Hell in a Handbasket Watch: Pakistan's Minority Minister Shot Dead
It's a nuclear state, Ricochet. It has nuclear weapons:
Pakistani Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti has been shot dead by gunmen who ambushed his car in broad daylight in the capital Islamabad.
He was travelling to work through a residential district when his vehicle was sprayed with bullets, police said.
Mr Bhatti, the cabinet's only Christian minister, had received death threats for urging reform to blasphemy laws.
In January, Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, who had also opposed the law, was shot dead by one of his bodyguards.
The blasphemy law carries a death sentence for anyone who insults Islam. Critics say it has been used to persecute minority faiths. ...
"This is a concerted campaign to slaughter every liberal, progressive and humanist voice in Pakistan," Farahnaz Ispahani, an aide to President Asif Ali Zardari, told AP news agency.
"The time has come for the federal government and provincial governments to speak out and to take a strong stand against these murderers to save the very essence of Pakistan."
In Dawn, columnist Nadeem F. Paracha puts it aptly:
Forget the state, the government and the law. One never knows where they stand on anything anyway. The government is weak and is more interested in its own Machiavellian survival, blackmailed into further submission and paranoia by an anarchic, double-talking group of allies and an opposition still stuck in limbo between Riyadh and Raiwind!
And the state? Well, what can be expected from a state that has a history of both creating and hosting exactly the kind of faith-driven lunacy each and every Pakistani is now engulfed in?
For years a convoluted narrative has been circulated by the state, the clergy, schools and now the electronic media: i.e. Pakistan was created in the name of Islam (read, a theocratic state). Thus, only Muslims (mainly orthodox Sunnis) have the right to rule, run and benefit from this country. ‘Minority’ religions and ‘heretical Islamic sects’, who are citizens of Pakistan are not to be trusted. They need to be isolated constitutionally, socially and culturally.
What else? Yes, parliamentary democracy too cannot be trusted. It unleashes ethnic forces, ‘corruption’ and undermines the role of the military and that of Islam in the state’s make-up. It threatens the ‘unity’ of the country; a unity based on a homogeneous understanding of Islam (mainly concocted by the state and its right-wing allies). Most of our political, economic and social ills are due to the diabolical conspiracies hatched by our many enemies.
Now the same state is struggling to control the glorified monsters that it created. These monsters have no fear of their creator. The state is hapless and stunned; only good to play silly games with its subjects. The Pakistani state is not grounded in reality. In fact it is not grounded at all. It is a fantasy that has now started to rot and look redundant. It is a 63-year-old daydream about being pious, just and strong. And yet it has been anything but.
A bit of information, for those of you who planned to sleep well tonight, about Pakistan's nuclear weapons:
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) estimates that Pakistan has built 24-48 HEU-based nuclear warheads, and Carnegie reports that they have produced 585-800 kg of HEU, enough for 30-55 weapons. Pakistan's nuclear warheads are based on an implosion design that uses a solid core of highly enriched uranium and requires an estimated 15-20 kg of material per warhead. According to Carnegie, Pakistan has also produced a small but unknown quantity of weapons grade plutonium, which is sufficient for an estimated 3-5 nuclear weapons.
Pakistani authorities claim that their nuclear weapons are not assembled. They maintain that the fissile cores are stored separately from the non-nuclear explosives packages, and that the warheads are stored separately from the delivery systems. In a 2001 report, the Defense Department contends that "Islamabad's nuclear weapons are probably stored in component form" and that "Pakistan probably could assemble the weapons fairly quickly." However, no one has been able to ascertain the validity of Pakistan's assurances about their nuclear weapons security.
Pakistan's reliance primarily on HEU makes its fissile materials particularly vulnerable to diversion. HEU can be used in a relatively simple gun-barrel-type design, which could be within the means of non-state actors that intend to assemble a crude nuclear weapon.
Good thing I have complete faith in America's intelligence services and our president's decisiveness and strong moral compass in a crisis.
Oh wait, I don't.
Well, good thing the world's attention isn't completely diverted elsewhere.
Oh wait, it is.
Well, there must be something good about this. Otherwise this would be terribly worrying.
Would someone please tell me what the bright side is? I'd hate to fret over nothing.