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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 5-Jan-2011
5-Jan-11 News -- Pakistan's crisis worsens as senior politician is assassinated

Web Log - January, 2011

5-Jan-11 News -- Pakistan's crisis worsens as senior politician is assassinated

Egypt Christian church bombing blamed on Salafi terrorists

Pakistan's crisis worsens as senior politician is assassinated

Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province and a senior politician in the governing Pakistan People's Party (PPP),was assassinated on Tuesday by one of his own bodyguards, significantly worsening Pakistan's financial and political crises.

This is the highest profile assassination since the the December, 2008, assassination of Benazir Bhutto, a leading Shia Muslim figure and daughter of the founder of the PPP. She was assassinated just two weeks prior to an election in which she was expected to win the office of Prime Minister.

After her death, her widowed husband, Asif Ali Zardari, became president of Pakistan. Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani, another PPP associate of Bhutto, later became Prime Minister. And Tasser became governor of Punjab, Pakistan's largest and most important province.

Taseer was shot in broad daylight on an Islamabad street by Malik Mumtaz Qadri, a member of the "Elite Force" that were supposed to protect him, according to Pakistan's Daily Times. Taseer was shot 27 times in the back. Qadri was arrested along with nine other members of the Elite Force, who had allegedly conspired with Qadri.

Qadri confessed to the killed, and blamed it on Taseer's opposition to Pakistan's blasphemy law, which forbids blaspheming Mohammed or Islam.

Taseer had been in the center of a major national controversy on this law. According to Dawn:

"Mr Taseer had few friends left in his last days. His outspoken defence of the Christian woman, Aasia Bibi, who was accused of blasphemy under questionable charges leveled against her by fellow Muslim villagers and who has been on the death row in a Punjab prison for over a year awaiting appeal in a higher court, made him a hate figure for extremist and Islamist outfits and parties. Major religious parties called out nationwide strikes on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve to demand Aasia Bibi’s execution under the controversial blasphemy law, and to condemn her sympathisers, Mr Taseer being one of the foremost public figures amongst the latter group and thus the object of hate."

In the past few weeks, the validity of Pakistan's blasphemy law in Islam has been debated by Pakistani scholars. Two articles have been translated by MEMRI, and summarized as follows:

"In the following two articles, Pakistani writers Abbas Zaidi and Dr. Mohammad Taqi debate the implications and rationale of the controversial blasphemy law in Pakistan. In the first article, titled "The Blasphemer Must Not Be Pardoned," Abbas Zaidi, a sociolinguist, argues that the clerics should not be allowed to have their way, as it will embolden the clerics, causing further such threats to the nearly five billion people who are not Muslim.

In the second article, titled "Blasphemy Laws: What Does the Koran Say?" prominent writer Dr. Mohammad Taqi argues that the Holy Koran and Sunnah, i.e. the deeds and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, do not prescribe any punishment for a blasphemer. He reasons that the clerics are misusing a Koranic verse dealing with war and sedition to call for the death penalty for blasphemy."

What's always significant about these issues is that Islamist extremists are always justifying their mass murders, even of civilians, by claiming the most extreme interpretations of Islamic history and beliefs, and these interpretations are almost never supported by other Muslim scholars.

Pakistan has been the target of a steady stream of al-Qaeda and Taliban linked terrorist attacks, often targeting Sufi and Shia Muslim shrines and worshippers.

Pakistan is already in the middle of major financial and political crises. The government is close to collapse anyway, as two political parties pulled out of the PPP's governing coalition. Pakistan has a huge budget deficit, and the economy is also collapsing as well, according to Financial Times (Access). The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has stopped a payment of $3.5 billion of its $11.3 billion loan to Pakistan, because has not raised taxes as demanded by the IMF.

As if that weren't enough, major floods last year affected 20% of Pakistan's land mass, making 7.5 million people homeless. In Sindh province, the heart of the PPP, hundreds of thousands of refugees fled into the port city of Karachi, making the city almost ungovernable. Hundreds were killed in the ensuing violence.

So it's not surprising that the assassination of Taseer has caused panic in Karachi, according to Dawn. Many stores were closed and people stayed at home, fearing a violent backlash against the assassination. However, no signficant violence has occurred so far.

Troubles just seem to just pile upon troubles in Pakistan. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, Pakistan and India are headed for a genocidal ethnic and religious war, refighting the war between Muslims and Hindus that followed Partition, the 1947 partitioning of the Indian subcontinent into Pakistan and India.

It's impossible to predict exactly what scenario will lead to that war, but the continuing deterioration of Pakistan is certainly part of it.

Additional links

Saturday's bombing of a Coptic Christian church in Alexandria, Egypt, is being blamed on an al-Qaeda linked Egyptian terrorist group known as Salafis. They had been calling for violence against Christians, and they are thought to be behind online instructional videos explaining how to build a bomb, and providing the locations of churches to target, including the one that was bombed. Associated Press

Internal divisions within the Palestinian Authority are growing, as Former security strongman Muhammad Dahlan was interrogated on Tuesday on charges of planning a military coup against president Mahmoud Abbas. Jerusalem Post

One of the most peculiar facets of the recent collapse in Mideast peace talks was the story that the Obama administration offered Israel a squadron of jet fighters in return for a 90-day extension to the West Bank settlement freeze. The story at the time was that Israel refused the offer, but on Monday, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he was willing to agree to the 90-day extension, but that U.S. officials withdrew the offer. "The Americans were right in saying that the settlement freeze will lead to a dead end, in which we would have entered an endless path of settlement freezes, but despite it all I agreed to go through with it," he said. Haaretz

A campaign to reverse the excommunication 110 years ago of the great Russian writer Leo Tolstoy has been refused by the Russian Orthodox Church, who blame him for aiding the Bolshevik Revolution. As the centennial anniversary of his November 20, 1910, death approached, the church issued a statement acknowledging Tolstoy’s “unforgettable, beautiful works,” and said that Russian Orthodox readers were allowed to say solitary prayers for him on the anniversary of his death. NY Times

On the heels of a record-cold December, long-range forecasts indicate that January could be the coldest across the United States since the 1980s. AccuWeather

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 5-Jan-11 News -- Pakistan's crisis worsens as senior politician is assassinated thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (5-Jan-2011) Permanent Link
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