Damn it!

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It’s hard to think of worse news that could come out of Pakistan.

I have to wonder if it’s a curse. More than once, when Erin and I have travelled, we end up getting shocked out of our news doze with a major piece of bad news, the biggest being the tsunami of Indonesia three years ago. I know some people out there criticized the initial lack of reaction from the blogosphere, but truthfully, at this time of year, especially with many of us travelling, we tune out the news — which largely comprises of just puff pieces about Christmas miracles and the-year-in-review lists. Such that when bad news hits, it comes as an extra shock: “there was a tsunami? It happened where? It killed how many?!”

Benazir Bhutto may not have been Pakistan’s saviour. She retained a lot of credibility from being a courageous woman standing up to an entrenched military regime, but her time as prime minister failed to pull her country out of his problems, and there were questions of corruption. However, she remained one of the few faces of democracy in Pakistan, and her assassination sets back the hopes of the country to shake off the twin demons of secular militarism and religious fanaticism. Who else does the country have to turn to? Who can step up?

The next few weeks will be critical in resolving Pakistan’s place in the world community, and it’s frustrating to be an observer whose only power is to keep one’s fingers crossed.


  • Greg is right: this is the story of the year. Indeed, it could be the story of 2008. It’s strange how this time is almost like a transition between the two years. The 2004 tsunami ended up presaging a year of disasters come 2005. Likewise, the Pakistan we see on January 1, 2009 will have been greatly influenced by the events of this day.
  • The Tiger in Somerville sums things up well.
  • Courtesy RedJenny: “Global Voices, the website that aggregates blog postings from all over the world, has set up a special coverage page for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. It has English language commentary from bloggers in Pakistan and other regions.”
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