Earthside Comments: A very grim ending for 2007.
Ask the simple question first to understand what has happened: who benefits most from the removal of Benazir Bhutto from the political scene in Pakistan? Of course, it is Bush's favorite Islamo-fascist dictator who actually has nuclear weapons, Pervez Musharraf.
A convenient patsy will undoubtedly be put forward by the warmongers here and in Pakistan -- somehow this was the work of the Taliban or al Qaida. But all they will garner is a jackboot response from the Musharraf military regime and heightened screams of 'the terrorists are everywhere!' from radical Republican politicians (and probably Hillary Clinton, too) here in the U.S, why would they want that?
Furthermore, Benazir Bhutto was a direct challenge to the authoritarianism of Musharraf's power base, the military. Here is what she said in an interview with Inter Press Service (IPS) in October of this year:
IPS: The army controls everything from defence to businesses and there are said to be, within it, those who are supporting extremism and terrorism. How would you be able to handle and control the army?
Benazir Bhutto (BB): Our first step is to separate the offices of army chief and the president. It is a negation of democracy that a serving army chief should also be the president of the country. The written undertaking given by Musharraf in the Supreme Court that he will doff uniform after his reelection and the nomination of the next army chief are steps in this direction. We would like the military sent back to the barracks. We are also aiming at restoration of the balance of power between the president and parliament.
The best way to handle and control the army is to make it work within the confines of the constitution and under the control of civil and political authority. I believe that with the restoration of the constitution and transition to democracy the army will be required to work within the confines of the constitution. That is how we plan to handle and control the military.
(Alternatively, why would radical theocratic Islamicists eliminate a threat to an allegedly pro-America dictator, unless they are in reality on the same side? Bhutto herself said on November 4, 2007, "There's a very slim line between what are called Musharraf's people and the terrorists who tried to kill me in Karachi. I have long held that the forces that supported an earlier military dictatorship in Pakistan in the '80s, which formed the Iran mujahadin, have crept into the administration and security services under Gen. Musharraf, and they have covertly aided and abetted the rise of extremism and militancy.")
Nevertheless, Musharraf now has a justification for re-imposing strict military rule in Pakistan, arresting all political dissidents and canceling the scheduled January elections. Bush has the whole raison d'etre for his post 9/11 occupation of the White House re-emphasized.
Bhutto, despite her western rhetoric, was a threat to the Bush-Musharraf alliance. Consider this analysis from December 4, 2007:
Just as a flicker of hope emerged to bring back elected civilian rule to Pakistan, the ideological warriors of neo-conservatism are up in arms to douse it. Having supported President Pervez Musharraf as the stalwart general in America's "war on terror", US neo-conservatives are panic-stricken at the prospect of his political demise. No sooner did he decide to relinquish his army post to become a civilian president last week, than fear of Pakistan's collapse and of loose nuclear weapons gripped Musharraf's backers in the United States.
Neo-Cons Have It Wrong on Pakistan | Najum Mushtaq/Asia Times
Consequently the sad truth behind what has occurred is obvious.
Oh yes, the fearmongers will be out in force today ... and the
cable news networks are falling hook-line-and-sinker for the
'Busharraf' tale that Bhutto was killed by extremist terrorists.
However, Earthside readers know the truth.
Today on "The Situation Room," Wolf Blitzer revealed an exclusive e-mail he received from Benazir Bhutto's US spokesman Mark Siegel in October. "This is a story she wanted me to tell the world on her behalf if she were killed," Blitzer said, before reading the e-mail.
In the e-mail, Bhutto wrote that, if anything were to happen to her, "I wld [sic] hold Musharaf [sic] responsible. I have been made to feel insecure by his minions, and there is no way what is happening in terms of stopping me from taking private cars or using tinted windows or giving jammers or four police mobiles to cover all sides cld [sic] happen without him."
A longtime adviser and close friend of assassinated Pakistani ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto places blame for Bhutto's death squarely on the shoulders of U.S.-supported dictator Pervez Musharraf.
After an October attack on Bhutto's life in Karachi, the ex-prime minister warned "certain individuals in the security establishment [about the threat] and nothing was done," says Husain Haqqani, a confidante of Bhutto's for decades. "There is only one possibility: the security establishment and Musharraf are complicit, either by negligence or design. That is the most important thing. She's not the first political leader killed, since Musharraf took power, by the security forces."
Haqqani notes that Bhutto died of a gunshot wound to the neck. "It's like a hit, not a regular suicide bombing," he says. "It's quite clear that someone who considers himself Pakistan's Godfather has a very different attitude toward human life than you and I do."
As for what comes next: Haqqani doubts that Musharraf will go forward with scheduled elections. "The greatest likelihood is that this was aimed not just aimed at Benazir Bhutto but at weakening Pakistan's push for democracy," he says. "But the U.S. has to think long and hard. Musharraf's position is untenable in Pakistan. More and more people are going to blame him for bringing Pakistan to this point, intentionally or unintentionally. It's very clear that terrorism has increased in Pakistan. It's quite clear that poverty has increased in Pakistan. ... anti-Americanism might come in, as people say, 'You know what, why should we support this [pro-U.S.] regime that has not delivered anything to us?'"
Growing emotional, Haqqani says people should know that "Benazir Bhutto was a very warm person. She was a very strong and courageous person, a very forgiving person. To have gone what she went through -- her father assassinated by one military dictator [General Zia ul-Haq], her two brothers assassinated, no one in the elite fully loyal to her... The whole Pakistani security establishment thinks Pakistan should be governed as a national-security state. She resisted that completely, and that doesn't get seen enough. She questioned their right to govern."
Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated Thursday in a suicide attack. Her death threw the campaign for critical Jan. 8 parliamentary elections into chaos and stoked fears of mass protests and violence across the nuclear-armed nation, an important U.S. ally in the war on terrorism.
At least 20 others were also killed in the attack on a campaign rally where the 54-year-old Bhutto had just spoken.
Her supporters erupted in anger and grief after her death, attacking police and burning tires and election campaign posters in several cities. At the hospital where she died, some smashed glass and wailed, chanting slogans against President Pervez Musharraf. ...
... The attacker struck just minutes after Bhutto addressed thousands of supporters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, 8 miles south of Islamabad. She was shot in the neck and chest by the attacker, who then blew himself up, said Rehman Malik, Bhutto's security adviser.
Sardar Qamar Hayyat, a leader from Bhutto's party, said he was standing about 10 yard away from her vehicle at the time of the attack.
"She was inside the vehicle and was coming out from the gate after addressing the rally when some of the youths started chanting slogans in her favor. Then I saw a smiling Bhutto emerging from the vehicle's roof and responding to their slogans," he said.
"Then I saw a thin, young man jumping toward her vehicle from the back and opening fire. Moments later, I saw her speeding vehicle going away," he added.
The United Stated is planning to send its Special Forces to Pakistan that will train and support indigenous counter-insurgency forces and clandestine counter terrorism units, US defence officials have revealed.
These Pakistan-centric operations may mark a shift for the US military and for the Washington-Islamabad relations, a report in the Washington Post stated.
After the 9/11 terror attacks, the US had used Pakistani bases to launch its movements into Afghanistan.
After the US troops succeeded in overthrowing the Taliban Government and established its main operating base at Bagram, it left Pakistan almost entirely. After that the Pakistan Government has put a ceiling on the US's involvement in cross-border military operations and paramilitary operations in the country. ...
... According to Pentagon sources, having a different agreement with Pakistan is now a priority for the new head of the US Special Operations Command, Admiral Eric T Olson, who visited Pakistan in August, November and December.
In December, Olson met Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, Pakistani Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Chairman General Tariq Majid and Lt. General Muhammad Masood Aslam, commander of the military and paramilitary troops in northwest Pakistan. He also paid a visit to the headquarters of the Frontier Corps, a separate paramilitary force recruited from Pakistan's border tribes