Ms. Benazir Bhutto expressed dissatisfaction with the initial official report on the suicide bombing that greeted her arrival home. It appears Musharraf warned her about possible attacks and asked Bhutto to delay returning, but Ms. Bhutto named three suspects behind the attack in her letter to the president, she claimed the conspirators were “people with powerful positions in government and included “a close friend of the president.” The strange alliance between two arrogant and self centered individuals had strains from the beginning but each needed the other for self interest. Musharrf is increasingly unpopular while Bhutto has popularity but also angers fundamentalist elements in the population
According to the Lahore Daily Times, Bhutto has named specific men including the PUnjab chief minister Caudhry Pervaiz Elahi and a former intelligence officer. By naming specific people, Ms. Bhutto has added a new strain to their relationship. Does President Musharraf take action against his close allies because Ms. Bhutto claims they are conspiring against her? The two allies are trapped in their own strengths and weaknesses, Ms. Bhutto has the support of many moderate components of the Pakistan population while Musharraf is trying to walk the thin line of maintaining his conservative support without alienating moderates and vice versa.
Pakistan is divided and there is no doubt terrorists will continue with their efforts to kill Musharraf and Bhutto. What will happen if either or both of them are killed? Has anyone in the Bush administration considered that possibility?
Posted in Asia, Gender Issues, Military, Politics, War, World News
Tagged Bhutto, conspiracy, Musharraf, Pakistan, suicide bomber, USA
The violent attack upon former prime minister Benazir Bhutto during her return from exile has raised uncomfortable second thoughts in the minds of the Bush administration. It was Bush who pushed for a power-shaing deal between the Pakistan People’s Party leader, Benazir Bhutto and President Musharraf. He feared Musharraf required additional political support in order to maintain power in the face of strong opposition from fundamentalist groups. After the attack, Mrs. Bhutto made several veiled allusions to possible actions by supporters of Musharraf in carrying out the bombing attack.
During the past few years, Bush officials have courted Bhutto while she was in exile as they searched for additional support for Musharraf. They feared the return of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharifm who is an acknowledged enemy of Musharraf would leave him without sufficient support. There are reports members of the American State Department from the beginning opposed power sharing between Bhutto and Musharraf because of her volatile past and the reality large sections of the Pakistan population opposed her policies. According to southeast Asia analyst, Bruce Riedel, “Mrs. Bhutto and Mr. Musharraf detest each other and the concept that they can somehow work collaboratively is a real stretch.”
The current confusion in Pakistan is merely another example of the inept Bush approach to diplomacy. State department experts were wary of the merger of two people who lacked confidence in one another, but at that period, Colin Powell was secretary of state and his advice was usually ignored. The Bush go alone approach again may prove disastrous to American foreign policy interests.
Posted in Asia, George Bush, Muslims, Peace, Politics, Republicans, United States, US Foreign Policy, World News
Tagged Bhutto, Bush, Colin Powell, Musharraf, Pakistan, suicide attack
Ahmed Rashid, writing from Pakistan told Der Spiegel there were rumors circulating concerning who was behind the bombings at Benazir Bhutto’s return which left at least 120 dead. Although, she was told by the nation’s security there was a risk of violence if she had an open parade, Bhutto insisted on showing herself to adoring crowds. “She had to show the whole country that she had many supporters and followers,” says Rashid. She was also sending a message to President Musharraf that she had greater popularity among the masses of Pakistanis. Rashid says it is unclear who was behind the bombings, but “there is speculation that the attack was not carried out by Islamists, but by certain groups within the regime who don’t want Bhutto in the country.” Although over 20,000 soldiers were sent to protect the parade, many of them came from the provinces where there is intense dislike of Bhutto.
The bombings undoubtedly will impact the election process. Many people will avoid attending political events fearing their lives might be endangered. This means less open political discussion in Pakistan. An outside observer might raise a simple question: who benefits by lack of political discussion? President Musharraf is not the most popular person to many Pakistanis and he most probably benefits by reducing opportunities for open and frank discussion.
Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan after years in exile only to encounter a scene of horror as her motorcade was blasted by two bombs. As 150,000 cheered, a small explosion followed by a larger explosion ripped cars to pieces and sent bodies flying in every direction. At least a 108 dead and over 150 wounded, many of them now in critical condition. Bhutto is hated by Muslim extremists because she has been a supporter of the Bush Iraq war. As she descended from the plane, security urged her to use a helicopter but the defiant former prime minister responded: “I am not scared. I am thinking of my mission. this is a moment for democracy because we are under threat from extremists and militants.” A few moments later the accuracy of her comments was demonstrated in a cloud of smoke.
A recent poll of Pakistanis revealed President Musharraf’s popularity had sunk to a new low with only 21% of respondents supporting him. In September, 2006, over 60% of the people of Pakistan were in favor of their president, but violence and his maneuvering to maintain power has resulted in a massive deflection of support. Over half the population rejects his plan to share power with former president Benazi Bhutto and 70% believe he should step down as head of the armed forces if he wishes to be president.
Musharraf is trapped in a double bind. If he displays a strong pro-American stance, he loses a segment of the population, but if he abandons American support, he is unable to accomplish certain military goals. At the core of this dilemma is the need for Pakistan to become a vibrant democracy and have economic development that will provide jobs and hopes to millions.
President Musharraf of Pakistan was elected one again to the office of president by obtaining 252 of 257 votes cast in parliament. About 200 members of parliament belonging to opposition parties refused to cast ballots in protest against him. They argue Musharraf can not stand for president while still retaining the position of chief of the armed forces since that violates the Pakistan constitution. The Pakistan Supreme Court has held in abeyance his election until they review constitutional issues.
Musharraf has already indicated one of his close friends will take over as head of the armed forces while he again serves as president. He also has made a bargain with former prime minister Benazir Bhutto to share power and most probably will have the law changed so she can serve for a third term as prime minister. The unknown question is whether these manipulations serve the interests of the people of Pakistan.