Making ends meet
Politicians the world over like to kiss babies. That's the trouble.
Meanwhile, horrifying new details emerged last night of the attempt by suicide bombers to kill Ms Bhutto on her return home from exile last month. Investigators from Ms Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party said yesterday they believed the bomb, which killed 170 people and left hundreds more wounded, was strapped to a one-year-old child carried by its jihadist father.
They said the suicide bomber tried repeatedly to carry the baby to Ms Bhutto's vehicle as she drove in a late-night cavalcade through the streets of Karachi.
"At the point where the bombs exploded, Benazir Bhutto herself saw the man with the child and asked him to come closer so that she could hug or kiss the infant," investigators were reported as saying. "But someone came in between and a guard felt that the man with the child was not behaving normally. So the child was not allowed to come aboard Benazir's vehicle."
Ms Bhutto is said to have told investigators she recalls the face of the man who was carrying the infant. She has asked to see recordings made by television news channels to try to identify the man.
Now here's the rest of the story. After the infant story the remainder of the tale reads like a non-sequitur or a chapter from a totally different book. But it's the same book; in fact, from the same chapter.
Pakistani military ruler General Pervez Musharraf rushed to Riyadh for crisis talks with his Saudi royal family benefactors yesterday as his emergency rule came under threat from caretaker officials ordering the release of thousands of detained political workers and lawyers.
The officials, appointed to run the country's national and provincial governments ahead of elections scheduled for January 8, were expected to do no more than maintain the status quo until the poll.
But last night, led by interim prime minister Mohammedmian Soomro, their first action involved ordering the immediate release of thousands detained in the security crackdown that followed the declaration of the state of emergency on November 3.
In an interview, Mr Soomro said he had issued instructions to release "recently arrested" political leaders and workers, lawyers and journalists and that the process was under way. He insisted "the elections will be the most transparent and fairest in the country's history".
Counterinsurgency in Pakistan -- and maybe in Iraq as well among other countries -- may consist in making deals with some bad guys in order to fight the badder guys. Maybe diplomats should quit reading Foreign Affairs and start surfing Gangwar.com or peruse Street Gangs: The New Urban Insurgency, from the Army Stratgic Studies Instute. Recently the BBC ran a breathless article entitled "Boston Miracle inspires UK's gang fight". Look closely at what strategy the police employed to cut down gang violence in the Hub.
Scotland Yard's latest initiative to deal with youth gun crime is modelled on a successful gang-busting initiative in the US.
Within two years of implementing Operation Ceasefire in 1995, Boston had reclaimed the streets from the gangs. The Boston Miracle, as it is known, reduced violent crime by about 50% in two years. ...
Launched in 1996, Operation Ceasefire was a city-wide strategy aimed at deterring youth and gang firearm violence.
Gang members were invited to meetings with police and church leaders where they were told things had to change. Those who chose to change their ways were offered jobs, counselling and other forms of support to get their life back on track.
Those who ignored the tough new stance were threatened with longer, harsher sentences in federal prisons. And it was no empty threat. Gang member Freddy Cordoza received more than 19 years in jail for possessing a single bullet.
As I've written elsewhere the process of "reconciliation" doesn't mean mindlessly making nice to everybody -- as some well-meaning persons seem to think -- it means making nice "on average". But the process is also accompanied by an increase in the contrast in treatment between two populations; being a lot nicer to the cooperative and the innocent but also being a lot tougher on the bad guys. While the average "niceness" improves greatly, the distribution of niceness is altered drastically as well. The Boston police were essentially running a "divide and conquer" operation on the street gang scene so that they could isolate and destroy the hardest core enemies. The logic behind the maxim "no better friend, no worse enemy" is that ultimately there can be only dominant coalition in society.
I wonder how many promoters of "reconciliation" believe the "healing process" actually consists of destroying the contrast between the innocent and the guilty; treating people who wire up their infant children as bombs in the same way as legitimate oppositionists to Musharraf. Finding the man who tried to bring a baby-bomb to Benazir Bhutto belongs in the same chapter as releasing oppositionists. But as in a real book the the fate of the chapter characters must vary. Knowing who to release, who to make nice to and who to hunt down is essential. That's why good intelligence is the key enabler of successful counterinsurgency.