Given the way my blog has languished of late, I’m happy to point folks to an excellent new blog that I encountered: New Red Indian.
BENAZIR BHUTTO was hailed by many in the Western media as Pakistan’s last hope for democracy and a crusader against the military dictatorship of Pervez Musharraf. Her assassination, consequently, has been talked about as a blow to Pakistan’s hopes for democracy and stability.
The media, predictably enough, was following the U.S. government’s lead. Soon after Bhutto’s death, George Bush denounced the “murderous extremists who are trying to undermine Pakistan’s democracy” and called on Pakistanis to continue “the democratic process for which she so bravely gave her life.”
Some Pakistani liberals have joined in. Writing for the Huffington Post, Hussain Haqqani, a Boston University professor and former advisor to Bhutto, referred to her as “the outstanding icon of Pakistan’s struggle for democracy” and “the Pakistani establishment’s nemesis.”
But even a brief look at her life and legacy yields a different story.
Read the rest of this article at Socialist Worker Online
… in the blogosphere, I mean. Yes, I have been in hibernation through the Fall semester. And now that it’s winter, and the squirrels are scurrying back to their little cubby holes in my neighbor’s roof, I am back. Well, not really–I am still very busy with some deadlines at work, and my posts are going to continue to remain spotty and sporadic for a while.
However, Benazir Bhutto’s assassination is an event of potentially seismic proportions, and I want to post some stuff about it here in the coming days and weeks. The repercussions haven’t yet begun to unveil themselves, and it is a scary prospect to consider the potential medium- and long-term ramifications of this event. What does it signify for the stability of the Pakistani state? This is, I believe, the most immediate question, although the answers to it might not be immediately forthcoming.
Nevertheless, I will try to create some sort of resource here to pool together an archive of material on what’s going on in Pakistan–and over the coming weeks perhaps fill in some of the gaps since I last posted to this blog on India’s Independence Day, August 15.
A lot has happened since then. At one point, Musharraf seemed to have accepted a U.S.-brokered power-sharing agreement with Benazir Bhutto. Most importantly, the PPP’s dynastic leader agreed to a deal with the very military that had cheered the execution of her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Benazir returned to Pakistan somewhat smugly triumphant–Musharraf was being tamed by the U.S., and was being forced to accept a U.S.-brokered power-sharing deal with her.
Her rally was attacked by a suicide bomber, killing dozens and wounding hundreds more. Musharraf then imposed a state of emergency, which effectively amounted to martial law, as he got rid of the constitution, the judiciary and he jailed thousands of civil rights and human rights leaders and activists, such as Asma Jehangir, the chairperson of the Pakistan Human Rights Commission.
Musharraf’s state of emergency was imposed when Bhutto, conveniently enough, left the country for a couple of days. Musharraf then took off his uniform and went back to civilian suits, and promptly appointed a General Kiyani as his successor. Musharraf lifted the emergency December 16, as he had announced earlier, but after having stifled dissent with some extraordinarily repressive measures.
And now, Benazir has been assassinated, and all signs point to:
a) the collaboration of the Islamists and sections of the Pakistani mid-level officer-corps in carrying it out
b) a volatile and explosive future for Pakistan and perhaps the region in the coming months and years.
It’s a crisis of a proportion that gives one pause, and that forces one to re-engage with the world and where it’s headed.
Hence, this long-winded way of saying, I’m back in the blogosphere again, even if I don’t know for how long.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with links to interesting content that you want me to link to from my blog. Thanks!
[T]here is a strong ethnic under-current running in Pakistani politics today. This factor is stirring the pot slowly and the outcome can become a major defining force in the future of Pakistan politics. Possibly as major a force as religion has become today. Those who think about Pakistan politics should keep a close watch on how this under-current develops.
So writes Owais Mughal, in a thought-provoking and useful recent post. Read it here.
Krish’s excellent post raises some very important questions that often get silenced in desi circles, regardless of the continent on which they occur. Why is Indian culture so incredibly intolerant these days? Anti-Muslim prejudice, casteist anti-dalit blindness, anti-Pakistani sentiment…. Racism and sexism run rampant in our society today (and Krish might have included homophobia and prejudice towards transgendered/transsexual community).
A small example of such intolerance can be seen in the knee-jerk objections that are raised against even a mere passing reference to Hindu fundamentalism in an excellent recent blog post on the Lal Masjid crisis.
Troublingly enough, many of these forms of intolerance that Krish outlines are weaving themselves into the fabric of Indian and Indian diasporic commonsense, particularly among the urban, educated upper-middle and lower-middle classes, but not excluding well-paid BPO and call-center workers who see…