December 27, 2007

Benazir Bhutto, RIP

Hospital sources are confirming Benazir Bhutto has, in fact, been killed in a massive suicide attack on a political rally. Most web sites are still saying she was wounded.

The folks on NBC, though, are making it sound as if Bhutto was some brave liberal alternative to the Musharraf regime, swallowing hook, line, and sinker this narrative that Benazir Bhutto was some kind of Pakistani Aung San Suu Kyi.

Okay, folks, we all know she was eloquent, went to Harvard and Oxford and was a darling of the English-language media. But she was arguably the most corrupt woman in the history of South Asia. She was removed from office not once but twice on corruption charges. And ruthless? She killed her own brother in 1996.

So by all means, mourn Benazir Bhutto, but those who live by the sword...

Update: The U.S. presidential candidates are weighing in on Bhutto and her assassination now. Everyone is emphasizing her bravery and the physical courage it took for her to return to Pakistan. And you can't take that away from her, that's for sure. She knew she was risking her life by returning. (And yes, commentors, Abu Muqawama would guess some folks in the ISI are up to their chin hairs in all of this.)

Abu Muqawama watched McCain's comments on Fox News with his grandmother and then changed the channel to CNN. At times like these, CNN proves its worth over Fox. On Fox, the best they can do is show a bunch of Americans in a studio talking about the events. CNN, for all its faults, actually has reporters on the ground filing reports via satellite phone. The BBC and Al-Jazeera English are even better for on-the-spot reporting, but we can't get those networks in East Tennessee. And ten bucks says Abu Muqawama's grandmother turned the channel back to Fox after he left.

Update II: The New York Times obituary pulls no punches.

Update III: Abu Muqawama is now throwing things at the television. Noted Pakistan expert Ann Curry just compared Bhutto to Mahatma bleeping Ghandi on MSNBC's Hardball. Meanwhile, Tom Ricks has a piece up on the Post's website on the military side of this mess.

Update IV: CNN is reporting that there are unverified claims of al Qaeda responsibility for the assassination. The FBI has issued a bulletin regarding the alleged claim, but apparently the usual AQ websites have been silent thus far. (The original report was filed by an Italian news agency, and sent to Charlie by intrepid reporter Spencer.) Also, SWJ Blog has an amazing collection of news stories and editorials. The situation seems to still be in flux, so stay tuned.

Update V: WaPo has two good pieces of analysis set for Friday's paper. First, a detailed discussion of the machinations behind Bhutto's return to Pakistan, including this gem: "He basically delivered a message to Musharraf that we would stand by him, but he needed a democratic facade on the government, and we thought Benazir was the right choice for that face," said Bruce Riedel of CSIS. Great game, indeed.

Next, further analysis from Tom Ricks (and Joby Warrick) on possible responsibility for the attack. Tony Zinni says AQ; Andrew Exum says ISI. But Charlie thinks Barnett Rubin may be closest to right when he argues that perception matters more than reality, "I know what many people in Pakistan and Afghanistan believe: They think that the Pakistani military killed her," he said. "I am not endorsing this belief -- or denying it -- but it is a political reality." (More on this in the NYT's lengthy analysis piece.)

Update VI: Abu Muqawama is pretty sure Andrew Exum did not mean the ISI "did it." The ISI is no monolith, and what Exum is arguing is that if AQ did it (and he thinks they did), then it was unlikely some members within the ISI had no prior knowledge. But Abu Muqawama, like Charlie, likes what Rubin had to say the most.