A few key developments in the ongoing coverage of Bhutto's assassination:
- Rioting continues across Pakistan. To note: in Sindh province (Bhutto's stronghold) there was substantial targeting of government establishments (post offices, banks, etc.). Keep an eye on who the security services target in the next few weeks: extremists or PPP supporters.
- Pakistan's interior minister claims Bhutto died as a result of hitting her head after recoiling from the bomb blast. Aides and doctors claim she suffered gunshot wounds. South Asian news sources are now reporting that the government may exhume her body (and autopsy was not performed prior to the funeral).
- Government officials claim to have intercepted a communication congratulating Baitullah Mehsud (a Pakistani militant with ties to al Qaeda) on a successful attempt on Bhutto's life. But in a total through-the-looking-glass moment, Bhutto's political party, the PPP, is defending Mehsud who has denied involvement.
This latter point begs the question: if AQ/Taliban elements were involved, why aren't they claiming credit? Is it to their advantage for the majority of Pakistanis to believe Musharraf was either responsible or complicit? Are they afraid of excessive security crackdowns? If this is part of a broader campaign to destabilize Pakistan, as the NYT is reporting, where's the usual kick-ass IO effort?
Two longer pieces worth highlighting:
- Carlotta Gall discusses the growth of AQ in Pakistan (including indigenous recruits vice foreigners) and the role of Mehsud in the recent violence in there.
- Tom Ricks and Robing Wright report on US policy deliberations, with good analysis from a variety of regional experts.
Both pieces highlight the extent to which Pakistan may no longer be serving as mere safe haven for jihadis in the region, but could now constitute an active front. That has obvious implications for US efforts in Afghanistan, and likely much much more. They dont' call it the Great Game for nothing.
(See our earlier links and commentary here.)