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Old 12-27-2007   #1
SWJED
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Default 2007 murder of Benazir Bhutto (new title)

CNN - RAWALPINDI, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistan former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has died after a suicide bombing that killed at least 14 of her supporters, ex-government spokesman Tariq Azim Khan and Pakistan's primary television networks said.

Bhutto suffered bullet wounds in the aftermath of the bomb attack, TV networks report.

Video of the scene just moments before the explosion showed Bhutto stepping into a heavily-guarded vehicle to leave the rally.

Khan said while it appeared Bhutto was shot, it was unclear if her bullet wounds were caused by a shooting or shrapnel from the bomb.

The suicide attack left at least 14 dead and 40 injured, Khan told CNN in a telephone interview.

The attacker is said to have detonated a bomb as he tried to enter the rally where thousands of people gathered to hear Bhutto speak, police said.
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Old 12-27-2007   #2
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On CNN, while they were waiting for Amanpour to deploy to Pakistan with her trademarked "sympathy face," they talked to their Pentagon reporter, who said that the Pentagon was minimally staffed this week, but as the flash came in, calls went out and lots of people were on their way back.

I remember my IR professor telling us that Pakistan was one assassination away from being an extremist Islamic state with nuclear weapons. Here's hoping this wasn't that assassination.

It's going to be interesting and frightening to see how the aftermath plays out; particularly if there's a general population demonstration, along the lines of the aftermath of the Rafik Hariri assassination in Lebanon in 2005. My own bet is not, because there is no outside threat (a la Syria in the Hariri case) to galvanize solidarity among the population, but we shall see.

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Old 12-27-2007   #3
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I remember my IR professor telling us that Pakistan was one assassination away from being an extremist Islamic state with nuclear weapons. Here's hoping this wasn't that assassination.
Your IR professor is and was very wrong.

Many key players and how they react will be tested here. How does Musharraf react, and are elections postponed? How does the PPP reorganize itself and who will be its new leader with no clear Bhutto clan figure ready to take the reins? Will the PPP blame Musharraf and the military?

If it comes down to a real confrontation between an enraged PPP and the military, things could get very messy. But I think in the long run that the PPP will end up breaking apart much as the PML has done, with a significant wing coopted by the military.
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Old 12-27-2007   #4
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Your IR professor is and was very wrong.

Many key players and how they react will be tested here. How does Musharraf react, and are elections postponed? How does the PPP reorganize itself and who will be its new leader with no clear Bhutto clan figure ready to take the reins? Will the PPP blame Musharraf and the military?

If it comes down to a real confrontation between an enraged PPP and the military, things could get very messy. But I think in the long run that the PPP will end up breaking apart much as the PML has done, with a significant wing coopted by the military.
either way, this is really bad on a number of fronts. Hopefulle davidfpo will be able to chime in with commentary and thoughts.
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Old 12-27-2007   #5
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either way, this is really bad on a number of fronts. Hopefulle davidfpo will be able to chime in with commentary and thoughts.
Quite agree. Clearly not the development that Pakistan needs at this juncture.
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Old 12-27-2007   #6
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Originally Posted by tequila View Post
Your IR professor is and was very wrong.

Many key players and how they react will be tested here. How does Musharraf react, and are elections postponed? How does the PPP reorganize itself and who will be its new leader with no clear Bhutto clan figure ready to take the reins? Will the PPP blame Musharraf and the military?

If it comes down to a real confrontation between an enraged PPP and the military, things could get very messy. But I think in the long run that the PPP will end up breaking apart much as the PML has done, with a significant wing coopted by the military.
Well, in fairness to him, I appropriated his quote to an event that was not quite what he had in mind. I think he meant more along the lines of an assassination of Musharraf or a similar reigning figure, not Bhutto. My fault for misusing his maxim more than him being wrong, I think.

The PPP is already blaming the military and Musharraf for not protecting the rally well enough, according to NPR. I can't imagine they were complicit as an organization, but I certainly am not the expert.

You're right on the big question of what happens to the PPP, I think. My allusion to the Hariri assassination and the galvanization of the population is the big wild card, because then I think you might see the confrontation you were talking about.

But it's too early and I don't know enough to tell. Appreciate the corrections, however.

Matt
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Old 12-27-2007   #7
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Default This could get messy, really, really messy....

Anyone remember a little place called Sarajevo? Similarities? Or am I just over reacting?

Key players will indeed be tested, let us hope cool heads prevail though I rather doubt that based on recent history. Key players indeed, and they are all right there in such close proximity. Once the fuse is lit, I'm afraid it will be extremely difficult to put it out.
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Old 12-27-2007   #8
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Anyone remember a little place called Sarajevo? Similarities? Or am I just over reacting?

Key players will indeed be tested, let us hope cool heads prevail though I rather doubt that based on recent history. Key players indeed, and they are all right there in such close proximity. Once the fuse is lit, I'm afraid it will be extremely difficult to put it out.
You're not overreacting; there's too many recent examples to (that we have yet to) learn from. Civil war comes immediately to mind.
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Old 12-27-2007   #9
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Protection of Nukes comes to my mind. And according to jihadwatch.org she was shot first then the killer blew himself up to hide evidence.

http://jihadwatch.org/

US SF are suppose to go in and help President Pervez Musharraf. I don't care, just whatever it takes to secure them nukes.
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Old 12-28-2007   #10
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Default Not to speak ill of the dead, but...

I'm clueless when it comes to Pakistani politics, but my closest colleague would qualify as an expert in most people's books. He lived there for many years, and is married to the daughter of the (now deceased) founder of the Pakistani Special Services Group (SSG). Despite what would seem to be privaleged status among the Pakistani security elite, my colleague's family-by-marriage has been active and visible in opposing the extremes of the Musharaf regime.

He and his wife have told me for many years that Bhutto was widely hated in Pakistan, by a majority of the population, because of the visible extent of the corruption that existed under her regime. She easily beat out Sharif when comparing hands in cookie jars. Her husband is still under threat in some quarters for his violent extortion of land from poor land holders. She was warned about the trundling along of her convoy upon return to the country by the security services, and the prevailing view among my colleague and his friends and family is that she viewed those killed as means to an end, simply fodder, especially since so many of them were members of the same security services that warned her about the foolishness of the parade.

Having heard my colleague's views of Bhutto for the past decade, it is interesting to me that there is, and has been so little digging into her misdeads by western media sources. I remember some soft-sell 60 Minutes piece quite a few years ago that made me a believer, until I received several doses of reality from my colleague. I think to a large degree we bamboozled ourselves because Bhutto was a Harvard-educated woman, and the collective US consiousness couldn't quite fathom that she was just another corrupt dictator.

I'm not suggesting any abandonment of realpolitik. Just think its better served by Musharaf, and hopefully this will subside despite the handwringing of our media folks.

Cheers,
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Old 12-28-2007   #11
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Certainly Bhutto's time in office was always marked by high levels of official corruption, but to call her a widely hated woman in Pakistan would be probably quite overstating the case.

The PPP is the closest thing to a mass political movement in Pakistan, the only really national party with a genuine mass following. Its base is among the rural poor in Sindh and southern Punjab, although it has many followers from most of the ethnic groups and several of its biggest funders are large landowners. Despite her own quite cosmopolitan upbringing, the PPP is least popular among the urban elites and the military officer class, who never forgave Zulfikar Ali Bhutto for his attempt to bring the Army to heel.

To call her a "dictator" as well is quite beyond the reality of the situation - she won elections in both cases and, in marked comparison to her father, was quite deferential to the military and allowed them to set Pakistani foreign and security policy to their liking. Note that this deference was to the enormous detriment of Pakistan, as this era of military dominance of Pakistani foreign policy saw the rise of the Taliban, Lashkar e-Toiba, etc. Islamism in Pakistan has always gotten its biggest boosts when it received institutional backing from the military --- a key thing to remember when we consider just how realistic our realpolitik actually is.

Last edited by tequila; 12-28-2007 at 02:51 PM.
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Old 12-29-2007   #12
William F. Owen
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Default Ralph Peters

http://www.nypost.com/seven/12282007...e_s_912265.htm

Spending a good amount of my professional time talking to mid and high level Pak Army officers I somewhat agree with the insights contained her.
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Old 12-29-2007   #13
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Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
http://www.nypost.com/seven/12282007...e_s_912265.htm

Spending a good amount of my professional time talking to mid and high level Pak Army officers I somewhat agree with the insights contained her.
Thanks for the link.

I'm tired of the coverage of her assassination and this "e-mail" that states she would hold Musharraf responsible if she were to be assassinated. Riding through a crowd while standing out of the sunroof is a good way to get your head blown off!

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Old 12-29-2007   #14
Rex Brynen
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Default the many faces of Bhutto

I think all of this is true: popular (and among her constituency, populist) politician; deeply tainted by corruption and political irregularities; loathed by a large section of the Pakistani population too. You, however, have the politicians that you have, and there certainly wasn't (and isn't) a more "national" figure on the Pakistani political scene.

Contrary to the Peters article, however, I'm unconvinced that the Musharraf/military regime has done a very good job (at all) of containing the rise of radical Islamist groups--indeed, in many ways it has worsened the problem.
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Old 12-29-2007   #15
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Contrary to the Peters article, however, I'm unconvinced that the Musharraf/military regime has done a very good job (at all) of containing the rise of radical Islamist groups--indeed, in many ways it has worsened the problem.
I think he's done a pretty good job of holding that country together. He has to balance that interest with containing the rise of the fanatics. In my opinion the military and economic aid we are giving to India can't be helping him. I'm not saying he's done the best job he could have, but compared to most people we have to deal with internationally he's certainly better than most.

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Old 12-29-2007   #16
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The Peters' commentary squares with what my colleagues and friends possessed of extensive intimacy with Pakistan have been saying for a number of years before Bhutto's return. But, the general media seems to really love an international tragedy, real or made-up.

Cheers,
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Old 12-29-2007   #17
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Default Short summary (from DC)

Found on Real Clear Politics website and cut from an article this passage, which is IMHO a good summary:

In the immediate aftermath of the assassination, the most pertinent commentary I read was by David Ignatius of The Washington Post, who had been a friend of Benazir's since they were together writing for the Harvard Crimson in the early 1970s:

"Bhutto's death is a brutal demonstration of the difficulty for outsiders in understanding -- let alone tinkering with -- a country such as Pakistan. The Bush administration attempted a bit of political engineering when it tried to broker an alliance between Musharraf and Bhutto and sought to position her as the country's next prime minister. Yesterday's events were a reminder that global politics is not Prospero's island, where we can conjure up the outcomes we want. In places such as Pakistan, where we can't be sure where events are heading, the wisest course for the United States is the cautious one of trying to identify and protect American interests. Pakistanis will decide how and when their country makes its accommodation with the modern world."

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Old 12-29-2007   #18
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Default Link...

The RCP item was a link to David Ignatius's Washington Post Op-Ed The Legacy of Benazir Bhutto. He is a pretty good pundit - even when I do not agree I find things in his pieces to ponder...
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Old 12-30-2007   #19
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Default Owen/Peters

Peters frequently does make liberal use of hyperbole, but in this instance, having served in Pak 1989-94, I find myself in total agreement with the article. He could have added tidbits about her government's heavy leaning on Saddam's side in the Gulf War (until the last few days!), husband's involvement in the heroin trade, and the interesting trivium that it was not Gen Zia, but her own father (socialist, secularist!) who introduced Islamic law to Pakistan. Sad comentary on the state of party politics in Pakistan that, nevertheless, Pakistani poor of diverse ethnicities proved as manipulable by her as were her American admirers.

Cheers,
and a Happy New Year to all y'all,
Mike.
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Old 12-30-2007   #20
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and the interesting trivium that it was not Gen Zia, but her own father (socialist, secularist!) who introduced Islamic law to Pakistan. .
Not really. Islamic law already had some status in Pakistan, but most of the most severe implementations of it--notably the Enforcement of Hudood Ordinance (1979)--certainly did take place under Zia ul-Haq.
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