Socioculture / Politics

The dynamic in Pakistan is pretty interesting, in the dark-Chinese-proverb sense. There’s been a rapid outcry against the Usual Suspects, Al Qaeda and the Taliban, for the death of Benazir Bhutto, but, uncharacteristically, those groups have yet to trumpet their ‘success’. My impression is there’s a lot of enmity between the two groups, and my hunch is bin Laden, at least, would want to separate himself from being associated with them in the assassination.

The next question one asks themselves is “Self, who profits most from her death?” And the answer seems to be Musharraf and the incumbent military. The elections are on hold right now, and may dissolve altogether if Musharraf uses the demonstrations as an excuse to declare martial law again. And I don’t think bin Laden, or the Taliban, make distinctions between Musharraf’s acquiescense to western political influence and Bhutto’s or Nawaz Sharif’s potential complicity with it – you’re helping Muslims or your not – infidels are infidels. There’s no real advantage in their taking her out. And despite the Snidely Whiplash caricatures our government tends to promote, I don’t think bin Laden’s, or the Taliban’s, only aim is creating chaos, bloodshed and anarchy – that just makes things harder for them.

Al Qaeda and/or the Taliban are certainly capable of fomenting the circumstances that led to her death – I’m just not convinced they did. Bhutto’s martyrdom, it would seem, would be a foregone conclusion in their planning. But look how people are tripping over themselves to have the official result be accidental death (‘We didn’t kill her, she hit her own head!’). To many, it’s critically important that she be denied what would be seen as a martyr’s death. Of course, for most people that bird has flown – ‘they’ wanted to kill her and she died. Pakistanis are, to this day, deeply angry with the military for their execution of Benazir’s father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, in 1979. It’s important that Musharraf, with western help, gets his own military off the hook for Bhutto’s death. Unless someone else is proven responsible, that won’t be easy. And IF someone else IS responsible, Musharraf faces the grim reality that he may be next.



“Ten years of endless blather about the game of politics on cable TV have trained the most engaged American voters to handicap candidates rather than hear them, to pontificate about who might win rather than deciding whom they actually want to win. Voters seem to approach politics increasingly as pundits, and they look to poll numbers to tell them who’s electable and who isn’t, never stopping to realize that they are the ones who get to decide.” – Matt Bai, NY Times