Bloggers respond to the bloody Pakistani assault on militants holed up in an Islamabad mosque. They also discuss the fates of two officials: the National Hurricane Center chief, who is on leave after a staff mutiny *, and the former head of China’s Food and Drug Administration, who was executed today.
Raze the red mosque: Government commandos stormed the Red Mosque in Islamabad, Pakistan, early this morning, attempting to end an eight-day standoff with Islamist militants holding hostages. The fighting continues, with a dozen soldiers dead and approximately 50 militants killed—including their leader, a radical cleric.
Ed Morrissey at conservative Captain’s Quarters is relieved: “[T]he Pakistani military has done a remarkable job in keeping the raid as bloodless as possible. This had the potential of being Pervez Musharraf’s Waco, with everyone dying in a conflagration that could have torched his own position. … At the same time, it has shown some toughness in dealing with extremists that will put minds at ease, both in and out of Pakistan. The defiance of the Red Mosque, along with their attempt to impose Taliban-like rule through extortion and violence, undermined confidence in Musharraf’s government and had people questioning his determination to confront extremism.”
Kiran Bhat at the Harvard International Review took the same line when the siege began last week: “The siege of the rebel mosque clearly burnishes Musharraf’s anti-terrorist credentials and once more sets him on solid footing in Washington. Less obvious but no less important is the positive impact of the raid on Musharraf’s image at home.” Bhat also warned: “How Musharraf handles the situation will go a long way towards determining whether the Pakistani people retain trust in his ability to command the military effectively. … “
Meanwhile at All Things Pakistan, Adil Najam confronts the human cost of the assault, asking, “Can a society that is so deeply divided against itself learn the lessons of tolerance? … But now is not the time to ponder on this. Even though what has happened had become inevitable over the last many days, I am too heartbroken to be able to do so.”
At Metroblogging Islamabad, Backpacker is liveblogging the scene: “Islamabad is under red alert and a sensitive security zone right now. Security forces are on a look out for mysterious figures, and spot checking being done on any suspicous people. Military forces are securing different sectors for fear of any possible repurcussion and backlash of this event as riots have already broken out in other parts of the country. … “
Blown away: Bill Proenza, chief of the National Hurricane Center, went on leave yesterday, barely six months after his appointment. He stirred up controversy by publicly criticizing budgeting decisions and—his staff felt—undermining the center’s credibility. His departure follows a petition signed by nearly half his staff demanding his ouster.
Most bloggers side with the scientists working under Proenza. The blogger at The Iconic Midwest writes: “On one level, Proenza was simply playing a budget game that managers in almost every Federal agency play day in and day out. But, on another level, he was cheapening the word of the National Hurricane Center. I don’t think Proenza is a bad guy. After all he was looking out for the well being of the organization. However, in doing so he forgot to look after the well being of the job that organization needs to perform.” Tom at Phillyweather.net basically agrees but adds, “[T]hose that threw Proenza under the bus and got away with it should also be dealt with. Regardless of whether you like your boss or not, there are proper channels to follow to cause change. These same people who criticized Proenza for his actions are equally as guilty for taking their concerns public….and are equally hypocritical for doing the thing that they were critiquing.”
Fired Fred at Simply Fired, a blog about getting pink-slipped, complains: “No one’s accusing the guy of spending government money on pub crawls on South Beach, or trying to change the names of hurricanes to Pokemon characters.”
Killing corruption: China executed the former chief of its Food and Drug Administration today after he was convicted of accepting bribes from pharmaceutical companies pushing phony drugs through the system. The sentence was carried out in the wake of recent (unrelated) product-safety scandals.
Some China watchers take the news in stride. At Time’s China Blog, Simon Elegant sighs: “With the current international hullabaloo about safety regulation in China there was no way he was going to be let off the hook. Will his execution make a difference? Hard to say.”
Consumers are a little more troubled. Azael of Hellblazer protests, “[E]xecuting officials and former officials doesn’t make me feel more comfortable about the stunning failures in China.” And Damozel at Buck Naked Politics concurs: “[K]nowing that the Chinese idea of cracking down on product safety is to execute one—because there must certainly be others—corrupt official somehow doesn’t reassure me that Chinese products actually are safer. It doesn’t affect my reservations on that score in the slightest. And it certainly doesn’t increase the appeal of Chinese-manufactured goods.”
Read more reactions to Zheng Xiaoyu’s execution.
Correction, July 10, 2007: Due to an editing error, this article incorrectly stated that Bill Proenza resigned from the National Hurricane Center. He went on leave. (Return to the corrected sentence.)