Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bhutto Killed! Did Musharaff Order the Hit?

The corner stone of the Bush "War on Terror" outside of the debacle in Iraq has been support for Generalisimo Musharraf (who recently retired from the military but who is he kidding). Musharraf has repayed our support with sweetheart deals with tribal leaders who themselves are sheltering Bin Laden and providing troops to the Taliban in what is rapidly turning into our debacle in Afghanistan (remember Afghanistan?).

Well, I awoke this morning to see reports in the European press (see BBC news link to the right) that Benizir Bhutto has been wounded in the third (I think) suicide bombing attack on her rallies since her arrival in Pakistan to take part in upcoming elections. 20 or so people were killed. This story is still very much "breaking news" and as I type this CNN has not picked up on her being wounded yet. BBC and the Danish press are both reporting her being wounded. OK, I just hit "refresh" and the European press is saying that Bhutto was killed in the attack. CNN just reported that she'd been killed. CNN is reporting that she was killed by bullet wound to the neck. Bombs and shooting? Someone wanted to make sure they murdered her.

This is a tragic development! Benezir Bhutto was the first woman to be elected head of government of a Muslim country. Her support came from the urban, more educated, more "modernized" segment of Pakistani society. The attacks against Bhutto have been continued and systematic. I'm not the only one speculating that Bush's friend Musharraf is behind them. Regardless of whether he ordered the hit, I'm sure he's celebrating this murder.

This is a sad day for Pakistanis.


Dr. Strangelove said...

I read the paper this morning and I was stunned for a moment. I knew the extremists were trying but I just did not think they would succeed. It is an awful day for Pakistan.

Maybe this assassination will finally convince Pakistanis that political violence has no place in a civilized society. Maybe this act of terrorism will teach moderate Muslims that no terrorism can ever be tolerated, no matter their motives. But I fear it will only unleash more hatred and violence.

Raised By Republicans said...

Like you, Dr. S, I fear that this assassination will only prove to those who found Bhutto's presence in the country a problem that poliitical murder really can fix problems.

Dr. Strangelove said...

Alas. Just like the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin is viewed by extremist Jewish groups.

Raised By Republicans said...

As news comes out, here are some updates...

Bhutto had repeatedly complained that Musharraf's regime was not providing sufficient security (the police would mysteriously dissappear and the street lights go out just before some of the earlier attacks).

Bhutto's father, then prime minister, was murdered (hanged following a coup d'etat) by the military.

NPR reported that her approval ratings were over 60% by last count.

Raised By Republicans said...

Wolf Blitzer is reporting that Bhutto herself sent an email to a spokesman essentially saying that if she is killed she thinks Musharraf is responsible for hamstringing her security and for letting his "minions" making her feel insecure.

USWest said...

Ok, I am not a specialist on Pakistan or its politics. But in reading through the posts here, I think we need to step back a little. Firstly, I am not sure I would trust the reporting of Wolf Blitzer of CNN on this issue.

I think we need to be careful not to equate Musharaff with Muslim extremists or any other type of extremists. Bush sort of did that in his comments yesterday which is a big reason that we should be a little more circumspect.

Musharaff is a dictator, but not an extremist. Musharaff might be responsible for Bhutto's death. The extremists might be responsible but they are not one in the same.

Secondly, in all the analyzes that I have heard up until RBR's "60%" here on the blog, including a report on Morning Edition yesterday, support for Bhutto was relatively low and limited to the Urban elite. While many people may not have been happy with Musharaff, that does not mean there was broad support for Bhutto. People might have used her rallies as an opportunity to protest Musharaff but that does not mean support for her party. Now her death may change that equation. But I am suspicious of the sudden change in statistics. Also, 60% approval does not mean 60% support. Those are also different things.

From what I can tell, Pakistan is a complex place with many conflicting loyalties. Bhutto was not all that we would like to make her out to be. First Muslim woman leader or not, my sense is that she was something of an opportunist. Remember that she came to Pakistan to cut a power sharing deal with the dictator. There are other opposition parties in Pakistan that were very unhappy about that.

She was also a skilled and shrewed politician who was on a personal mission after the killings of her father an her brothers. She had been prime minister twice. She was not some revolutionary leader. She had been running around the streets making firebrand speeches after having come home to cut a deal.

And I remind people that political assassinations in Pakistan are common. Musharaff himself has had several attempts on his life by various groups. There are plenty of parties in Pakistan- from Kashmiri freedom fighters to tribal chiefs, to extremists who might be very interested in destabilizing Pakistan or eliminating the likes of Bhutto.

Raised By Republicans said...

I think we can safely say that the distinction between Musharaff's inner circle, the Pakistani intelligence agency (ISI), tribal leaders along the Afghan border and in Kashmir and Al Qaeda is blurry at best. These aren't so much distinct groups as a continuum

I don't believe that Musharaff has direct links to Bin Laden et al. But they have many mutual friends.

As for Bhutto's supposed undesirability, it is true that she (and her father) have been repeated accused of corruption by military men who then perpetrated coups. I'll believe Wolf Blitzer long before I believe that kind of source.

Pakistan's military regime is without redeming qualities. Richardson is right that we should cut them off. The only reason we don't is because we fear that Al Qaeda would have a free hand. But if they don't have a free hand now, what would it look like if they did?

USWest said...

Again, I don't pretend to be an expert on the region. I would be pleasantly surprised if any of us on this blog are. So while we are all entitled to speculate, we should be careful about sounding to certain especially in that part of the world that is really made up of smoke and mirrors. I am not willing to accept much of what anyone is saying about the region considering that most of the people reporting on it now more than likely couldn't locate it on a map before 2003.

adam brown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Law Talking Guy said...

My 2 cents:
Pakistan has, like its neighbor Afghanistan, been struggling with Islamic extremism. In part because Pakistan funded the Taliban to be able to exert control in anarchic Afghanistan. The US has pretended Musharraf is not a dictator, while pressing for "democracy" everywhere, horribly undermining any hope for moderates in Pakistan. Also, we have underfunded the war in AFghanistan, so that we have forced Pakistan to cut deals with Taliban-like elements in the Tribal Areas and across the border. We have failed to improve life in Afghanistan that could convince people in the Tribal Areas to break with the Taliban.

As usual, then, we have helped make a bad situation much, much worse. Now that even Musharraf is losing control over the situation, we are left with few options. The assassination of Bhutto is a disaster of enormous proportions for us and Pakistan. She lived long enough to discredit Musharraf, and died before she could replace him.

My fear is that Islamic extremists will make a more serious run at Pakistan, because it is ripe for a fall. Its people are desperate for stability. They are poor and many are religious. Musharraf represents nobody anymore. Sharif is not sufficiently popular, and Bhutto is dead. In a contest between Musharraf and the Mullahs, it is not sure who will win. It is sure who will lose: the Pakistani people and ultimately the USA.

I foresee US engagement in Pakistan before long.