Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Display:
I find this quite shocking.  And yet, sadly, not surprising.  Thought it deserved something more than a Salon post.  I'll try to update as more information becomes available.

Your insights are, of course, welcome.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 08:38:40 AM EST
Huh. Last story I saw an hour ago was that she was unhurt!
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 08:42:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Anyone got thoughts on the consequences?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 08:43:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Rage.  Fear.

A friend who pays a lot of attention to Pakistan (but who is actually Indian, and who cannot be considered a neutral observer) is already convinced that Musharraf is behind it.  I suspect many of Bhutto's supporters will be similarly convinced.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 08:47:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The immediate question is whether the elections scheduled for less than two weeks from today will go ahead on schedule.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 08:49:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not a chance. there may not be a civil society in existence by then to have an election for.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 08:54:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What ? You mean apart from a bloodbath ? I guess it will confirm that Pakistan has been allowed to become ungovernable.

I'm not even sure that a full military dictatorship can save the day for the simple reason that all it will do is try to put a lid on pressures that are already far beyond such control.

An awful lot of people are going to die in the next few weeks and there's bugger all anyone can do to stop it. However, the presence of the nuclear weapons throws a nasty complication into the mix. I suspect that america and others may have to step in and clear up we helped create, or at least get the nukes out. And that will put us into an interesting situation vis a vis Saudi Arabia as it's their people we absolutely need to exterminate (I use the word deliberately).

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 08:53:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Any idea who benefits? Does this really benefit Mushariff, for instance?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 08:56:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
CNN has a Bhutto spokesman on the phone now and the anchor just said to him something along the lines of isn't it far too early to be pointing fingers right now?  The spokesman begs to differ.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 09:04:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hah. How long did CNN wait to point fingers on 9/11?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 09:05:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Seems to me that Musharraf's hold on power is tenuous to the point where this might just be the thing to topple him. But that's my uneducated guess.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 09:20:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, much as Musharaff didn't want to work with Bhutto, her death complicates things for him. For everybody.

Plus, Islamic militants had already promised to kill her for the crime of being female and a politician. Suicide bombers aren't the army's m.o, but they are those of islamists. So I guess we have to look at the Wahabi madrassas for the originators of this.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 09:22:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That was my sense of it.  It sounds like Musharraf is being blamed initially, but didn't he agree to the amnesty because he believed that he needed to work with her?

Given their promise to kill her, it sounds like the work of militants, but we'll see.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 09:33:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, it's happened in the same area that Musharraf put her under house arrest and stopped her from going to. She went now that the state of emergency is over... and died. Obviously, there are two possible readings here.

My guess is on radical circles inside the ISI.

"If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." Sun Tzu

by Turambar (sersguenda at hotmail com) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 09:35:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I wouldn't put it past the ISI to have their fingers all over this, but I'm sure it was at a slight remove. They probably kicked a hornet's nest in a madrassa and sat back to watch. Bhutto and they are at daggers drawn and have been since forever. The charges of corruption against her originated from within ISI as I remember.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 09:42:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that's a very important point -- the extremists and the Pakistani security services are not really separate things.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 09:42:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 So I guess we have to look at the Wahabi madrassas for the originators of this

or is that what you're supposed to think?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 02:05:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Heh. There are so many possible suspects that if you brought them all together in a single dining room, the combined talents of Hercule Poirot and Nick Charles would be insufficient for identifying the true culprit.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 02:10:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do groups/people come forward to say they were behind these kind of incidents?  Or will it be down to forensics and experts to make their best guesses?
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 05:38:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sometimes they do, but sometimes those claims are not credible -- i.e. a group will have been invented out of whole cloth, or some other group will want to take credit for something that it had nothing to do with.  Any statements and/or videos claiming responsibility would have to be evaluated on their merits.

As for the investigation... well, that assumes the integrity of the officials involved, doesn't it?  If people believe that the state could have been involved, do you think they're going to believe what the state's own forensic investigators say about who did it?  Or believe the FBI's or Scotland Yard's investigators, if they were to be invited in?

In Lebanon, this is why they appointed the UN investigator into the Hariri assassination, and why they had several different forensic teams from different countries inspecting the evidence; but that also can prove problematic in different ways.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 05:48:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A Russian expert puts finger on islamists and says life would be much more difficult for Musharraf right now. In addition, he'll have to deal with Bhutto supporters who'd be convinced it's him.
by Sargon on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 10:05:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What forces are available for an intervention? None in sufficient strength to achieve anything, I suspect. In any event the experience of the past few years does tend to imply that military actions by the west in Islamic countries is counter-productive.

If Pakistan does not become a nuclear armed Islamic caliphate in the next few years, it will owe more to the good sense of the Pakistani people than the wisdom of western policy.

by Gary J on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 01:27:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Or, more to the internal inter-community tensions (and the communitarian bounds of the Caliphate-ists) than both Western and Pakistani wisdom.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 02:24:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It can't be good, but I don't know the ins and outs of Pakistani politics well enough to venture a guess.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 08:55:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's my problem: I have a dim picture of competing tribal, religious, military and class based forces, but I can't make any sense of it.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 08:57:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, it's much more complicated than the sort of one-on-one confrontations I'm accustomed to seeing in politics and war both in the present and in the overviews of history (even though I recognize that it's always more complicated than that).  Here we have the PPP vs Musharraf vs radicals vs whatever else you can toss in there, to say nothing of overlap and the degrees to which the parties do and don't get along.  And I just don't know how they all fit together.

Being a "hope for the best, prepare for the worst" type, I'm inclined to assume Helen is right -- that the gravity of the situation hasn't yet set in, and that we're looking at a bloodbath in Pakistan between rival factions.  It's clear to me that Musharraf holding things together for the time being is not guaranteed.

The nuclear weapons issue is frightening in the sense that we don't know what the ultimate outcome of this will be.  But I disagree with Helen about America, Europe and others getting involved, at least in any role involving the military, because the capacity to get involved simply isn't there.  That said, Pakistanis are not children, and they're more sophisticated than the western press gives them credit for.  I don't think Pakistan is likely to be taken over by the looney toons, which is obviously what most people are thinking about when they refer to the nukes.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 09:26:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But I disagree with Helen about America, Europe and others getting involved, at least in any role involving the military, because the capacity to get involved simply isn't there.

Maybe not in terms of becoming a peacekeeping force, but the west has been increasingly uncomfortable with a nuclear armed pakistan as it became obvious the country was a shambles with dangerous elements beoming influential. I imagine they might come in to withdraw the weaponry to a safer place.

That said, Pakistanis are not children, and they're more sophisticated than the western press gives them credit for.  I don't think Pakistan is likely to be taken over by the looney toons, which is obviously what most people are thinking about when they refer to the nukes.

Just as the americans have Bush, the sophistication of the people is moot when the leaders, there by force of arms, are fools. And, let there be no doubt, there are influential, powerful and armed factions within Pakistan who are indistinguishable from looney toons. It's certainly becoming obvious that Pakistan cannot be governed without, at least, the passivity of the wahabinist madrassas.

Yet what will be the price of such passivity ? The middle classes in paklistan has divvied up power and corruption between them to such an extent that having their lives and freedoms constrained by "looney tunes" may be a force for destabilisation or at least the economic gutting of the country in the medium term. so any settlement now will create problems further down.

And any hope of peace in the middle east will be impossible without a peaceful pakistan. India will mobilize to Kashmir. Afghanistan will become a tinder box.

The only good thing may be that Al-qaeda may become distracted from Iraq, but as their influence there is fading, that may not matter so much.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 09:54:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Afghanistan is already pretty close to a tinder box, if it's not already there, and al-Qaeda's attention to Iraq is a losing cause, anyway.  It's the only group in Iraq with significantly lower approval ratings than the Americans.

Where is the West going to get the manpower to go grab the weapons?  And that also works with one of two assumptions: (1) that the Pakistani military is simply going to allow them to do this, or (2) that the western powers are simply going to do away with the Pakistani military -- again, with what manpower? -- in order to get at the weapons.  Neither of these options seems incredibly likely, especially if there is the possibility you noted of India moving.  (India might like to do this, but I don't see it happening.)

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 10:18:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All good questions and any person claiming to know the answers is both a fool and a liar.

how this pans out nobody can know, but it will be violent and bloody.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 10:50:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On that, I unfortunately agree.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 10:51:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course I have an opinion. I am a physicist.

Nothing will happen. the system is so cahotic than adding a little bit of more noise is absolutely irrelevant.. in the sense  that it can lead to anywhere int he phase . but actually there is no chance from before to after.

So the possibilities of complete cahos and complete order in Pakistan remain roughly the same.

The probabilities of a Pakistan with a pseudo-control demcoracy (which is what a lot of the western elite think it is the best) are as low as before.. but hardly lower.

The multiple Paksitani factions will still have a personal dynamics.. and there is as change now of subrevolt or semirevolt or a gathering of revolts.. but I think the same probabilities than before.

So...: I guess to sum up.. I know nothing, I am from barcelona.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 03:09:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The voice of optimism speaks! And of sanity.

So...: I guess to sum up.. I know nothing, I am from barcelona.

I wanted to ask for some time: is this the Fawlty Towers reference, and if yes is it because of ET, or have you seen it?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 04:00:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure it is fawlty towers... and it is yes because we all catalonians know it.. adn we all know it despite the fact that in Barcelona the sentence was translated as.

"No se nada.. soy de Mexico"... because here in catalonia , he was from mexico, not from Barcelona. And he was the only speaking spanish because the rest was speaking in catalan (doubling from english).

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 07:04:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And he was the only speaking spanish because the rest was speaking in catalan

LOL! That's an extra twist on it...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 07:07:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. the americans will have to go back to the drawing board and pick a new puppet. perhaps nawaz sharif's stock will rise?

  2. musharaf will use this pretext to put more martial law measures into effect.

  3. who knows how the riots will play out, or if they'll link up with an ambitious and/or bhutto-tied general or two.

a nawaz sharif rally was shot at earlier in the day. most cui bono leads to musharraf, IMO.

al qaeda or islamic radicals would have struck at the general, not an out of power politician.

by wu ming on Fri Dec 28th, 2007 at 02:32:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Has the Chinese government issued a formal response?

I haven't been able to find one in the Western media.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri Dec 28th, 2007 at 02:35:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would have been more surprised if it hadn't happened.  Who benefits?  Really, does it matter?  Assasination, martial law, chaos, revolution, war, oblivion: all so predictable, obvious, boring, useless, etc, etc, etc.
All proof that the human species hasn't been evolving any longer than any other "lower" organism on this poor planet.
by Andhakari on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 09:38:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Insights? More like despairs...

It's a tragedy either way, but I would not find this half as worrying if I thought that the people in the White House had any clue at all and the people in Brussels had any way at all to influence what is going on.

The countries in the region (India, Iran, Russia) are not going to sit idly in the case that Pakistan implodes, and I don't see any sign that either Europe or the US has any plan or coherent policy at all.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Thu Dec 27th, 2007 at 08:19:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Display:

Occasional Series