Bloggers on Benazir Bhutto's house arrest and release.

Bloggers on Benazir Bhutto's house arrest and release.

Bloggers on Benazir Bhutto's house arrest and release.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
Nov. 9 2007 6:22 PM

Catch and Release

Pakistani bloggers weigh in on Benazir Bhutto's house arrest and subsequent release. Also, Bernard Kerik's indictment is bad news for Rudy.

Catch and release: The sixth day of martial law in Pakistan saw a crackdown on civil protests in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, as well as the house arrest of leading opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. (The government claimed she was the likely target of a terrorist attack, given her expressed wish to join the protesters.) Bhutto was released hours later, likely thanks to international pressure. Pakistani bloggers offer up-to-the-minute coverage.

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Saba Imtiaz at Why Have You Forsaken Me? recalls a class exercise in which her university classmates were unfamiliar with their constitutional rights and writes: "Today, as our rights are non existent, and the Government will soon be trotting citizens off to be tried in military courts, I look back to that day and at the general state of apathy, and to the news headlines from student protests and citizen flash protests and wonder, where did the foundations we took for granted dissolve into nothingness? Where do we go from here?" Neem the Revolution at the Emergency Times, a blog thrown up in response to the martial law, has thoughts on the origins of that apathy, calling it "the direct consequence of our erratic political past. Whenever the army wants, it takes over, holds the constitution in abeyance and creates an environment of instability. And makes us mortals think, 'Why should we bother?' Not like it would make a difference.' It may even be true that whatever we do would not topple the present government over, or miraculously create a leader out of thin air who would be just, considerate and, for once, stick to the laws of the country. But it is definitely worth making the effort."

Haleel at Information Dissemination recounts a Kashmiri adage: " 'Scare them...if they don't budge...then get scared yourself.' That is the premise of Musharaf's emergency!! To make matters worse he committed a strategic mistake of entering a situation without an exit plan."

Conservative Joshuapundit called the house arrest "a jousting match for deal points in the power sharing arrangement between Bhutto and Musharraf. Musharraf is spectacularly unpopular in the Pakistani street, which is why he needs Bhutto - especially a Bhutto who's reputation has been enhanced as a 'champion of democracy' and a rebel standing up to Musharraf. That's why Washington pushed Musharraf into partnering up with Bhutto in the first place."

Siblogger at Democracy and Freedom attended a "flash demo"—a 10-minute rally, too quick for Pakistan's police to disrupt: "The demonstration today was AWESOME!!! Around 30 people gathered on the roadside. ...  Slogans were shouted, placards and banners were brandished, pamphlets were distributed. And the best part: Passers-by slowed their cars down to flash victory signs at us, and gave us the thumbs-up." Siblogger also notes that "At 04:10 p.m., everyone had disappeared. … A van full of Rangers waalahs came over but they couldn't find JACK there. … Whoever came up with the flash demos waali strategy is BRILLIANT, I tell you! Brilliant!"                                                           

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Ange at Teeth Maestro  posts an e-mail reportedly from Imran Khan, an opposition leader who is believed to be under house arrest. In the lengthy message, he complains about Bhutto and Maulana Fazl ur-Rahman, another opposition leader: "Both of them have played a major role in strengthening Musharraff by undermining the opposition at every stage. Both have used the opposition to strengthen their bargaining position with the Government for their personal ends. Most regretfully neither has demanded the restoration of Chief Justice Iftikhar. The APDM should tell them that we have had enough of their 'Noora Khushti'. If they want to be part of the genuine opposition both must demand the restoration of Chief Justice Iftikhar and announce a street movement immediately."

At PakistaniPolitics.net, Ali Eteraz predicted Bhutto's arrest and parsed the pro- and anti-Bhutto views of her release.

Read more about Pakistan.

Bernie's woes: Former NYC Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik was indicted by a federal grand jury Friday on 14 counts of corruption. They include tax fraud, obstruction of justice, and lying to the White House. Given that Kerik was appointed by Rudy Giuliani, how does this imperil the mayor's White House bid?

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The Oxford Medievalist says "[t]he beneficiary of a Giuliani scandal is Hillary Clinton, just as Giuliani, as the GOP presumptive, sought to exploit and benefit from Hillary's Norman Hsu, MoveOn.org, and illegal alien shenanigans. The chief difference, though, is whether or not Hillary will choose to exploit the Kerik scandal… [B]oth Hillary and Rudy failed to do obvious and very easy investigation into the background of their associates."

Liberal Steve Benen at the Carpetbagger Report argues that Giuliani hasn't got a leg to stand on: "Giuliani's basic defense is that everyone's entitled to one screw-up. Kerik is his mulligan. Sure, he appointed a criminal to head the police department. And sure, he wanted the corrupt cop with mob ties to be responsible for the domestic security of 300 million Americans. But hey, nobody's perfect."

Michelle Malkin gets kind of elegiac: "We are all fallen, imperfect beings. The news of the federal indictment of Bernie Kerik is a sad moment, a cautionary tale, and an object lesson. Sad, because Kerik rose from the child of a prostitute to 'America's cop'–and this nation loves such tales of success. Cautionary, because it speaks to the fallibility of anointed heroes and the temptations of power. An object lesson, because it highlights the flaws and vulnerabilities of GOP front-runner Rudy Giuliani's on the issues of corruption and immigration enforcement."

Since Rudy won't say whether or not he'll pardon Kerik if elected president, New York magazine's Daily Intelligencer asks: "We guess the question is, which bothers you more: one candidate hedging over whether he might help a friend if he were in a position to make a decision (which he isn't) or another candidate hedging over whether she might help illegal immigrants if she were in a position to make a decision (which she isn't)?"

Read more about Kerik.

Michael Weiss is the director of communications at the Henry Jackson Society, a London-based think tank that promotes democratic geopolitics. He is also the spokesman for Just Journalism, which examines how Israel and the Middle East are portrayed in the U.K. media.