Friday, December 28, 2007


By now, I am sure you have heard about the death of Benazir Bhutto and maybe even the assassination attempt on another opposition party leader (ex-PM Narwaz Sharif) that same day in the same city-- Rawalpindi.

Rawalpindi hosts a large garrison for the Pakistani army, which used to be lead by Pres. Musharraf. This isn't to say Musharraf or Musharraf's government is directly responsible. After all, much of the military was barely under his control when he went into Waziristan. But the security for Bhutto and Sharif was like JFK driving around in a convertible with the top down in Dallas.

Pakistan is holding (or was going to hold) its parliamentary elections on the same day as the New Hampshire primaries--January 8th. It seems as if someone or some groups didn't want either former PM to became the next democratically elected leader of Pakistan. Musharraf has called for several days of mourning over Bhutto, which is basically a stalling tactic to decide what to do and essentially suspend any political campaigning against him.

Also remember that this is a country with nuclear weapons pointed at the world's largest democracy (India) with radicial Islamic groups not only in western Pakisan--including Ossama bin Laben Tailban forces--but also infiltrated into the military. This is a country that already was in the midst of a quasi civil war with an on again off again war with India over Kashmir. Musharraf has also seen his share of attacks against his life...and that was before these bombings happened.

If I had a vote in their elections, I would choose Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, National Law Journal's lawyer of the year. He stood up to "Busharraf," and told him he couldn't suspend the constitution just to stay in power longer. As a result, Musharraf fired him and jailed him, along with lots of other lawyers who protested. In fact, the one glimmer of hope in that country is the lawyers movement, who have become leaders in a grassroots effort to restore democracy to Pakistan. American lawyers (via the ABA) have linked arms with this attorney in support of the rule of law and democracy. It makes me proud to be a lawyer.

But the facts on the ground don't look good. Things appear to be on the verge of complete chaos. Somehow, despite billions of dollars and high level intervention--we have two more failed states in the world since 2002: Iraq and Pakistan. (Afghanistan has basically remained a failed state, but changed management)

All in all, it is hard to feel optimistic about the immediate future of Pakistan and the region as a whole.

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