Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Pakistan News Digest
Some noteworthy developments in Pakistan in the aftermath of Benazir Bhutto's assassination. After taking a pretty brutal press beating for its claims that Bhutto died of head trauma caused by colliding with her car's sunroof, the Pakistani government has now reversed course and retracted its statement. The move might be an effort to improve the government's credibility in the face of two announcements almost certain to further inflame the country's volatile political situation. First, a Bhutto aide claims that she was poised to present a visiting American Congressional delegation with smoking gun evidence of government efforts to rig upcoming elections. And second, those elections are almost certain to be postponed until February at the earliest.
Meanwhile, in a sign of reassuring continuity, Pakistan and India exchanged a list of civilian nuclear sites, as they have done every year since 1992 as part of a MAD-type pact not to target them in the event of hostilities. I think Matthew Yglesias made this point last week, but I can't find the link and it's worth repeating. If the US really wants to encourage Pakistan's efforts against Islamic extremists, we should do everything in our power to support the nascent detente between Pakistan and India. The less threatened Pakistan feels by its powerful neighbor, the more energy and resources it can devote to counter-terrorism.