Given my well-known complaint with those who have long underplayed the importance of Pakistan in our foreign policy debates, I feel like I have to say something about Bhutto’s assassination. But so far, the most intelligent thing I’ve seen written on Pakistan comes from AmericaBlog’s AJ:
The first thing to say about Bhutto’s assassination is that any kind of rush to judgment, especially along the lines of impending doom, is probably imprudent.
Unless Musharraf planned this assassination as part of a larger campaign to reimpose his power, I would imagine things are–and will remain–in a state of flux for some time. If Musharraf didn’t plan it, only sort of allowed it to happen with inadequate security, and instead Islamic extremists pulled it off, then Musharraf himself may be subject to a lot more pressure from those extremists. But we don’t know–and I’m not convinced we’ll really know for sure for some time, if ever.
And while AJ warns against seeing this as a collapse into anarchy, it seems clear that Bhutto’s assassination devastates our Pakistan policy. Here’s AJ again:
In terms of policy implications, this is reflective of a massive US foreign policy blunder, in that the Bush administration, in a monumentally stupid move, shoved Bhutto down the throat of Musharraf (and the rest of Pakistan) as a savior, despite her lack of broad popular support and general reputation as corrupt. In making someone who didn’t necessarily have the ability to deliver the savior for democracy in Pakistan, we simultaneously set up our own policy to fail and offered Musharraf a return to (or continued) total power in the event that our little power-sharing arrangement didn’t work. We also — though not only us — painted a big fat target on her back. Really a debacle all the way around.