Bhutto has been murdered

Reply Tue 1 Jan, 2008 09:29 am
Bhutto Report: Musharraf Planned to Fix Elections
Bhutto Report: Musharraf Planned to Fix Elections
By Saeed Shah
McClatchy Newspapers
Monday 31 December 2007

Naudero Pakistan - The day she was assassinated last Thursday, Benazir Bhutto had planned to reveal new evidence alleging the involvement of Pakistan's intelligence agencies in rigging the country's upcoming elections, an aide said Monday.

Bhutto had been due to meet U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., to hand over a report charging that the military Inter-Services Intelligence agency was planning to fix the polls in the favor of President Pervez Musharraf.

Safraz Khan Lashari, a member of the Pakistan People's Party election monitoring unit, said the report was "very sensitive" and that the party wanted to initially share it with trusted American politicians rather than the Bush administration, which is seen here as strongly backing Musharraf.

"It was compiled from sources within the (intelligence) services who were working directly with Benazir Bhutto," Lashari said, speaking Monday at Bhutto's house in her ancestral village of Naudero, where her husband and children continued to mourn her death.

The ISI had no official comment. However, an agency official, speaking only on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak on the subject, dismissed the allegations as "a lot of talk but not much substance."

Musharraf has been highly critical of those who allege that his regime is involved in electoral manipulation. "Now when they lose, they'll have a good rationale: that it is all rigged, it is all fraud," he said in November. "In Pakistan, the loser always cries."

According to Lashari, the document includes information on a "safe house" allegedly being run by the ISI in a central neighborhood of Islamabad, the alleged headquarters of the rigging operation.

It names as the head of the unit a brigadier general recently retired from the ISI, who was secretly assigned to run the rigging operation, Lashari said. It charges that he was working in tandem with the head of a civilian intelligence agency. Before her return to Pakistan, Bhutto, in a letter to Musharraf, had named the intelligence official as one of the men she accused of plotting to kill her.

Lashari said the report claimed that U.S. aid money was being used to fix the elections. Ballots stamped in favor of the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, which supports Musharraf, were to be produced by the intelligence agencies in about 100 parliamentary constituencies.

"They diverted money from aid activities. We had evidence of where they were spending the money," Lashari said.

Lashari, who formerly taught environmental economics at Britain's Cranfield University, said the effort was directed at constituencies where the result was likely to be decided by a small margin, so it wouldn't be obvious.

Bhutto was due to meet Specter and Kennedy after dinner last Thursday. She was shot as she left an election rally in Rawalpindi early that evening. Pakistan's government claims instead that she was thrown against the lever of her car's sunroof, fracturing her skull.

Shah is a McClatchy special correspondent.
0 Replies
Reply Tue 1 Jan, 2008 09:40 am
The second report, which Ms Bhutto did not plan to release to the media, alleged that the ISI was using some of the $10 billion (£5 billion) in US military aid that Pakistan has received since 2001 to run a covert election operation from a safe house in G5, a central district of Islamabad, he said.

"The report was done by some people who we've got in the services. They directly dealt with Benazir Bhutto," he continued, adding that Ms Bhutto was planning to share the contents of the report with the British Ambassador as well as the US lawmakers.

Asif Ali Zardari, Ms Bhutto's widower and the new co-chairman of the PPP, confirmed the existence of the report, its basic contents and Ms Bhutto's plans to meet the US lawmakers last Thursday. Asked if such a report was in his possession, he said: "Something to that effect." Asked if Ms Bhutto was planning to share its contents with the American legislators, he said: "I am not in a position to make an answer to that." Asked if the report contained evidence that the ISI was using US funds to rig the elections, he said: "Possibly so." He declined to give further details, but said the confidential report could have been one of several motives for killing Ms Bhutto, who died after a suicide-bomb and gun attack on an election rally near Islamabad. "It was a general combination of all of these things. The fact that she's on the ground exposing everybody, I guess, would have been one reason. There are many views and many reasons one can think of for her assassination."

The allegation is likely to fuel the already intense speculation surrounding the death, which triggered nationwide riots and raised fears that President Musharraf could reimpose emergency rule and postpone the elections.

Electoral fraud is nothing new in Pakistan, which has been led by military rulers for more than half of its 60-year history, and whose politics is dominated by feudal and tribal loyalties. In 1996 a former army chief called Mirza Aslam Baig alleged in court that he had been aware of a secret ISI political cell that distributed funds to antiPPP candidates in the run-up to the 1990-1991 elections.

Ms Bhutto had often accused President Musharraf, who seized power in a coup in 1999, of rigging elections and there have been reports that foreign financial aid to Pakistan's Central Election Commission was being used to fix the result of next month's poll.

However, the report that Ms Bhutto allegedly planned to share with the US politicians made the more serious allegation that the ISI was directly involved in rigging the coming parliamentary elections - and was using American money to do it. The United States has given Pakistan at least $10 billion in military aid since President Musharraf agreed to back the War on Terror after the September 11 attacks.

The money was supposed to be used to help Pakistan's armed forces to fight al-Qaeda and Taleban militants sheltering in northwestern tribal areas near the porous border with Afghan-istan. But there has been almost no accounting for the funds, most of which have been transferred in cash directly to the Defence Ministry, and critics of President Musharraf say that much has been diverted towards other aims, such as upgrading forces on the border with India, or into private pockets.

This month the US Congress ordered the Government to withhold a portion of military aid to Pakistan until President Musharraf demonstrated progress in the campaign against the militants and in a transition towards civilian, democratic rule.

Mr Lashari, the PPP official, said that Ms Bhutto wanted to share the report with them because she did not entirely trust the US Government, which still regards President Musharraf as a key ally in the War on Terror. "The idea was to discuss it with all the international stakeholders, mainly including Britain and the United States, but we didn't want to share it with anyone who could use it against us," he said.

"It would be unwise to do anything that would annoy Musharraf. and the international stakeholders. Everything could collapse if the Army comes to know that there is something substantial against them. It's dangerous to name people in Pakistan." Pakistani media reports have alleged the existence of an ISI safe house used to rig the elections and identified Ijaz Hussain Shah, a retired general who heads the civilian Intelligence Bureau, as one of those involved.

Mr Lashari also said that Ms Bhutto was planning to show the report with the British Ambassador, Robert Brin-kley. A spokesman for the British Embassy denied any knowledge of the report. The ISI does not have a spokes-person, but a government official dismissed the allegations as baseless.
0 Replies
Reply Tue 1 Jan, 2008 09:43 am
Robert Fisk: Who Killed Bhutto?
Counter Punch Weekend Edition
December 31, 2007
Cui Bono in Pakistan
Who Killed Bhutto?

Weird, isn't it, how swiftly the narrative is laid down for us. Benazir Bhutto, the courageous leader of the Pakistan People's Party, is assassinated in Rawalpindi--attached to the very capital of Islamabad wherein ex-General Pervez Musharraf lives--and we are told by George Bush that her murderers were "extremists" and "terrorists". Well, you can't dispute that.

But the implication of the Bush comment was that Islamists were behind the assassination. It was the Taliban madmen again, the al-Qa'ida spider who struck at this lone and brave woman who had dared to call for democracy in her country.

Of course, given the childish coverage of this appalling tragedy--and however corrupt Ms Bhutto may have been, let us be under no illusions that this brave lady is indeed a true martyr--it's not surprising that the "good-versus-evil" donkey can be trotted out to explain the carnage in Rawalpindi.

Who would have imagined, watching the BBC or CNN on Thursday, that her two brothers, Murtaza and Shahnawaz, hijacked a Pakistani airliner in 1981 and flew it to Kabul where Murtaza demanded the release of political prisoners in Pakistan. Here, a military officer on the plane was murdered. There were Americans aboard the flight--which is probably why the prisoners were indeed released.

Only a few days ago--in one of the most remarkable (but typically unrecognised) scoops of the year--Tariq Ali published a brilliant dissection of Pakistan (and Bhutto) corruption in the London Review of Books, focusing on Benazir and headlined: "Daughter of the West". In fact, the article was on my desk to photocopy as its subject was being murdered in Rawalpindi.

Towards the end of this report, Tariq Ali dwelt at length on the subsequent murder of Murtaza Bhutto by police close to his home at a time when Benazir was prime minister--and at a time when Benazir was enraged at Murtaza for demanding a return to PPP values and for condemning Benazir's appointment of her own husband as minister for industry, a highly lucrative post.

In a passage which may yet be applied to the aftermath of Benazir's murder, the report continues: "The fatal bullet had been fired at close range. The trap had been carefully laid, but, as is the way in Pakistan, the crudeness of the operation--false entries in police log-books, lost evidence, witnesses arrested and intimidated--a policeman killed who they feared might talk--made it obvious that the decision to execute the prime minister's brother had been taken at a very high level."

When Murtaza's 14-year-old daughter, Fatima, rang her aunt Benazir to ask why witnesses were being arrested--rather than her father's killers--she says Benazir told her: "Look, you're very young. You don't understand things." Or so Tariq Ali's exposé would have us believe. Over all this, however, looms the shocking power of Pakistan's ISI, the Inter Services Intelligence.

This vast institution--corrupt, venal and brutal--works for Musharraf.

But it also worked--and still works--for the Taliban. It also works for the Americans. In fact, it works for everybody. But it is the key which Musharraf can use to open talks with America's enemies when he feels threatened or wants to put pressure on Afghanistan or wants to appease the " extremists" and "terrorists" who so oppress George Bush. And let us remember, by the way, that Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter beheaded by his Islamist captors in Karachi, actually made his fatal appointment with his future murderers from an ISI commander's office. Ahmed Rashid's book Taliban provides riveting proof of the ISI's web of corruption and violence. Read it, and all of the above makes more sense.

But back to the official narrative. George Bush announced on Thursday he was "looking forward" to talking to his old friend Musharraf. Of course, they would talk about Benazir. They certainly would not talk about the fact that Musharraf continues to protect his old acquaintance--a certain Mr Khan--who supplied all Pakistan's nuclear secrets to Libya and Iran. No, let's not bring that bit of the "axis of evil" into this.

So, of course, we were asked to concentrate once more on all those " extremists" and "terrorists", not on the logic of questioning which many Pakistanis were feeling their way through in the aftermath of Benazir's assassination.

It doesn't, after all, take much to comprehend that the hated elections looming over Musharraf would probably be postponed indefinitely if his principal political opponent happened to be liquidated before polling day.

So let's run through this logic in the way that Inspector Ian Blair might have done in his policeman's notebook before he became the top cop in London.

Question: Who forced Benazir Bhutto to stay in London and tried to prevent her return to Pakistan? Answer: General Musharraf.

Question: Who ordered the arrest of thousands of Benazir's supporters this month? Answer: General Musharraf.

Question: Who placed Benazir under temporary house arrest this month? Answer: General Musharraf.

Question: Who declared martial law this month? Answer General Musharraf.

Question: who killed Benazir Bhutto?

Er. Yes. Well quite.

You see the problem? Yesterday, our television warriors informed us the PPP members shouting that Musharraf was a "murderer" were complaining he had not provided sufficient security for Benazir. Wrong. They were shouting this because they believe he killed her.

Robert Fisk is a reporter for The Independent and author of Pity the Nation. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch's collection, The Politics of Anti-Semitism. Fisk's new book is The Conquest of the Middle East.
0 Replies
Reply Tue 1 Jan, 2008 11:17 am
Yup. It's all Bush's fault. Uh huh.
0 Replies
Reply Tue 1 Jan, 2008 01:02 pm
It is not anyone's fault.
Death/murder occured.
Let us not bemoan the barbaric act of criminals nor let us waste our energy and time to find the real criminals.
Fact is this.
People are chatting about the mysterious murder of a lady who had given her political party to her family. and not the party people..
I have pity for the bereaved family and a little bit of sympathy. And my respect goes to those poor pakisthanis who were miissled, abused, misused.

The double-dealing entered a dramatic phase when the Bush administration persuaded the operators in Islamabad to pardon Benazir Bhutto and allow her to put a democratic face on the war on terror. Bhutto, a dreamer born in a feudal family, was a democracy goddess who relished the sight of worshipping hands waving all around her. Bhutto had the uncanny ability to turn puppetry into a noble policy. Bravely, she went to the heartland of militants to make speeches against violence. Bravely, she met President Karzai of Afghanistan, a despised character in the region. Bravely, she considered working with Musharraf provided the general resigned from the army and put democracy back on the rails. In calculating risks to her life, however, Bhutto overestimated the protection that the American intelligence services might have offered in her fight against Islamic terrorism.

Retrospectively, the Bhutto murder makes perfect sense. Anybody who sides with America can be killed in the Muslim world, knowing that the Al-Qaeda is there to absorb blame. Already, false tapes have been manufactured to 'prove' that the Al-Qaeda-Taliban Axis killed Bhutto. The Axis denies the glory. In murdering Bhutto, Islamabad's perfidy was consummate. The context was flawless. The goddess had challenged the dark forces of evil. And the goddess with Oxford and Harvard connections was a fabulous sacrifice. If assassinated, the people of America and Pakistan can be duped into believing that Muslim militants killed the voice of democracy, the woman. This murder, someone thought, will make it easier to carry on the war on terror. The American money will continue to flow, the generals will remain in charge, the deposed judges will be forgotten, the lawyers will be compromised, and Islamabad will be back in business as usual.

Given deep roots of perfidy in Pakistan, it is unlikely that the new leadership emerging from the 2008 general elections will abandon the principle of deceit particularly with respect to the war on terror and understand that the nation's foreign policy must be derived from morally sustainable national interests."

She "served" as Prime Minister for two terms riddled with seemingly endless corruption, enhanced her family fortune considerably, and fled from the resulting criminal charges. Then the poor woman languished in the lap of luxury in Dubai and Great Britain for eight long years, during which although she was a fugitive from justice she somehow managed to convince the world press to term her situation "exile".

But this jet-setting life of abject extravagance wasn't enough for Ms. Bhutto, not compared to the chance to be Prime Minister for a (slightly illegal) third time. But who could offer her a chance to be Prime Minister again, and what would it take?

All it would take would be utter disregard of the term limit governing service by Prime Ministers, plus a new law legalizing her previous predations, so she could be returned to her native land without fear of those corruption charges still hanging over her head.

It wouldn't have been politically acceptable for Pakistan to grant amnesty to Benazir Bhutto alone. That would have smacked of favoritism. Instead President (then-General) Pervez Musharraf promulgated the National Reconciliation Ordinance, granting amnesty for virtually anything to virtually anybody working for the government, in the past, the present and the future. Not only was Benazir Bhutto forgiven for all her alleged crimes and invited to return; virtually all politicians can now follow whatever orders (or whims) they like, secure in the knowledge that the legal system cannot be used against them.

Thus was the rule of law stripped even further from the Pakistani landscape. And why did Musharraf do this? Because he was desperately unpopular, and the impending alliance with Benazir Bhutto, his former enemy, was seen as his only chance to remain in power. ("Remain in power" in this case means "continue to receive support from the Americans".) And the Americans -- bipartisan power-brokering Americans -- liked the idea of Musharraf and Bhutto sharing power.

With Bhutto as Prime Minister and Musharraf as President, the bipartisan American theory went, Pakistan would be a stable and very attractive country, and the alliance between the military man Musharraf and the civilian woman Bhutto would be symbolic as well as practical, and so on -- despite the fact that they had been political opponents forever.

And in return for this one last grasp at the brass ring, Benazir Bhutto asked her supporters -- members of the Pakistan People's Party -- not to resign their parliamentary seats in protest against the October 6 "re-election" of President General Musharraf. Had all the opposition parliamentarians resigned, the "election" would have been seen as bogus, but instead the PPP members stayed in their seats and abstained, granting Musharraf's "victory" a "legitimacy" it would not have attained otherwise.

Later in October, Benazir Bhutto returned from her self-described "exile" and immediately organized a long, slow, huge procession in which 140 people were killed by a suicide bomber. Ms. Bhutto herself was unhurt, but within days was describing herself as a victim of the bombing.

In order to "seal" his "re-election" "victory", Musharraf had to sack the Supreme Court, and he did this with a declaration of emergency at the beginning of November. Many of the justices who apparently would have declared his "re-election" illegal are still under house arrest.

But this is "democracy", according to the apolitical American consensus, which doesn't care whether Democrats or Republicans are in office, and which, truth be told, doesn't allow any other country in the world to run its own foreign and domestic policies, unless (a) those policies comport to the bipartisan apolitical consensus, or (b) they can't actually do anything about it.

And you'll hear lots of talk about extremists in the near future in connection with this assassination, and in nearly every case you will be expected to make the mental connection between the word "extremists" and the wild men in the mountains of the northwest. But you will remember, won't you, that in addition to these more famous extremists, there are extremists working for Musharraf, and extremists working for Bush ... and there may even be extremists working for the PPP, the party Benazir Bhutto betrayed.

0 Replies
Reply Tue 1 Jan, 2008 01:20 pm
The Dark Night is Far From Over
Pakistan: the Aftermath


Arranged marriages can be a messy business. Designed principally as a means of accumulating wealth, circumventing undesirable flirtations or transcending clandestine love affairs, they often don't work. Where both parties are known to loathe each other, only a rash parent, desensitised by the thought of short-term gain, will continue with the process knowing full well that it will end in misery and possibly violence. That this is equally true in political life became clear in the recent attempt by Washington to tie Benazir Bhutto to Pervez Musharraf. The single, strong parent in this case was a desperate state department - with John Negroponte as the ghoulish go-between and Gordon Brown as the blushing bridesmaid - fearful that if it did not push this through both parties might soon be too old for recycling."

Pakistan is a failed state. It is on the verge of collapse and waiting in the wings are angry, determined jihadis. Hence the need for a non-religious alternative and the grooming of Benazir Bhutto to help Musharraf acquire some badly-needed legitimacy.

Pakistan is not a 'failed state' in the sense of the Congo or Rwanda. It is a dysfunctional state and has been in this situation for almost four decades. Sometimes the situation is better and sometimes worse. At the heart of this dysfunctionality is the country's domination by the Army and each successive period of military rule has made things worse. It is this that has prevented political stability and the emergence of stable institutions. Here the United States bears direct responsibility since it has always regarded the military as the only institution in the country it can do business with and this is still the case. This is the rock that has diverted admittedly choppy waters into a headlong torrent. Economically the country is lop-sided with a corrupt and ultra-rich elite, but surely this is perfect for the Washington Consensus. And the World Bank has been full of praise for the economic policies of Musharraf.

The latest crisis is a direct result of the NATO occupation and war in Afghanistan which has destabilised Pakistan's North-West frontier and created a crisis of conscience inside the Army. There is much unhappiness at being paid to kill fellow Muslims in the tribal areas that border both Afghanistan and Pakistan. The arrogant behaviour of NATO soldiers has hardly helped matters in either country. Sending US troops to train the Pakistan military in counter-insurgency is likely to inflame passions further. Afghanistan can only be stabilised via a regional agreement involving India, Russia, Iran and Pakistan, coupled with the total withdrawal of all NATO troops. It is US attempts to avoid this that enhance the crisis in both countries.

Musharraf has failed as a US pointman in Pakistan. His failure to protect Benazir Bhutto has not gone down well in Washington and they could dump him within the next year and pin their hopes on General Ashraf Kiyani, who replaced Musharraf as Army chief. It's less easy to find a substitute for Benazir. The Sharif brothers are not as reliable and far too embedded with the Saudis. The elections will be royally rigged and thus lack any real legitimacy. The dark night is far from over.

0 Replies
Reply Tue 1 Jan, 2008 01:23 pm
A View from India
Myths and Realities About Benazir Bhutto and Pakistan's Dark Future


A tremendous myth had been generated over the past months regarding the imminent restoration of 'democracy' in Pakistan--with Benazir Bhutto projected as the great liberal hope. This was arrant nonsense. Bhutto was a discredited, demonstrably inept, compromised and corrupt leader, one who had been directly involved in the creation of and support to the Taliban, and who actively supported the terrorist 'jehad' in Indian Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) in her earlier tenures as Prime Minister. She was returning to Pakistan under a US-brokered deal to participate in an election that was already being pre-rigged in her favor (through the selective exclusion of a number of leaders, including Nawaz Sharif, by a puppet Election Commission which had 'rejected' their candidature on criteria that should have made Bhutto's participation impossible as well). The principal objective of this election was not the 'restoration' of a viable and meaningful democracy, but the legitimization of the Musharraf dictatorship through the fig-leaf of a 'civilian government' which would have exercised no more than nominal powers, essentially at the pleasure of the President.

None of this has changed, and any electoral process in the foreseeable future would secure essentially the same objective--irrespective of the identity of the 'Prime Minister' or the Party that would be catapulted to dubious 'power'. This is the reality behind the myths, both, of Bhutto's return to, and assassination in, Pakistan: neither event could have any significant impact on the perverse equations of power that prevail on the ground. America's feeble and tardy meddling in Pakistan has no real potential to restore meaningful democracy, as the state remains torn between two principal adversaries: an overwhelmingly powerful, but steadily weakening Army; and the radical Islamists, with their own reserve armies of suicide bombers and augmenting capacities for terrorism.

The little credibility that President Pervez Musharraf's regime had, both domestically and internationally, appears to be rapidly fading in the wake of Bhutto's assassination. Conspiracy theories now abound in Pakistan, and most are willing to lay the responsibility for the former Prime Minister's death on acts of omission or commission by Government agencies, particularly the malevolent Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), with its abiding linkages to the Islamist terrorist forces it created in the country over the past decades.

Apart from the contradictions emerging in the official descriptive of the circumstances of death, a succession of disclosures relating to denial of security even after the devastating suicide bombing of October 18, in which Bhutto narrowly escaped assassination, and revelations that Bhutto had actively been blocked from hiring her own guards, appear to substantially establish the regime's mala fides. Contradictions are also appearing in the Government's quick attribution of the assassination to Baitullah Mehsud, the 'commander' of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, and to al Qaeda. Both organizations have denied involvement in the attack, and there is certainly something suspect in the steady build-up in preceding months of the alleged threat from Mehsud, who, it was claimed, had warned that Bhutto would be killed if she returned to Pakistan. Pakistan People's Party (PPP) spokesperson, Farhatullah Babar, has now indicated that Mehsud had sent 'reliable emissaries' to Bhutto at least twice after the October 18 bombing, to reassure her that "I am not your enemy, I have nothing to do with you or against you or with the assassination attempt on you", and had exhorted her to "Identify your enemy".

Musharraf's stock in Washington has certainly declined after this incident--though the blind strategists at the White House would probably incline to clutch desperately at the 'there is no alternative' (TINA) thesis and continue to back Musharraf in the immediate future. A number of prominent Western leaders, including more than one US Presidential candidate, has held the Musharraf regime 'directly or indirectly' responsible for Bhutto's assassination, with Hillary Clinton calling for an international probe into the incident, arguing, "I don't think the Pakistani Government at this time under Musharraf has any credibility at all."

Within the murky circumstances that currently prevail in Pakistan, it is doubtful if the truth about the Bhutto assassination will ever be conclusively established.

What is certain, however, is that every conceivable protocol for the protection of an individual in the highest category of terrorist threat--as Bhutto, a former Prime Minister and a Prime Ministerial candidate at the time of her death, must have been, certainly after the October 18 attempt on her life--was breached. It is important to recognize that it is not necessary for security agencies to have directly engineered the assassination--simply and wilfully to 'look the other way' for a few moments would be an act of sufficient complicity to have ensured the success of the suicide attack. Bhutto's assassination demonstrates beyond doubt that the Army's (and/or its intelligence agency's) capacity to terminate the emergence of any democratic leadership in the country--however discredited or incipient--through acts of omission or commission, is absolute.

It is useful to acknowledge, nevertheless, that Musharraf has domestically been infinitely weakened by this assassination and the rioting which followed (which claimed 47 lives, principally in police firing in Sindh). The assassination itself reflects a measure of loss of control, and the 'military strongman' (retirement from the Army notwithstanding, he retains full military support) appears far from strong. Worse, the assassination has brought together various democratic formations--including the PPP and the Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N)--in an opportunistic alliance that is now seeking 'vengeance' through the electoral process. At a different time, this scenario would be a necessary prelude to the 'restoration'--albeit temporary--of 'democracy' in Pakistan, with the Army once again withdrawing into the wings.

This, however, does not appear to be much of a possibility under present circumstances. Whatever Musharraf's fate, the centrality of the Army, and the imposition of no more than a puppet 'democratic' Government--not very different from the Shaukat Aziz-led administration, irrespective of leadership--will remain the reality of Pakistan's future. Democratic forces in Pakistan are far too weak to exercise direct control over the Army and, more significantly, with the continuous escalation of the scale of terrorism and insurgency in the country, the principal function of the Government in the foreseeable future will remain security and law and order administration.

The tyranny of the sensational and the immediate tends to mask the ponderous, tectonic, shifts in power that are wrenching Pakistan apart. The reality is that no conceivable external intervention, no 'feeble meddling', can now define or significantly alter the trajectory of events in Pakistan, certainly in the near term. An internal dynamic has become entrenched and will prevail in all major developments. The residual strengths of the Pakistani state--principally its Army--are considerable, and the eventual outcome is not something that will occur in the weeks or months. Nevertheless, the steady erosion of power, and the attritional and centrifugal impetus that events have now attained, appear inescapable. It is only the improbable and radical reinvention of Pakistani politics and, crucially, the Pakistani military-intelligence complex, that can secure an outcome that can evade the destructive dynamic of extremist Islamization, the subversion of state institutions and mounting violence. It is not within the capacity of any external power to engineer this 'turnaround'.

This needs urgently to be recognized by the global community--but most significantly by the US and by India. A grave crisis threatens the region and the world, in the event of the progressive collapse of state power in Pakistan, the cumulative augmentation of areas of jehadi autonomy and influence (both within and outside state structures) or the takeover of the state by radical Islamist elements (again, both within or outside state structures). These eventualities yield two principal strategic challenges: the containment of the inevitable terrorist fallout and overflow across the region, and probably across the globe; and the neutralization of Pakistan's nuclear assets and the prevention of their leakage or lapse into the hands of radical Islamist elements or a radical Islamist Pakistani state.

It is abundantly clear that India, the US and the world, far from being prepared for these eventualities, continue to wilfully ignore their rising probabilities. It is, of course, all very well to hope that a miracle will abruptly pull Pakistan out of its perpetual and damning crises. But, miracles, by definition, are rare events. No single country--and certainly not India, which would bear the brunt of its immediate impact--has the capacity to contain the fallout of Pakistan's creeping dissolution. It is necessary, consequently, to urgently address these threats, and to create the needed coalitions and backup measures that can help neutralize the extraordinary dangers posed by a progressively fragmenting Pakistan.

Ajai Sahni is editor of the South Asia Intelligence Review and Executive Director of the Institute for Conflict Management in New Delhi. He can be reached at [email protected]
0 Replies
Reply Tue 1 Jan, 2008 02:24 pm
Now that the exultant and gushing tributes on Benazir Bhutto's martyrdom for the cause of democracy are subsiding, let's subject the world to some reality check. As we do so, let's be as poker faced as possible. For, democracy is but a great idea in Pakistan's feudal politics. There is no real danger of it becoming a reality there just yet. After all, it has only been 60 years since Mohammad Ali Jinnah founded the country.

Bhutto, "chairperson for life" of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), actually left behind a will naming her husband Asif Ali Zardari as her successor. Bhutto left the will in the event that the remaining members of the PPP developed some genuine taste for democracy and elected a real non-Bhutto successor after internal elections. As a fig leaf of legitimacy, Zardari named Makhdoom Amin Fahim as co-chairman of the party. Together they then unveiled the true face of democracy in appointing Bilawal, the 19-year-old son of Zardari and Bhutto, as the head of the party.

The PPP is a great political asset that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto bequeathed to his daughter who in turn passed it on to her teenaged son. And unless Pakistan's violent ways intervene, Bilawal Bhutto will presumably have a long innings as "chairman for life". It is all so brazen and no one has the time or sense to ask about the underlying contradiction in the late Benazir Bhutto's untiring claims of bringing democracy to Pakistan on the one hand and keeping the party as a family heirloom on the other.

Even if one disregards the obvious question about a teenager's qualification to lead Pakistan's main opposition party, one is still left with the larger and more troubling question about the kind of democracy that the country can hope for.

Consider the choices before the people of Pakistan: a military dictator (Pervez Musharraf), a discredited politician (Zardari or Nawaz Sharif) or a callow 19-year-old (Bilawal). Suddenly Pervez Musharraf may not seem like a terrible idea. That is the irony of the way Pakistan has gone about creating its polity - a military dictator who came to power in a coup seems like the best option. The benchmark for democracy is so low.

Of course, it is entirely possible that like his mother, who also started very young, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari would learn the tricks of the trade quickly. That is precisely the point - they are the tricks of the trade, and tricks are by their very nature shortlived. In a normal, healthy democracy with a long history the rise of a teenager might have signalled a progressive move. But in Pakistan it is nothing more than a cynical ploy to retain the ownership of a political apparatus by those who stand to benefit from it directly.

Zardari has announced his party's intention to participate in the elections. Quickly taking a cue from it, Sharif too has now decided to take part. At some level, it is a good sign that elections will be held with the full participation of the two main political parties. However, as we all know, democracy is much more than self-serving electoral politics. Merely because Bilawal has been anointed a successor without a single voice of dissent does not mean that democracy is striking roots in Pakistan. In fact, the manner of his appointment is a clear sign that the country has learned nothing from its volatile history.

Quite like India's Congress party, where the Nehru/Gandhi family has ruled the best part of the last 60 years, the PPP too remained a Bhutto fiefdom. At least India has had a long and impressive history of having built a genuine political culture, which acts as a bulwark against a single family's dominance. In Pakistan, no such political culture exists. Cricket superstar-turned-politician Imran Khan's Tehrik-e-Insaaf is but a tentative attempt at providing a reasonable alternative. It is anybody's guess whether it can acquire the kind of traction so necessary to take Pakistan toward a genuine political democracy.
0 Replies
Reply Wed 2 Jan, 2008 06:58 am
Bhutto's true colors
By Imaduddin Ahmed

Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Analysts are lamenting the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, calling it the death of hope for democracy in Pakistan. Benazir certainly had popular support throughout the country. Her martyred father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was Pakistan's first elected prime minister and founder of the Pakistan People's Party, had the force and charm of a socialist demagogue. Adding glamour to the inherited chairmanship of the party and the romantic tragic legacy, Benazir won the support of unthinking masses both at home and abroad.

Despite the prevailing opinion, Benazir's death may offer new hope for democratic values: rights, the rule of law, and law enforcement.

Benazir Bhutto gave Pakistan false hope of these enlightened values two decades ago. In a shocking display of ineptitude, Pakistan's first woman prime minister failed to pass a single piece of major legislation during her first 20 months in power. According to Amnesty International, Bhutto's particular brand of democracy while in office - in the words of historian William Dalrymple, "elective feudalism" - brought some of the world's highest numbers of extrajudicial killings, torture, and custodial deaths. Transparency International characterized hers as one of the world's most corrupt governments.

Bhutto revealed her true colors during an interview when she was asked whether she would travel second class as leader of the opposition under the Nawaz Sharif government's austerity measures. In fury, the "people's representative" asked the interviewer if he knew who she was, who her grandfather was, and stated that she was a Bhutto, not an ordinary person, and that Bhuttos never traveled second class.

As much as anything, Bhutto's recent about-face on the issue of supporting an independent judiciary has been galling.

Bhutto issued repeated statements while in exile that rebuked President Pervez Musharraf for ousting the chief justice of Pakistan and undermining the judiciary's independence. Yet after Musharraf passed the National Reconciliation Ordinance in October 2007 without trouble from a purged judiciary, Musharraf won Benazir over: The ordinance allowed him to withdraw pending cases of corruption against her.

Bhutto changed her tune. She claimed that the judiciary that Musharraf had purged may not have been independent anyway. Moreover, Bhutto is said to have issued an ultimatum to her right-hand man, Senator Aitzaz Ahsan, who was also lead counsel for the deposed chief justice. She informed him that either he was with the chief justice or with the Pakistan People's Party. The Cambridge-educated politician-cum-human-rights lawyer remains under house arrest and a supporter for judicial independence. He also withdrew his application to contest the elections.

Unfortunately, Bhutto's unashamed hypocrisy has constantly been overlooked by Pakistan's hopeless masses and also by her Western allies, a constituency that she gave utmost importance. In the West's desperation to find a formidable answer to Pakistan's mullahs and increasingly dictatorial generalissimo (Musharraf), it overlooked Bhutto's ugly track record.

Bhutto was a moderate Muslim with pedigree, Western degrees, and irresistible promises. She had seductive charm. Nobody but she (foolishly) promised the United States access to Pakistan's tribal areas. Nor had anyone else avowed to give up the national hero A. Q. Khan, the scientist who developed Pakistan's nuclear capability and then shared the technology with North Korea.

Now that Bhutto's blinding glamour has been extinguished, the approaching sham elections may be seen for what they are. People may now hear the opposition parties' indignant allegations that the election commissioner and caretaker government are anything but impartial, and that the state machinery is being used to campaign for pre-selected candidates. Attention may now return to Musharraf's megalomaniacal attack on the country's most important institutions, without which it cannot hope to have fair and free elections: Pakistan's judiciary and media.

Hope for the restoration of democratic values may become stronger in Pakistan now that Benazir Bhutto is gone. Her hypocritical endorsement of affected elections yanked the rug from under the feet of those who pushed for a semblance of democracy. The true champions of democratic values are the likes of Aitzaz Ahsan: lawyers, independent judges, journalists, and nonfeudal politicians who are boycotting the elections. They fight for an independent judiciary, fair elections, a free media, and just punishment for terrorists. They live. Hope lives.

Imaduddin Ahmed is a freelance writer.

0 Replies
Reply Wed 2 Jan, 2008 07:54 am
Argh.. I really like it when someone brings a particularly relevant or interesting news story or analysis to go with the subject of a thread. I often post articles I find especially interesting on A2K as well, though I try at least to indicate or summarise why it's interesting or what's the most interesting part in it. But has this thread become copy/paste central?

I mean, 10 of the last 11 posts were wholesale copy-pastes of full articles, without any personal contribution.. seems a bit much, is all I'm saying, might as well just put an RSS feed up. What do you people think yourselves?
0 Replies
Reply Wed 2 Jan, 2008 08:26 am
The whole point is to provide information. The more informed you have the better your decisions, in theory anyway. My purpose in presenting the article is to point out the "other side" of our late dear friend. Anything I would say about it would be redundant.
0 Replies
Reply Wed 2 Jan, 2008 09:15 am
nimh wrote:
Argh.. I really like it when someone brings a particularly relevant or interesting news story or analysis to go with the subject of a thread. I often post articles I find especially interesting on A2K as well, though I try at least to indicate or summarise why it's interesting or what's the most interesting part in it. But has this thread become copy/paste central?

I mean, 10 of the last 11 posts were wholesale copy-pastes of full articles, without any personal contribution.. seems a bit much, is all I'm saying, might as well just put an RSS feed up. What do you people think yourselves?

My thoughts exactly.
0 Replies
Reply Wed 2 Jan, 2008 09:36 am
Thanks, Intrepid.

xingu wrote:
The whole point is to provide information. The more informed you have the better your decisions, in theory anyway. My purpose in presenting the article is to point out the "other side" of our late dear friend. Anything I would say about it would be redundant.

Fair enough. I dont really object to copy-pastes per se. Often enough there is something that's just really interesting, that you want to share, and that really, you couldnt say any better yourself anyway. I do it too. And you don't always have the time to highlight what you think is particularly interesting about it or why, either, even though that would really add to it.

It's just that when a thread comes down to 10 copy/pastes in a row like this one, it's more like an RSS feed than anything else. There's just this endless expanse of copy/paste without an indication of why one would read these rather than anything you'd pick up on a feed. Might as well just put up a Google News Alert or something, you know? It's all just about the extent of it... nothing personal intended.

Anyway, nuff said, made my point.
0 Replies
Reply Wed 2 Jan, 2008 10:27 am
Well I'm not familiar with RSS feed. And this topic isn't a debate topic but one concerned with the assassination and its consequenses; hence an info dump thread. Even on debate threads I'll dump info to give additional points for others to debate on.

I try to put info on that presents contrasting points of view or info you don't get from network news. The prevailing story on network news is Bhutto was a pro democracy heroine who was going to bring democracy and Western values to Pakistan. Her past shows otherwise.

Here's some more info that allows one to better understand whats happening in Pakistan;

Pakistan: The Beginning of the Storm
There has been much analysis and discussion of what is happening in the global war between Islam and the West. Clear analysis somehow seems missing in the mainstream media, or even amongst well regarded analysts and think tanks. For one, we can only see the views and propaganda of one side of the battle taking place in Pakistan. Further, the issues run so deep and touch us so close, that it becomes hard to think and discuss them without being emotionally involved.

At GrandeStrategy, we believe that the fundamental battle taking place in Pakistan is between the secular and western-based educated pro-American elites, against the Islam-championing hard core religious types. The former we shall here on refer to as the Secular Pakistanis, while the latter we shall represent as the Islamist Pakistanis, merely to ease the writing of this article, not to imply any deeper meaning, as to what "Islamists" are or what represents "Secular".

To get deeper into this problem, let us start by looking at the fundamentals within a Marxist analysis. The constituencies that the Secular Pakistanis are rooted in are the upper classes and the upper middle class, and represent the Bourgeoisie. This class has strong roots in Pakistan with the landed classes. At the risk of going-off at a tangent, I'll go deeper into the origins of this landed class. The landed classes in Pakistan go back in history to when the British Raj took over India. To exert control over the vast Subcontinent, the British came up with a plan to divide and rule India by creating a class of landowners, that would owe their position to the British. Thus they went about granting land and setting rules and guidelines to create this petite bourgeoisie. While in other parts of the Subcontinent, the power and influence of this class greatly diminished after partition, in Pakistan, this class not only managed to maintain its power base but to expand it, to the point that they became the new bourgeoisie. While new power groups emerged, such as the industrial class, expatriate Pakistanis, corrupt wealth accumulators and the elite of the armed forces, these groups soon became assimilated to this now thriving elite "melting pot".

These families together represent the heart of Pakistan's ruling class. It may be instructive to paint a typical picture of such a family - education begins at English language schools, graduating with British qualifications such as O Levels and A Levels. Thereafter, one can go off to college abroad or at a top local university. Families usually have at least some relatives living abroad. Career choices include the armed forces, good civilian jobs at top organizations (gotten through family connections), running the family business or pursuing almost any career abroad. Marriage is typically arranged and one favorable choice is within the extended family. Often they marry their own cousins. However, other families of a similar status are also common matchmaker potential.

The Islamist Pakistanis have their roots in the lower and lower middle class of Pakistan. With Pakistan's rapid Malthusian population growth, these classes have expanded faster than it has been possible for the government to adequately support them. These people live hard working lives, at best being able to afford motorcycles. They live from day to day and find life to be an endless struggle. These people by and large do not care about political parties, instinctively knowing that these are but instruments of the elite. They know that there is no real rule of law, that police are there to rob them and that any member of the elite can easily get away by paying off a judge or the policeman. When they manage to go abroad, typically to the Gulf states, they go as modern indentured servants.

These classes typically come from disadvantaged families that either get their eduction through Islamic schools called madrassas or through government run schools. Those that make it, can hope to reach financial advantage either through business, through joining the civil service and gaining wealth through corruption, going abroad (but here as low cost slave-labor, particularly to Arab states) and joining the military.


I'm not in a position to know if everything I submit is true or not. That's up to others to decide and if they see things in a different light they should say so.
0 Replies
Reply Wed 2 Jan, 2008 10:40 am
She knew her return was fraught with danger.
So was it lust for power
genuine concern for her nation that brought Benazir back home?
0 Replies
Reply Thu 3 Jan, 2008 02:25 pm

0 Replies
Reply Thu 3 Jan, 2008 03:56 pm
Typing some thoughts is one way of communication.
Quoting the befitting article with links is anotherway of communication.
I always communicate with relevant cut and paste.
Not that that i am lazy to type my views which are always critical but i do some research and reading to pick up the apt article which mirrors my views.
Of course it is not for the regular chatters but for the new members.
There is nothing wrong in it.
Some links will not work after few days. But the cut and paste will always be there to read.
0 Replies
Finn dAbuzz
Reply Thu 3 Jan, 2008 09:36 pm
nimh wrote:
Finn dAbuzz wrote:
It is surprising that someone as cynical as you nimh is unable to recognize a ploy when you see it. [..]

This is so facile an interpretation as to be laughable. [..]

Seems to you because you are inclined to favor conspiracy theories that implicate autocrats rather than nihilists. [..]

I'm surprised at the shallowness of your thinking and can only assume that you are motivated more by ideology than reason. [..]

You don't really care which way the Powers of the world move as long as you get to indulge in your sanctimonious criticism of them. [..]

Hi Finn,

I dont know what drives you, but I bet you realise that you're not going to receive any reasonable response to posts worded like this. There are actually good points buried in your posts, but they're almost drown in verbage that all seems to come down to this:

Finn dAbuzz wrote:
Funny how we cast the same stones against one another. However, in my case I am right and you are overly influenced by your ideology.

Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.

Stop throwing stones and so will I.

I am not about to start ticking off your stones versus mine. Suffice it to say that your favorite quote of mine was a response to one of your missles.

Finn dAbuzz wrote:
Funny how we cast the same stones against one another. However, in my case I am right and you are overly influenced by your ideology.

Find the gems I plant among the bullshit, I certainly am doing the same for you.

By the way, what the hell is wrong with:

"Seems to you because you are inclined to favor conspiracy theories that implicate autocrats rather than nihilists."

You do don't you?
0 Replies
Finn dAbuzz
Reply Thu 3 Jan, 2008 09:38 pm
nimh wrote:
Argh.. I really like it when someone brings a particularly relevant or interesting news story or analysis to go with the subject of a thread. I often post articles I find especially interesting on A2K as well, though I try at least to indicate or summarise why it's interesting or what's the most interesting part in it. But has this thread become copy/paste central?

I mean, 10 of the last 11 posts were wholesale copy-pastes of full articles, without any personal contribution.. seems a bit much, is all I'm saying, might as well just put an RSS feed up. What do you people think yourselves?

AGREE COMPLETELY (you Leftist scum)
0 Replies
Reply Sat 5 Jan, 2008 12:50 pm
Benazir Bhutto's death is, of course, a calamity, particularly as she embodied the hopes of so many liberal Pakistanis. But, contrary to the commentary we've seen in the last week, she was not comparable to Myanmar's Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Ms. Bhutto's governments were widely criticized by Amnesty International and other groups for their use of death squads and terrible record on deaths in police custody, abductions and torture. As for her democratic bona fides, she had no qualms about banning rallies by opposing political parties while in power.

Within her own party, she declared herself the president for life and controlled all decisions. She rejected her brother Murtaza's bid to challenge her for its leadership and when he persisted, he was shot dead in highly suspicious circumstances during a police ambush outside the Bhutto family home.

Benazir Bhutto was certainly a brave and secular-minded woman. But the obituaries painting her as dying to save democracy distort history. Instead, she was a natural autocrat who did little for human rights, a calculating politician who was complicit in Pakistan's becoming the region's principal jihadi paymaster while she also ramped up an insurgency in Kashmir that has brought two nuclear powers to the brink of war.
0 Replies

Related Topics

Who gets control of the nukes? - Discussion by McGentrix
Cricket - Question by kannan
I just heard a rumor... - Question by Frank Apisa
when things go wrong - Discussion by dyslexia
AFGHANISTAN - A LESSON 200 YEARS OLD - Discussion by hamburger
Pakistan fires on US Helicopters - Discussion by Robert Gentel
US, Pakistan battle it out through the press - Discussion by BumbleBeeBoogie
Development situation of Pakistan - Question by Ehtasham
Copyright © 2021 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.03 seconds on 10/28/2021 at 10:31:44