Thursday, December 27, 2007

Pakistan: Bhutto dies in blast, upheaval likely

Major news sources report this morning, Thursday Dec. 27, afternoon Pakistan time, that Pakistan former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, 54, was killed today in a suicide bombing, apparently "well planned," while departing from a political rally, at Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Other reports say that she was shot in the neck. The CNN story is here.

On Dec. 16, major sources had reported that Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf had halted emergency rule and was ready to form a new constitutional government. The CNN story is here. The martial law had been imposed because of an unspecified plot, which could have evicted him from power and might have given Al Qaeda or similar groups access to Pakistan's cache of small but ready nuclear weapons. It was not clear whether the assassination would in re-imposition of martial law. (So far Musharraf is saying he will try to stay on course for resumption of the constitution.) But terrorists often act by forcing leaders to become more repressive.

David Armstrong and Joseph Trento have written a book on Pakistan and nuclear weapons, reviewed here.

All of this is happening on a day when ABC "Good Morning America" reported on a New York City spent a year consuming nothing, to prove that they could live for "personal relationships" and not be dependent on technological infrastructures that seem to make individual Americans and westerners international scapegoats.

There are recent reports that Bhutto left instructions in her will that control of her party pass to her 19-year-old son, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. If so, that is a bizarre use of the "dead hand" concept. The son is a college student at Oxford in England and seems to have spent little time in Pakistan. The father will assume the duties in practice. In my own substitute teaching experience, I have encountered students who were born in Pakistan or the Middle East and grown up in the West (Europe and/or the U.S.) Whatever the media says about this situation, my own observation is that typically such a person assimilates into the general cultural values of the West (of individualism), and may or may not personally practice Islam in some form. Such persons may be very good students academically and fluent in a number of languages (including Urdu, Farsi, etc) and this certainly creates interest.

Rick Sincere has a major blog posting on this tragic event here.

Update: Jan 1, 2008

CNN and Wolf Blitzer report that Bhutto was about to deliver a major report on elections scandals in Pakistan. The story is " Sources: Bhutto was to give U.S. lawmakers vote-rigging report," here.

Update: Jan. 17, 2008

Major media sources report that Taliban forces have seized at least two remote tribal areas from the Pakistani military, which fled, near the Afghanistan border. The ABC News story Jan. 18 is "Pakistani Army: Unwilling or Unable?: Twice in Two Days, Militants Rout Pakistani Troops in Troubled Tribal Regions," by Gretchen Peters and Nick Schifrin, link here.

Update: Feb. 8, 2007

Scotland Yard in the UK has released a report on the Bhutto incident. The USA Today story is here.

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