29 December, 2007

Bhutto like Kennedy murdered by the state

Pakistan's military might have been behind the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, US presidential aspirant Hillary Clinton said Friday

Major cities in Pakistan are on fire, riots, and massive violence. People are out with guns and ammunition. The TV cable distribution system is shut down.

The final moments of Benazir Bhutto as narrated by her chief political adviser Safdar Abbassi, who was present in the same SUV when suicide bombers struck it, once again refutes the claims made by Pakistan government that the former premier was killed in the blast shockwave rather than by a bullet.

Abbassi told the British newspaper, Telegraph: "All of a sudden there was the sound of firing. I heard the sound of a bullet."

"I saw her (Benazir). She looked as though she ducked in when she heard the firing. We did not realise that she had been hit by a bullet...Moments later, the car was rocked by a huge explosion," he added.

Benazir, who remained silent, was oozing out blood from a deep wound on the left side of her neck. Naheeb Khan, Dr Abbassi's wife, cradled Benazir's head in her lap and pressed her own headscarf into the wound in a bid to stop the blood flow.

But the wound was deep and the blood seeped out, spreading down her neck and across her blue tunic, Abbassi recounted.

Two new set of photographs released by some private television news channels here substantiate Abbassi's claims.

In one set of the new photographs taken from a mobile phone, one of the two assassins is seen clearly wearing a pair of dark sunglass and a light brown jacket aiming his gun at Bhutto when she was waving to the crowd from the SUV's sunroof.

The suicide bomber is also seen in the picture, which has been taken from a different angle, showing him wearing a white gown where only his face is visible.

In another set of photographs taken from inside the SUV minutes after Bhutto was moved out to an ambulance, bloodstain is seen in the entire backseat of the SUV. A black sandal belonging to Bhutto is also seen lying near the seat.

Abbassi refuted the Government's claim that Benazir hit the sunroof's lever in the shockwave of the suicide blast.

She had been shot, he said. A day earlier, Benazir's party spokesperson and a close friend, Sherry Rehman had also rubbished government's claim.

"We saw the blood: the blood was everywhere, on her neck and on her clothes and we realised she was hit. She could not say anything," Abbassi said, adding that she was alive when she was carried into the intensive care unit of the hospital, but her injuries were so severe that she stood no chance.

"The doctors really tried their best but it was too late," Abbassi said, recounting that after she wrapped up the rally in the Liaquat Bagh area in Rawalipindi, she was extremely happy and asked him and his wife to join her.

She would never decide until the last minute which car to ride in; not even her head of security was party to the decision until she opened the car door. On the fateful Thursday, she chose the lead vehicle, the daily reported.

Just seconds before she was hit by the bullet, Benazir said "Jeay Bhutto [Long Live Bhutto," Abbassi recounted.

The conspiracy theory is clear. It is a textbook case of conspiracy murder of a popular leader by the establishment and is very much similar to that of Jon F. Kennedy in America. There was no way Kennedy could have come out of the grassy knoll in Dallas. There was no way Benazir Bhutto could have come out of the very well orchestrated, planned, and executed assassination of Bhutto by the establishment.

The conspiracy theory gained momentum after it is revealed that Rawalpindi police chief violated the Criminal Procedure Code by not allowing autopsy on Bhutto. Even though a medical-legal report based on a mandatory post-mortem examination is a must in a murder case under Pakistani laws, the establishment decided to instruct Rawalpindi police chief to block any such post mortem so that they can blame the murder on accident. The funniest thing happened finally. The Musharaff and his establishment blamed the whole thing on Benazir Bhutto’s Sunroof latch. Some in Karachi say they operated on Bhutto’s dead body to make it look like an accident and never allowed a compete autopsy to hide the bullet wounds.

Bhutto was ambushed from five different directions. More than ten gun men and two suicide bombers were involved. Al-Queda or some militant extremists group worked closely with the establishment to execute the assassination. In case of John F. Kennedy mob had a had but they worked together with the establishment to end the ‘true’ peaceful democracy in the world. This case is no different.

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani television channel has broadcast grainy still pictures of what it says appears to be two men who attacked and killed Benazir Bhutto.Dawn News Television yesterday showed three pictures it said it had obtained from an amateur photographer. One showed two men standing in the crowd outside the rally ground before Ms Bhutto left. One was a clean-cut, well-dressed young man wearing sunglasses, a white shirt and a dark waistcoat. Behind him stood a man with a white shawl over his head, who Dawn said was believed to be the bomber. Two other photographs showed the well-dressed man pointing a pistol at Ms Bhutto as she left the rally. He appeared to be about three metres from Ms Bhutto, standing on the left of her vehicle, pointing the gun with his right hand as she faced away from him.

: The 19-year-old son of slain former Pakistan premier Benazir Bhutto, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, on Sunday was elected as the Chairman of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) by the members of the Central Executive Committee of the party at a meeting which was held at Bhutto’s parental Naudero House in Larkana.
Senior Vice-Chairman of the party Makhdoom Amin Fahim, who presided over today’s meeting, announced this at a press conference after the marathon meeting that went for over five hours.
Fahim said that during the meeting Bilawal read out his mother’s will that was signed on October 16, two days before she returned to Pakistan ending her self-exile.
“In the will, Benazir had stated that if she dies then her husband Asif Ali Zardari would lead the party, but during today’s meeting Zardari said that he would not take the responsibility and offered the post to his son Bilawal, which was endorsed by everyone,” Fahim told reporters here.
Bilawal in his first press conference as the Chairman of the party thanked the CEC members and said that he remained committed to the federation of Pakistan.
“Democracy is best revenge,” Bilawal said and added that the PPP would work with a “renewed vigour”.
Later in the press conference Zardari, who has been appointed as the co-chairman of the party, said, “Benazir ki tasveer Bilawal (Benazir’s image is Bilawal),” that led to party workers shout slogans in praise of Benazir and her son Bilawal.
The party constitution, however, states that the Chairman of the party must be at least 22 years old.
Earlier in the day, PPP spokesperson Sherry Rehman had said that Bilawal is not keen to take up the post and wants to pursue his studies at the Oxford University.
Born on September 21, 1988, Bilawal did his schooling from Rashid School for Boys in Dubai and is presently doing his A-level at the Oxford University.
He is said to have acquired a black belt in the martial art of Taekwondo and is fond of horse riding.

Benazir Bhutto Not What the Media and Bush Administration Claimed By Saleeem Khan, Ph.D.

The violent death of Benazir Bhutto on December 27, is the latest event in a culture of violence that has been steadily spreading in the body politics in Pakistan. Ms. Bhutto’s assassination took place in Liaqat Park 28 years after the execution in April 1979 of her father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a democratically elected prime minister of Pakistan, at the hands of a military dictator. The prison where his execution was carried out is hardly a mile away from the Liaqat Park, a site where the first prime minister of Pakistan, Liaqat Ali Khan, fell to an assassin’s bullet 28 years earlier in October 1951. A power struggle among the ruling elite was said to be the cause of the Liaqat tragedy, but that killing was never professionally investigated and I doubt very much that her tragic demise will ever be. These and numerous other tragic events in the 60 year history of Pakistan are of far reaching national and international consequences because Pakistan occupies a strategic position in a very volatile region. These events imperil national, regional and international peace. The magnified exposure of these tragic events in the world media is closely linked to protecting western interests fails to adequately express concern for the safety and welfare of Pakistan and its people. I have known both Bhuttos personally for over a quarter century. I met Ms. Bhutto for the first time in 1984 in New York when she was invited to meet with a politically active group of young Pakistanis. My meeting with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was arranged on August 1974, in the Prime Minister’s house in Rawalpindi. Subsequently I maintained contacts with both of them. I served as an economic advisor in his administration from 1975 to 1977. Memories of a long relationship and my observation of their tenure as public servants are still fresh in my mind. Both leaders were idols of the people and had developed close bonds with the poor and dispossessed. Ms. Bhutto had inherited her father’s legacy as a political leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) which he had founded in 1967, and the mission of democracy and economic reform which he planned for his nation. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was an astute politician, possessing Clintonian talents and a statesman of international stature. He had made the mission of his life to serve the poor and downtrodden and worked tirelessly in promoting international cooperation and world peace. In both my meeting with him on August 8, 1974, and the subsequent contacts which I maintained with the Bhutto family he spoke of his agenda of political and economic reforms and the difficulties he was encountering in their implementation. He went on to reiterate his commitment to make a difference in the lives of the common man and peace with India at any cost and sacrifice. His economic reforms, as he explained to me, aimed at providing the basic necessities of life–bread, clothing, shelter–to the poor of Pakistan, but were negated by bureaucratic controls and conspiracies by the feudal lobby.

The three sins that made him a pariah among international powers were his nuclear program, an Islamic summit, and the drive for third world unity. These programs drew strong opposition from the western world in general and the US in particular. For these sins, as the world events have witnessed, he paid with his life.

Bhutto had trained Benazir from his prison cell to pick up the pieces of his reforms and democracy and prepared her mentally for sacrifices that she might have to make. In my meeting with her in New York she talked about her commitment to the PPP’s political and economic agenda emphasizing the need for building a strong popular support and forging unity among the ranks of party’s leaders and workers. Ms. Bhutto’s day to govern the country came in 1988. On the strength of her party’s political and economic programs and with the support of the people she was elected prime minister of Pakistan twice, first in 1988 and for a second term in 1993; each time her tenure lasted for two years. Sadly she failed to demonstrate the qualities of a competent governor for which her father had tried to prepare her, and she was unable to achieve any worthwhile program for socio-economic progress. She made herself the chairperson of the PPP for life, dominating the decision making processes and exhibiting little taste and patience for democracy. In the government she developed a close alliance with the bureaucratic establishment, surrounded herself with powerful feudal and corrupt party leaders. She only paid lip service to educational programs in general and female literacy in particular. During her tenure as prime minister the economy was largely mismanaged, poverty rose and governance standards deteriorated. Much is made of her education at Harvard and Oxford preparing her to meet the challenges of leadership in a modern world. Throughout her life she remained beholden to feudal interests and preferred a life of “The Rich and Famous.” While in office, she and her husband, Asif Zardari, according to the Pakistani media and the New York Times stole as much as $1.5 billion from government accounts. Neither the people of Pakistan nor the international media missed her during her eight years of self exile. Only when Washington needed her as a front for democracy in Pakistan did she reemerge as a political force by the international media. She stridently defended the war against militancy and Al Qaeda and seldom referred to the many other urgent problems facing the people of Pakistan. Pakistan is a country of 170 million people and they have never been allowed to have a say in shaping their destiny. Without their active participation in national affairs, stability and democracy is not possible.

La Opinion (Spanish language newspaper) is reporting that the bullet entered the neck, and exited at the top of the head.

Voice of America

Ms. Bhutto's senior advisor, Sherry Rehman, says she helped wash the slain politician's body for burial. She alleges the government is trying to cover-up its failure to protect Ms. Bhutto, who was campaigning for January 8 elections.

"It is very clear, it is running on all the Pakistan TV channels, the footage of an assassin who took clear aim at her with his gun and fired the shot that went through the back of her head and came out the other," she said. "I have seen the bullet wound myself. I was part of the bathing ritual party and she bled to death from that wound."



Anoter video (the Guardian, UK)

Guy on a prepared motorcycle is blown up by remote control.
Swiss Newspaper reports HE DID NOT fire the shots NZZ.CH
eyewitnesses say the shots came from a alltogether different direction.
She was ABOUT TO enter her car as FIVE shots rang out.

it was a PRECISELY PLANNED assassination and has CIA written all over it.

Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan killed in attack

The opposition politician is the victim of a suicide attack in Rawalpindi

Bhutto had shortly after six o'clock in the evening ended the campaign event and wanted to enter her vehicle when five shots were fired. She was apparently hit on the neck and chest when in the same moment a man with a motorcycle drove up close and exploded. It was not clear whether the shots came from the suicide perpetrators. According to eyewitness reports, they were from a different direction than the explosion came, the presumption was precisely a planned assassination would strengthen. The force of the explosion killed alongside Bhutto further twenty people and injured many of their followers, including their close advisers Sherry Rehman and Naheed Khan.



The assassination of Benazir Bhutto heaps despair upon Pakistan: A tragedy born of military despotism and anarchy

Now her party must be democratically rebuilt -- by Tariq Ali

The Guardian - 2007-12-28

Even those of us sharply critical of Benazir Bhutto's behaviour and policies - both while she was in office and more recently - are stunned and angered by her death. Indignation and fear stalk the country once again.

An odd coexistence of military despotism and anarchy created the conditions leading to her assassination in Rawalpindi yesterday. In the past, military rule was designed to preserve order - and did so for a few years. No longer. Today it creates disorder and promotes lawlessness. How else can one explain the sacking of the chief justice and eight other judges of the country's supreme court for attempting to hold the government's intelligence agencies and the police accountable to courts of law? Their replacements lack the backbone to do anything, let alone conduct a proper inquest into the misdeeds of the agencies to uncover the truth behind the carefully organised killing of a major political leader.

How can Pakistan today be anything but a conflagration of despair? It is assumed that the killers were jihadi fanatics. This may well be true, but were they acting on their own?

Benazir, according to those close to her, had been tempted to boycott the fake elections, but she lacked the political courage to defy Washington. She had plenty of physical courage, and refused to be cowed by threats from local opponents. She had been addressing an election rally in Liaquat Bagh. This is a popular space named after the country's first prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, who was killed by an assassin in 1953. The killer, Said Akbar, was immediately shot dead on the orders of a police officer involved in the plot. Not far from here, there once stood a colonial structure where nationalists were imprisoned. This was Rawalpindi jail. It was here that Benazir's father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was hanged in April 1979. The military tyrant responsible for his judicial murder made sure the site of the tragedy was destroyed as well.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's death poisoned relations between his Pakistan People's party and the army. Party activists, particularly in the province of Sind, were brutally tortured, humiliated and, sometimes, disappeared or killed.

Pakistan's turbulent history, a result of continuous military rule and unpopular global alliances, confronts the ruling elite now with serious choices. They appear to have no positive aims. The overwhelming majority of the country disapproves of the government's foreign policy. They are angered by its lack of a serious domestic policy except for further enriching a callous and greedy elite that includes a swollen, parasitic military. Now they watch helplessly as politicians are shot dead in front of them.

Benazir had survived the bomb blast yesterday but was felled by bullets fired at her car. The assassins, mindful of their failure in Karachi a month ago, had taken out a double insurance this time. They wanted her dead. It is impossible for even a rigged election to take place now. It will have to be postponed, and the military high command is no doubt contemplating another dose of army rule if the situation gets worse, which could easily happen.

What has happened is a multilayered tragedy. It's a tragedy for a country on a road to more disasters. Torrents and foaming cataracts lie ahead. And it is a personal tragedy. The house of Bhutto has lost another member. Father, two sons and now a daughter have all died unnatural deaths.

I first met Benazir at her father's house in Karachi when she was a fun-loving teenager, and later at Oxford. She was not a natural politician and had always wanted to be a diplomat, but history and personal tragedy pushed in the other direction. Her father's death transformed her. She had become a new person, determined to take on the military dictator of that time. She had moved to a tiny flat in London, where we would endlessly discuss the future of the country. She would agree that land reforms, mass education programmes, a health service and an independent foreign policy were positive constructive aims and crucial if the country was to be saved from the vultures in and out of uniform. Her constituency was the poor, and she was proud of the fact.

She changed again after becoming prime minister. In the early days, we would argue and in response to my numerous complaints - all she would say was that the world had changed. She couldn't be on the "wrong side" of history. And so, like many others, she made her peace with Washington. It was this that finally led to the deal with Musharraf and her return home after more than a decade in exile. On a number of occasions she told me that she did not fear death. It was one of the dangers of playing politics in Pakistan.

It is difficult to imagine any good coming out of this tragedy, but there is one possibility. Pakistan desperately needs a political party that can speak for the social needs of a bulk of the people. The People's party founded by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was built by the activists of the only popular mass movement the country has known: students, peasants and workers who fought for three months in 1968-69 to topple the country's first military dictator. They saw it as their party, and that feeling persists in some parts of the country to this day, despite everything.

Benazir's horrific death should give her colleagues pause for reflection. To be dependent on a person or a family may be necessary at certain times, but it is a structural weakness, not a strength for a political organisation. The People's party needs to be refounded as a modern and democratic organisation, open to honest debate and discussion, defending social and human rights, uniting the many disparate groups and individuals in Pakistan desperate for any halfway decent alternative, and coming forward with concrete proposals to stabilise occupied and war-torn Afghanistan. This can and should be done. The Bhutto family should not be asked for any more sacrifices.

· Tariq Ali's book The Duel: Pakistan on the Flightpath of American Power is published in 2008 tariq.ali3@btinternet.com


Anglo-American Ambitions behind the Assassination of Benazir Bhutto and the Destabilization of Pakistan

by Larry Chin -- Global Research, December 29, 2007

It has been known for months that the Bush-Cheney administration and its allies have been maneuvering to strengthen their political control over Pakistan, paving the way for the expansion and deepening of the “war on terrorism” across the region. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto does not change this agenda. In fact, it simplifies Bush-Cheney’s options.
Seeding chaos with a pretext
“Delivering democracy to the Muslim world” has been the Orwellian rhetoric used to mask Bush-Cheney’s application of pressure and force, its dramatic attempt at reshaping of the Pakistani government (into a joint Bhutto/Sharif-Musharraf) coalition, and backdoor plans for a military intervention. Various American destabilization plans, known for months by officials and analysts, proposed the toppling of Pakistan's military.
The assassination of Bhutto appears to have been anticipated. There were even reports of “chatter” among US officials about the possible assassinations of either Pervez Musharraf or Benazir Bhutto, well before the actual attempts took place.
As succinctly summarized in Jeremy Page’s article, "Who Killed Benazir Bhutto? The Main Suspects", the main suspects are
1) “Pakistani and foreign Islamist militants who saw her as a heretic and an American stooge”, and 2) the Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, a virtual branch of the CIA. Bhutto’s husband Asif Ali Zardari directly accused the ISI of being involved in the October attack. The assassination of Bhutto has predictably been blamed on “Al-Qaeda”, without mention of fact that Al-Qaeda itself is an Anglo-American military-intelligence operation. Page’s piece was one of the first to name the man who has now been tagged as the main suspect: Baitullah Mehsud, a purported Taliban militant fighting the Pakistani army out of Waziristan. Conflicting reports link Mehsud to “Al-Qaeda”, the Afghan Taliban, and Mullah Omar (also see here). Other analysis links him to the terrorist A.Q. Khan. Mehsud’s profile, and the reporting of it, echoes the propaganda treatment of all post-9/11 “terrorists”. This in turn raises familiar questions about Anglo-American intelligence agency propaganda involvement. Is Mehsud connected to the ISI or the CIA? What did the ISI and the CIA know about Mehsud? More importantly, does Mehsud, or the manipulation of the propaganda surrounding him provide Bush-Cheney with a pretext for future aggression in the region? Classic “war on terrorism” propaganda
While details on the Bhutto assassination continue to unfold, what is clear is that it was a political hit, along the lines of US agent Rafik Harriri in Lebanon. Like the highly suspicious Harriri hit, the Bhutto assassination has been depicted by corporate media as the martyring of a great messenger of western-style “democracy”. Meanwhile, the US government’s ruthless actions behind the scenes have received scant attention.
The December 28, 2007 New York Times coverage of the Bhutto assassination offers the perfect example of mainstream Orwellian media distortion that hides the truth about Bush/Cheney agenda behind blatant propaganda smoke. This piece echoes White House rhetoric proclaiming that Bush’s main objectives are to “bring democracy to the Muslim world” and “force out Islamist militants”.
In fact, the openly criminal Bush-Cheney administration has only supported and promoted the antithesis of democracy: chaos, fascism, and the installation of Anglo-American-friendly puppet regimes.
In fact, the central and consistent geostrategy of Bush-Cheney, and their elite counterparts around the world, is the continued imposition and expansion of the manufactured “war on terrorism”; the continuation of war across the Eurasian subcontinent, with events triggered by false flag operations and manufactured pretexts.
In fact, the main tools used in the “war on terrorism” remain Islamist militants, working on behalf of Anglo-American military intelligence agencies---among them, “Al-Qaeda”, and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, the ISI. Mehsud fits this the same profile.
Saving Bush-Cheney’s Pakistan In an amusing quote from the same New York Times piece, Wendy Chamberlain, former US ambassador to Pakistan (and a central figure behind multinational efforts to build a trans-Afghan pipeline, connected to 9/11), proudly states: “We are a player in the Pakistani political system”.
Not only has the US continued to be a “player”, but one of its top managers for decades.
Each successive Pakistani leader since the early 1990s---Bhutto, Sharif and Musharraf---have bowed to Western interests. The ISI is a virtual branch of the CIA.
While Musharraf has been, and remains, a strongman for Bush-Cheney, questions about his “reliability”, and control---both his regime’s control over the populace and growing popular unrest, and elite control over his regime---have driven Bush-Cheney attempts to force a clumsy (pro-US, Iraq-style) power-sharing government. As noted by Robert Scheer, Bush-Cheney has been playing “Russian roulette” with Musharraf, Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif---each of whom have been deeply corrupt, willing fronts for the US.
The return of both Bhutto and the other former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has merely been an attempt by the US to hedge its regional power bets.
What exactly were John Negroponte and Condoleeza Rice really setting up the past few months?
Who benefits from Bhutto’s murder? The “war on terrorism” geostrategy and propaganda milieu, the blueprint that has been used by elite interests since 9/11 to impose a continuing world war, is the clear beneficiary of the Bhutto assassination.
Bush/Cheney and their equally complicit pro-war/pro-occupation counterparts in the Democratic Party enthusiastically support the routine use of “terror” pretexts to impose continued war policies.
True to form, fear, “terrorism”, “security” and military force, are once again, the focuses of Washington political rhetoric, and the around-the-clock media barrage.
The 2008 US presidential candidates and their elite campaign advisers, all but a few of whom enthusiastically support the “war on terrorism”, have taken turns pushing their respective versions of “we must stop the terrorists” rhetoric for brain-addled supporters. The candidates whose polls have slipped, led by 9/11 participant and opportunist Rudy Guiliani, and hawkish neoliberal Hillary Clinton, have already benefited from a new round of mass fear.
Musharraf benefits from the removal of a bitter rival, but now must find a way to re-establish order. Musharraf now has an ideal justification to crack down on “terrorists” and impose full martial law, with Bush-Cheney working from the shadows behind Musharraf---and continuing to manipulate or remove his apparatus, if Musharraf proves too unreliable or broken to suit Anglo-American plans.
The likely involvement of the ISI behind the Bhutto hit cannot be overstated. ISI’s role behind every major act of “terrorism” since 9/11 remains the central unspoken truth behind current geopolitical realities. Bhutto, but not Sharif or Musharraf would have threatened the ISI’s agendas.
Bhutto, militant Islam, and the pipelines Now that she has been martyred, many unflattering historical facts about Benazir Bhutto will be hidden or forgotten.
Bhutto herself was intimately involved in the creation of the very “terror” milieu purportedly responsible for her assassination. Across her political career, she supported militant Islamists, the Taliban, the ISI, and the ambitions of Western governments.
As noted by Michel Chossudovsky in America’s “War on Terrorism”, it was during Bhutto’s second term that Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) and the Taliban rose to prominence, welcomed into Bhutto’s coalition government. It was at that point that ties between the JUI, the Army and the ISI were established.
While Bhutto’s relationship with both the ISI and the Taliban were marked by turmoil, it is clear that Bhutto, when in power, supported both---and enthusiastically supported Anglo-American interventions.
In his two landmark books, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia and Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia, Ahmed Rashid richly details the Bhutto regime’s connections to the ISI, the Taliban, “militant Islam”, multinational oil interests, and Anglo-American officials and intelligence proxies.
In Jihad, Rashid wrote:
“Ironically it was not the ISI but Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the most liberal, secular leader in Pakistan’s recent history, who delivered the coup de grace to a new relationship with Central Asia. Rather than support a wider peace process in Afghanistan that would have opened up a wider peace process in Afghanistan, Bhutto backed the Taliban, in a rash and presumptuous policy to create a new western-oriented trade and pipeline route from Turkmenistan through southern Afghanistan to Pakistan, from which the Taliban would provide security. The ISI soon supported this policy because its Afghan protégé Gulbuddin Hekmatyar had made no headway in capturing Kabul, and the Taliban appeared to be strong enough to do so.” In Taliban, Rashid provided even more historical detail: “When Bhutto was elected as Prime Minister in 1993, she was keen to open a route to Central Asia. A new proposal emerged backed strongly by the frustrated Pakistani transport and smuggling mafia, the JUI and Pashtun military and political officials.” “The Bhutto government fully backed the Taliban, but the ISI remained skeptical of their abilities, convinced that they would remain a useful but peripheral force in the south.” “The US congress had authorized a covert $20 million budget for the CIA to destabilize Iran, and Tehran accused Washington of funneling some of these funds to the Taliban---a charge that was always denied by Washington . Bhutto sent several emissaries to Washington to urge the US to intervene more publicly on the side of Pakistan and the Taliban.” Bhutto’s one mistake: she vehemently supported the pipeline proposed by Argentinean oil company Bridas, and opposed the pipeline by Unocal (favored by the US). This contributed to her ouster in 1996, and the return of Nawaz Sharif to power. As noted by Rashid: “After the dismissal of the Bhutto government in 1996, the newly elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his oil minister Chaudry Nisar Ali Khan, the army and the ISI fully backed Unocal. Pakistan wanted more direct US support for the Taliban and urged Unocal to start construction quickly in order to legitimize the Taliban. Basically the USA and Unocal accepted the ISI’s analysis and aims---that a Taliban victory in Afghanistan would make Unocal’s job much easier and quicken US recognition.” Her appealing and glamorous pro-Western image notwithstanding, Bhutto’s true record is one of corruption and accommodation. The “war on terrorism” resparked Every major Anglo-American geostrategic crime has been preceded by a convenient pretext, orchestrated and carried out by “terror” proxies directly or indirectly connected to US military-intelligence, or manipulated into performing as intelligence assets. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto is simply one more brutal example. This was Pakistan’s 9/11; Pakistan’s JFK assassination, and its impact will resonate for years. Contrary to mainstream corporate news reporting, chaos benefits Bush-Cheney’s “war on terrorism”. Calls for “increased worldwide security” will pave the way for a muscular US reaction, US-led force and other forms of “crack down” from Bush-Cheney across the region. In other words, the assassination helps ensure that the US will not only never leave, but also increase its presence. The Pakistani election, if it takes place at all, is a simpler two-way choice: pro-US Musharraf or pro-US Sharif. While the success of Bush-Cheney’s 9/11 agenda has met with mixed results, and it has met with a wide array of resistance (“terroristic” as well as political), there is no doubt that the propaganda foundation of the “war on terrorism” has remained firm, unshaken and routinely reinforced. As for Nawaz Sharif, who now emerges as the sole competitor for Musharraf, he, like Musharraf and Bhutto, is legendary for his accommodation to Anglo-American interests---pipelines, trade, and the continued US military presence. As Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie noted in the book Forbidden Truth, the October 1999 military coup led by Musharraf that originally toppled Sharif’s regime was sparked by animosity between the two camps, as well as “Sharif’s personal corruption and political megalomania”, and “concerns that Sharif was dancing too eagerly to Washington’s tune on Kashmir and Afghanistan”. In other words, Bush-Cheney wins, no matter which asset winds up on the throne.


Who killed Benazir Bhutto? The main suspects

by Jeremy Page

The main suspects in Benazir Bhutto’s assassination are the Pakistani and foreign Islamist militants who saw her as a heretic and an American stooge and had repeatedly threatened to kill her.
But fingers will also be pointed at Inter-Services Intelligence, the agency that has had close ties to the Islamists since the 1970s and has been used by successive Pakistani leaders to suppress political opposition.
Ms Bhutto narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in October, when a suicide bomber killed about 140 people at a rally in the port city of Karachi to welcome her back from eight years in exile.
Earlier that month, two militant warlords based in Pakistan's lawless northwestern areas, near the border with Afghanistan, had threatened to kill her on her return.
One was Baitullah Mehsud, a top commander fighting the Pakistani army in the tribal region of South Waziristan. He has close ties to al Qaeda and the Afghan Taleban.
The other was Haji Omar, the “amir” or leader of the Pakistani Taleban, who is also from South Waziristan and fought against the Soviets with the Mujahideen in Afghanistan.
After that attack Ms Bhutto revealed that she had received a letter signed by a person who claimed to be a friend of al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden threatening to slaughter her like a goat.
She accused Pakistani authorities of not providing her with sufficient security and hinted that they may have been complicit in the bomb attack. Asif Ali Zardari, her husband, directly accused the ISI of being involved in that attempt on her life.
Mrs Bhutto stopped short of blaming the Government directly, saying that she had more to fear from unidentified members of a power structure that she described as allies of the “forces of militancy”.
Analysts say that President Musharraf himself is unlikely to have ordered her assassination, but that elements of the army and intelligence service would have stood to lose money and power if she had become Prime Minister.
The ISI, in particular, includes some Islamists who became radicalised while running the American-funded campaign against the Soviets in Afghanistan and remained fiercely opposed to Ms Bhutto on principle.
Saudi Arabia, which has strong influence in Pakistan, is also thought to frown on Ms Bhutto as being too secular and Westernised and to favour Nawaz Sharif, another former Prime Minister.

Bhutto assassination heightens threat of US intervention in Pakistan
By Bill Van Auken - 29 December 2007

With Pakistan erupting in violence over the assassination of its former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and amid conflicting accounts as to both the identity of her assassins and even the cause of her death, official Washington and the American mass media have coalesced around a version of events that has been crafted to suit US strategic interests.

Without any substantive evidence, the crime has been attributed to Al Qaeda, while Bhutto herself has been proclaimed a martyr both in the struggle for democracy in her own country and in the US “global war on terror.” Meanwhile, the government of President Pervez Musharraf has been exonerated. There is ample reason to question this “official story” on all counts.

The obvious intent is to turn this undeniably tragic event into a new justification for the pursuit of US strategic interests in the region. In the week leading up to the assassination, there have been a number of reports indicating that US military forces are already operating inside Pakistan and preparing to substantially escalate these operations.

At this point, there is no proof as to the authorship of the assassination. The military-controlled government of President Musharraf claims to have intercepted a phone call in which an “Al Qaeda leader” congratulated his supporters for the killing. Yet web sites that have claimed responsibility for previous Al Qaeda terrorist acts have not done so in relation to the Bhutto killing.

Then there is the question as to how Bhutto died. In the wake of numerous eyewitness accounts that she had been shot before a bomb blast ripped through the crowd at an election campaign rally in Rawalpindi, the Pakistani Interior Ministry issued three conflicting accounts: the first saying that she died from a bullet wound to the neck, the second that she was killed by shrapnel from the bomb and a third claiming that she had fractured her skull against a door handle while ducking down into the sunroof of her vehicle to dodge either the bullets or the explosion. How the government reached this last novel conclusion is unclear, as no autopsy was conducted on Bhutto’s body.

A spokesperson for Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party, Farooq Naik, called the Musharraf government’s shifting story “a pack of lies” and insisted that the real cause of death was sniper fire. If indeed the Pakistani politician was shot to death by a sniper in Rawalpindi, the historic garrison town which is headquarters to the country’s military, suspicion would shift even more sharply towards the government or elements within its powerful military-intelligence apparatus.

This is already the predominant popular sentiment within Pakistan itself. As Philadelphia Inquirer’s columnist Trudy Rubin reported from the country, “Just about every Pakistani with whom I spoke blamed her death not on Al Qaeda, but on their own government—and the United States.”

And, there is irrefutable evidence that Bhutto herself saw the government, rather than Al Qaeda, as the main threat to her life.

The New York Times Friday cited one Western official who met with the Pakistani politician the day before she was killed. He said, according to the Times, that Bhutto “complained that while the militants represented a threat, the government was as much a threat in its failure to ensure security. She suggested that either the government had a deal with the militants that allowed them to carry on their terrorist activities, or that President Musharraf’s approach at dealing with the problem of militancy was utterly ineffective.”

And in Washington, Bhutto’s American lobbyist, Mark Siegel, released an email from Bhutto that she had asked him to make public if she were assassinated. The message was sent shortly after the attempt on her life last October—a massive bombing that claimed the lives of nearly 140 people during a procession in Karachi following her return to the country. She had publicly accused the Pakistani military-intelligence apparatus of having a direct hand in this attack.

In her email, she said that she would “hold Musharraf responsible” if she were killed in Pakistan.“I have been made to feel insecure by his minions,” she wrote of the Pakistani military strongman.

Detailing the refusal of government officials to provide her with elementary security, Bhutto wrote, “There is no way that what is happening in terms of stopping me from taking private cars or using tinted windows or giving jammers [to detonate roadside bombs] or four police mobiles to cover all sides could happen without him.”

In an interview on CNN, Siegel commented: “As we prepared for the campaign ... Bhutto was very concerned she was not getting the security that she had asked for. She basically asked for all that was required for someone of the standing of a former prime minister. All of that was denied her.”

Asked by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer whether Bhutto had herself not been reckless, Siegel responded, “Don’t blame the victim for the crime. Musharraf is responsible.”

Meanwhile, Senator Joseph Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, held a press conference in Iowa in which he revealed that he had personally interceded with Musharraf to ask for specific security procedures to protect Bhutto, but his requests were ignored.

“The failure to protect Mrs. Bhutto raises a lot of hard questions for the government and security services that have to be answered,” Biden said. When asked if he believed the Pakistani government had deliberately placed Bhutto in harm’s way, he backed off, however, claiming he did not know what security was in place when Bhutto was killed.

The military-Islamist connection

The lines separating Al Qaeda—or, to be more precise, radical Islamist elements in Pakistan—from the country’s military-intelligence apparatus are hardly firm. Pakistan’s military-controlled regimes have encouraged and rested upon support from Islamist forces—as a counterweight to the working class and the left—ever since General Zia-ul Haq seized power and carried out the hanging of Benzir Bhutto’s father, then Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, in 1979. The military regime—and in particular its intelligence arm, the ISI—further cemented these ties during the US-backed war against the pro-Soviet regime in Afghanistan in the 1980s. It was then that the ISI and the CIA worked to build up the movement that became know as Al Qaeda and collaborated directly with Osama bin Laden.

That these ties still exist is without question. US military commanders have repeatedly complained that their Pakistani counterparts have warned Al Qaeda elements of impending US operations. That the Musharraf government or elements within the military could utilize Islamist elements to carry out such an assassination—or facilitate their committing such a crime—is obvious.

As for a motive, Musharraf and his main base of support, the military command, have a clear one. They had no interest in sharing state power—and access to both graft and billions of dollars in US aid—with the Pakistan People’s Party. Benazir Bhutto was twice elected prime minister in the 1990s—and twice removed. Each of these changes in power involved bitter conflicts between her government and hostile elements in the top brass of the Pakistani military and the ISI.

Now Musharraf’s principal rival for political power is dead and her party in disarray. He remains the principal figure upon whom Washington depends in Pakistan, a reality reflected in the insistence by the Bush administration, the media and the leading Democratic presidential candidates that he had nothing to do with the killing.

While the violent death of a 54-year-old woman with three children is both tragic and shocking, the attempt to turn Bhutto into a martyr for democracy is preposterous.

She was brought back to Pakistan as part of a sordid scheme hatched by the Bush administration to give the military-controlled regime headed by Musharraf a pseudo-democratic facade.

The Washington Post spelled out the details of this deal in a report Friday.

With mounting political unrest in Pakistan, Washington was desperate to prop up the military strongman, whom it viewed as a principal asset in the so-called war on terror.

“As President Pervez Musharraf’s political future began to unravel this year, Bhutto became the only politician who might help keep him in power,” the Post reported.

It quoted Bhutto’s lobbyist, Mark Siegel, as stating, “The US came to understand that Bhutto was not a threat to stability, but was instead the only possible way that we could guarantee stability and keep the presidency of Musharraf intact.”

The terms of the arrangement were that Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party would not oppose Musharraf’s widely unpopular bid for a third term as president last September and, in return, Musharraf would grant Bhutto immunity from criminal charges related to the rampant corruption that characterized her previous terms as prime minister.

US officials, including Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher, served as the direct brokers in 18 months of negotiations leading to the deal, flying back and forth between Islamabad and Bhutto’s homes in Dubai and London.

Musharraf was reportedly opposed to any amnesty for Bhutto, not to mention her return to power. According to the Post report, it was Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte—a veteran of dirty deals with dictators—who finally convinced him. “He basically delivered a message to Musharraf that we would stand by him, but he needed a democratic facade on the government, and we thought Benazir was the right choice for that face,” Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer and National Security Council staff member, told the Post.

In the end, it was Bush’s Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who phoned Bhutto in early October, telling her to return to Pakistan to serve essentially as an instrument of US policy and a prop for the Musharraf regime. In doing so, Rice sent Bhutto to her death.

Musharraf had no real desire to move ahead with Washington’s attempt to make Bhutto the presentable “face” for his reactionary regime, which led to, at the very least, the denial of state protection to Bhutto, if not her outright assassination by elements of the state.

The political reality behind Bhutto’s facade

Had the deal been consummated, it hardly would have led to a flowering of democracy in Pakistan. Rather, it would have installed a Washington-controlled prime minister as the figurehead for a military-dominated regime aligned with the Bush administration in a country where 70 percent of the population is hostile to US policy in the region.

And, while Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party has engaged in populist and even pseudo-socialist rhetoric, it has always been a representative of the Pakistan’s landed aristocracy and a firm defender of its power and privileges. During her two terms in power, the Bhutto family used their control over the state apparatus to enrich themselves, with her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, earning the nickname “Mr. ten percent,” for the kickbacks he extracted for state contracts.

Her governments—like that of Musharraf—were characterized by harsh repression, disappearances and state killings, including that of her own brother, Murtaza, who had split from the PPP.

That Washington was able to broker a deal between Bhutto and Musharraf is testimony to the entirely rotten and anti-democratic character of the Pakistani bourgeoisie as a whole, a ruling elite that is separated by a vast gulf from the masses of impoverished workers and peasants and which has defended its wealth and power through savage repression, open alignment with imperialism and appeals to every form of religious obscurantism and communalist hatred.

The direct involvement of Musharraf and the Pakistani military in the Bhutto assassination will not stop the Bush administration from continuing to collaborate with him or, if necessary, another military strongman. Washington has maintained its strategic alliance with Pakistan through the continuous assassinations and military coups that have characterized the country’s history.

It has acted as a direct accomplice in many of these crimes, most notoriously in the support given by President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State of State Henry Kissinger to the bloodbath unleashed against Bengali nationalist movement in 1971, in which US-supplied arms were used to butcher hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of civilians, while millions more were turned into refugees.

The Bush administration’s aim remains that of rescuing and somehow legitimizing the Musharraf regime. Bush spent a large part of Friday in a secure video conference linking his ranch in Crawford, Texas with the US National Security Council in Washington and the American ambassador in Islamabad to discuss the Pakistani crisis.

The entire country has been plunged into violence by the assassination, with banks, police stations, government offices, railroad terminals and trains burned and dozens of people killed. Pakistani security forces have been given “shoot on sight” orders against anyone seen to be engaging in “anti-state activities.” Transportation services have been shut down and gas stations closed by government order, leaving huge numbers of people stranded.

Under these conditions, the White House and the State Department are publicly calling for parliamentary elections set for January 8 to be held as planned, claiming that to postpone them would dishonor Bhutto’s memory. While even before the assassination, holding these elections with Musharraf still in power would have stripped them of any credibility, to stage them after the killing of the principal opposition leader would render them farcical. The White House sees such an exercise solely as a fig leaf for its imperialist policy in Pakistan, serving the same function as similar votes staged in US-occupied Iraq and Afghanistan.

The urgency attached to this exercise is bound up with Washington’s plans for expanded military operations in the country. The day before Bhutto’s assassination, the Washington Post’s national security columnist William Arkin reported, “Beginning early next year, US Special Forces are expected to vastly expand their presence in Pakistan, as part of an effort to train and support indigenous counter-insurgency forces and clandestine counterterrorism units, according to defense officials involved with the planning.”

Several days earlier, NBC’s Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski reported that US special operation troops are already “engaged in direct attacks against Al Qaeda inside Pakistan” operating in the tribal regions in the west of the country. The report made it clear that the so-called “trainers” sent by the US are directly involved in combat alongside Pakistani forces.

The report also quoted US Defense Secretary Robert Gates as stating, “Al Qaeda right now seems to have turned its face toward Pakistan and attacks against the Pakistani government.”

Meanwhile a Pentagon spokesman stressed Friday that Washington is confident that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are “under control.” Nonetheless, there have also been reports that the US military is reviewing contingency plans for a military intervention in the country on the pretext of safeguarding its nuclear arsenal.

The mass popular revulsion over the Bhutto assassination has unleashed intense instability in Pakistan. A further unraveling of the political situation could well draw the US military into direct involvement in the attempt to suppress popular upheavals in a country of 165 million people.

See Also:
In wake of assassination of Benazir Bhutto, Bush administration rushes to defense of Musharraf
[28 December 2007]
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posted by u2r2h at Saturday, December 29, 2007


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