Hello, and yes I am still alive (and barely kicking)….


… 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 leftyprof@gmail.com with links to interesting content that you want me to link to from my blog. Thanks!