Reply Thu 15 Nov, 2007 01:57 pm
Perhaps the most bizarre part of this circus has been the hijacking of the democratic cause by my aunt, the twice-disgraced former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto. While she was hashing out a deal to share power with Gen. Pervez Musharraf last month, she repeatedly insisted that without her, democracy in Pakistan would be a lost cause. Now that the situation has changed, she's saying that she wants Musharraf to step down and that she'd like to make a deal with his opponents -- but still, she says, she's the savior of democracy.

The reality, however, is that there is no one better placed to benefit from emergency rule than she is. Along with the leaders of prominent Islamic parties, she has been spared the violent retributions of emergency law. Yes, she now appears to be facing seven days of house arrest, but what does that really mean? While she was supposedly under house arrest at her Islamabad residence last week, 50 or so of her party members were comfortably allowed to join her. She addressed the media twice from her garden, protected by police given to her by the state, and was not reprimanded for holding a news conference. (By contrast, the very suggestion that they might hold a news conference has placed hundreds of other political activists under real arrest, in real jails.)

Ms. Bhutto's political posturing is sheer pantomime. Her negotiations with the military and her unseemly willingness until just a few days ago to take part in Musharraf's regime have signaled once and for all to the growing legions of fundamentalists across South Asia that democracy is just a guise for dictatorship.

It is widely believed that Ms. Bhutto lost both her governments on grounds of massive corruption. She and her husband, a man who came to be known in Pakistan as "Mr. 10%," have been accused of stealing more than $1 billion from Pakistan's treasury. She is appealing a money-laundering conviction by the Swiss courts involving about $11 million. Corruption cases in Britain and Spain are ongoing.

It was particularly unappealing of Ms. Bhutto to ask Musharraf to bypass the courts and drop the many corruption cases that still face her in Pakistan. He agreed, creating the odiously titled National Reconciliation Ordinance in order to do so. Her collaboration with him was so unsubtle that people on the streets are now calling her party, the Pakistan People's Party, the Pervez People's Party. Now she might like to distance herself, but it's too late.

Why did Ms. Bhutto and her party cronies demand that her corruption cases be dropped, but not demand that the cases of activists jailed during the brutal regime of dictator Zia ul-Haq (from 1977 to 1988) not be quashed? What about the sanctity of the law? When her brother Mir Murtaza Bhutto -- my father -- returned to Pakistan in 1993, he faced 99 cases against him that had been brought by Zia's military government. The cases all carried the death penalty. Yet even though his sister was serving as prime minister, he did not ask her to drop the cases. He returned, was arrested at the airport and spent the remaining years of his life clearing his name, legally and with confidence, in the courts of Pakistan.

Ms. Bhutto's repeated promises to end fundamentalism and terrorism in Pakistan strain credulity because, after all, the Taliban government that ran Afghanistan was recognized by Pakistan under her last government -- making Pakistan one of only three governments in the world to do so.

And I am suspicious of her talk of ensuring peace. My father was a member of Parliament and a vocal critic of his sister's politics. He was killed outside our home in 1996 in a carefully planned police assassination while she was prime minister. There were 70 to 100 policemen at the scene, all the streetlights had been shut off and the roads were cordoned off. Six men were killed with my father. They were shot at point-blank range, suffered multiple bullet wounds and were left to bleed on the streets.

My father was Benazir's younger brother. To this day, her role in his assassination has never been adequately answered, although the tribunal convened after his death under the leadership of three respected judges concluded that it could not have taken place without approval from a "much higher" political authority.

I have personal reasons to fear the danger that Ms. Bhutto's presence in Pakistan brings, but I am not alone. The Islamists are waiting at the gate. They have been waiting for confirmation that the reforms for which the Pakistani people have been struggling have been a farce, propped up by the White House. Since Musharraf seized power in 1999, there has been an earnest grass-roots movement for democratic reform. The last thing we need is to be tied to a neocon agenda through a puppet "democrat" like Ms. Bhutto.

By supporting Ms. Bhutto, who talks of democracy while asking to be brought to power by a military dictator, the only thing that will be accomplished is the death of the nascent secular democratic movement in my country. Democratization will forever be de-legitimized, and our progress in enacting true reforms will be quashed. We Pakistanis are certain of this.

Fatima Bhutto is a Pakistani poet and writer. She is the daughter of Mir Murtaza Bhutto, who was killed in 1996 in Karachi when his sister, Benazir, was prime minister.
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Reply Thu 15 Nov, 2007 02:39 pm
How did the Bush administration help create this mess? It all started in 2002. The Bush administration decided U.S. forces should stay and occupy Afghanistan after their successful invasion to oust the radical Islamist Taliban movement from power. Meddling in and occupation of Muslim lands by non-Muslims is what drives Islamists to violent acts - guerrilla warfare and terrorism. For example, American support for the corrupt Saudi Arabian regime, and U.S. military presence in holiest lands of Islam, led Osama bin Laden to launch his terrorist campaign against the United States. Similarly, continued U.S. and Western occupation of Afghanistan and the failed attempt to eradicate opium, the primary crop of the poor Afghan people, have led to Afghan disillusionment with the West and increased support for a resurgent Taliban movement.

That's where Pakistan comes in. The Pakistani intelligence services, in order to dominate Afghanistan, supported the Taliban in its original quest for power, then during its despotic rule. Although Musharraf, under intense pressure to switch sides after 9/11, rhetorically supported the U.S. "war on terror" and pocketed $10 billion in American aid, he needed the support of those same Islamists to survive in power. Thus, he never made a real effort to capture or kill Osama bin Laden, suspected to be hiding in northwest Pakistan. On the contrary, he pledged not to attack the Islamists in that area. Meanwhile, as with the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, U.S. backing and military assistance to the Musharraf government has fueled an Islamic resurgence in Pakistan, too.

Now it is within the realm of possibility to have a repeat of the 1978 situation in the shah's Iran. The population could become so enraged at a brutal dictator supported by the United States that eventually a hostile radical Islamist government could take power. But this time, in Pakistan, it would be a regime with nuclear weapons - in short, an Islamic bomb. So the Bush administration may yet hand us the worst of all worlds: bin Laden and company still on the loose and again guarded by an Islamist regime, this time with nuclear weapons.

The Bush administration has continually exacerbated the threat of radical Islamism by refusing to see that U.S. meddling in Islamic nations is fueling the problem. Overt U.S. occupation of Afghanistan and support for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, along with U.S. backing and aid to Musharraf in Pakistan, have inflamed the entire region.

So after 9/11, what would have been a better U.S. policy? After the destruction of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, the United States should have called a conclave of all Afghan groups and stated that Afghan governance was the business of Afghans; but if any Afghan government gave anti-U.S. terrorists sanctuary, the U.S. military would return with a vengeance. If the U.S. had employed such a policy, the Taliban likely would not be resurgent today.

As for Pakistan, for an entire year after 9/11, Musharraf quietly gave the United States free reign to nab bin Laden. But instead of using its covert forces quietly to take full advantage of this offer, the U.S. provided ostentatious diplomatic support and military aid, turning Pakistan - in the eyes of the Islamists - into an American puppet.

The first step toward a smarter policy in the region is to recognize that the United States is part of the problem. In Afghanistan, the United States still could do what it should have done after 9/11; withdrawing its forces would extinguish the fire of the Taliban resurgence. In Pakistan, Musharraf is likely to fall, but such a close U.S. hug for him makes it more likely that Islamists could eventually win power. So the U.S. should use Musharraf's declaration of martial law as a reason to terminate all aid to his regime. The United States is so unpopular in the region that supporting a governing alliance between Musharraf and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto would probably delegitimize even the middle ground in Pakistan. For moderate forces to have the best chance in that nuclear-armed nation, the United States, paradoxically, should refrain from supporting them, and stay out of Pakistani politics.
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Reply Thu 15 Nov, 2007 02:51 pm
Unless you have a certain cold and calculating Metternichian cast of mind, it is difficult for many people - especially many Americans - to acknowledge openly that you are supporting a leader in another country strictly on the basis of a cold-blooded calculation of what your interests are and how that person can advance them, caring not a whit whether that person is a saint or a sinner. Bush can calculate in that way, I suspect, but I suspect he feels more comfortable when he can convince himself that he's really operating not out of cold interest, but in service of some higher ideal, like promoting democracy or paving the way for the spread of Christianity.

Fortunately - I was going to say for him but not for us, but in the longer perspective is it really all that fortunate for him? - he seldom has much trouble convincing himself, no matter how far-fetched the case, or how wide the gap between noble words and sordid actions.

So Bush kept sending the money and praising Musharraf extravagantly whenever the two met or when some development in Pakistan created a perceived need to comment. He had measured the man himself, after all, and it would be a sign of weakness to alter that original estimation.

So when Musharraf declared martial law - excuse me, a state of emergency - and began jailing opposition party members and journalists, it took Bush several days to process the information. And even when he finally made the phone call to tell his old buddy Perv that he really should take off that army uniform and hold elections as scheduled, he didn't (unless there's something we haven't been told, which wouldn't be all that unusual, but I suspect this would have been trumpeted) mention the idea of freeing all those "enemy combatants." And he went so far as to claim that unlike in Burma/Myanmar, Pakistan had actually been on the road to democracy, so it deserved to have some slack cut.

As a result of offering unquestioning support for a natural dictator who could mouth the phrases associated with democracy just often enough, the U.S. confronts a situation in Pakistan in which almost all the likely alternatives are unsavory. The Taliban and al-Qaeda really are resurgent in the border territories, and whatever relatively moderate and/or secular elements remain in Pakistan (long ago they used to be dominant) are utterly sick of Musharraf. The most ungovernable country in the world, as some have described it, is becoming less governable by the day (which in an existential sense might be a point in its favor, but in the short run looks rather chaotic and violent).

It's hard to see anything less than disastrous in the next few weeks and months.

And, of course, the notion that Bush is the least bit sincere in his protestations that his relentless desire to intervene in the affairs of other countries has the slightest relationship to promoting democracy in anything other than an incantatory sense is now in shreds. From now on invoking the desire to spread democracy can only provoke sneers and guffaws.

Nice work.

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Reply Thu 15 Nov, 2007 04:06 pm
Musharraf, according to George Bush, The New York Times, NPR and the rest of press puppies is, "our ally in the War on Terror." That's like calling Carmine Gambino, "Our ally in the War on Crime."

Musharraf's the guy who helped the Taliban take power in Afghanistan in 1996. And, through his ISI, Pakistan's own KGB, he is still giving the Taliban secret protection.

And this is the same Musharraf who let Khalid Sheik Muhammed, Osama's operations chief for the September 11 attack, hang out in Quetta, Pakistan, in the open, until Khalid embarrassed his host by giving a boastful interview to Al Jazeera television from his Pakistan hang-out.

And this is the same Musharraf who permitted his nation's own Dr. Strangelove, A.Q. Khan, to sell nuclear do-it-yourself bomb kits to Libya and North Korea. When the story off the flea-market in fissionable materials was exposed, Musharraf (and Bush) both proclaimed their shock - shock! - over the bomb sales. Musharraf didn't know? Sure. Those tons of lethal hardware must have been shipped by flying pig.

But, unlike Saddam and Osama, creations of Ronald Reagan's and George Bush Sr.'s Frankenstein factories, Musharraf was a Clinton special.

And it all began with an unpaid electricity bill. In 1998, Pakistan wouldn't pay up millions, and they owed billions, to British and American electricity companies. And for good reason: the contracts called for paying insanely high prices. It smelled of payola - and ultimately, the government of Pakistan filed charges against power combine executives and canceled the contracts. That's the rule under international law: companies can't collect on contracts they obtained by pay-offs.

But these weren't just any companies. One was a Tony Blair favorite, Britain's National Power. The other was Entergy International, a sudden big-time player in the international power market based out of, oddly, Little Rock, Arkansas. Despite the Clinton Administration's claim to fight foreign corruption, this was an exception. Clinton and Blair voted to cut off Pakistan's funding from the IMF. Pay-up the power pirates, they told Pakistan, or starve.

Why was President Clinton so determined to crush Pakistan because of an unpaid bill to some Little Rock company. This was not just any company. But that wasn't much. More important, Entergy and its partners, the Riady Family of Indonesia had just paid about half a million dollars to Hillary's old Rose Law Firm partner Webster Hubbell. Odd that, hiring Hubbell. Why would Entergy pay big bucks to a Hubbell as a "consultant" when he was on his way to jail for a felony. Hubbell was doing time because he refused to testify against Ms. Rodham.

Did President Clinton know about the payment to Hubbell? Clinton denied it to the press,but under oath, to the FBI, Bill said he, "wouldn't be surprised" if the Riadys told him about the payoff to Hubbell in one of Bill's several private meetings with
them in the Oval Office.

Was there a connection between Entergy's kindness to Hillary and her law partner and the power company's extraordinary sway with the Administration? From inside information on energy policies to favor requested of Tony Blair's office by Hillary's office, Entergy could do no wrong. Certainly, their consortium's executives wouldn't have to stand trial in Pakistan.

And Entergy got its money. On December 22, 1998, Pakistan's military, at the direction of General Pervez Musharraf, sent thirty thousand troops into the nation's power stations. At the time, Entergy's partners told me, "A lot changed since the army moved in. Now we have a situation where we can be paid. They've found a way to collect from the man in the street." Yes: at gunpoint, according to Abdul Latif Nizamani, a labor union leader who spoke with me after Musharraf's gang had arrested him.

With Pakistan's army in control of thenation's infrastructure, and acting as guarantor of payment to the US and UK power giants, General Musharraf's final takeover of the entire government nine months later - a "surprise" coup to the Western press - was, a forgone conclusion. And the Clintons, complicit, like Bush today, could say little.

Just months before he left office President Clinton paid a sudden visit to Musharraf. Congressional Democrats were stunned. Musharraf had quickly shown himself to be a Taliban-loving, unbalanced dictator who violated US treaty terms by exploding a nuke and threatening to incinerate our ally India. Notably, the Ambassador with Clinton made payments to the electric companies a top item on his

Favors done; favors repaid. Nothing new under the sun, but it's a dangerous game, Senator Clinton.

All right, maybe you can say that President Clinton's blessing of the radioactive dictator can't be blamed on Hillary despite the smelly money chain going from Arkansas to Karachi. But, be honest, the lady sure as heck ain't running on her record as a Senator; her whole pitch is, "Re-elect Clinton."

And I'd rather tell you this story before you hear it from President Giuliani.

Nevertheless, let's not lose sight of the current danger. While the Clinton's may have handed us the Lunatic of Lahore, it's George Bush who leaves mints on his pillow. I have no information that Clinton knew of the sales to North Korea. The Bush Administration did and, we discovered at BBC, blocked the CIA investigation that could have exposed it in 2001. And that, Mr. Bush, is a very, very dangerous game. The problem of creating Frankensteins, whether an Osama or a Saddam or a Musharraf, is that these creatures are often known to rise and turn on their creators.

But I'm sure we'll correct the error. Four years ago, as Bush was proclaiming victory over the Butcher of Baghdad, I wrote, "Given our experiences with Saddam and Osama, our monsters tend to get out of control after about 11 years. Therefore, we can expect, in the year 2013, that President Jeb Bush will have to order the 82d Airborne into Pakistan to remove Musharraf, the Killer of Karachi."

Unfortunately, we may not have that long.
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Reply Thu 15 Nov, 2007 05:07 pm
The world media must also allow the people of a nation to solve their problems in their own ways at their own pace. What is at stake in Pakistan, however, is a usurper's willfulness to shut down the channels of information so that the lawlessness of the army rule will not be exposed either to the people of Pakistan or to the world. This design to commit crimes under the cover of information blackout is an unlawful objective that the world media must vow to defeat.

Subverting injustice is the duty of a free press. In this day and age, no ruler anywhere in the world should be allowed to succeed in undermining the rule of law, suspending the people's fundamental rights of life and liberty, disgracing en mass the judges of superior courts, and transporting the nation's eminent lawyers to remote prisons in solitary confinement. This sort of tyranny flourished in the dark days of history when the world media had fewer means to access the story and when no ethics informed the enterprise of journalism. If the world media were successful in laying bare the usurper's entrails in Pakistan, future egomaniacs will be discouraged to impose personal rule in nations with weak institutional protections. The ethics of journalism demand no less.

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Reply Fri 16 Nov, 2007 04:13 pm
Cruel dictators and corrupt politicians who lose favor of their constituents often cling to power to escape retribution. Sometimes deals, including pardons or exile, are made with leaders who follow. "In an ideal world, criminals would be punished for their crimes without regard for their status," writes Victor Mallet for the Financial Times, noting that political expediency often dictates the outcome for problem leaders. "The aim should be to make presidents worry about their legacy and their future, but not frighten them so much that they never step down." Mallet concludes that the practical threat of trials, public exposure, along with jail time and conditions for forgiveness, can hasten criminal leaders out of office.
The above article isapplicable to all the corrup leaders around the globe.
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Reply Wed 28 Nov, 2007 08:19 am
Finn dAbuzz wrote:
No one can acuse Nancy Pelosi of being a conservative and yet she proved more than willing to dance with the devil in Syria. As well, Sec of State Albright who was thrilled to dance with the devil of North Korea.

Irony? :


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Reply Tue 4 Dec, 2007 06:41 am
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