Subdued. That is the best word I can come up with to describe the Pakistan blogosphere on election day. In a country used to the unexpected, the overwhelming sense is not over who is going to win but about what is going to happen next.
Pakistan: Now or Never?
The Pakistan election campaign has been so muted until now that from the outside it can be hard to believe it’s really happening. So plaudits to Pakistan Politics for posting the TV ads of the main political parties. The Pakistan Policy Blog provides a summary of the ads, though you don’t need to understand the language to get the drift.
An important question in the Pakistani general election and provincial elections coming up on Feb. 18 is how the Islamist parties there will fare. These parties, which usually scored below 10 percent in the past, shot up to a total 17 percent of seats in the National Assembly at the last election in 2002. They also won power in North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and shared power in Baluchistan -- the two provinces that border Afghanistan and have been most destabilised by the Taliban and Al Qaeda operating in the region.
Reports last week that the Pakistani Taliban fighting the Pakistan army had declared a ceasefire have raised speculation among analysts of division among the militant ranks. In particular they focus on challenges to Baitullah Mehsud, the Pakistan Taliban leader blamed by the government for the killing of Benazir Bhutto.
For us journalists, old stories never die. So with all the talk about what is going on in Afghanistan right now, I was grateful to the Internet for letting me retrieve a piece I was asked to write two days after 9/11 about previous superpower bungling there.
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of the world's Anglicans, has said the introduction of some aspects of sharia, Islamic law in Britain, was unavoidable. Other religions enjoyed tolerance of their laws in Britain, he told the BBC, and he called for a "constructive accommodation" with Muslim practice in areas such as marital disputes.
The Islamic finance industry has grown rapidly as Muslims around the world seek investments that comply with their religious beliefs. A tripling of oil prices over the past five years has flooded the Islamic finance sector with petrodollars, accelerating that expansion. So what are the issues facing the industry now? Of special interest for this blog are questions about how religious principles and business practices interact. For example, is some Islamic banking too Islamic for its own good? Do some types of murabaha contracts actually violate sharia law?
I’m assuming there must be a problem with my search function since I can find very little out there about Pakistan and the U.S. primaries. After all, everyone was happy to mock George W. Bush for being unable to name the leader of Pakistan in his own campaign. And that was before 9/11. Surely this time around it will be different?
Why send in American troops, when a drone will do? Reports that al Qaeda leader Abu Laith al-Libi was killed in North Waziristan by a missile launched by a CIA-operated Predator aircraft (see file photo, right) have spawned a fresh batch of analyses about U.S. involvement in Pakistan’s tribal areas.