Friday, December 28, 2007

Assassins make the dreams end... Death is merely incidental...

I’ve been reading the daily news for years now and like to think that I have a grasp on various world events. That said there are some occurrences where I simply do not have the experience or mindset to fully comprehend. Some stories take shape in your mind with the answers you know, with the knowledge you have discovered. Other events take form from the questions you create out of the confusion. You become versed in the facts at hand but the core of the issue; the true understanding is just not there.

No doubt you have heard that Benazir Bhutto has been killed.

Well, they finally got her. Benazir was shot at a political rally just twelve days from the election that was sure to make her Prime Minister for the third non-consecutive time. The assassin blew himself up afterwards, killing some twenty people.

Bhutto’s return from exile was a sensitive diplomatic gambit over a year in the making. She would endorse President Musharraf’s tenuous hold on power for a third term and he would drop the corruption charges that forced her out of her own country. Together they might have achieved a stability in Pakistan that neither of them could manage on their own. The White House gambled heavily on this union, it would justify the billions in military aid Pakistan has received over the past several years and keep a chief ally in the War on Terror solvent in the face of internal crisis. What a mess!

The Life and Times of the Former Pakistani Prime Minister

Islamic Fundamentalists like the Taliban have been steadily gaining ground in Pakistan and the Oxford educated Bhutto was presumably a threat to them. It is said that Musharraf has been fighting the extremists but the Pakistani military and their intelligence agency has always had close ties to the Islamists from as far back as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

So why did it happen? No scenario I can cook up makes complete sense to me. Musharraf was no fan of Benazir but without her the best he can hope for is to rule Pakistan as a tyrant, shuffling the nation in and out of martial law. She was far more popular than he and the assassination of Benazir is going to generate a tremendous amount of backlash against the Islamists. They can’t win an open fight against the military and that is what the public is going to howl for. The pro-democracy faction who supported Bhutto’s political party is in a very dangerous position, being the most likely to become incensed but the least likely to stand up for itself. Benazir was all the leadership the Pakistan Peoples Party had. I don’t see this death being good news for any of the three sides.

Al-Qaeda Claims Responsibility

It’s interesting to watch a country pull itself apart. I wonder how many Pakistanis truly believe that a more powerful nation will arise from this multi-sided conflict. History has many more examples of the opposite occurring; of countries who wind up fractured and in disarray through sustained violence and are forced to bargain from positions of increased weakness on the world stage until they are ripe to be exploited by their more stable neighbours. A wounded and weary nuclear-armed Pakistan is one of the potential nightmare scenarios that strategists have warned us about for years now. It’s not often that the death of one single person can tip the world so far out of balance.

We Like Our South Asian Leaders Dead

There are many articles out there today discussing the life and times of Benazir Bhutto from historical pieces to personal reminiscence. By all accounts she was a very intelligent and charismatic person. I like the above article best though, it’s written with a non-western perspective which goes back to the limits of understanding I face on topics such as this. This author takes for granted a concept that I might never come to naturally myself. It’s a very good read and the last remark I’ll leave on this.

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