forecast a "Yugoslav-like fate" for Pakistan " This is of course aided by the right wing agenda.
posted by adamvasco at 12:26 AM on January 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


An interesting take from an interesting blog: http://www.blingdomofgod.com/the-naked-truth-about-benazir-bhutto.php - I don't think it is too cheesy, though he makes the case rather too briefly.

Also, fantastic Glenn Greenwald column: the USA spends more on its military than the rest of the world combined..... and all the major presidential candidates will continue that.
posted by Rumple at 12:40 AM on January 3, 2008


Pashtun-wali, a pre-Islamic (in fact, not at all Islamic) tribal code of honor still absolutely central among Pathans/Pashtuns

04-Jan.-2008: Bleeding Pakistan - International Terrorism Monitor---Paper No. 345

Paragraphs 7, 10 and 11 are particularly interesting. 7 as an historical comparison that took place in India, Operation Bluestar, the defiling of the renowned Sikh temple in Amritsar by the Indian government.

10. There are over a dozen jihadi terrorist organisations operating from the tribal belt---- Al Qaeda, the Neo Taliban, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan of which Baitullah Mehsud is the Amir, the TNSM of which Maulana Fazlullah is the Amir, the Lashkar Islam, the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM), the LEJ, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Islamic Jihad Union etc. Periodically, they have been putting out their own demands. Most of their agenda is influenced by local factors. But there is one agenda item which is common to all of them--- the need to avenge the alleged massacre in the Lal Masjid by Pakistani Army commandoes.

11. Even before the Lal Masjid episode, Al Qaeda, the Neo Taliban and other jihadi organisations were well entrenched in the tribal belt, but they were facing difficulty in getting volunteers for suicide terrorism, but after the Lal Masjid raid, they are getting volunteers in their hundreds from the tribal areas on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. In its issue of August 3-9, 2007, the "Friday Times" of Lahore wrote as follows: "Recruits are formally registered with the Taliban as suicide bombers and given a receipt indicating their registration number. At any given point, there are thousands in line waiting to sacrifice their lives, an observer returning from South Waziristan told the weekly. If one of them is selected to be the next bomber, the news is a cause for celebration in his household. Once confirmation arrives of his death, the funeral prayers are substituted with congratulatory messages for the family....Women, because of the Taliban's strict anti-wife-beating policy, are largely in favour of them..... This is part of the strategy of winning over the mothers, who, according to the Taliban, have the greatest influence on the child as he grows up. Women are thus actively involved in the process of indoctrinating children in favour of the Taliban." The deaths of a large number of tribal girls in the Lal Masjid have further motivated Pashtun women to act as recruiters of suicide terrorists for whichever organisation wants them.


About the Lal Masjid siege.

Operation Blue Star, in India in 1984, which resulted in the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguard.
posted by nickyskye at 7:41 AM on January 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Useful background on the creation of Pakistan. Hamza Alavi:
We have to face up to the glaring fact that the Pakistan movement was vigorously opposed by virtually the entire Muslim religious establishment in India. [...]

The men of power in Pakistan, the bureaucrats, military leaders and politicians generally, all in truth have an essentially secular intellectual make up and few are devout practitioners of their religion. [...]

What then was Pakistan movement all about, if it was not a religious movement for creating an 'Islamic State' ? The answer, in a nutshell, could be that the Pakistan movement was a movement of Muslims i.e. an ethnic movement, rather than a movement of 'Islam' i.e. a religious movement. Even that formulation needs to be qualified, for the Pakistan movement, paradoxically, failed (until the very eve of the Partition) to draw any substantial support in the Muslim majority provinces which were later to constitute the State of Pakistan. The solid base of support for the Muslim League (for most of its history i.e. until 1946, as we shall examine) lay in the Muslim minority Provinces of India, notably the UP and Bihar. [...]

For nearly four decades the Muslim League failed to make any significant impact in the Muslim majority areas which were dominated by feudal landed magnates (indeed by a coalition of Muslim, Hindu and Sikh landlords). The main political support of the Muslim League, it will be argued here, derived mainly from the job-seeking educated urban middle classes and professionals ...
There's much more there about the linguistic and social background. Doesn't bear directly on the immediate situation, but important for understanding the context.
posted by languagehat at 8:46 AM on January 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Gold Soars and Global Turmoil and Plans for China Gold Futures Exchange - "I merely see the price as a reaction to events happening around us."

“The assassination deals a stunning blow to liberal political forces trying to combat rising Islamic extremism in Pakistan .” MSNBC
-------------------
"So long as the Cold War was on, the `evil' Soviet empire provided the justification. From Ayub Khan to Yahya Khanand the most despotic of them all - Zia-ul Haq - formed the long list ofmilitarydictators whoensuredthat democracy in Pakistan does not flourish. The US was not even wary of creating, aiding, abettingand arming the Taliban in Afghanistan throughthe most dreadfulinstrument of the Pakistani military dictatorship – the ISI.

In fighting the Soviet army,the ISI was the blue-eyed boy of the CIA and the political masters in Washington.

After the Soviets left, thesituation had changed radically. 9/11 showed that the creationcould turn against the master."
-------------------
"The Pakistani Army maintained division and brigade strength presences in some of the Arab countries during the past Arab-Israeli Wars, and the first Gulf War to help the Coalition. The Pakistani Army is led by General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani the Chief of Army Staff, who replaced Pervez Musharraf, the current President of Pakistan."
------------------
"Bhutto's murder is the closest it's come to killing a Western leader; it is al-Qa'ida's most sensational attack since downing the twin towers on 9/11. And it confirms that Pakistan, not Iraq, is the front line in the fight against Islamic jihadists."
--------------------
'I was heartened by the feelings of sympathy and support by the vast majority of Indian commentators. There was little or none of the “rubbing it in”. I wish the Pakistanis of all political ideology take this spirit to heart and unite in the face of a common nemesis."
---------------------
"Q. Who could have killed Benazir?

A. In the absence of evidence, I can only speculate. My needle of suspicion points to the anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) and individual Jundullah (Soldiers of Allah) elements in that order. The LEJ has the motivation and capability. It has some very good sharp-shooters recruited from among ex-servicemen. It had always disliked her because she was a woman, it looked upon her as the daughter of a Shia, who should not be allowed to rule Pakistan, and she was perceived as the cat's paw of the US."
------------------
"The Taliban are said to follow the teachings of the Deoband school, although some journalists, such as Ahmed Rashid, claim they follow a simplistic version of the school's teachings"
-----------------
The Lal Masjid [located in Islamabad] follows the Deobandi school of thought and is affiliated with the Jamia Hafsa madrasah [religious school].
------------------
Pakistan razes madrasa in Lal Masjid complex
----------------
It's making more sense, because of the Lal Masjid siege in July 2007, why Benazir was assassinated in Islamabad and not elsewhere.
posted by nickyskye at 1:38 PM on January 4, 2008


via "12. The situation in the tribal areas has been further aggravated by widespread anger among tribal women against the Army due to the alleged killing of 300 tribal girls during the raid in the Lal Masjid. They have been encouraging their sons to take to suicide attacks to avenge the deaths of these girls."
I can't find out much about intellibriefs except that they are aligned with Naxal Watch.
Whether the above is true or false, and there is much doubt about true casualty figures from the Lal Masjid siege; this would be enough fuel for illiterate fundamentalist firebrands. It would help explain why BB was targeted as actions against women are normally haram.
I'm in Rajasthan all this coming month so it will be interesting to see how this is playing out in the local Indian press.
posted by adamvasco at 5:51 AM on January 5, 2008


In looking at a list of books publishers expected to make a bigger splash I came upon
Deception: Pakistan, the United States, and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons
by Adrian Levy & Catherine Scott-Clark. I have not read it, but it sounds like it covers a lot of the background discussed in this thread. The authors have a well designed web site which includes about 50 original documents about the relationship between the US and Pakistan's nuclear program. Here is the site, its all flash which is swell and all but I cant figure out how to make a link to the contents. Oh well, select BOOKS | DECEPTION | LINKS | DOCUMENTS. It looks like the all came from the excellent people over at the National Security Archive anyway.
posted by shothotbot at 12:44 PM on January 5, 2008


Here's an article by Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark about CIA agent Rich Barlow: The man who knew too much.

And here's an interview with Levy: How the United States Secretly Helped Pakistan Build Its Nuclear Arsenal.
posted by homunculus at 1:39 PM on January 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


U.S. Considers New Covert Push Within Pakistan
posted by homunculus at 12:10 PM on January 6, 2008


Sibel Edmonds: Pentagon Official Helped Turks Sell Nuclear Secrets to Pakistanis
posted by homunculus at 5:43 PM on January 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sibel Edmonds: Pentagon Official Helped Turks Sell Nuclear Secrets to Pakistanis
posted by homunculus at 8:43 PM on January 6


Here is the (London) Times article this is based on. Sounds a bit thin to me: a translator who worked for the FBI for six months heard recordings indicating that "one well-known senior official in the US State Department was being paid by Turkish agents in Washington." Maybe, but I don't think you give that tape to the new guy. The Times did not think enough of the story to identify the official.
posted by shothotbot at 6:22 AM on January 8, 2008


I am skeptical too, but the real reason they probably did not identify him is the crazy libel laws in Britain.
posted by caddis at 6:49 AM on January 8, 2008


Ahmed Rashid at the graveside of Benazir Bhutto
posted by homunculus at 11:56 AM on January 10, 2008


Really interesting piece, homunculus—thanks.
posted by languagehat at 12:01 PM on January 10, 2008


Profile of Fatima Bhutto from the Guardian.

And, thanks, homunculus, nickyskye, shothotbot, and others posting interesting links still.
posted by Rumple at 10:29 PM on January 10, 2008


Musharraf Warns U.S. Not To Trespass
posted by homunculus at 2:37 PM on January 11, 2008


Mysterious crowd suddenly stopped Bhutto's car, officer says
posted by homunculus at 11:14 PM on January 11, 2008


January 6, 2008: For sale: West’s deadly nuclear secrets

Detectives are ‘fig leaf’ for President Musharraf

parliamentary elections scheduled for January 8 would be postponed until February 18 because of Ms Bhutto’s death and the rioting that engulfed much of Pakistan afterwards.


Now I'm wondering if Benazir's assassination was committed to prompt Pakistanis to focus their anger on the Pakistani Taliban.
posted by nickyskye at 2:39 PM on January 14, 2008


musharraf's last stand for those still following along :P fareed zakaria i think provides a nice overview of the subnational tensions gripping pakistan:
At a political and constitutional level, the crisis in Pakistan is actually good news. Civil society has mobilized. The print media have been utterly fearless in its criticism of the president. Musharraf's actions have given the parties an agenda to get passionate about, and so far they have not succumbed to the infighting that often destroyed them in the past. It would be a mistake to romanticize Pakistan's democrats. Many are feudal, corrupt and pliant. But increasingly there are some young and talented ones emerging as well...

There is a solution to Pakistan's political crisis, one that will allow Musharraf to leave on a high note. First, he must hold free and fair elections. Musharraf's current plan is to wield power as part of a troika—the Army chief, the prime minister and himself as president. This will work only if he is the weakest leg of that stool. He has already appointed a decent man as head of the Army, and he can allow a stable parliamentary coalition to elect a prime minister who can run the country. Musharraf should recognize that he has become far too controversial to be able to lead his nation and should instead recede from power. The example to follow is Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico, now universally feted for bringing democracy to that country. Musharraf is said to be convinced that he is indispensable to Pakistan's future. He should remember the words of another general turned politician, Charles de Gaulle, who, when told he was indispensable to France, is said to have replied, "The graveyards are filled with indispensable people."

That still leaves Pakistan's other, more dangerous, crisis—the new jihad... The most troubling aspect of this wave of terror is that no one in Pakistan seems to understand why it's happening. Everyone I spoke to, from President Musharraf on down, was taken aback by the violence.

...if there is a missing component to the battle against the new jihadists it is that throughout Pakistan, this is seen as America's war, or Musharraf's war, but not as Pakistan's war. No one has been able to enlist the Pakistani people in the effort to marginalize the militants and at the same time provide political and economic development, as well as an ideological alternative to tales of jihad and martyrdom. Right now Pakistan's politics are focused on an entirely different battle—over the president and his illegal power grabs. Very few are willing to join a struggle that he will spearhead. Unless he can find a way to take himself out of the spotlight, Musharraf and his fate will eclipse the serious security issues facing Pakistan.

The American debate has been, as is often the case, largely removed from reality. The two scenarios that obsess Western politicians—loose nukes and empowered mullahs—are overhyped...

The U.S. candidates' policy proposals have been depressing in their lack of seriousness. Does anyone believe that Pakistan would allow Washington and London to secure its nuclear arsenal? Or that it would meekly let the U.S. Army invade its territory to fight terrorists? The real question we face in Pakistan is what to do about the upcoming elections to ensure that they are free and fair. We need to walk Musharraf back from a power struggle in which he is pitted against an independent judiciary and democratically elected politicians. And above all we must find a way to work with the Pakistani people and not a handful of generals. Otherwise the intense anti-Americanism in Pakistan—fast rising because of our support for Musharraf—will produce a new wave of jihadists, born in the mountains of the frontier, tested in battle against the Pakistani Army and thirsting to fight the ultimate enemy, thousands of miles away.
+ asking the tough questions, an interview with the man himself!
posted by kliuless at 7:22 PM on January 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


oh and re: how "last fall two buses filled with officers from the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency were blown up."

Militants Escape Control of Pakistan, Officials Say: Pakistan's premier military intelligence agency has lost control of some of the Pakistani militants it has nurtured.
posted by kliuless at 7:42 PM on January 15, 2008


Benazir's son has been forced into the strange role of being a dynastic head of a supposedly democratic party. The next generation who will inherit the mess of the deeds of their parents also includes Osama Bin Ladin Jr.

Omar Osama bin Laden bears a striking resemblance to his notorious father - except for the dreadlocks that dangle halfway down his back. Then there's the black leather biker jacket.


Omar - one of bin Laden's 19 children - raised a tabloid storm last year when he married a 52-year-old British woman, Jane Felix-Browne, who took the name Zaina Alsabah.

In India it's been Indira (assassinated) , the daughter of her Prime Minister father, Jawarharlal Nehru, then her two sons, Sanjay and Rajiv (both assassinated), then Rajiv's Italian born wife, Sonia who went into democratic politics.

I was just thinking about Benazir's son, Bilawal wearing a classic Christian archetype Devil costume to a costume party, how mischievous in a fun way that was. I can't imagine the international uproar if a Christian political head's son wore a classic Muslim archetype costume to a party.

In Pakistan, it's been Benazir (assassinated), daughter of her dad Bhutto (assassinated) now having her widow putting their son, Bilawal, into the hot seat. With Osama Sr. (who may or may not be alive), there is Osama Jr, Omar. I'm kind of hoping that this younger generation can find a way and maybe even have dreadlocks, costume parties making playful fun of religious stereotypes and biker jackets too, international marriages with less prejudice, less rigid geopolitical fears. Peace with biker jackets and a sense of humor. That could be an interesting and more harmonious world.
posted by nickyskye at 11:01 AM on January 19, 2008


Oh dear, a peaceful fun world a premature fantasy. Osama Jr. is too much like his dad: But in a series of messages since last fall, he also has been calling for Muslims to rally around jihad, or "holy war," encouraging fighters in Iraq in particular to continue their battles with U.S. and Iraqi forces. *sigh. Oh well.
posted by nickyskye at 11:06 AM on January 19, 2008


President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan says there is a "zero percent chance" of al-Qaeda getting hold of his country's nuclear weapons.
posted by homunculus at 1:08 AM on January 23, 2008


Oh well then, if he's says everything's safe, it must be. It's strange that him saying that makes me break into a light cold sweat though.
posted by nickyskye at 9:42 AM on January 23, 2008


Hey, Bush said Musharraf is a man of his word, so that's good enough for me!
posted by homunculus at 5:20 PM on January 24, 2008


More U.S. Troops, Gear to Pakistan
posted by homunculus at 5:23 PM on January 24, 2008


'Who Killed Benazir?': an Interview with Fatima Bhutto

Who killed Benazir?

"I don't know. There are so many players. You have to look at who
benefits from her death. For Musharraf, it was a serious defeat. Despite
their political differences, they were allies, with American support. I
don't think he has anything to do with it. It could have been Islamic
extremists. But the fact that Bush says so weighs against that theory:
he's always wrong. Recently, Benazir seemed to have distanced herself
from the Americans and they may have ditched her, leaving her more
vulnerable. It looks like the real beneficiary is Zardari."

posted by nickyskye at 10:11 PM on January 25, 2008


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