Friday, October 19, 2007

Trimming to the Taliban

What to blog about? In the face of work like this or this?

Why not Pakistan? The fix is in, as they say - Musharraf safely re-elected by crook more than by hook, pesky corruption charges disposed of, Nawaz Sharif shouldered out of the way, time for the great heroine's return. The enemy, of course, always has a vote; not only did they threaten to send suicide bombers to kill Benazir Bhutto, but they did. ("The thing about al-Qa'ida is that they tell you what they're going to do...and then they do it.")

In a gruesome way, I reckon they - whoever "they" are - have suffered a major defeat. Blowing her to pieces along with divers citizens wouldn't have been subtle, but it would have kiboshed Musharraf's exit strategy, and it would make sense in a kind of Iraqi, revolutionary terror way. Blowing up 126 random civilians and not getting her puts the perpetrators out there as both brutal and bungling, to say nothing of the martyr image propaganda she'll doubtless make out of it.

The blame game is in full swing; she claims "followers of General Zia" dunnit, which is smart because it doesn't blame any current faction in Pakistan and incorporates it in her own family myth, and is also partly true - whether it was the jihadis or the ISI, they're in a sense followers of Zia. He was responsible for encouraging them and letting the ISI do what it liked.

Meanwhile, her husband, Asif "Mr 10%" Zardari is pouring petrol on any fires he can find; in his view it's the fault of the ISI. Again, it's possible; but you don't say things like that, and I suspect that had they wanted rid of her they'd have arranged something less dramatic and more certain. However, a team of unwitting jihadi fall-guys sounds plausible. Not clear what his game is; although the whole point of Bhutto's return is to replace the military government with a military-approved anti-military government.

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