violence is the way of life over there
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.
"We're talking about Al-Qaeda here. For them, chaos is it's own reward."
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
"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."
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...
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.
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 ...
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.
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