Tag Archives: Musharraf

Amy Goodman: Musharraf Still Stands

Benazir Bhutto and her supporters who died with her during the suicide attack Dec. 27 are the latest victims of decades of dangerous U.S. support for Pakistan’s military regime. The country’s dictator, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, has held his grip on power despite increasing popular unrest. The Bush administration got nervous, turning to Bhutto to preserve the status quo in Pakistan. There is no doubt the exiled former prime minister was personally brave to return to her country. But Pakistani professor Pervez Hoodbhoy was critical nevertheless: “After returning to Pakistan, she made clear that for a few table scraps, she would have happily teamed up with Musharraf under the hopelessly absurd U.S. plan to give the military government a civilian face.”

While President Bush imposed “regime change” on Iraq, based on fictitious weapons of mass destruction, “regime preservation” is the U.S. policy for Pakistan, despite its role in global nuclear proliferation, the sale of true WMDs.

Adrian Levy is a senior staff correspondent for the British newspaper The Guardian and co-author of “Deception: Pakistan, the United States and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons.” He describes a “military government repressing human rights, connected tentatively to 9/11, state-sponsored terrorism with radical connections to al-Qaida that was proliferating WMD and of course that was not Iraq, it was Pakistan.” He told me: “The problem facing the Bush administration was their policy post-9/11 was very much to embrace Pakistan as an essential ally in the war on terror in order to allow the narrative over Iraq and the WMD in Iraq to rise. The Pakistanis milked their nuclear program for hard cash, selling to Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Libya, the Axis of Evil powers. We also know there is intelligence to show that they began negotiations very much with Saudi Arabia, Syria and, of course, there are tentative contacts with al-Qaida elements as well.”

The New York Times revealed last week that at least $5 billion in U.S. aid delivered to Pakistan since 9/11 to fight al-Qaida and the Taliban actually went into weapons systems against another U.S. ally, India.

The more nuclear weapons Pakistan has, the more the U.S. has a vested interest in protecting them. As The Washington Post reported last week, even before the Bhutto assassination U.S. Special Forces were planning a vastly increased presence in Pakistan in 2008, “to train and support indigenous counterinsurgency forces and clandestine counterterrorism units.” The Glasgow Herald now reports that U.S. Special Forces “snatch squads” are in Pakistan, prepared to secure the nuclear warheads in the event of the government’s collapse. What Pakistani author Tariq Ali told me recently about Afghanistan equally applies to Pakistan: “The people of Afghanistan … do not like being occupied by foreign powers. They didn’t like being occupied by the Russians, and they don’t like being occupied by the United States and the NATO armies in their country. And as long as this foreign occupation lasts, there will be forms of resistance against it.”

The CIA coined the term blowback. It applies to situations like Afghanistan in the 1970s and ’80s when the U.S. armed and trained the mujahedeen, including Osama bin Laden, to counter the Soviet occupation. When the Soviets were finally forced out, the mujahedeen set their sights on a new target: the U.S. That’s blowback.

While the Bush administration pushes for quick elections in Pakistan, it is important to raise these issues in our elections here at home. The assassination of Bhutto put foreign policy back on the front burner in the U.S. presidential race—though you would think that 2007 being the deadliest year yet in Iraq for U.S. soldiers (at least 900 dead) would have accomplished that. The candidates could use this as a “teachable moment” to talk about the wrongheaded long-term U.S. support—Republican and Democrat—for Pakistan’s corrupt, human-rights-abusing nuclear regime. Did any of the leading Democratic contenders use the moment to demonstrate that they represent a true opposition party? While they each tout themselves as true “change” agents, they have yet to prove it. We are waiting.

Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!,” a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 650 stations in North America.

© 2008 Amy Goodman
* http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20080101_musharraf_still_stands/

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Robert Fisk: They don’t blame al-Qa’ida. They blame Musharraf

Weird, isn’t it, how swiftly the narrative is laid down for us. Benazir Bhutto, the courageous leader of the Pakistan People’s Party, is assassinated in Rawalpindi – attached to the very capital of Islamabad wherein ex-General Pervez Musharraf lives – and we are told by George Bush that her murderers were “extremists” and “terrorists”. Well, you can’t dispute that.

But the implication of the Bush comment was that Islamists were behind the assassination. It was the Taliban madmen again, the al-Qa’ida spider who struck at this lone and brave woman who had dared to call for democracy in her country.

Of course, given the childish coverage of this appalling tragedy – and however corrupt Ms Bhutto may have been, let us be under no illusions that this brave lady is indeed a true martyr – it’s not surprising that the “good-versus-evil” donkey can be trotted out to explain the carnage in Rawalpindi.

Who would have imagined, watching the BBC or CNN on Thursday, that her two brothers, Murtaza and Shahnawaz, hijacked a Pakistani airliner in 1981 and flew it to Kabul where Murtaza demanded the release of political prisoners in Pakistan. Here, a military officer on the plane was murdered. There were Americans aboard the flight – which is probably why the prisoners were indeed released.

Only a few days ago – in one of the most remarkable (but typically unrecognised) scoops of the year – Tariq Ali published a brilliant dissection of Pakistan (and Bhutto) corruption in the London Review of Books, focusing on Benazir and headlined: “Daughter of the West”. In fact, the article was on my desk to photocopy as its subject was being murdered in Rawalpindi.

Towards the end of this report, Tariq Ali dwelt at length on the subsequent murder of Murtaza Bhutto by police close to his home at a time when Benazir was prime minister – and at a time when Benazir was enraged at Murtaza for demanding a return to PPP values and for condemning Benazir’s appointment of her own husband as minister for industry, a highly lucrative post.

In a passage which may yet be applied to the aftermath of Benazir’s murder, the report continues: “The fatal bullet had been fired at close range. The trap had been carefully laid, but, as is the way in Pakistan, the crudeness of the operation – false entries in police log-books, lost evidence, witnesses arrested and intimidated – a policeman killed who they feared might talk – made it obvious that the decision to execute the prime minister’s brother had been taken at a very high level.”

When Murtaza’s 14-year-old daughter, Fatima, rang her aunt Benazir to ask why witnesses were being arrested – rather than her father’s killers – she says Benazir told her: “Look, you’re very young. You don’t understand things.” Or so Tariq Ali’s exposé would have us believe. Over all this, however, looms the shocking power of Pakistan’s ISI, the Inter Services Intelligence.

This vast institution – corrupt, venal and brutal – works for Musharraf.

But it also worked – and still works – for the Taliban. It also works for the Americans. In fact, it works for everybody. But it is the key which Musharraf can use to open talks with America’s enemies when he feels threatened or wants to put pressure on Afghanistan or wants to appease the ” extremists” and “terrorists” who so oppress George Bush. And let us remember, by the way, that Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter beheaded by his Islamist captors in Karachi, actually made his fatal appointment with his future murderers from an ISI commander’s office. Ahmed Rashid’s book Taliban provides riveting proof of the ISI’s web of corruption and violence. Read it, and all of the above makes more sense.

But back to the official narrative. George Bush announced on Thursday he was “looking forward” to talking to his old friend Musharraf. Of course, they would talk about Benazir. They certainly would not talk about the fact that Musharraf continues to protect his old acquaintance – a certain Mr Khan – who supplied all Pakistan’s nuclear secrets to Libya and Iran. No, let’s not bring that bit of the “axis of evil” into this.

So, of course, we were asked to concentrate once more on all those ” extremists” and “terrorists”, not on the logic of questioning which many Pakistanis were feeling their way through in the aftermath of Benazir’s assassination.

It doesn’t, after all, take much to comprehend that the hated elections looming over Musharraf would probably be postponed indefinitely if his principal political opponent happened to be liquidated before polling day.

So let’s run through this logic in the way that Inspector Ian Blair might have done in his policeman’s notebook before he became the top cop in London.

Question: Who forced Benazir Bhutto to stay in London and tried to prevent her return to Pakistan? Answer: General Musharraf.

Question: Who ordered the arrest of thousands of Benazir’s supporters this month? Answer: General Musharraf.

Question: Who placed Benazir under temporary house arrest this month? Answer: General Musharraf.

Question: Who declared martial law this month? Answer General Musharraf.

Question: who killed Benazir Bhutto?

Er. Yes. Well quite.

You see the problem? Yesterday, our television warriors informed us the PPP members shouting that Musharraf was a “murderer” were complaining he had not provided sufficient security for Benazir. Wrong. They were shouting this because they believe he killed her

* The Independent
* http://news.independent.co.uk/fisk/article3291600.ece

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