Back to the drawing board…

That is one of the many implications of the shocking assassination of former Pakistani PM Benazir Bhutto by a suicide-bomber gunman in Rawalpindi, Pakistan today. Her death will doubtless cause a rescheduling (at a minimum) of parliamentary elections now set for 8 January (particularly as Ms. Bhutto’s current partner in opposition, the other former PM Nawaz Sharif– himself deposed by Musharraf– has now indicated his party will boycott the election). Still, more immediate concerns must be dealt with in Pakistan. For one, at least 20 were killed in the attack that claimed Bhutto’s life; around a dozen others have been killed in rioting that has broken out around that nation by Bhutto supporters.
In the long term, of course, this means that the half-assed policies of the Bush Administration towards Pakistan (more half-assed, as digby notes, because of this Administration’s purging of experts on Pakistan from its ranks)… have utterly, utterly failed. The non-expert Pakistan experts decided that bringing the Harvard and Oxford Educated Ms. Bhutto back to Pakistan for a power-sharing arrangement would provide the best domestic (that’s domestic American) fig-leaf for the miserably failed American policies toward Pakistan that have thus far shipped ten billion unaccountable dollars to Pervez Musharraf, money which has not been used to secure Pakistan’s tribal agencies (such as the Waziristans) from either Taliban or al Qaeda presence or control, and which (as was the case with the free-spending St. Ron Administration)… has likely been used to prop up Pakistan’s nuclear weapons export business… and, of course, has been used to prop up Musharraf himself, who has at least been mostly less heavy handed in his despotism than other Pakistani military dictators.
Of course, assuming that anyone took seriously the twin aims of our Global War on TerrorTM, to wit, taking on states that harbor terrorists, and taking on states that might proliferate weapons of mass destruction (especially doomsday nuclear weapons) to said terrorists… then one would have to conclude that American policies toward Pakistan, both before and after 11 September, are the ultimate in failed policy. Pakistan now harbors not merely terrorists, but al Qaeda’s central leadership including OBL himself. Further, Pakistan not only possesses nuclear weapons, but its primary cash-crop appears to be Dr. A.Q. Khan’s nuclear arms bazaar, which shipped nuclear material and bomb-making equipment everywhere from Libya to North Korea to Iran (though not to Iraq!)…and God knows where else. In short, American policy was designed to paper over these problems, rather than to address them either with carrots or sticks (such as permitting Pakistani textile imports here, though American governments would– and would still– prefer facing nuclear annihilation than facing the wrath of J.P. Stevens and senators from the Carolinas– and John Edwards, I most especially mean you).
This is why Benazir Bhutto was brought back from her self-imposed exile: the first democratically elected PM in a Muslim country would, it was hoped, convince Americans that her presence in a Pakistani leadership group meant that Pakistan was now “democratic,” and hence, not worth paying attention to… and especially, not to those other… problems (nothing to see here, folks… move along).
And so… it’s back to the drawing board. Ms. Bhutto was well aware of the risks of returning to Pakistan; her own father was hanged on corruption charges orchestrated by his successor, Gen. Zia… Gen. Zia himself ended up dying in a suspicious airplane crash (he was warned not to travel that way). In neighboring India, of course, that nation’s first elected female PM, Indira Gandhi, was assassinated by her own Sikh guards. In short, it’s a dangerous part of the world. Nonetheless, good old Incompetetentalleezza Rice implored Bhutto to go back to Pakistan, with a promise that she could administer her share of American aid money, and maybe share power (and help divert attention from just how disastrous American policy toward Pakistan has been).
Well, that trick didn’t work. Ms. Bhutto now pays the ultimate price for everyone’s miscalculations– including her own. And we have the fig-leaf of upcoming parliamentary elections while Musharraf continues his relatively benign despotism (unless you expect results re: Pakistan’s nuclear proliferation or doing anything about Taliban and Qaeda leadership)… utterly collapsing. Where do we go from here?
Those who believe in a supreme Deity might well consider prayer.