Hero or Zero?
November 09, 2011
Pakistan’s democratic institutions—a president, a parliament, a prickly judiciary—generally struggle for recognition and relevance. But not at the moment. The country recently saw three major campaign rallies just days apart. (Elections are slated for 2013, though they could be moved up.) First, Shahbaz Sharif—the chief minister of Punjab and brother of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif—led his party, the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), in an impassioned rally.
How To Save Pakistan From the Abyss
January 08, 2011
The assassination of Salman Taseer, governor of Pakistan’s largest province—and the wave of support for the assassin from Islamic extremists—underscores how close to the abyss the world’s second largest Muslim country has come. Taseer was an outspoken critic of religious extremism and a defender of civilian government. Like Benazir Bhutto, he was murdered by the dark forces in Pakistan that seek to create an Islamic emirate. In the wake of this disaster, many will be tempted to go to the generals and look for a strongman, perhaps army chief of staff General Kayani, to maintain order.
Compounding things, the international community has moved ponderously, even lethargically, to aid the survivors. According to Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Saudi Arabia has led all countries in providing aid, with about $112 million, followed by the United States with nearly $76 million, and then the United Kingdom's nearly $65 million. Pakistan's neighbor and regional rival, India, has offered very little, while Pakistan's all-weather friend, China, has ponied up a paltry $9 million thus far. The total sum, according to the NDMA, amounts to only $524.93 million.
Who Killed Benazir Bhutto? No One Really Knows.
May 15, 2010
Benazir Bhutto was murdered (along with 24 of her nameless countrymen) two-and-a-half years ago. Edward Jay Epstein has discovered that there was actually no proper—and barely an improper—investigation of the slaying. Her crooked and shiftless husband succeeded Musharraf as president, not that she wasn’t crooked herself. But shiftless she was not. Anybody is likely to be assassinated in Pakistan.
May 08, 2010
Last Friday, the Pakistani Taliban established a YouTube site titled Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan News Channel. (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, means Pakistani Taliban Movement and is the group’s official name.) Two days later, on Sunday morning, a video appeared there taking credit for Faisal Shahzad’s botched car bombing in Times Square. It featured a collage of images (slain jihadis, a Predator drone, Barack Obama, etc.) patched over an audio recording from Qari Hussain Mehsud.
Fear and Loathing in Pakistan
December 21, 2009
Islamabad, Pakistan The US Embassy in Islamabad is a tense and embattled place. The embassy complex is fortress-like, sequestered in a secure area to the east of the city known as the "diplomatic enclave," whose approaches are guarded by multiple security checkpoints. The compound's outer perimeter is festooned with barbed wire and towering walls. Arriving vehicles are stopped for bomb-checks, sealed into a quarantined area with high walls on either side and heavy iron doors at front and back.
What Motivated The Mehsud Killing?
August 11, 2009
One interesting wrinkle in the story of Baitullah Mehsud's assassination-by-drone is that Mehsud has long been a higher-priority target for Pakistan's president, Asif Ali Zardari, than he has been for the United States. This may have been for personal reasons. Pakistan and the CIA both believe that Baitullah Mehsud was responsible for the assassination of Zardari's wife, Benazir Bhutto. And ever since, Zardari has feared that he will be the next target. The Bush administration, however, was reportedly unwilling to send drones against Mehsud.
The Drone War
June 03, 2009
The Al Qaeda videotape shows a small white dog tied up inside a glass cage. A milky gas slowly filters in. An Arab man with an Egyptian accent says: "Start counting the time." Nervous, the dog starts barking and then moaning.
June 03, 2009
Earlier this spring, Nawaz Sharif threatened to topple Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari's government. Since taking power in September, Zardari had been promising to reinstate Iftikhar Chaudhry, the chief justice of the supreme court, whom Pervez Musharraf had sacked on March 9, 2007. But Zardari, who feared that Chaudhry would try to either curb executive power or dredge up corruption cases, balked repeatedly. This annoyed Sharif--and many of his fellow countrymen--to no end.
The Black Widower
March 18, 2009
Last fall, during Asif Ali Zardari's first foreign trip as head of state, the Pakistani president met with Sarah Palin in New York City. The meeting occurred amid Palin's other campaign cameos with U.S.-friendly world leaders, most of whom could manage little more than an awkward grimace amid the onslaught of flashbulbs. (Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo reportedly flat-out refused to meet her.) But Zardari, widower of Benazir Bhutto and oft-described playboy, looked delighted as he greeted--and then charmed--the vice-presidential candidate.