December 28, 2007
The Guardian (UK)

A Tragedy Born of Military Despotism and Anarchy

by Tariq Ali

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. . . .


Eric Margolis, "Benazir Bhutto: Damsel In Distress," Toronto Sun, October 7, 1999

Bruce Loudon, "US Looks at Plan to Oust Musharraf," Australian, March 14, 2007

[The US-arranged back-room deal between Bhutto and Musharraf also flies in the face of her claims to be restoring democracy to troubled Pakistan. He is dropping criminal charges for corruption against her . . . the US has filled all senior positions in Pakistan's powerful military and intelligence service, ISI, with pro-American generals approved by the Pentagon and CIA.--Eric Margolis, "Benazir Bhutto Sups With the Devil,", October 23, 2007]

[Pakistan has restricted U.S. involvement in cross-border military operations as well as paramilitary operations on its soil. . . .

According to Pentagon sources, reaching a different agreement with Pakistan became a priority for the new head of the U.S. Special Operations Command, Adm. Eric T. Olson. Olson visited Pakistan in August, November and again this month, meeting with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, Pakistani Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Chairman Gen. Tariq Majid and Lt. Gen. Muhammad Masood Aslam, commander of the military and paramilitary troops in northwest Pakistan. Olson also visited the headquarters of the Frontier Corps, a separate paramilitary force recruited from Pakistan's border tribes.

Now, a new agreement, reported when it was still being negotiated last month, has been finalized. And the first U.S. personnel could be on the ground in Pakistan by early in the new year, according to Pentagon sources.--William M. Arkin, "U .S. Troops to Head to Pakistan,", December 26, 2007]

Declan Walsh, "Bhutto assassinated," Guardian, December 28, 2007

Eric Margolis, "A Courageous Soul,", December 28, 2007

Rory McCarthy, "Bhutto's assassination: List of suspects, but killers may never be found," Guardian, December 28, 2007

VIDEO: "Pakistan in Turmoil after Benazir Bhutto's Assassination,", December 28, 2007

[I cannot understand, for the life of me, how the President of the United States can be so isolated and remote from reality as to insist that an election goes ahead when one of the central political leaders in the country, backed by Washington, has just been assassinated. . . .

Bhutto, from his death cell, wrote . . . "There are two hegemonies that dominate our country. One is an internal hegemony, and the other is an external hegemony. And unless we challenge the external hegemony, we will never be able to deal with the internal one," meaning Washington is the external hegemony and the army is the internal one.

. . . the reason people say that if there's a choice between Bush and bin Laden, they'll back bin Laden - it's not because they're extremists in that sense, but they don't like the fact that Pakistan is totally on its knees as a state before Washington and the United States. . . .

For her to be killed not far from military headquarters, Pakistan's military capital, in the heart of the city, I personally find it very difficult to believe that any group of religious extremists could have carried this out without some support from some agency within the establishment.--Tariq Ali, "Pakistan in Turmoil after Benazir Bhutto's Assassination,", December 28, 2007

Sol W. Sanders, "Unreported: The State Dept. role in the Pakistan disaster,", December 28, 2007

Syed Saleem Shahzad, "Al-Qaeda claims Bhutto killing," Asia Times, December 29, 2007

Gary Leupp, "Blowback from an Unholy Alliance: The U.S. and Pakistan After 9/11," Independent, December 29, 2007

["He had no involvement in this attack," Mehsud's spokesman Maulvi Omar said by telephone from an undisclosed location.--"Al-Qaeda denies Benazir Bhutto killing," Agence France-Presse, December 29, 2007]

[Bhutto and her husband, Asif Zardari, widely known as 'Mr 10 Per Cent', faced allegations of plundering the country. Charges were filed in Pakistan, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States to investigate their various bank accounts.

. . . sadness at the demise of this courageous fighter should not mask the fact that as a pro-Western feudal leader who did little for the poor, she was as much a central part of Pakistan's problems as the solution to them.--William Dalrymple, "Pakistan's flawed and feudal princess," Observer, December 30, 2007]

[Bush dreamed of managing history. It turns out that he cannot even manage Pakistan. Thus does the Author of Liberty mock the pretensions of those who presume to understand his intentions and to interpret his will.--Andrew J. Bacevich, "Bush's best-laid plans," Los Angeles Times, December 30, 2007]

Omar Waraich, "Caught in the act: assassin shooting Bhutto," Independent, December 31, 2007

[During Ms. Bhutto's two terms as prime minister, the couple was charged with embezzling $1.5 billion in government funds.--Carlotta Gall, "Bhutto Spouse, Divisive Figure, Asserts Himself," New York Times, January 1, 2008]

M. Shahid Alam, "Benazir Bhutto: A Pakistani Tragedy,", January 2, 2008

[The intelligence services and religious extremists were behind the assassination--Ziauddin Sardar, "A revenger's tragedy," New Statesman, January 3, 2008]

[The least plausible suspect is the U.S. government.--S. Amjad Hussain, "The sooner Musharraf leaves Pakistan, the better," Toledo Blade, January 28, 2008]

[It is not the jehadis who have killed her. She was rather protective of the jehadis in the past. Benazir was never soft on the Kashmir issue, let me tell you that. I served as the ISI director-general under her. The Taliban emerged during her second tenure in office and captured Kabul when she was still the prime minister. Her interior minister used to patronise them openly. It was not the jehadis but that is what the Americans would have us believe. They have designs for Pakistan and I strongly believe that the Americans have got her eliminated because this is the way they deal with countries like Pakistan. They either use them or subdue them. In the case of Pakistan, it is both. The Americans worked out a model during the days of Zia-ul-Haq. Junejo was brought in to give the label of democracy and to gradually ease Zia-ul-Haq out of office after he had been used but it didnŐt work out. Zia got wind of it and removed Junejo from office. The Americans got very upset and destroyed Zia- ul-Haq.--Hamid Gul to Harendar Baweja, "'Get America out of the way and we'll be okay'," Tehelka Magazine, February 2, 2008]

Wayne Madsen, "Bhutto assassination linked to US-run Pakistani terrorist group,", July 22, 2009

"Blackwater- Xe Involved in Bhutto and Hariri Hits: Former Pakistani Army Chief,", September 14, 2009

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