Musharraf’s rebellion, or: how to read a newspaper

Sometimes history just serves you up really juicy examples.

Days when the papers are this easy to read are rare. They are not complex and must be drunk young, like a Beaujolais. In Campagna they say a mozzarella di bufala is over the hill after sunset on the day it’s made—and some say afternoon. I suspect this post will be obsolete at most within the next month. But it might be tomorrow.

But with that caveat: today there are a couple of cute articles about Pakistan in the WSJ.

These articles don’t actually tell us what’s going on in Pakistan. In fact, they are active, if quite unconscious, attempts to mislead us about what’s going on in Pakistan.

But this is just the art of reading a newspaper. The newspaper’s adaptive goal is to persuade its readers, who include you, to adopt some perspective on the subject of Pakistan. Without in any way adopting, or even considering, this perspective—frankly, why should it be worth considering?—we can understand Pakistan by understanding the effect that the text is designed to have on its unwary reader. Of course we also need to know who wrote it, and why.

And first, we need some background about what’s going on in Pakistan.

There are three factions fighting for power in Pakistan today: the Islamists, the civilists, and the army. The Islamists are too well-known to describe. The civilists are basically the Soros people, the “civil society” types, lawyers, judges, journalists and politicians. The army is the Pakistani military: Musharraf and his people.

The basic plot of the story is that Musharraf is rebelling against Washcorp. His motivation for taking this step is that he believes that if he doesn’t, he will end up either exiled, dead or in prison. In my opinion, this perception is accurate.

These events are taking place now because of the weakening of the Pentagon and White House faction, the neoconservative defense hawks, who have controlled the US military since 2001. This weakening is a natural consequence of the fact that the Bush administration is timing out, a normal structural phenomenon in Washcorp power politics.

Neocons are really best described as retro-Universalists. Their great dream is to try to restore a kind of faded 1950s vision of Universalism. There is no possibility of success in this effort. But they certainly can keep themselves employed by trying.

As for their neo-Universalist adversaries, the Polygon proper, there must be some avian mascot that fits the bill. But it is certainly no member of the pigeon family. I have a pair of semi-tame ravens that come regularly to my deck for peanuts, which I’ve taught them to catch in the air. I think the Polygon’s bird has to be some kind of corvid—the only real question is whether it’s a bluejay, a crow, or a raven. For now I’ll stick with the last.

When the hawks were strong, they could afford to protect Musharraf. Weak, they forced to sacrifice him. Thus the neoconservative near-unanimity on the subject, with only a few dissenters. Many neocons can still stomach ol’ Mushy, but they are politically unable to afford to avoid attaching their John Hancock to a demand for elections within three months.

While this is a ludicrous demand, it creates a point of bipartisan unanimity within Washcorp, and all major players in the postwar period automatically defer to any unanimous demand of Washcorp—whose internal structure they understand far better than the average Plainlander.

(For example, if you read the Tiananmen Papers, which narrate the decisions of the leaders of China during the Tiananmen Square incident—there is some debate over the authenticity of these documents, but if they are not real they are a very convincing fiction—the Chinese Politburo and Elders receive and read not a daily summary of State Department communiques, not of Pentagon press releases, not of White House statements, but of the Western press. And access, as they always say, is power. The modern official press is a coordination signal orders of magnitude more reliable than any other diplomatic channel.)

In any case, the Pakistani army is primarily aligned with the Washcorp hawks, and the Pakistani civilists are primarily aligned with the Washcorp ravens. The Islamists, of course, have no alliance with any Washcorp faction. At least, no direct alliance.

Therefore, the events in Pakistan follow the usual pattern of Western colonial proxy wars. The two factions struggling for power within Washcorp nurture and support corresponding Pakistani factions. The provincial struggle is often a bit more rowdy. But it exists solely because of the invisible power struggles within the Beltway. We can therefore use events in Pakistan as a sort of amplifier to help us observe the delicate game in Washington. (Think of it as a sort of Beltwology.)

In terms of Pakistani politics alone, however, the structure of the conflict is simple. The army is side A, presently dominant. The civilists and Islamists are side B, presently subordinate.

(Yes, I am aware that this is not the conflict as we normally hear it described. That’s kind of the point. As usual, the only way to test an alternate analysis is to simply adopt it, at least rhetorically, work within its context for a while and see how generally true it rings.)

If side A loses, it can only lose decisively. After all, it’s the army. The resulting fight will be between the civilists and Islamists. The Islamists will win with a first-round knockout, the civilists and the top rung of the officer corps will end up exiled, dead or in prison, and the rest of the army will be subordinated. The Islamist-army alliance of the ’80s will be re-established, probably in a more virulent form, and Pakistan will become an open ally of Iran.

If side A wins decisively, the Islamists and civilists will end up exiled, dead, politically irrelevant or in prison. If side A wins weakly, the outcome is effectively a draw (as the IRA used to say, “we only have to be lucky once”), the conflict will continue in its present state indefinitely, and Pakistan will remain unstable. The army has been forced to roll the dice, however, because of its weakening as the result of trends within Washcorp.

Obviously, the outcome I prefer is the middle: decisive victory for side A. If you disagree with this result, either you do not agree with the decision analysis, or your position is objectively hostile to Pakistan. (Which is totally fine, by the way. Not everyone has to be friends.)

Note that there are no pleasant outcomes for the civilists in this decision tree. This is normal for those who accept the role of shills, puppets and collaborators. Quislings can always be found. The ugly fact is that the civilist movement in Pakistan is basically a criminal mafia. Or, more precisely, a consortium of several criminal mafias. It is fundamentally corrupt and utterly irredeemable. I’m quite confident in saying that nothing good will ever come of it.

For example, read this article by one Jemima Khan about Ms. Bhutto.

Now isn’t that interesting? Who does that make you think of? Well, obviously, one name looms large: Michael Corleone. But for anyone who’s seen The Departed, as I just did (I’m afraid this is what I’m supposed to say, but Infernal Affairs really was much better), there is another figure: Whitey Bulger. Jack Nicholson’s character in The Departed is an obvious impression of the notorious Mr. Bulger.

But wait—who is Jemima Khan? How do you get a name like “Jemima Khan,” anyway? For those too busy to follow the links, Jemima Khan is a British socialite who happens to be married to cricket star and Pakistani politician Imran Khan. Who happens to have been arrested the other day. One suspects Jemima does not approve. But one also suspects that her motivation for informing Telegraph readers about the true nature of Ms. Bhutto and her “party” is slightly less than altruistic. It’s not a rose garden out there, kids.

We are now prepared to read the first piece in the WSJ—an op-ed by one Husain Haqqani.

It’s important to note that the back two pages of the A section of the WSJ are composed by an entirely separate organization from the rest of the paper. Call them WSJr and WSJl. WSJr is a reliable indicator of official neoconservative doctrine, inasmuch as any such thing exists. WSJl is one of the most orthodox Universalist newsrooms in Washcorp. The fact that the two are sending more or less the same message makes the Pakistan situation unusually easy to understand. Which is why it’s so like a good Beaujolais.

Anyway, Mr. Haqqani is, as a little note at the end of the piece informs us:

director of Boston University’s Center for International Relations and the author of “Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military” (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2005). He also has served as adviser to several Pakistani prime ministers, including Ms. Bhutto.

This is a ripe, rich turd in a suit. A mob lawyer, an abettor of thieves, a peddler of lies. In a decent world, this man would be in prison. Here are his words, in WSJr, 11/8/2007. The whole piece is priceless, and I have quoted it all.

Pakistanis Say No By HUSAIN HAQQANI November 8, 2007; Page A23

When Gen. Pervez Musharraf suspended Pakistan’s Constitution, declared a state of emergency and put the nation once again under martial law, he expected limited civilian resistance and only ritual international condemnation, in view of his role in the war against terrorism. On both counts, Mr. Musharraf appears to have badly miscalculated.


You’ve fucked with the wrong people. Now, we’re going to fuck you.

(Note also how Haqqani declines to use General Musharraf’s title. I’m not sure of the Pakistani military etiquette on this. Perhaps it’s not quite as serious as pissing on his mother’s grave.)

More Haqqani:

Pakistan’s burgeoning civil society, led by lawyers and encouraged by judges ousted from the Supreme Court, is refusing to be cowed.


Your time is over, you little Pentagon poodle. Quit while you still can.


Protests are spreading despite thousands of arrests and the use of tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators.


Your pathetic “policemen” will never dare to resist our vast rent-a-mobs. They don’t even have the guts to shoot—let alone keep shooting.


More than 1,700 attorneys have been jailed but still more are taking to the streets. University students have joined the lawyers, and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has vowed to violate a ban on public meetings by leading a rally on Friday.


Look—Rupert Murdoch has donated the top of his op-ed page to help us whip our mobs into a frenzy of lawless street violence. You have no chance, buster. None.


There are a number of important reasons why Pakistan’s attorneys are leading the protests against Mr. Musharraf. They have a long tradition of activism for rule of law and human-rights issues. In 1968–69, the lawyers started the campaign that resulted in the ouster of Pakistan’s first military ruler, Field Marshal Ayub Khan. They also were at the forefront of the campaign against Mr. Zia-ul-Haq, whose 11-year military rule ended when he died in a 1988 plane crash.


Our trained lawyers have been scheming for power since you were in short pants. They’re pretty good at it now. Isn’t it time you clicked over to Flights out of Islamabad are pretty crowded this time of year.


The legal fraternity has another advantage, in that they can afford to confront the government without fearing starvation for their families. Some 65 million of Pakistan’s 160 million people subsist on less than $1 a day, while another 65 million survive just above the poverty line. The poor are willing to participate in organized rallies, such as the one that welcomed Ms. Bhutto back to Pakistan on Oct. 18 (and was targeted by a suicide terrorist), but they generally avoid protest demonstrations where getting arrested and missing work is almost inevitable.


Our lawyers are already fat with graft. They can do this all day, every day, for as long as you’re willing to sit on the pot. But if we start to get bored, maybe we’ll call out the real mobs.


That could change in the days and weeks to come. Although Mr. Musharraf has taken all private and international television channels off the air, images of the protests are being seen all over Pakistan through the Internet and with satellite dishes. Middle-class Pakistanis, and increasingly the poor, are making it clear that they want political freedom, along with an improvement in their economic prospects, and do not consider prosperity and democracy to be mutually exclusive.


And we don’t want to have to go that far, now, do we? Try reading my lips, bro. I’m not sure we’re really connecting here.


The international community has also responded more strongly than Mr. Musharraf expected. The Netherlands has suspended aid, and several donors are reviewing their policy on military and economic assistance. The Bush administration is hoping to defuse the situation through assertive diplomacy. But withdrawal of aid, supported by several congressional leaders, remains a possibility.


The New York mob is 100% with us. The Washington people are leaning our way. Fuck with the bull—get a horn in the ass.


Since 9/11, Mr. Musharraf has positioned himself as the key Western ally in the global war against terrorism.


This part of my message is for the Pentagon.


But in recent months, he has been too distracted with domestic politics to play an effective role.


We can neutralize Musharraf completely. You will never get anywhere with him.


The more he has to repress critics and political opponents, the less Pakistan will be able to fight terrorism. After all, when troops have to be deployed to detain Supreme Court judges, journalists, lawyers and politicians, there are fewer troops available to fight terrorists. Pakistan’s intelligence services can either spy on dissenting Pakistani civilians or focus their energies on finding Osama bin Laden and his ever increasing number of deputies and operatives around Pakistan.


We’re so tight with State, we can piss on your boots and tell you it’s raining.


But Pakistan needs to fight terrorism for Pakistan’s sake. Mr. Musharraf cannot endlessly blackmail Washington by hinting that he would withdraw antiterror cooperation if the U.S. pressures him on other issues, including democracy and human-rights violations.


Besides—you think you’re using Musharraf. But it’s the other way around.


One thing is clear: Mr. Musharraf’s authoritarianism is being challenged by diverse elements in Pakistani society.


We have two Mexicans, a spade, and a tranny who calls herself “Marquetta.” She can shoot the asshole out of a sparrow at fifty meters. But she says she likes you. Don’t make her have to change her mind.


His self-cultivated image as a benign dictator is a thing of the past, and his recent harsh measures have failed to frighten Pakistan’s civil society and political opposition into submission.


Have I mentioned yet that you’re DOOMED?


The defiance of the judiciary and the media might not immediately topple Mr. Musharraf, but it could render him ineffective to a point where the military rethinks its options. The army will soon recognize that the only thing keeping the general and his civilian cronies in power is the army’s support. It risks further alienating the Pakistani people and losing their respect as long as it continues to act solely in the interests of Mr. Musharraf and his small band of political allies. At some point, the professional soldiers will wonder whether they should risk their institution’s position to keep him in power.

The army is Mr. Musharraf’s support base. It is a major beneficiary of U.S. security assistance, having received $17 billion since 1954 with equipment worth several hundred million dollars currently in the pipeline. Since 2002, the U.S. has subsidized the Pakistani army to the tune of $150 million per month. The army is also a stakeholder in Pakistan’s growing economy, which benefits from international aid and investment. If Mr. Musharraf’s autocratic policies threaten Pakistan’s prosperity, the army is likely to be less unanimous in its support of its commander.


Perhaps you’re not ready to hear it yet. But maybe your people are. Are you sure they’re all still loyal? Anyone can read the writing on the wall, old man.


Already, there are signs of economic fallout from the political turmoil. Rumors of an anti-Musharraf military coup on Monday caused the biggest one-day decline in 16 months on the Karachi Stock Exchange, resulting in losses of an estimated $1.3 billion. Pakistan’s credit rating has been revised downward in anticipation of further civic unrest and international sanctions.


Our guys are lawyers—they can always find work. We don’t care if we have to destroy the economy. But perhaps someone on your side does. Are you counting on him? I wouldn’t be so fast, old chap.


Pakistanis are used to coups d’état where the army takes the helm of government. Things are different this time. In the past, generals have suspended the constitution to remove from power unpopular rulers, usually weakened civilians rightly or wrongly accused of corruption (as was the case when Mr. Musharraf ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in October 1999).


I’m too smart to say whether Nawaz Sharif was corrupt or not. After all, you never know. The future can hold anything.


This is the first time an unpopular military ruler has suspended the constitution to preserve his own rule. In doing so, Mr. Musharraf has clearly overplayed his hand.


You started it. But now, we’re going to end this crap one way or another.


Mr. Musharraf cannot blame a civilian predecessor for bringing the country to the brink. If there is internal chaos in Pakistan today, it is of the general’s making. After all, it was his arbitrary decision to remove Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry in March that initiated the political crisis which has led to the current “state of emergency.”


And your boots are still getting wet. How dare you resist us? How dare you?


Justice Chaudhry, on the other hand, has become a symbol of resistance to arbitrary rule—the man who refused to roll over and disappear, unlike earlier judges who cooperated with military rulers or simply went home when their conscience dictated otherwise. Justice Chaudhry’s call upon the legal fraternity to “Go to every corner of Pakistan and give the message that this is the time to sacrifice” for the supremacy of Pakistan’s Constitution has drawn elements disillusioned with existing political leaders to anti-Musharraf protests.


Article 37 of the Pakistani Constitution specifically states that all disputes shall be resolved by mob violence. Cut it out with this martial-law shit. If you have people, let’s see ’em. If not, why the fuck are you still here?


Among Pakistani political leaders, Ms. Bhutto has emerged as the viable civilian alternative to Mr. Musharraf, with public support at home and acceptance abroad. As the only politician in Pakistan to publicly describe Islamist extremism and terrorism as the principal threat to the nation, Ms. Bhutto was initially measured in her response to Mr. Musharraf’s reckless actions. She demanded that he restore the constitution and call elections as scheduled.


Look—Pinkie has been very patient with you.


She demanded that he restore the constitution and call elections as scheduled. She hoped to change his attitude with the threat of putting hundreds of thousands of supporters in the streets, without actually doing so. But Mr. Musharraf’s stubbornness is changing that position.


But she’s starting to get a little fed up.


Like many in the U.S., Ms. Bhutto appears worried about directing attention away from fighting terrorism and destabilizing Pakistan further. But leaving the anti-Musharraf campaign leaderless is not an option. She has positioned herself as an opposition leader who represents the sentiment of the people, but is also willing to accept a negotiated settlement that restores the constitution, ends persecution, and results in free and fair elections leading to full civilian rule.


As you see, Pinkie is prepared to be quite reasonable.


So far Mr. Musharraf has shown no inclination to negotiate in good faith with Ms. Bhutto or the international community. With each passing day, the Bush administration’s hopes—that with its help there could be a transition to democracy in Pakistan with a continuing role for Mr. Musharraf—are diminishing. Unless Mr. Musharraf changes course quickly, the U.S. will be compelled to start looking beyond him to a more legitimate leader.


Perhaps you should be reasonable as well.


Mr. Musharraf seems determined to put his own political survival before the rule of law—actions that warrant the label dictator. Pakistan’s attorneys, and increasingly the rest of its citizenry, seem equally determined to prevent this from happening.


In summary: JOIN US OR DIE!

Thanks, I’m all done here. A big hand to Rupert for helping make this message possible. Mr. Murdoch, you’ve come a long way in your efforts to avoid the fate of Lord Black. And to all the good folks at Washcorp: remember, we’re on your side.

And that’s the entire article.

Anyway. I don’t mean to be too flippant here. This is obviously a serious business. But if Marx was right about anything, he was right about history and farce.

Now, here’s another article. Same day, same paper, but this one is on the bottom of the front page—WSJl, as it were. This is hard news.

Failed Courtship of Warlord Trips Up U.S. in Afghanistan Eager for Allies, Army Tries Turning Insurgents; Chaos Embroils Pakistan By JAY SOLOMON November 8, 2007; Page A1

I have no idea who “Jay Solomon” is. But does it matter?

Not at all. Perhaps you have seen All the President’s Men and you think the life of the elite Washington journalist is all about diving through dumpsters and making secret rendezvous with anonymous informants in scruffy phonebooths. I’m afraid this is not how it is.

If you are someone who can get his articles on the front page of the WSJ, as many prewritten stories as you could possibly ask for will show up in your email every day. These are not even press releases. They are messages directly to you. But if you don’t print them or if you screw them up in some way, they will stop coming and you will fall off the front page. The task, however, is basically the normal journalist’s task of rewriting official information dumps, to make them seem as if they were written by an intelligent person with judgment and character.

This one, as we’ll see, is obviously from the State Department.

The U.S. is struggling to find tribal allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan as it tries to beat back the resurgence of al Qaeda and the Taliban.

I hate to break it to you, kids. But when you’re winning, the allies struggle to find you.

In alienating a powerful warlord named Jalaluddin Haqqani a few years ago, however, some U.S. and Afghan officials argue the Americans may have shot themselves in the foot.

Okay, here is the money. First, note the sourcing. Clearly “officials” means State and/or CIA. In case you’ve been in a cave for the last 30 years, these two are like this these days.

Second, note the reason Mr. Haqqani (I’m sure the coincidence of name is, um, coincidental) is fighting. He is fighting for emotional reasons. He is obviously a deeply troubled young man who only needs time and peace to heal.

This is absolutely typical of the rhetoric of these stupid little wars. To the hawks, our enemies fight because they hate us. They will always hate us, so they must be destroyed. To the ravens, our enemies fight because they hate us. Their hearts have been hardened by our callous and cruel treatment, but with enough hugs and candy they can be made to love us again.

Do I need to tell you how insane both these attitudes are? They are both perfect examples of Conquest’s three laws. And they are exactly the reason I support a complete shutdown of US foreign policy, with no exceptions at all, dissolving State completely and folding Defense into Homeland Security. Perhaps we can rename it “National Security.”

Anyway, more:

Mr. Haqqani is now one of the major rebel leaders roiling Afghanistan. But back in autumn 2002, he secretly sent word that he could ally with the new U.S.-friendly Afghan government. The warlord had once been a partner of the Central Intelligence Agency, and later closely collaborated with Osama bin Laden and the ruling Taliban. CIA officers held talks with his brother, Ibrahim, and made plans to meet with Mr. Haqqani, who was leading some of the Taliban’s troops.

But U.S. military forces operating separately from the CIA arrested Ibrahim—cutting off the talks and entrenching his brother as a nemesis. Mr. Haqqani is still fighting U.S. troops along the Pakistan border. “We blew our chance,” contends one of the CIA officers involved who had worked with Mr. Haqqani in the 1980s. “I truly believe he could have been on our side.”

Just like Uncle Ho! I’m telling you, man. History as farce.

Other senior officials in the CIA and Pentagon are less certain.

We’ll quote anyone. But the ledes go only to our real friends.

But Washington’s aborted courtship of Mr. Haqqani epitomizes the conflicts and calculations that are complicating U.S. involvement in the region.

Sometimes I like to just say nothing at all.

The war in Afghanistan is a major factor in the chaos unfolding in neighboring Pakistan. A spreading Islamic insurgency inside Pakistan is one reason Gen. Pervez Musharraf cited Saturday when he declared emergency rule, though the opposition contends the move was more about extending his stay in power. Militants in Pakistan’s tribal belt are suspected of fighting in both countries, dramatically widening the conflict from the days that it was largely confined to Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, some officials report that bears are shitting in the woods.

With U.S. intelligence officials concerned that al Qaeda is using Pakistan as a base to plot new attacks in Afghanistan and elsewhere, winning back tribal leaders like Mr. Haqqani—or eradicating those who refuse to be wooed—has climbed to the top of Washington’s strategic agenda. The State Department recently pledged $750 million in new aid to Pakistan’s border regions, hoping to use economic development and education to peel local leaders away from al Qaeda and militants such as Mr. Haqqani.

Whoa! Okay, let’s stop right here. I don’t think we need to quote any more of this article.

Question: “Who controls Pakistan’s border regions?”

Answer: “The Taliban.”

Question: “So when State sends $750 million to Pakistan’s border regions, who are they sending $750 million to?”

Answer: “What are you, anyway? Some kind of a neo-McCarthyist?”

In other words, here is what Washcorp is up to in Pakistan. This is its favorite trick. It does this all the time. It just needs to make sure you don’t see the aces in its sleeves.

Washcorp is fighting a war against itself. Through one arm, it is funding the Taliban. Through another arm, American soldiers are fighting the Taliban. If you think this is the first time this sort of thing has happened, perhaps you need to think about switching your history provider.

The delusional belief that allows Washington to fight a war against itself, without State and Defense actually coming to actual fisticuffs in the National Security Council, is that you can pay people to love you. The folks over at State genuinely believe that the Pashtun tribes can be bought off. If not $750 million, how about a cool 1.5 bil? What’s 1.5 billion when we’re talking about peace? Besides, it’s not really our money, anyway.

Meanwhile, up in Peshawar, they’re not exactly stupid. They’re perfectly aware that they are being paid to fight the Pentagon, just as they were paid to fight the Soviets. New century, new evil empire, same difference. “After all, if we stopped fighting, wouldn’t State just stop paying? The more we fight, the more we seem to get paid. Funny how that works. Why, it’s almost like having an actual job!”

The same exact thing is going on with Bhutto and her cronies. And even with Musharraf. Après moi, le déluge ! If Musharraf actually destroys the Islamists, his cash pipeline from Arlington will dry up. “Sorry, old chap, Ben’s having a little trouble with the printer. He’s out in his helicopter today, anyway. Something about ‘jumbo loans?’ But we’ll call you just as soon as he gets back. Cheerio!”

But at least Musharraf is actually capable of fighting the Islamists. Whereas Bhutto’s only solution is to pay them, pay them and pay them again. She will smother those poor, broken, mistreated men with her warm, wise Cambridge-educated love. And surely they will love her, and us, etc., etc., etc. If there are any remaining disputes, perhaps the United Nations can settle it. Wouldn’t it be nice if the United Nations could trust America again?

This is the entire pattern of Washcorp’s foreign relations for the last 65 years. At least. It’s a sort of MySpace diplomacy, with buckets of cash. The entire point is to pay people, typically extremely sordid and nasty people, to let us be their “friend.” And look! How many friends America has. Conquest’s third law, dear reader, I rest my case.

Meanwhile, the poor bastards in the US military are fighting against suicide bombers whose wallets are stuffed to the gills with their own tax dollars. We’re raining so much money on northern Pakistan, you probably can’t get a latte in Peshawar for less than $20.

(Couldn’t we at least mark the bills, so we can see where it’s going? I mean, when you send $750M to the North-West Frontier Provinces, how do you do it? Do you send in Ben Bernanke, in a heavily armored Apache, and have him dumping bales from the tailgunner’s seat? Or do you just write a check to Mullah Omar? If so, where does he bank?)

Of course, Mullah Omar is happy to take cash. Even dollars! And he’s certainly not afraid of all the lawyers in Pakistan. What are they going to do, sue him? I am not an expert in the Quran, but somehow I don’t think it says anything about “batons and tear gas.”

So it’s fairly clear what we can expect if Musharraf loses and Bhutto wins: Khomeini 2.0, with nukes and ICBMs. Hey, it worked for Carter. Perhaps Condoleeza Rice will get the Nobel. Or Rice and al-Zawahiri? Could they be meeting already?

Anyway. Enough of this mockery. The bottom line, in my deeply humble and quite sincere opinion, is that it’s time for an independent Pakistan.

In case you’re not familiar with this word “independent,” let me go through its etymology. It starts with “in,” which oddly enough is a kind of Latin word for “not.” Then the second part is this “dependent” bit. I’m not quite sure what that means. But the whole construct would seem to imply that Pakistan, or the Pakistani government, or someone, is not, in some way, dependent.

On, I don’t know, anyone else. Like, as in, it can do whatever it wants. And nobody will cut its allowance. And nobody will raise its allowance. Because it has no allowance. And if it decides that the best way to handle a mob of lawyers is a couple of bored sergeants and a Dushka, nobody who’s not actually within at most a thousand kilometers of Rawalpindi has any reason to care. Not even the Wall Street Journal. Unless it’s, like, a slow news day or something.

(Thanks to reader ZK, who may or may not endorse the result, for much useful background.)