Thursday, December 27, 2007

Benazir Bhutto's Assassination and
Nawaz Sharif's Near-Miss:
It Could be Worse

It's been a busy day in Pakistan.

While campaigning for the Pakistan People's Party, Benazir Bhutto was shot at a rally in Rawalpindi, the city where Pakistan's military has its headquarters. Someone: possibly the assassin, or another attacker, then blew up, killing roughly 20 more people.

Meanwhile, near the Islamabad airport, four supporters of Nawaz Sharif were killed at a rally near the Islamabad airport. Mr. Sharif was about a mile away at the time.

Finger-pointing and Monday-morning quarterbacking is well under way.
  • At the hospital where she died, some Bhutto supporters shouted "dog, Musharraf, dog!" according to a cable news report.
  • Musharraf blames Islamic extremists.
  • TimesOnline suggests that Pakistani warlords or security forces may be responsible.
  • Some in the blogosphere blame America's President Bush.
I don't think that Musharraf would be stupid enough to assassinate a leader with the sort of popular support Bhutto had. Assuming that she won the election, or at least won a plurality, I'd think that he could have made a deal to keep some power. But I could be over-estimating his political smarts.

The situation in Pakistan is bad. A nation with nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them
  • An assassination and a near-miss on the same day
  • Pakistan's current leader seems to have very little popular support
  • The borderlands are controlled by warlords who haven't caught up with changes that started with the Magna Carta
But it could be worse.

As easy as it is to be cynical about President Musharraf's apparent plan to delay the January 8 election, it's probably a good idea. With lethal gunfire at one candidate's rally, the leading candidate assassinated, and the President suspected of ordering the assassination, Pakistanis could use a little breathing room to calm down: and find someone to replace Bhutto.

And, I think that Bhutto's assassination shows how little support maniacal Muslims have in the Islamic world. A recent poll in Pakistan showed that about 4% of Pakistani people planned to support religious parties next month.

Islamic terrorists don't seem to be any more of a majority than the 0.0001% or so of Muslims at this year's Hajj who chanted "Death to America! Death to Israel!" at this year's Hajj.

With that sort of grassroots non-support, it should be no surprise that the bonkers elements of Islam depend of hijacked airliners, bombs, and the occasional sword to make their point. They're loud, and lethal, but violence seems to be the only argument they have.

See "Assassination Whodunit: Bhutto Faced Threats From All Militant Groups in Pakistan" (December 27, 2007)

Related posts, on Individuals and the War on Terror.

Posts about Benazir Bhutto.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.