Thursday, December 31, 2009

Links For Thursday

Stuff to read:

Two great pieces on the Ashura bombing in Karachi, and the violent aftermath. Here's Nadeem Paracha on some of the political ramifications; in particular, he discusses the constellation of political parties (MQM, PPP, ANP) in power in Karachi and the common anti-Taliban stance they have. I have to say that this is a prime opportunity for the MQM to demonstrate that they are merely anti-Taliban in their outlook and not anti-Pashtun as their detractors claim. If they can show some meaningful cooperation and amity with the ANP, I think that will go a long way in showing people they've grown up from the 1980s and 1990s. (Random aside: a friend's Facebook update elicited a comment from another person, in which he latter claimed the Taliban could not be responsible for the bombing; instead it had to be...wait for it...the MQM. This despite the Taliban actually claiming responsibility for the bombing in order to "protect the honour of the companions of the holy prophet").

Anyway, here's the second piece, a very well-written and heart-felt piece from Tazeen, on what the city means to her.

A hilarious piece in the Huffinton Post on some dude whose 12 year-old daughter is on a no-fly list because she shares her name with a notorious IRA terrorist.

Kalsoom rounds up the ten best Pakistan-related quotes of 2009. My favorite didn't make it to this list. It was Younis Khan during the Champions Trophy, saying, "If you want to play only fun cricket, play Twenty20. You cannot have one guy taking all the fun from all formats. You can't get married and have six girlfriends as well, because you will get stuck somewhere." My favorite non-Pakistan quote was Bristol Palin saying, "If girls realized the consequences of sex, nobody would be having sex. Trust me. Nobody." Clearly neither Younis nor Bristol ever talked to Tiger Woods.

A truly unbelievable (and immensely sad) story from India. I'm not going to try to summarize it. Just read the whole thing.

Gail Collins sums up the year in American politics and society. As usual, she's really funny. She and Frank Rich are the only two NYT columnists to bang out quality every time they write. Brooks is a neocon, Krugman is hyper-partisan and sanctimonious, Dowd is a gossip columnist, Friedman is just stupid, Herbert is boring and Kristof writes about things way too depressing (not his fault, mind, but still).

If you like comparing America's options in Afghanistan to a game of poker, this article is for you. I never got into the whole poker thing to be honest. Pretty much all my other friends play it pretty regularly.

Nate Silver crunches some pretty basic numbers on airline terrorist attacks and finds that in the 2000s, there is one terrorist attack (attempted) for every 11,569,297,667 miles flown (basically the equivalent of almost 25,000 round trips to the moon). But of course this is America, so people are losing their shit. Well let me join in the fun: take the War on Terror to Yemen, I say. Yglesias makes some good points too. And the airlines are now in trouble too; I'd feel sorry for them if they actually did anything for their customers.

Steve Walt worries that America is just making China's job in the world easier with respect to influence in Afghanistan. I'm actually beginning to think that Afghanistan will no longer be a playground for India and Pakistan to fight their squabbles, but in fact the arena for regional power competition between China and India. And nothing would give me more pleasure if that happens; almost every single foreign policy problem (and many domestic ones as well) have been caused by our meddling in Afghanistan.

If you didn't think Pakistani selectors and team management couldn't get dumber, I give you this.

So it turns out that Maggie Thatcher used to write in the margins of her ministers' reports the same way I grade my undergrads: tersely and strictly (some choice phrases: "thoroughly deficient in content", "this will not do" and my personal favorite, "no" heavily underlined).

Cricket fans should go and contribute to Newsline's test team of the decade survey (hurry up, it closes soon). I went with Sehwag, Hayden, Ponting, Lara, Tendulkar, Kallis, Gilchrist, Warne, Ntini, McGrath, Muralitharan. I gave this about five minutes of thought without looking up figures, and just going with my gut. Two thoughts: first, it's depressing that there are no Pakistanis there, but honestly, Inzi, Yousuf and Younis (the only real contenders) are nowhere near the Ponting-Lara-Tendulkar trifecta. The toughest omissions in the batting were Dravid and Sangakkara (in the Gilchrist role at 7). Second, look at the quick bowling options...aren't they pathetic? Can you really say I've missed someone obvious? God, I miss the 90s; this is the list of top-class quick bowlers who played at least eight years in the 1990s: Wasim, Waqar, Donald, Walsh, Ambrose. How do you go about choosing two of those? And when you consider Pollock and McGrath came in halfway through the 90s...yikes. Hell, I remember even Heath Streak could bowl, and he played for friggin Zimbabwe!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Backlash Against "Crash"

Ta-Nehisi Coates is pissed:
Before we go any further, I need to admit that several people who I love and respect actually like Crash. I need let them know that I don't hold this against them, and I still love and respect them--though, with Crash in mind, more the former than the latter.

With that said, I don't think there's a single human being in Crash. Instead you have arguments and propaganda violently bumping into each other, impressed with their own quirkiness. ("Hey look, I'm a black carjacker who resents being stereotyped.") But more than a bad film, Crash, which won an Oscar (!), is the apotheosis of a kind of unthinking, incurious, nihilistic, multiculturalism. To be blunt, nothing tempers my extremism more than watching a fellow liberal exhort the virtues of Crash.

If you're angry about race, but not particularly interested in understanding why, you probably like Crash. If you're black and believe in the curative qualities of yet another "dialogue around race," you probably liked Crash. If you're white and voted for Barack Obama strictly because he was black, you probably liked Crash. If you've ever used the term "post-racial" or "post-black" in a serious conversation, without a hint of irony, you probably liked Crash.

And I swear if any of you defend the film, I'm going to ban you. Not just from this site, not just from the Internet, but from all public life. Don't test me. My armies are legion.

My own view is that "Crash" was a decent movie but not great. The acting was really good (especially by Don Cheadle). The soundtrack was amazing. But the writing and roles were so predictable and stupid that I wanted to cry. I mean, L.A. is a city of, what, 5 million people? And we're supposed to believe that the same eight people keeping running into each other in all these different contexts? Please.

Look, I'm all for trying to tackle issues like race, family, class and the like through film. But don't be amateur about it. Don't give me a story on race that a high school junior would come up with for her social studies class. How this movie won an Oscar is completely beyond me.

But like I said, the soundtrack was brilliant.

The News Plagiarizes Cricinfo

Well, this wouldn't be the first time Pakistan's biggest media organization has been caught plagiarizing. This is what Osman Samiuddin wrote for Cricinfo yesterday:

Mohammad Aamer goes from strength to strength

Osman Samiuddin at the MCG

December 29, 2009

Mohammad Aamer doesn't seem to lack much, not smarts, not pace and certainly not confidence. He fairly bounced into the press box after the fourth day's play, his first five-wicket haul in the kitty, and immediately engaged in some lively, witty banter with journalists. And why not?

He's been Pakistan's most dangerous bowler in this Test. He's bowled quicker than he has bowled before; in particular on the third afternoon when he unleashed a spell of such visceral intensity, it lit up the entire day.

This morning he carried on, though in making an old ball talk from round the wicket, he provided another dimension altogether. The dismissals of Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin, had the stamp of Wasim Akram on them: old ball coming in with the angle, straightening and leaving the batsmen. Haddin had barely kept out the previous ball, which had homed in on his pads. The MCG has seen such deliveries before, on more august occasions.

How many left-armers have been as adept and dangerous at this angle of attack so early in their careers? Some go through entire careers without being able to do so. Shane Watson is as well-placed as any to speak about Aamer, having taken him on in the game's most riveting battle, and he is convinced that little is missing from Aamer's game. "He's an extremely good bowler," Watson said. "It's amazing that he's only 17 because the pace that he bowls, the skill that he has, he's able to get the ball to move both ways. He's got a slower ball, a good bouncer and he keeps charging in too. He bowled a lot of overs and especially yesterday evening he bowled a very good spell of fast bowling and this morning. I'm glad he pulled up stumps when he did."

Watson should have been Aamer's sixth wicket, but he was grassed at point on 99. Not that Aamer was unhappy with a five-wicket haul, for the impression he has made has been greater than the number of wickets he has taken so far. "It's a great feeling," he said. "I've bowled good spells and been a bit unlucky a few times so it was good to get the wickets this time. I've felt in good rhythm through this Test and really enjoyed my spells. Australia is a big team and to make a mark here is always important. If it can help my team in any way then it will obviously feel much better."

And though he was particularly happy with the way he dismissed Clarke today, the prize scalp was that of Ricky Ponting the day before. He had spoken of wanting Sachin Tendulkar's wicket before the Champions Trophy and went on to get it. He had spoken of Ponting's wicket before they arrived here. The plan had been to use the Chris Gayle method, to bowl short, and its success pleased Aamer no end. "It's a great feeling because he is such a big player, the best batsman in the world," he said.

"I was happier that I got him out according to a plan. I got a lot of confidence from that, because in cricket it shows me there is no batsman too big or bowler too big. You only need to use your brain and have some confidence. Seniors tell you how to go about it and if you follow that, you shouldn't be in trouble. Obviously I was really happy because he is a big player but also happy because a captain is depending on you, setting a field for you to bowl to and succeeding in that and whether it is Ponting or any other batsman, it is a great feeling."

Gradually, since his international debut at the World Twenty20, Aamer has also bulked up; Akram and a number of others have advised him to put on some weight to protect a naturally frail body. Work with David Dwyer, Pakistan's Australian trainer, has helped put on the muscle and the pace has since increased. He has crossed 150kmph a few times at the MCG, on what is still thought to be a sluggish surface.

"Maybe my pace has increased," he said. "It happens sometimes when the more you play, the more your arm gets used to the load and the looser it gets. Maybe it also has to do with the fact that it is a big series and I am striving harder. I don't really feel it that I am bowling faster but the speeds are there.

"I have built up my body a little. I've worked hard with DD (David Dwyer) on it and have increased my weight from 72kg to 75kg. I've added a bit of muscle to it. If we have rest days between matches, maybe four to five days, then I spend time in the gym, but in back-to-back Tests that is difficult to do. On any day off, we work to whatever plan DD gives us."

And this is what The News put up on their website tonight, WITHOUT ANY ATTRIBUTION WHATSOEVER:

Aamer goes from strength to strength
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
MELBOURNE: Mohammad Aamer doesn’t seem to lack much, not smarts, not pace and certainly not confidence.

He fairly bounced into the press box after the fourth day’s play, his first five-wicket haul in the kitty, and immediately engaged in some lively, witty banter with journalists.

He’s been Pakistan’s most dangerous bowler. He’s bowled quicker than he has bowled before; in particular on the third afternoon when he unleashed a spell of such visceral intensity, it lit up the entire day.

On Tuesday, he carried on, though in making an old ball talk from round the wicket, he provided another dimension altogether. The dismissals of Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin, had the stamp of Wasim Akram on them: old ball coming in with the angle, straightening and leaving the batsmen.

How many left-armers have been as adept and dangerous at this angle of attack so early in their careers? Some go through entire careers without being able to do so.

Watson should have been Aamer’s sixth wicket, but he was grassed at point on 99. Not that Aamer was unhappy with a five-wicket haul, for the impression he has made has been greater than the number of wickets he has taken so far. “It’s a great feeling,” he said. “I’ve bowled good spells and been a bit unlucky a few times so it was good to get the wickets this time. I’ve felt in good rhythm through this Test and really enjoyed my spells. Australia is a big team and to make a mark here is always important. If it can help my team in any way then it will obviously feel much better.”

And though he was particularly happy with the way he dismissed Clarke today, the prize scalp was that of Ricky Ponting the day before. “It’s a great feeling because he is such a big player, the best batsman in the world,” he said.

“I was happier that I got him out according to a plan. Obviously I was really happy because he is a big player.”

Gradually, since his international debut at the World Twenty20, Aamer has also bulked up. Work with David Dwyer, Pakistan’s Australian trainer, has helped put on the muscle and the pace has since increased.

The 17-year-old later said that the tourists had a chance of creating history. “Maybe. We are working hard and maybe we can win,” he said.
Hahaha. They didn't even bother changing the headline. Hilarious.

My understanding is that The News has an agreement to use Cricinfo's stuff, but they should still be attributing it. They clearly do not; they give no indication whatsoever that the report was written by a non-The News employee. That is called plagiarism.

Anyway, in case they attribute it later or take the offending piece down, here's some visual evidence:

Thank God For Yemen

Anything that moves the security debate away from Pakistan, even for two days, is very welcome. Thanks, Yemen. We owe you.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Liveblogging Pakistan Vs. Australia 1st Test Day 5

7:30 p.m. And that's lunch, as Ajmal edges it between keeper and first slip. At 249/8, we're going to score less than 350 for the 12th time in our last 14 innings. You can't win test matches if you can't make the bare minimum standard score required of test match batting line ups. I hope Younis helps, but honestly, he hasn't played a significant international innings since the Sri Lanka tour in the summer. Anyhow, that's it from me, since there's no point waiting for the last rites. Kudos to Aamer for a great performance and well done to Yousuf for his second innings and finding form. Bye for now.

7:28 p.m. Well, unless something disastrous happens in this over -- and with our morning, why wouldn't it? -- we'll make it through lunch. I'll say it again: if someone had told you at the close of play on the second day that we'll get to lunch on the fifth day, you would've laughed. We've fought hard, we just didn't keep it going for all five days. Hopefully we can improve going forward.

7:27 p.m. Calm down, Mark Nicholas. He's beating Ajmal outside the off stump, not Tendulkar. Keep it in your pants.

7:23 p.m. Ajmal sweeps Hauritz for three. His three wickets in this innings are an absolute abomination. Not one of them was deserved. Well, I guess the Aamer delivery was a good one, getting some bounce. But the Faisal and Akmal dismissals were brought about by how bad a bowler he is, not how good a bowler he is. They took him too lightly and both did something over ambitious. I guess the good thing is he will play at Sydney. I hope we take him apart there.

7:19 p.m. Haha. I love Ajmal. No one in this team has more heart and backbone than him.

7:11 p.m. 229/8. The thing is, other than Kamran, you can't really get mad at anyone. They just bowled well, and we weren't ready. I don't know if a win by two hundred runs is a fair reflection of the difference between the sides -- I think we were closer than that -- but what're you going to do? Keep in mind they declared twice, it could've been worse.

7:05 p.m. You've got to feel for Yousuf here, as Tony Greig says. I mean he's been playing well, he needed one partner to stick with him for a session. Just one. Alas.

7:02 p.m. Rauf is such a waste of space. After being dropped, he gets bowled off his pads of Bollinger. He really has no idea of what to do with the bat in his hand. And our team? Well, we've lost 50/5 this morning.

7:00 p.m. At 5:29 p.m., I said we should first try and get the target below 200 without the loss of a further wicket. We need 201 to win. We've lost four. So I guess that didn't turn out well.

6:58 p.m. My understanding is that most cricket fans in Pakistan generally wake up for the second and third sessions. I'd love to see the expressions on their faces when they get up during lunch time and realize the match is over. So much hope, so little done. I mean people were legitimately hopeful this morning.

6:58 p.m. Tries to smack it again, and gets lucky again. This Rauf is completely useless.

6:56 p.m. Hilarious. Ponting had eight guys around the bat for the hat trick, and Rauf tries to smack a loopy one outside the ground. He edges it, it goes straight up, but there's no one to take the catch because everyone's around the bat! Farcical.

6:54 p.m. And another! Hauritz gets Aamer first ball, launching forward, gets it on the shoulder of the bat, and it goes straight to Katich at short leg. That's the second hat trick chance of the morning. If it's okay with you, this live blog will stop at lunch time (if we can get there, remember it's still 35 minutes away).

6:52 p.m. Hahahaha. That is the worst shot I've ever seen. Kamran dances down at least six feet, swings like a rusty gate, misses by a long way, and Haddin could've had a beer before choosing to take the bails off. His head was not still at all playing that shot, he got too excited, and that's that. Absolutely no chance to save this game now. Aamer in.

6:49 p.m. Well, despite all our trouble, at least the runs are now coming. Akmal gets a no ball from Bollinger squeezed backward of gully for three. The first hour we scored ten runs, the next 20 minutes we've scored 35. It's now 214/5. Hauritz to continue.

6:48 p.m. Just as I say that, Bollinger gifts one down the leg side which Yousuf works away for one. Australia have bowled really well this morning, no doubt about it. Except for Hauritz that is.

6:47 p.m. Stat of the morning: it's been 36 minutes since Yousuf has scored.

6:45 p.m. Heart in mouth stuff. Bollinger appeals for LBW against Yousuf. It looked close first up, but Rudi gives it not out. Ponting asks for a review, and it's an inside edge on to his pad. Phew.

6:43 p.m. Well, Akmal is still playing his shots. Gets a two and a four with little paddle sweeps off Hauritz. The problem is (a) there's no one after this partnership that can score runs, and (b) there are no runs coming from the other end because their pacers are bowling well.

6:39 p.m. One good indicator of how lopsided a game is the extent to which the commentators start cracking jokes and having a go at each other. By that measure, it is safe to say we're barely going to make it to lunch.

6:34 p.m. It's obvious that our players think Hauritz is absolute shite. They give him no respect whatsoever.

6:33 p.m. Haha. So much for chilling out. He dances down and smacks Hauritz's last ball for six. Well, if you're going to attack, do it straight, don't cut and sweep. That was a nice shot. 200 up, 202/5.

6:31 p.m. I don't know what Kamran is doing. First he tries to sweep Hauritz from four feet outside off, misses it, and gets four byes for his troubles. Next ball he cuts one, it goes uppishly, evades the short third man, and gets a boundary. DUDE. Chill out.

6:28 p.m. Kamran flays Bollinger through the covers. First of all, that's a dangerous shot, because there's a catcher in front of square close in. Second, if you're going to get it through the infield, RUN HARD. They could have easily run four there, but only ended up with three. Anyway, it's 188/5. In the first hour of play today, there have been 18 runs scored for the loss of two wickets. So yeah, it was Australia's hour.

6:26 p.m. Double change, with Bollinger replacing Siddle.

6:23 p.m. Uh, Yousuf? You might want to put away the late cut for a while. There's a first slip, there's rough outside the off stump from the three left arm quicks in the test, and we're five down on a fifth day. For fuck's sake.

6:22 p.m. Hauritz replaces Johnson. It is one of my big regrets that Umar Akmal hasn't gotten a real bat against Hauritz. He didn't bat against him at all in the first innings. He had a little spell last night and looked really attacking. Anyway, he'll bowl to a sedate Yousuf and iffy Kamran.

6:17 p.m. Shot. Akmal drives Siddle for four through the covers. First bit of assured strokeplay from him.

6:12 p.m. Yousuf living very dangerously here. To be fair, Siddle's bowling well. The commies are right: they've just come really hard at us. They were ready and pumped, we were asleep.

6:10 p.m. Beats him again. This could get ugly very quickly.

6:10 p.m. Jaffer. Siddle bowls one that comes in and then leaves Yousuf. Can't play those, can only hope to miss 'em.

6:07 p.m. Kamran, after half an hour at the crease and twenty deliveries, gets off the mark finally. With a flashy drive backward of point. I hope that settles him, because he's looked all over the place this morning.

6:04 p.m. And Yousuf brings up his fifty with a dicey single. He's played well, Yousuf. Really well.

5:58 p.m. In hindsight, the day's close yesterday could not have come at a worse time. Both Umar and Yousuf were batting really well and had good momentum going. Having to reset today basically cost us big. Anyway, Siddle continuing.

5:58 p.m. Haha. The betting odds tell their own story. We were $4.40 to win at the beginning of the day. We're above $20 now.

5:57 p.m. As I say that, Yousuf squeezes Johnson for two behind point off the back foot. Reaches 49.

5:56 p.m. I don't think we've scored a run in about four overs.

5:54 p.m. I guess they're going to try to play out for the draw now, which is going to be very hard, because now that Ponting has no fear of us winning, he can pack the field with catchers and close fielders.

5:51 p.m. Kamran looks very jumpy. Can't blame him to be honest. I'm shell shocked, and I'm not even playing. Can you imagine what the dressing room feels like right now?

5:46 p.m. Alright, silver lining time. At the end of day 2, when they had piled on 450 and we were 100/4, having lost Yousuf to the second last ball of the day, who thought we'd take this game into the middle of the fifth day, which is when it will end? We've played well over the last two days, keeping day 3 to a draw and winning day 4. We just had two really bad days first up, and hopefully we've learned our lessons. We will do better in Sydney, I am sure of it.

5:44 p.m. I really can't get over how quickly they killed the game. One over!

5:41 p.m. Siddle to bowl from the other end.

5:39 p.m. Well Kamran survives, but this game is over. Unbelievable. It took five balls, the day's first five balls, for them to kill us. Well done, Aussies. Well done.

5:39 p.m. Wow. Talk about having the stuffing knocked out of you. Johnson's on a hat trick by the way.

5:37 p.m. And Misbah's gone first ball! I think I can stop live blogging now.

5:36 p.m. Well, we've had our hopes, however slight they were, taken from us before the game's really even gotten underway.

5:36 p.m. I have to say, there was some doubt there. He took it clean, but the ball might've touched the grass as he was coming up. I donno.

5:35 p.m. And he's gone. Sigh.

5:33 p.m. Drama here, as Akmal edges it to Haddin. It's gone upstairs since there's some doubt about whether it was clean. If he's gone, the game's over.

5:32 p.m. Solidly behind each of his first two balls.

5:31 p.m. And Yousuf works it off his hips for one. Umar's first ball.

5:29 p.m. Baby steps, kids. Baby steps. Let's get the target to below 200 without further loss. Anyway, it'll be Johnson to start. I feel him and Watson will hold the key for OZ today. Alright, here we go, Yousuf to face.

5:26 p.m. I will say this though: if one of Umar or Yousuf get to lunch, we have a shot. If both get to lunch? Hmmm.

5:18 p.m. I am incredibly proud of this team though. Over the last two days, they've really shown fight and actually gone at the Aussies, which is essential if you want to have a chance. Win or lose, the approach of the batsmen and the intensity of the bowlers over the last two days has really warmed my heart. And it bodes well for the rest of the series, especially with Younis (presumably) and Kaneria (most likely) and Gul (preferably) coming back into the side.

5:14 p.m. On the message boards and so on, there seems to be quite a bit of optimism. I hate to be a wet blanket, but this optimism is misplaced. As I've noted before, we've crossed 350 twice in our last 13 test innings. We are prone to collapses. And who can forget the first test in SL this summer, when at 80-2 needing 90 more, we lost by 50 runs?

5:12 p.m. The situation is simple: we need 250 more runs. Australia need 7 wickets, but given our tail, they only really need four. A minimum of 90 overs. A draw, in other words, is highly unlikely. Not as unlikely as a Pakistan win, but unlikely nonetheless.

Hello and welcome to Rs.5's coverage of the fifth and final day's play of the first test between Australia and Pakistan at the MCG. I normally would not be live blogging two days in the same test (I did day 3) but extenuating circumstances have forced me into my Man Chair, laptop in lap, and fingers ready to do. As always, all times are local (i.e. Chicago).

Monday, December 28, 2009

"Even Animals Aren't Killed The Way People Die Here" (Updated Below)

Dawn gathers harrowing eye-witness testimony from today's horrific attack in Karachi on Shias.

UPDATE: Karachi Metblogs has a series of pictures from the site of the attack.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Liveblogging Pakistan Vs. Australia 1st Test Day 3

1:01 a.m. And that's the end of play. Australia have a lead of 307 with seven wickets in hand. If we can take this game halfway through the fifth day, we would've done really well. Anyway, I'm exhausted and going to sleep. Good night and good luck.

12:59 a.m. Well, I said we'd do well to restrict their lead to 300 before the end of play. It's 306 right now. We've tried hard, but 196 is too many runs. It's just too many to give up. You can't get away with scoring sub-300 scores again and again, especially against teams as good as Australia.

12:57 a.m. These Aussies love reminiscing about all the times they screwed everyone. Now Slats, Heals and Warney are sharing a laugh at the time they messed with Basit Ali before the last ball of the day, when Warne snuck one between his pads. I'm sure it must be fun to have all those successful memories. I mean when you think about it, these guys were unbeatable from about 1995 to 2005. What an era it was.

12:49 a.m. Quiet over from Aamer, who bowled his heart out today. For anyone who didn't see it, you missed some thrilling cricket. Those first fifteen overs between him and Asif were a joy to watch. But that's the thing: that's all it was. It wasn't sustained because Rauf is crap and our selection was stupid. Similar to our batting, there were some nice highlights, but nothing consistent. And that's why we're going to Sydney one nil down.

12:44 a.m. Crap. Watson smacks Ajmal over long on for six. There was a man back, but it went well over him. We look completely deflated now. Lead's up to 297.

12:41 a.m. Excellent over from Aamer. Quick, direct, and on target. Unfortunately the batsmen are now set on a good batting wicket, and they really don't look like getting out.

12:38 a.m. Well, his first ball is 142 km/h, so I could be wrong. Let's see what happens.

12:36 a.m. Aamer replaces the absolute rubbish Rauf, but I seriously doubt he'll have much left in the tank after his fiery spell early on.

12:35 a.m. Ajmal bowling round the wicket, and darting it down the leg side. It's not really stopping them scoring, and he's certainly not a threat to get a wicket, so I don't really see the point. Anyway, it's 94/3, a lead of 290.

12:31 a.m. This is depressing. I don't even feel like typing anymore. Test cricket is so hard on its viewers, never mind the players. I mean, you get so involved and so enthusiastic...and then have your spirit sucked out of you, slowly but surely. These Aussies just wear you down, and never beat themselves. That's the difference.

12:27 a.m. It's amazing Mark Nicholas can find the time to talk, what with Watson's cock in his mouth all day.

12:26 a.m. And Watson the bastard gets his fifty with a tennis forehand to wide long on off Ajmal. I think I'm going to be sick.

12:25 a.m. 82/3 by the way. Lead of 278.

12:22 a.m. Yeah, they're well and truly on top now. Rauf has done nothing, and Ajmal has been countered well by Clark in particular. For this we can only blame our selection. Even if you consider Rauf an "all-rounder", then you play him as the fifth bowler, not the fourth. Indeed, that's the point of an all-rounder: to give you five bowlers, not to give you eight batsmen. But the minute Kaneria got injured, Gullee should've retained his spot. I would've supported a Asif-Aamer-Rauf-Kaneria-Ajmal attack. But if you're going to have four bowlers, it has to be Gullee over Rauf. The latter is shambolic.

12:18 a.m. "They're pretty good, these guys," says Mark Nicholas about Billy Doctrove and Rudi. That might be one of the five dumbest things I've ever heard a cricket commentator say (excluding Ramiz Raja, who gets his own list). I wish he could see some of the decisions Rudi made in NZ.

12:13 a.m. And now four through backward point. Sigh. I miss Gullee. The decision to drop him in favor of Rauf is one of the more, shall we say, curious that I have seen in a while.

12:12 a.m. Rauf is serving up utter crap here. Four more through the leg-side. We're basically playing with three bowlers and ten batsmen. So I suppose in a way, Rauf very much is an all-rounder.

12:11 a.m. And I was right.

12:09 a.m. Well, that's a wasted review. I can tell from here that's not out.

12:07 a.m. Nice, very nice. Clark is truly excellent against spin, particularly his foot work. A little shimmy down, and he gets to the pitch, and pushes it wide of mid off for four. Vital partnership for OZ, this. I fear that they are not only shutting and locking the door, but throwing away the key.

12:06 a.m. Shot. It was a touch short, but good footwork made it look shorter than it was. Three to deep square.

12:06 a.m. Ajmal continuing to a watchful Watson.

12:04 a.m. Two balls down the led side, two well wide of off stump and two on a good line. So I guess on average, Rauf bowled the perfect over there.

12:02 a.m. Rubbish from Rauf. This is a Mohammad Sami line.

11:59 p.m. Clark using his feet well to Ajmal, killing the spin. Probably their best player of spin, Clark. Anyway, two off the over. 58/3, as a sense of normalcy returns to proceedings.

11:58 p.m. Why the hell is long off back? Yousuf's made some strange decisions today.

11:58 p.m. Well bowled, kid. Finishes the over strong with one that started outside off and came in to beat Clark. See? It's not that hard. If you're trying to bowl in-swing, start from outside off. Not terribly complicated.

11:56 p.m. Rubbish bowling so far. Down the leg side every ball.

11:53 p.m. Alright, Rauf. Don't fuck this shit up. You hear me? DO NOT FUCK THIS UP.

11:52 p.m. The W says good night. I am sure there are times when she thinks I am certifiably insane. I had to explain to her that I was watching test cricket for the whole day today. She just gave me one of those looks that only a woman can give. Good times.

11:51 p.m. Drifting down the leg side for the most part in this over, Ajmal. Come on, don't release the pressure here.

11:49 p.m. Good change from Yousuf, bypassing Rauf and bringing Ajmal in to replace the highly impressive Aamer. Get him a rest of about an hour, and then bring him back for a three over burst before the close.

11:48 p.m. Argh, I could see what he was trying to do, but ill-directed. Asif wants to keep bowling stock deliveries and then follow with their a bouncer or a yorker. There he tried the latter but it became a leg stump full toss, and Clark, who had been stuck on 1 for a long time, gets three to deep midwicket. End of the over. 53/3 in 17 overs.

11:46 p.m. Am I the only one who thinks Bill Lawry, Michael Slater and Tony Grieg are passing around a fat joint right now?

11:45 p.m. Their fifty is up, by the way. We've also clearly decided that we can't walk past Watson without saying a word or ten to him.

11:43 p.m. Asif to continue. How many has he bowled here? Eight or nine?

11:41 p.m. The game's cooled off a little bit in the last ten or fifteen minutes. It had to happen -- we couldn't keep that intensity up forever. Still good bowling, mind, but I do think these guys are running out of steam. Mr. Rauf, what do you have in store for us?

11:39 p.m. Watson edges it through the vacant third slip region for four. It went on the ground, and it was a touch deliberate, but that's a dangerous shot right now.

11:38 p.m. And another maiden from Asif. OZ stay at 44-3. Come on, Aamer. Rip another out, right here.

11:38 p.m. Asif is getting this ball to nibble a little bit, just a touch in to Clark.

11:37 p.m. And now we're diving around and saving runs. We're such an impulsive side, it's not funny. One thing goes right and things start falling into place.

11:36 p.m. Clark has a job to do here. Ever since his debut, he's been thought of as the next big thing in Australian cricket, the guy to take over Ponting's talismanic role in the side. Let's see it now, Pup.

11:33 p.m. It's all happening here. Aamer screams one past Watson's hook was just too quick for the madarchod. Hit his helmet on the way through to Akmal, everyone goes up, Doctrove says not out, they think about a review but smartly decide against it. Aamer is bowling one of the great spells of his career here. In fact, it might be his best. I've never seen him bowl with this much hostility and pace. And again...there's no swing. It's just pace and bounce.

11:31 p.m. Oooooh. Aamer has Watson in all sorts of trouble. He gets one to bite and kick, and has him jumping (giving him the maila air kiss too). Next ball he draws him forward, and beats him again. "He wants the scalp of Watson," says Heals. Yes he does. This is personal.

11:29 p.m. Asif's plan to Watson seems to be to keep it just back of a length on the off stump, and giving him the odd ball, maybe one every over, to pull or hook to see if he'll hit it down someone's throat on the boundary. Nothing doing yet though. Anyway, that's the over bowled, 44-3 after 13. Effectively 240-3.

11:27 p.m. Asif the metronome continues to keep it tight. He's got 1-10 in his seventh over.

11:24 p.m. 42/3. Does Asif have one more in him? Wicket I mean, not over.

11:23 p.m. Yeah, give it to him, Aamer. A short ball thuds into Watson's shoulder blade. He then gets an earful from Aamer. Watson is a Class A prick. He needs to get some back, the cunt.

11:22 p.m. Aamer is not bowling slower than 145 km/h.

11:21 p.m. "Well, the game''s suddenly come alive." Yes, Warney, it has.

11:21 p.m. Clark in.

11:20 p.m. I still can't believe how good this spell has been from both these two.

11:19 p.m. There is nothing, nothing in the world, that warms Pakistani hearts like top quality quick bowling. Asif and Aamer are putting on a clinic here. They might be getting tired -- both have bowled six overs -- but I'm sure their adrenaline will carry them through for a few more. It's drinks, by the way.

11:17 p.m. And another! Aamer sneaks it through Hussey, whose feet went nowhere. It came in sharply, caught on the crease, hit on the flap, and he's gone. Calls for a review, it was close, but the umpire's call stands. Man, this is thrilling stuff. Pakistan fast bowlers bowling well in tandem...who knew we still had it? Australia slightly wobbly here. And on the door metaphor? Well let's say we have a hand on the knob, and are starting to twist it.

11:15 p.m. Ah, Asif. Over pitches, and Watson handsomely drives wide of mid off for four. Come on guys. Smoke one more, right here.

11:13 p.m. Couple close-ish LBW shouts. Man, Asif examines your technique like no one else. Watson just about surviving here. Well, at the very least, we're battling, which is more than we did in the first innings.

11:10 p.m. Fucking hell. Aamer just smokes one past Hussey, who had no idea. Slipped it in between his inside edge and off stump. Cranking it up here, Aamer -- that was 147 km/h. Great cricket.

11:09 p.m. Edged through the cordon for four. For fuck's sake Yousuf, get three slips in. They're 30-2!

11:08 p.m. What a huge wicket that was. Aamer's had a good day. Get Hussey soonish, and it'll become a great day.

11:07 p.m. Gone! Unbelievable. Aamer bowls short again, Ponting pulls again, this time edges it, and it goes straight to deep square. Messrs Benaud and Warne -- not to mention myself -- wanted him to stop the short stuff. Well, there you go: we're all idiots. OZ two down now, and while I wouldn't say the door is ajar for us, I would say we've at least unlocked it. Anyone care to turn the knob?

11:05 p.m. Aamer's losing it here. Drops it short, and Ponting pulls him for four. He's raced away here.

11:03 p.m. Couple no-balls from Aamer here. I think he might getting a touch over excited. Someone just needs to go talk to him, and tell him to keep it simple and be relaxed.

11:03 p.m. Ah, shot. Over pitched from Aamer, and a classic on drive from Ponting. Just a beautiful stroke.

11:02 p.m. Another decent over from Asif. OZ are 20-1. Man, what I would do for another wicket right here.

11:00 p.m. Drop and run from Watson. I honestly can't remember a single time our guys did that. Not once.

10:59 p.m. Yousuf has one slip and one gully for Watson. For his best bowler. I'm at a loss for words.

10:57 p.m. Well, that was an eventful over. Aamer had Ponting in trouble, no doubt about that, but that referral was so unbelievably stupid that I don't know what else to say. It pitched at least a foot outside leg stump. At least a foot. Anyway, it's 18/1. Asif to continue.

10:55 p.m. Well, if idiotic referrals was a criterion for a champion side, we'd be a mutant combination of Bradman's Invincibles, Viv's Windies, and Waugh's Aussies.

10:54 p.m. God, that was stupid. It was MILES outside leg. Idiots.

10:53 p.m. What the fuck are these idiots thinking? IF IT PITCHES OUTSIDE LEG, IT CAN'T BE LBW. STOP WASTING REVIEWS, YOU DIPSHITS.

10:51 p.m. Two short balls to follow, the last of which Ponting pulls for a single. He'll face Aamer then. I really hope we don't get carried away with the whole "Ponting is vulnerable to the short ball" theory based solely on the fact that he got hit there once. Just keep it up, and keep him driving.

10:50 p.m. Yorker first up. Smart stuff.

10:50 p.m. Good thing Akmal caught that, because it was going straight to Misbah, who would've dropped it, no doubt. Alright, here we go.

10:48 p.m. Gone! Asif gets Katich with one that just nibbled away, and Akmal takes a smart diving catch. Great bowling, typical Asif dismissal. He's so good to left-handers, it's not funny. We needed that, if only to feel good about ourselves. Now come on, Yousuf. Give Ponting three slips and a least. I don't care how good you are, playing Asif with the new ball is no joke.

10:45 p.m. Two more. I really hope this is not a sign of things to come and that this over is just an aberration.

10:44 p.m. Here we go. Another boundary, as Aamer drops it short and Watson pulls for four.

10:44 p.m. Shot. Drives Aamer straight through the line. Again, this ball is doing nothing. An opener should not be able to play that shot from a left arm over the wicket bowler in the sixth over of the innings.

10:43 p.m. Oooh. Beaten outside off, and Akmal drops it. If that had been a nick, I would have taken the next flight to Melbourne to personally slap Akmal.

10:41 p.m. I'd really like Yousuf to take out cover and put a third slip in, especially while OZ aren't racing off. You'd hate to see one go through that gap. Anyway, Watson swivels and pulls Asif's last ball down to fine leg for one. So he'll face Aamer for the first time. 5-0.

10:39 p.m. Asif zeroing in on Watson's pads here, round about middle stump. Let's see if it pays off.

10:38 p.m. This ball is doing nothing whatsoever.

10:37 p.m. I was wrong about Aamer striking Katich on the glove. It actually hit him smack on the elbow, and he's called for some medical attention.

10:37 p.m. I definitely like the headband look from Aamer. Good retro touch.

10:36 p.m. So 4-0 after four overs, with the lead a round 200. Come on guys. Let's try and get one or two wickets here.

10:34 p.m. And now Katich is away, one ball after being struck on the glove with one that sharply moved in, he tucks Aamer behind square for two. Not much swing for these two, and it looks like the Aussies are just biding their time. I feel like Rauf will be the subject of a serious onslaught.

10:31 p.m. Ooh, just off. Watson just gets an inside edge on to pads off Asif, else that would've been close. First runs for OZ, 2-0 after three overs.

10:29 p.m. Asif continues the good tight work. Something might give here.

10:27 p.m. Nice, very nice. Two maidens to start. If we can keep their lead under 300 by the end of the day, we would've done really well.

10:26 p.m. Nice and solid from Aamer here. Keeping it on and around off stump. Finish the over strong.

10:25 p.m. Pretty defensive field from Yousuf, with just two slips and a gully. Can't blame him, to be honest. It's already a 196 run lead!

10:23 p.m. And a maiden to start. Our bowlers have a job to do here -- not let them get off to a flier and completely demoralize us. We have to go in to day 4 thinking we still have a shot of saving it, even if we don't.

10:21 p.m. Safe enough outside off first couple of balls. 40 overs to go in the day. OZ could be ahead by 350 or so by the end of the day, as Mark Taylor says.

10:17 p.m. And we're back. You know, at the end of that innings, almost by impulse, I was thinking to myself: only if more players in our team displayed the type of grit Ajmal did. And then I thought: wait a minute, that's completely wrong. I'm so used to our players throwing away their wickets and not showing any determination, that it's almost second-nature to cast aspersions on their toughness. In this innings, however, it was the opposite problem. They showed plenty of fight and putting a price on their wicket, they just forgot to score runs. Yes, it would be ideal if they could find the balance between attack and defense. But I'd rather have them keep teams out there for 90+ overs than score 300 all out in 75 overs. Baby steps. Look, Australia are a much better team than us. It's not a surprise that they're dominating us. But these are encouraging signs -- Imran Farhat scoring 9 off 40 balls, Butt making 40 odd at a strike rate of 35? Better this than sparkling 20s. Anyway, Asif to Watson first up.

9:59 p.m. No, he cannot, sadly enough. Johnson comes round the wicket, and cleans up Ajmal, knocking back his off stump. Pakistan all out for 258. That's the 11th time in the last 13 innings that we haven't crossed 350 in a test innings, usually considered the bare minimum for batting sides. Australia have a huge lead of 196, and tea will now be taken. They'll probably smash us all over for a couple sessions, and put us in some time tomorrow afternoon. Be back in twenty.

9:58 p.m. Silly bowling from Johnson here, wasting his bouncers early on in the over, thereby not allowing him to use it to keep Misbah on strike at the end. Anyway, Misbah works a single to deep square off the fifth ball. Ajmal on strike...can he survive one ball?

9:57 p.m. Waiting game here, as Misbah is seemingly content on just getting one an over by not doing anything for 66% of it.

9:54 p.m. Well done. Misbah gives Ajmal one ball to face off Hauritz, and he lunges at it, as if to say: you may get me out, but I sure as hell am not getting LBW. Another over negotiated. 257/9.

9:51 p.m. And a cut through backward point for two gets us past the follow on figure. As Mark Taylor says, now we have to get as many as possible.

9:50 p.m. Nicely done. Misbah plays out five dot balls again, and gets another single off the last ball. The second half of his innings has been much better than the first. He's played smartly, Misbah. 254/9.

9:46 p.m. Haha. Hilarious. Five dot balls. On the sixth, the field comes in, and with just three to avoid the follow on, he goes for a boundary. He skies it over mid on, they could've gotten two, but Misbah is sent back by Ajmal who has the presence of mind to keep Misbah on strike for the next over.

9:43 p.m. This should be interesting. Hauritz into the attack. Field spread all over the place.

9:42 p.m. Ajmal survives. 252/9.

9:41 p.m. Hmm. Thought they had two, but they didn't. Ajmal forced to face up the majority of the over thanks to that single.

9:39 p.m. Johnson continuing to Misbah.

9:38 p.m. And Ajmal survives another last ball...just. He jumps, defends Siddle to short leg, and Katich, well, I guess you could say he dropped that, but it really wasn't a chance, it was off the middle of the bat. Still, another decent over, with seven off it.

9:35 p.m. And now slashes that dick Siddle behind square for four. Two more to follow up. 249/9.

9:33 p.m. 243/9.

9:32 p.m. Bullshit technique or not, I really like Ajmal. He's got tons of heart. I really like him.

9:29 p.m. Johnson back into the attack.

9:28 p.m. And Ajmal keeps out the one ball he was meant to keep out. I ask again: why wasn't Misbah playing this way from the minute Kamran got out? He gave Rauf WAY too many balls to face, and he had no sense of urgency whatsoever as far as boundaries were concerned. Did he think Rauf and Asif could hang around?

9:27 p.m. Fifty for Misbah. Decent innings, it's fair to say.

9:27 p.m. Our last thirteen test match innings, including this one, in reverse order (i.e. starting from this one): 241/9, 455, 223, 239, 264, 218, 332, 425/9d, 299, 320, 90, 117, 342. That's test matches by the way.

9:26 p.m. Two more off an inside edge to fine leg. Siddle is pissed.

9:25 p.m. Smart from Misbah, just working Siddle into the vacant square leg region for two. Ajmal hurries back. Good stuff.

9:20 p.m. Misbah smashes Bollinger through midwicket for four, moving across his stumps well. Like I said, too little, too late. He should've done this the minute Akmal got out.

9:19 p.m. Bunch of fucking bullies, the Aussies. Look at them have a go at Ajmal. Oh, I'm sorry the guy can't play bouncers. He's a fucking number 11. You must have massive balls, Siddle. Cunt.

9:18 p.m. Well if you're going to fend uncomfortably off your hips and shoulders, at least make it go for four. Well done, Ajmal. At least he's not scared of the ball, unlike Rauf.

9:16 p.m. Wow, our tail can't play short bowling for shit. Ajmal looks lost. Not as lost as Rauf, mind, but lost nonetheless.

9:12 p.m. Nope. Ajmal will have to face Siddle. Probably the last over of this innings then, but after the drinks break.

9:11 p.m. Another four, this to third man off an edge. One ball to go. Single?

9:09 p.m. Finally, Misbah realizes he's batting with the tail, and hits a boundary down the ground. About half an hour too late.

9:08 p.m. 220/9 by the way.

9:06 p.m. This is a bloody procession. Asif edges Siddle off his third ball straightforwardly to third slip. A duck for Asif. Ajmal in.

9:03 p.m. Meanwhile Misbah do nothing. Nothing at all.

9:02 p.m. Asif in.

9:00 p.m. And he's finally put out of his misery, as Bollinger pitches it up, a simple nick, and a simple catch to first slip. What a torturous innings that was.

8:59 p.m. This guy should not be batting ahead of Ajmal and Asif. He's a joke. I really hope he doesn't play at Sydney. He's a waste of a spot.

8:57 p.m. Keep in mind that Australia are thrashing us without three of their best players -- Clark, North and Haddin -- doing anything.

8:55 p.m. The commies are actually laughing at us. Can't blame them. Rauf looks like a boy amongst men.

8:53 p.m. We're so pathetic. We're just a pathetic bunch of pathetic batsmen and pathetic bowlers and really pathetic fielders.

8:53 p.m. Siddle coming round the wicket to Rauf, who's legitimately scared of the ball.

8:52 p.m. Hey, Misbah! Here's an idea: try taking a run every now and then! How about that?

8:50 p.m. I have no idea what these commentators are talking about.

8:48 p.m. A Sami sighting! To think that this guy's career has been resurrected. What a team we have.

8:45 p.m. Wow, Rauf is actually backing away to square leg. Some all-rounder.

8:44 p.m. By the way, Rauf is in. Remember, he was basically preferred over Gullee for his batting, because it sure as hell couldn't have been for his bowling. Let's see you bat now, kid.

8:43 p.m. Well, there you go. Bollinger's had a wicket in each of his first two overs with the new ball. God, this has been a pathetic batting performance.

8:41 p.m. Ah, crap. Got carried away, Kamran, trying to drive a ball not there to drive. Nicks it to Haddin, and we're well and truly fucked now. 215/7, and the question now becomes how soon Australia will be into bat again. They're not going to enforce the follow on, I don't think.

8:39 p.m. And one more, this time a better shot, all along the ground. He's moved to 12.

8:38 p.m. Kamran works Bollinger behind point for four. Thrill a minute stuff from him at the moment.

8:37 p.m. And a good, probing over ends with no runs.

8:34 p.m. Siddle from the other end, to Misbah.

8:32 p.m. And then a short one, as Akmal decides at the last minute to not pull. Great cricket. 207/6. Can we get to 300? Well, let's put it this way: they're not going to get much help from Asif, Ajmal or Rauf.

8:32 p.m. Beaten next ball outside off, with one that stayed a touch low. Engrossing stuff, this.

8:31 p.m. Hahahaha. After fiddling around with his grip and gloves for an eternity before facing up, he smacks Bollinger through the covers for four first up. Didn't bother running either. These Akmal brothers' balls are just plus sized.

8:28 p.m. Well, he's gone now. Aamer's determined struggle comes to a close, as he edges one to first slip off the back foot. Regulation stuff. Did his job, Aamer, batting all of the morning session. Kamran Akmal in.

8:27 p.m. Edged and falls short of Ponting at second slip. Richie Benaud, who's been harping on the slips' positioning through the morning, has a "I told you so" tone to his voice right now. Come up, he keeps saying.

8:26 p.m. And Ponting's not wasting any time, taking the new ball right away. Johnson might feel aggrieved that despite bowling well, he's been taken off in favor of Bollinger. Aamer to face up.

8:25 p.m. And two more to fine leg, as Misbah continues ticking it over. New ball is now available. 203/5, still 250 runs behind Australia.

8:24 p.m. Misbah works Hauritz for two behind square, to get us up to 200.

8:22 p.m. And now a slash through gully for four. Dangerous, but I'll take it. We've never put Ponting in a position of having to take out slips and gullies, because we simply haven't been aggressive enough. I doubt it'll happen in this session, mainly because we don't have the wickets to play with, but let this be a lesson: these guys aren't monsters and McGraths and Warnes. They're human, and you can get after them (like Umar did).

8:20 p.m. Oooh. Johnson gets one to bite off a back of a length, Aamer tries to ride it but gloves it. Could've gone anywhere, but as it stands, it looped safely to third slip on the bounce.

8:17 p.m. Nice batting from Misbah, it must be said, as he laps Hauritz for four to fine leg.

8:16 p.m. And first runs after lunch, as Aamer works it to square leg for a single. Misbah on strike. Square leg and midwicket half way back to the boundary.

8:15 p.m. Interesting move, as Hauritz to bowl from the other end. I wonder how Misbah will play him. Aamer to face up though.

8:14 p.m. And a maiden to start.

8:09 p.m. And we're back. By the way, Umar Akmal has now played seven innings of test cricket, all away from home, all in relatively challenging conditions. He has scored less than 46 once. Anyway, let's talk about the present: Misbah and Aamer to continue to grind it out. Mitchell Johnson to continue.

7:31 p.m. The crowd's still buzzing about that drop. Anyway, as Aamer plays out a maiden from Hauritz, that's lunch. Normally if we were 90-1 in any session against OZ, I'd give it to us, but that one was it's theirs by a country mile. Be back in forty.

7:29 p.m. You couldn't have dropped Umar when he edged it to you off the same bowler, Punter? Really? You took that nice and easy, and decided to drop Misbah instead? Thanks man.

7:28 p.m. Unbelievable. As soon as I say that, Misbah nicks Johnson to Ponting...who drops it. Ricky Ponting just dropped a catch. Wow.

7:26 p.m. Wow, Misbah gets a two down to third man. I'm shocked. He's actually ticking it over, somehow making it to 22.

7:24 p.m. What a bastard Ponting is. Throws it at Aamer from silly point, it hits him in the throat, and the madarchod laughs about it. I hope Aamer wraps his bat around Ponting's neck.

7:23 p.m. Another slog sweep, this for four.

7:22 p.m. Haha. Typical Misbah. Block, block, block, slog. This time he connected, and it goes for six. Please remember what happened when he tried it against Vettori at Napier.

7:20 p.m. The runs have dried up again. It really is amazing the extent to which batsmen not named Akmal can't score runs for us. They can hang around at times, but they can't actually make runs. Anyway, Hauritz into the attack with ten minutes to go before lunch.

7:18 p.m. Oooh, late on that, Aamer. If he survives till lunch, it would be a really excellent effort from him. Remember, he's supposed to be a bowler.

7:14 p.m. You know how it's sort of out of the ordinary for frontline batsmen to play and a miss, and consequently the commentators and fielding side get excited when it happens? With Misbah, wouldn't it make sense if those reactions are engendered by his actually connecting?

7:13 p.m. You know what my biggest regret is about this morning? That Umar didn't get to bat against Hauritz. That would've been hilarious.

7:11 p.m. This is how entertaining the cricket is right now: the commentators are talking about Asif Iqbal's running between the wickets. No, seriously. 177/5 by the way.

7:08 p.m. Oh, for fuck's sake. That's a run. Take the single. Both were asleep there.

7:07 p.m. Hahahahahaha. Misbah is such a bad batsman. I can't believe he's ever made runs at the international level. That was the worst shot I've ever seen. His feet went absolutely nowhere to a 130 km/h bowler. The fact that it went through the vacant third slip region for four is besides the point: he's a terrible player.

7:05 p.m. Tony Grieg cannot pronounce the word "Akmal". He makes it sound like akkhhhhhmal. Idiot.

7:03 p.m. Feed issues. Hang on.

7:00 p.m. Aamer punches Watson down the ground for three. First runs in about three overs. Warney is right: our entire mindset has been much too defensive, particularly from the top three.

6:57 p.m. Give credit to Aamer. Despite his faulty technique, he's showing great determination to gut it out.

6:55 p.m. At best -- at absolute best -- we will be able to bat till tea. Assuming we do, we'll probably end up with a score of around 300. Again, that's assuming things go really, really well, and Kamran goes a little crazy in the afternoon session. OZ will then probably bat two and a half sessions, giving us between 400 and 500 to win in a day and a half. We'll lose early on the fifth day. Which, again, is the best case scenario.

6:46 p.m. You'll notice I'm not saying much. It's because nothing's happening. Although Misbah did just glance Johnson for four. 169/5.

6:39 p.m. Misbah gets off the mark with a single to mid on off Bollinger, who's back into the attack. Even his calling for a single annoys me.

6:38 p.m. Anyway, let's move on. Aamer is still hanging around, soon to be joined by Kamran Akmal, no doubt. 164/5.

6:34 p.m. I remember a passage from Bill Simmons' book on Charles Oakley. He -- Simmons, that is -- asked an unnamed NBA player what made Oakley so intimidating. The player responded, "There's a lot of tough guys in the league, but Oak...he just don't give a fuck." And that's Umar's batting -- he just doesn't give a fuck. It's the most exciting thing about Pakistani cricket since Asif's rise in the first half of 2006. So he got out today playing a big shot. Big fucking deal. He's 19. It shouldn't be on his shoulders to play the responsible elder statesman, anyway.

6:32 p.m. It has to be said, that was perhaps a little too attacking a shot for the last ball before drinks. But as Mark Taylor says, that's the way he plays. You can't get upset at him for playing his natural game. Sigh. We'll see you again soon, Umar. Probably later today in fact.

6:31 p.m. Quite possibly the most useless man alive, Misbah-ul-Haq, comes in.

6:29 p.m. Wow, that hurt. Just as he was getting going and we were getting some momentum. God, he looked good. God, that hurt.

6:27 p.m. Gone! Umar's gone. I'm not going to describe it to you because I don't feel like. Shit.

6:26 p.m. Heart-in-mouth stuff, as Umar edges Johnson through the slips for four. Ponting just has a slip and a gully in, so it's a big gap, but man, was that scary. Brings up his fifty though.

6:22 p.m. Ooh, play and a miss, as he tries to dink it for a single off the last ball. 154/4 then. Aamer will face up for the first time in a while to Mitchell Johnson, who's replaced the motor mouth Siddle.

6:20 p.m. This is obviously messing with Watson's head, as he loses his line, goes down legside, and Umar just glances him for four. Highest score of the innings now, Umar.

6:19 p.m. Haddin's gone back, and so Umar goes back to advancing down against Watson to nullify the swing. Cat and mouse here.

6:17 p.m. And another four. He's got the commentators talking now, Umar. This guy's talent gives me goose-bumps. Smart enough to work a single off the last ball too, giving him 19 off the over. Don't think Siddle will be talking too much shit for a while.

6:16 p.m. My goodness, me. Siddle drops it short again, and Umar just short arm jabs it for six. Remember, this is the MCG -- these boundaries are long. That just sailed over.

6:14 p.m. Yeah, Umar. He just clears his front leg and smashes Siddle wide off mid on for four. Next ball is dropped short and he pulls it handsomely. The Aussie crowd is oohing and aahing.

6:13 p.m. Oyyyeee! Umar almost chops Siddle down. Goes back and across, gets an under edge, it hits his foot, and almost rolls on to the stumps. Too close for comfort.

6:13 p.m. Steady going so far this morning, then. 131/4.

6:09 p.m. I missed four byes there, because my feed was acting funny. Hey, cricket feed guy: don't mess around with me today. Please.

6:06 p.m. Play and a miss. I don't see Aamer surviving long here.

6:04 p.m. Fucking hell. Aamer slashes Siddle, it drops just short of Ponting at second slip, Umar hares down, is sent back, and is almost run out. Almost two dismissals in one ball. Come on, Aamer. Keep the bat STRAIGHT. Not angled. STRAIGHT.

6:03 p.m. Thankfully nothing happened. 126/4.

6:01 p.m. Aargh. Feed problems. Gimme a second.

5:59 p.m. This Umar is something else. He's coming eight feet down the wicket to a 135 km/h bowler, and then tucks it behind square for two. Watson just looks bemused, and Haddin comes up to the stumps. He did this yesterday too, mainly to negate the reverse Watson was getting.

5:58 p.m. And a single to keep the strike. Half an hour successfully negotiated then. That's how we have to look at today: half hour increments. Anyway, Watson replaces Bollinger.

5:57 p.m. It's all happening, as Bill Lawry would say. Umar spanks Siddle down the ground for four, and the next ball ducks into one that stays low. Yikes, that was ugly. The super slo-mo shows the helmet bobbling about on his head. Ugh. He seems okay though, just shaken up.

5:55 p.m. Hahaha. These Aussies are such bastards. Umar plays an air-pull, and Watson and short mid-wicket yells at him "Yes, I'd like to see that." Umar just laughs. Next ball Siddle follows up with a volley of abuse to a perfectly innocuous delivery.

5:54 p.m. Siddle cranking it up here, up to 146 km/h. Umar steady.

5:52 p.m. A maiden from Bollinger, mixing it up well to Aamer with inswingers, balls pitched up, and a short one to finish. Aamer was up to it though. Still 118/4.

5:47 p.m. Aamer glides Siddle dangerously to the slips. It's his most obvious weakness, the open face when defending. Gets a single out of it though.

5:45 p.m. Hahaha. The OZ commentators -- especially Bill Lawry and Heals -- think our batting line up is "very strong" and they "don't know how good they are". Hilarious. They clearly haven't seen Misbah bat yet.

5:43 p.m. Tony Greig is giving "all the mums out there" advice on how to clean cricket whites. Okay. Anyway, Umar gets a single off the last ball to retain the strike.

5:41 p.m. Haha. Listen, Umar. Just because you really want to get on strike doesn't mean you run Aamer out on his first ball. Just a thought.

5:39 p.m. Shut up, Siddle. Don't you dare say a word to our prince. Over bowled, by the way. 114/4.

5:36 p.m. Bang! Siddle ovetpitches and Umar pings him through the covers. Heals calls him a mix of "Sachin Tendulkar and Javed Miandad". Calm down, kids. Calm down.

5:34 p.m. First runs of the morning then, as Bollinger drifts down Umar's pads and there's a single to fine leg. Siddle to open the attack from the other end.

5:33 p.m. Man, 454 seems a long way off right now. Long, long way off.

5:32 p.m. Ooh. Beaten outside off.

5:32 p.m. Left safely alone outside off. We need Umar to bat two sessions today. That might actually get this game to the fifth day.

5:31 p.m. Bollinger will open up to Umar. Alright, here we go.

5:30 p.m. Come on, Umar. Show these guys you're no fluke.

5:27 p.m. Wow, hearing Aamir Sohail bitch and moan about anything and everything under the sun is not fun, that's for sure. I'd rather do the bitching and moaning myself, thanks. And that's what the next seven hours are for; Lord knows our team will give me plenty to bitch and moan about.

Hello and welcome to Rs.5's coverage of the third day's play between Pakistan and Australia. As always, all times are local (i.e. Chicago).

Kicking Donatello Out Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?

That's what Yglesias wants to do:

My family took me to the Met a bunch when I was a kid. I’ve been to pretty much all of Western Europe’s super-obvious famous museums. And it’s just clear that Donatello doesn’t have the star power of the other three.

My suggestion as a replacement turtle would be Titian. He doesn’t quite have the blockbuster appeal of the other three, but no one does, and I think he comes closest. I also think he chronologically matches the other better. I suppose the counterargument would be that he’s Venetian and the others are Florentine, but it’s all Italy to the kids.

My biggest problem with the Ninja Turtles was that Shredder never, ever, EVER won. Even as a kid, I always had a soft spot for the underdog, even if they were the bad guy. Why can't they let the bad guy win sometimes? He'll get his ass kicked in the next episode anyway, so it doesn't actually mean anything. I mean, even Tom got some good shots in at the rat Jerry, so why can't Shredder ever come out on top?

Two Years Since Benazir Bhutto's Death (Updated Below)

I don't have a tremendous amount to say, to be honest. I think it's sort of interesting to go back and read my own thoughts any time something truly momentous happens -- and plenty has happened in the last five years. I wrote three posts during and immediately after the assassination: this one was a live-blogging news update kind of thingy, this one was more analytical, one I wrote late into the night, and this one was from the next morning, when there is still a palpable shock in my writing.

I remember exactly where I was the night it happened. I was at the W's house (she was the WTB back then), visiting her parents. I was making my goodbye visit, because I was leaving the country the next day to go back to the U.S. I was sitting and talking to them in their bedroom, where the TV was on, and suddenly, around 6 p.m. or so, news alerts started popping up from everywhere about a terrorist attack aimed at Benazir Bhutto's rally in Rawalpindi's Liaqat Bagh. We started watching more intently, and soon enough, the news came through: she was dead.

I remember doubting the veracity of the story; Pakistani news organizations are sensationalistic at the best of times, and I remember thinking that while the attack obviously cannot be denied, someone has made a mistake in pronouncing her dead. There will be much embarrassment, and as usual, our television news stations will be made to look foolish.

Well, that didn't happen.

I was supposed to go see a friend called Zeyd -- regular readers will be familiar with him -- after the W's parents, but there was no chance. If my instincts didn't urge me to return home, my father certainly did. He called my cell, and in a grave and monotone voice, simply said: "You should come home now." You don't understand; my dad always exchanges pleasantries before saying anything of substance. This time, he did not bother. It was a one sentence phone call, and frankly, even that sentence was superfluous. I called Zeyd to tell him I wasn't showing up, and before the words even came out of my mouth, he cut me off, and said "Yeah, I know bro. Safe flight -- if you can get on it."

It was actually a pretty legitimate worry. Even as I drove home, no more than 30 minutes after she was officially dead, the police presence was being thickened in the city. I could hear helicopters flying overhead, and there simply weren't that many people on the streets.

And the next day? Yikes. For people who were not in Pakistan or specifically Karachi at the time, my powers of description are not good enough to paint a picture of the city the next day. The only people out were rioters, or so it seemed. The city was completely and utterly dead. The only signs of life, ironically, were burned tires and overturned buses with their windows smashed in. I have lived in Karachi through terrorist attacks and Operation Clean Up and MQM strikes and Shia-Sunni violence and god knows what else...but I have never, ever, ever seen Karachi like that. The most hustling and bustling city in Pakistan was brought to its knees.

Now, two years later, what can we really say about her death? We cannot know how it impacted her family, so I will refrain from commenting on personal matters. In this I am one of few Pakistanis, I think it is safe to say. Consider this: the google search for "zardari killed benazir" is the fifth most popular search term that has led to our blog in its history. The four that beat it are "five rupees", "fiverupees", "five rupees blog" and "5 rupees". Pakistanis are a cynical bunch, that is for sure.

But on a political level, I think we can say a couple of things. One, it is hard to see how things would really be different if she were alive and, presumably, in control of the country. Yes, she was a more skillful politician than her husband. But the structural hand that he was dealt, in my opinion, would have consumed her too. I think Musharraf's departure would have been more bitter and of the "crying and screaming" variety (as opposed to the "gently nudged aside, into the sunset" variety that it ended up being). I think she might have had more credibility with some of the other stakeholders in Pakistani politics (except for the military, which probably hated her more than it hated her father, and that's really saying something). But ultimately, she was as polarizing a figure as her husband, and I think we would be in a very similar place that we are today. The only major difference, I think, would be that the Presidency would have been completely neutered by now. BB would have become Prime Minister, forced out Musharraf as President, installed a loyalist of some sort -- who knows, it might have been Gilani himself -- and then sought to make the President nothing but a figurehead. Of that I have no doubt.

The second thing to note, more obviously, is that the Bhutto name is still strong. Dynastic politics are very much with us. Just as Zulfiqar Bhutto groomed her daughter to take over the country one day, Asif Zardari is training Bilawal Bhutto to take over the mantle. For this family, the party is their property, no more, no less. Whether they succeed is another matter entirely; the Pakistan of 2009 is very different from the Pakistan of 1979, which is when BB started getting her feet wet in politics. The central point, however, remains that for many, the PPP is synonymous with the Bhutto name, and the latter still constitutes a vote-bank.

The third and final point I want to make is that it's been quite strange to see her death as basically a prop by all sorts of political actors. From the inane "democracy is the best revenge" line to the "Benazir Income Support Programme", her death has not been accorded the respect it deserved as such an important public figure. But maybe that's just the way politics works in Pakistan.

UPDATE: Mohammad Hanif is, as usual, brilliant and funny and smart and fair. Read his piece on remembering BB. An excerpt:

Any sudden death can tinge one’s memory and judgment, but there are certain facts about her that are conveniently ignored. Even if all the allegations about her corruption and arrogance are true, one should keep in mind that she was active in politics for 30 years, out of which she was in power only for four and a half years. The rest of the time she struggled against two of the most well entrenched military dictators in the region. Still she managed to raise three kids, took care of an ailing mother and stayed in the most notorious arranged marriage in South Asia.

The reason we don’t see very many dossiers on the financial corruption during General Zia and General Musharraf’s regimes is that when Bhutto was in power the intelligence agencies went into over drive documenting or sometimes inventing her misdemeanours. When the generals or their cronies are in power all the intelligence leaks just dry up.

I'm Back

And I'm going to be live-blogging Day 3's play between Pakistan and Australia. While it won't be fun to see us lose within three days, I'm hoping at least that Umar Akmal puts on a show. He looked good in his time at the crease. So join me tomorrow to witness a Class A thrashing at the hands of the Aussies -- another one, that is.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Programming Note

I won't be blogging for the next few days since the W and I are taking a little trip away to celebrate our first anniversary. But I don't feel that bad since I've given you enough to read over the last couple of days.

I will be back online for either the second or third day of the first test against Australia. Of course by then we might've already lost.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Story Of The Day

From the Poli Sci message board I linked to the other day:

When I was a TA a while back, I got an unmemorable but adequate paper, gave it a B-. Student comes to my office, says "I have a concern about my grade. You gave it a B-, but my girlfriend turned it in to another TA and she got a B." I paused for a couple of seconds, maintained my composure, and calmly said "that does sound like a problem. If you can bring me your paper and your girlfriend's paper, hopefully we can sort this out". So he does, and we turned them both in for plagiarism.

Actually, that wasn't a frustration. It was awesome.

You really should read some of the others on there.

The Most Important Sociopolitical Trend In Pakistan In The Last Decade

For the vast majority of Pakistan’s history, its politics have been an elite-led phenomenon. There have been three actors in which have been of prime importance: the military, the land-owning feudal classes, and the business-owning industrialist classes. Representatives of each have controlled Pakistan at various times, and at other times battled each other for power. But the fundamental point would be that each of them remained institutionally divorced from the issues and concerns of, on the one hand, the professional and middle classes in urban centers, and on the other, the rural poor. Lip-service to their demands was paid, to be sure, but little was done substantively to advance their cause.

This state of affairs did not prove terribly problematic for the ruling classes. Indeed, why would it? The military, by definition, was not accountable to electoral politics. The country’s dominant political parties, safely ensconced in the knowledge of secure ethnic-based vote banks, could hardly be characterized as overly concerned with the so-called common man either. In short, Pakistan witnessed regime after regime of accountability-free rule, in all senses of the term.

Where this divide, between the government and the governed, was most stark was in the realm of foreign affairs. Whether it was fighting wars, instigating guerrilla campaigns in neighboring states, signing deals and treaties in foreign capitals, joining international organizations or whatever, Pakistan’s leaders conducted business without any real input from its public.

In the last decade, this picture has changed dramatically due to three central factors.

The first and most important factor is the explosion of private electronic media. In the 1990s, it was difficult for most Pakistanis -- the vast majority of which cannot or do not read newspapers -- to get information that was not government-sponsored or, less mildly, propagandistic. The BBC, both on television and on the radio, did a fair job of covering the truly major events in Pakistan, but like most foreign news agencies, it was obviously not concerned with the nitty-gritty politics of daily life. As such, governments could control the tenor and direction of the dominant political debates of the day. This is not to suggest that they enjoyed a hassle-free existence, but to posit that those hassles came from other elites, not from below.

This picture has changed drastically, as anyone with even a cursory interest in Pakistan will be able to tell you. There are now dozens of news channels in Pakistan, each with their own ideological and partisan bent. Some are national-level, others more regionally and ethnically focused. The trend began in the early part of this decade and has plateaued only recently, as the market gets sated. And while few of these channels will win awards for calm understatement or presciently sedate analysis, the fact remains that the media -- if it can be spoken of as a collective -- has given voice to a mass of the population previously unheard from. It has become a player of truly monumental importance for its ability to shape, mold, and excite the public. It is, at once, sensationalistic, blood-thirsty, xenophobic, conspiratorial, humorous, investigative, and anti-government. And yet its arrival on the scene is more than welcome, first for providing the venue for disenfranchised interests to make themselves known and second because the alternative is much worse.

The second significant factor, related to but distinct from the first, is the rise of communication technologies in Pakistan, particularly cellular phones. In 2002, there were 1.2 million cell-phone subscriptions in the country. By 2008, this number had risen to 88 million -- an increase of more than seven thousand percent. In addition, more than one in ten Pakistanis had access to the internet by the end of the decade; low by advanced countries' standards but an astronomical rise by Pakistan's. These developments in communications meant that political narratives became congealed and disseminated at speeds never heard of before, and that information and the wider "war" for public opinion became incredibly hard to win if a battle was lost at any stage.

The third major factor is the economic growth that took place in Pakistan in the first half of the 2000s. Pakistan's GDP doubled between 1999 and 2007, and more than kept pace with population growth, as GDP per capita increased by almost sixty percent between 2000 and 2008. More to the point, this growth was overwhelmingly powered by expansion of the service sector, which is concentrated, quite naturally, in the urban centers of the country. For the first time since independence, the term "Pakistani urban middle class" was not a contradiction in terms.

This development had two effects. First, and more trivially, the urban middle class did what urban middle classes do: they bought televisions and computers. In turn, that allowed them to plug into the private media explosion in ways simply unimaginable previously. Second, it shattered the elite-only edifice of Pakistani politics, and made challenges to government based on Main Street issues -- the price of flour, the lack of electricity, the selective application of the rule of law -- a viable process. Fifty years ago, Seymour Lipset wrote one of the canonical articles in Political Science on the process of democratization, its relationship to urbanized middle classes, and how the demands and values of the latter lead almost inexorably to support for the former. Here was living proof of Lipset's analysis.

What these factors -- private media, communication technologies, and the birth of a viable (but still small) middle class -- meant in conjunction was that political currents would now be affected by, and not merely find a sponge-like audience in, a new non-elite movement.

Many writers, quite fairly and accurately, have chosen to focus on the merits of this movement, by focusing, for instance, on its role in assuring that Presidents Musharraf and Zardari's attempts to sideline Chief Justice Chaudhary would be unsuccessful, or in unyielding efforts aimed at removing Musharraf from office. But what often goes unsaid is that this new political actor has destructive tendencies too, and it is in foreign affairs where this is made most apparent. Why? For the simple reason that foreign policy is the one area where the expectations of Pakistan's population concerning its leaders to speak for it on the one hand, and the capabilities of Pakistan's leaders to deliver on the other, are most conducive to clashing.

On the domestic front, Pakistan's turn to mass politics has been attendant with a rising nationalism and a suspicion of other countries, most notably but not limited to the U.S. and India, bordering on the pathological. While half-baked conspiracy theories and a reflexive defensiveness used to be the sole purview of the military establishment, these ideas now find currency amongst the wider population. The country as a whole is without the slightest smidgen of a doubt more right-wing and xenophobic than it was ten years ago. And while there are moderately strong winds based on reason and evidence that fan the flames of this discontent -- the revelations of Blackwater operating in the country, along with the increasingly cavalier approach of the U.S. with respect to action in Balochistan amongst them -- most of these opinions are flatly nonsensical: the notion of a joint Israel-India-U.S. axis to destroy Pakistan and redraw its boundaries, and the idea that terrorist incidents in Pakistan are plotted by Indian intelligence agents, to name just two of many.

This increasing distrust of foreign actors and their designs for Pakistan is reflected in great anger at any cooperation with said foreign actors, specifically the U.S. But this is where the bind that Pakistan's leaders find themselves in becomes clear. If Pakistani leaders would be best served domestically by bowing to the wishes of its people, and living a more isolationist existence, why don't they? Why don't they simply follow the dictates of the so-called median voter?

The short answer is simple: because they cannot. Thucydides, as all students in an introductory courses in International Relations are told, famously said that the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must. Pakistan's macroeconomic indicators fell off a clip following the surge in oil prices in 2007 and the financial collapse in 2008. It has witnessed a period of great political upheaval from March 2007 to the present. Its military is unable, at least at present, to meaningfully impact the extent to which militant groups can attack and kill innocent civilians. In short, it is in no position to dictate terms to outsiders.

Here, then, we have a quandary: the nationalist public wants its leaders to be brash and uncompromising. But leaders find that, once in office, they are in no position to do so. Domestic political demands cede to international political imperatives. This Catch-22 was made most apparent during the wholly inane furor over the Kerry-Lugar bill, where the Pakistani public was, in effect, being indignant at the insult of being handed seven and a half billion dollars. The government was accused of selling out the country and its people; the reality that aid-acceptors are not usually able to put their foot down on the precise ways in which the money is delivered scarcely registered.

Or consider this piece of evidence: Asif Zardari and Pervez Musharraf have almost nothing in common, save for the fact that they attended the same high school (St.Patrick's, for the Karachiites in the audience). The former is from a feudal family in Sindh, the latter a middle class family in Karachi. The former is a businessman and politician, the latter a general. The former never garnered the trust of the military-bureaucratic establishment in Pakistan, the latter is the establishment (or was). The former gained power by being married to the late Benazir Bhutto and inheriting (literally) the largest political party in the country, the latter by launching a coup, and relying on the military as an unshakable base of power. Their styles of leadership are starkly dissimilar too; Zardari stays out of the limelight as much as possible, and engages in backdoor deal-making, Musharraf was gung-ho and confrontational. And yet, despite all these differences, they share one all-important trait: the regularity with which they are and were accused of being traitorous, and disloyal to Pakistan's national interests.

The underlying reasons for that accusation, I hope, are obvious: despite their many differences, they shared the same set of constraints, falling prey to the clashing forces of domestic nationalism and international helplessness that would befall any Pakistani leader in the current climate. And yes, Nawaz Sharif, that means you too --if it comes to that. The simple fact is that this trend is unlikely to abate any time soon. On the one hand, vicious nationalism is a notoriously sticky phenomenon. On the other hand, Pakistan's bargaining position on the international table is unlikely to improve enough in the short-term whereby its leaders will be able to "just say no" on the issues which are most costly with respect to their domestic political interests.

As such we should, if I am correct, see the tension between these competing pressures on Pakistan's leaders continue, and challenge even the most adroit and strategic of leaders. The obvious solution -- easier said than done, it must be conceded -- is to gain cache with the population with sound governance, so that the public can at least weigh the benefits of higher standards of living against the demerits of purported treachery and disloyalty. Indeed, it is striking that Musharraf enjoyed excellent approval ratings from the Pakistani public, well above 60 percent, until he took on the Chief Justice in March, 2007 (see p.39 of this report). Ironically, given my analysis, Musharraf never suffered for his international "mistake" to ally with the U.S. until he compounded it with one on the domestic front.

The lesson, then, is that Pakistani leaders do have some room for error with the Pakistani public, but not a great deal, and certainly less than their predecessors.