Pakistan, as I have said before, is a mess
And this morning, the mess got messier. This morning, the leading opposition candidate for president, Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated
. First, she was shot in the neck and chest, and, then, to be doubly sure she was killed, struck with the shrapnel from a bomb by a suicide bomber.
The assassination occurred in the backdrop of the elections scheduled for January 8, 2008. Current Pakistani leader, Musharraf, did not really want elections to occur, and was forced by U.S. leaders to have the election. Musharraf, again to appease American leaders, resigned from being chief of the military forces
. Therefore, a loss in a parlimentary election (with Bhutto's party winning enough power for her to become prime minister) would have significantly diminished his power (I had originally stated, wrongly, in this post, that the presidential election was to be held on January 8, 2008 and that Musharraf's defeat would leave him completely out of power)
. Musharraf would not be the first dictator to allow one of his supporters--or enemies on the other side of him--to murder the most prominent opponent who could defeat him in an election or power struggle. See here
for Stalin's role in the murder of his chief rival, Sergei Kirov, in 1934, which Stalin then used to institute the brutal murders of most Soviet leaders throughout the Soviet Union.
Therefore, the question should be: What did Musharraf's own intelligence sources know about this planned attack and when did they know it? Initial pleas of ignorance are not going to be sufficient this time.
Oh, but before we "martyr" Bhutto, let's understand she has been legitimately accused of being very corrupt
--although her father
, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was, in retrospect, better than his successors, but still far below what Pakistanis should be seeking for a stable government and society. Note the linked Wikipedia article says Zulfikar Bhutto was accused of being involved in the murder of a political opponent...and let's also speculate that his socialist policies were sufficiently alarming to U.S. leadership so that they did not really pressure General Zia, who took power from Bhutto in a coup, to not execute Bhutto in 1979. General Zia (and the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan) later died under mysterious circumstances
in 1988, I should add.
Again, U.S. policymakers should reflect on the fact that, unlike India, where there have been various national and local leaders assassinated
over the past six decades, Pakistan is highly unstable. Indeed, Pakistan is ripe for a fundamentalist revolution. Pakistan, however, is in serious need of economic reform that is inclusive for the people
. However, I frankly don't see any leader on the horizon who is going to pursue a New Deal for the people of Pakistan. Nor do I see the current U.S. administration as having any sense of understanding of that need, and are more likely to oppose such a person in fealty to crass corporate power--much like previous U.S. administrations, it must be said.
Pakistan remains a mess which successive American administrations helped create.ADDENDUM:
As I said, what did Musharraf know and when did he know it?
article from Time Magazine (December 27, 2007) and this
McClatchy news wire report (December 27, 2007). The Time magazine article contains criticisms of Musharraf for not providing sufficient security for Bhutto. The McClatchy news article states in part that the "police abandoned many of their posts" around the area where the rally for Bhutto was taking place.This
article from the New York Sun, normally a pro-Cheney (Bush) administration newspaper, says the assassination was a coordinated, multi-level and multi-person attack and speculates the attack came from internal Pakistani sources, not Al-Queda.
is an article from Spencer Abraham at Josh Marshall's investigative reporting blog, Talking Points Memo, which quotes, near the end of the article, an Italian paper which reports Al-Queda may have accepted responsibility for the assassination. My sense is that we should not jump to any conclusion that Al Queda is behind this assassination, due to the fact that Pakistan's history is far too violent and there are plenty of domestic Pakistani groups who could have perpetrated this murder.
Washington Post article reveals once again that the Cheney (Bush) administration is the gang that still couldn't shoot straight as they brokered this return of Bhutto, but appears to have assumed Musharraf would do a good job of protecting her from harm.