Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

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Noncanonical Sainthood

Benazir Bhutto was assassinated very recently as she left a political rally, and it is believed to be the work of theocratic forces, possibly Al Qaeda, possibly local forces (the assassin blew himself up afterwards, killing over twenty others, so answers on that front may be difficult to find). What does it mean for Pakistan? Three primary points: She is out of Pakistani politics, an assassination of a high-profile political figure in Pakistan has occurred, and there is one fewer "backup" political leader for Pakistan. On the first point, I believe it is good that she is removed from Pakistani politics - I believe her to have been, like her husband, horribly corrupt and unsuitable for public office for that reason. I recently have come to appreciate the symbolism of a female leader of an Islamic country as a tool for social change, but I don't think that's sufficient to justify her excesses, at least when a much better leader (Musharraf) is available to lead the nation. Her return to Pakistan and entry into politics was unfortunate for Pakistan, and her death ends her threat to the cleaner path towards social improvement Musharraf is a part of. On the second point, the successful assassination is a disaster - Pakistan has suffered assassination attempts of many public leaders for over twenty years. This success emboldens theocratic forces in society as well as shows that the security precautions made around public figures are insufficient (perhaps even due to infiltration of security forces by theocratic sympathisers). The greater the barriers from the people needed for those who enter politics, the more difficult it is to build and maintain trust between people and leaders. Finally, there remains the fact that Musharraf, Sharif, and Bhutto were the largest political figures in Pakistan, and while the latter two are/were poor leaders (Sharif being moreso than Bhutto), were Musharraf to become unavailable one of them may be more capable than anyone else the electoral system could find on short notice.

Political analysis aside, this must be a difficult time for her family (although it seems that as they've been a political family for quite some time, there arn't many of them left).

Unrelated but cheerier, NIH-funded research in the United States will be available on PubMed within twelve months of publication. This is an important positive development in how the scientific community operates here - while there is some appeal to the notion that some form of economic justice is being served in that public funds produce public works (and this argument alone might be sufficient to make this policy shift worthwhile), I believe more important yet is that journals will have a more difficult time enforcing their traditional publishing rights in a way that retards openness. Hopefully we'll see other sources of government funds for research follow suit.

Tony Blair is adept at not answering questions..


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