Fugitive Politician Facing Corruption Charges in Several Countries Meets Her End
Benazir Bhutto assassinated.
For a welcome relief from the fawning obituaries, go here and here.
UPDATE: Lew Rockwell points to the unhappy consequence for U.S. hegemony:"The horrific assassination of Benazir Bhutto is a massive blow to the empire, since she was the handpicked US replacement for the hated Pervez Musharraf. The US had installed Musharraf as military dictator after kicking out his elected predecessor, Nawaz Sharif (ah yes, global democracy), who was considered insufficiently obedient. The US has spent many billions on Musharraf and his military, but it has only earned the contempt of Pakistanis who don't like being a US colony (and no, one does not have to be pro-terrorist to be opposed to foreign control)."
FURTHER UPDATE: And, as Mario Rizzo reminds us,"The U.S. government should not use this an excuse to intervene in Pakistan for the simple reason that it is incapable of improving the situation."
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Mark Brady - 12/30/2007
William Dalrymple writes about Pakistan's flawed and feudal princess.
"Today, Benazir is being hailed as a martyr for freedom and democracy, but far from being a natural democrat, in many ways, Benazir was the person who brought Pakistan's strange variety of democracy, really a form of 'elective feudalism', into disrepute and who helped fuel the current, apparently unstoppable, growth of the Islamists. For Bhutto was no Aung San Suu Kyi. During her first 20-month premiership, astonishingly, she failed to pass a single piece of major legislation. Amnesty International accused her government of having one of the world's worst records of custodial deaths, killings and torture.
"Within her party, she declared herself the lifetime president of the PPP and refused to let her brother Murtaza challenge her. When he persisted in doing so, he ended up shot dead in highly suspicious circumstances outside the family home. Murtaza's wife Ghinwa and his daughter Fatima, as well as Benazir's mother, all firmly believed that Benazir gave the order to have him killed."
Sudha Shenoy - 12/30/2007
Pakistan has always alternated between military & civilian rule: Gen Ayub Khan ruled 1958-1969; Gen Yahya Khan from 1969 to Dec 1971. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto then ruled as 'civilian martial law administrator' to Aug 1973, then as PM to 1977, when Gen Zia-ul-Haq staged a military coup. He ruled till 17 Aug 1988, when he died in a mysterious aircrash.
Thereafter: Benazir Bhutto was PM (Dec 1988-Aug 1990); then Nawaz Sharif (Oct 1990-July 1993); then Benazir Bhutto (Oct 1993-1996); & then Nawaz Sharif (Feb 1997-Oct 1999.) At this point Gen Pervez Musharraf staged his coup.
Query: To what extent was Gen Musharraf's coup in line with Pakistani political history? How far did internal Pakistani politics play a part? Or was it solely the outcome of US foreign policy? (How so?)
Incidentally, Gen Musharraf took power around two years _before_ the 11th Sept 2001. So any threats etc from US officials after the 11th Sept, came some two years _after_ he was securely in power.
Mark Brady - 12/28/2007
I don't know if "Bill Clinton was behind the 1999 military coup." However, it seems quite plausible that Washington signalled to Musharraf their acquiescence were he to seize power.
In any event, Keesing's Record of World Events, 1999, p. 43199, informs us that,
"US officials offered only qualified criticism of the military coup, and on Oct. 18 President Bill Clinton even praised elements of Musharraf's address to the nation, though regretting that there was no timetable for the restoration of democracy. The influence of the USA was regarded as crucial in determining whether Pakistan's new government would be able to maintain relations with the IMF and the World Bank, especially in securing the release of a US$280 million loan tranche under the IMF's extended fund facility (EFF)."
Since 2001 the U.S. has provided billions to Pakistan to fight the War on Terror despite Musharraf's continued military rule and further acts of repression.
According to Wikipedia's entry on Perez Musharraf,
"During a September 24, 2006 interview with Steve Kroft on 60 Minutes, Musharraf said that then-U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage had called Musharraf's intelligence director shortly following the 9/11 attacks and threatened military action if Pakistan did not support the U.S.-led "war on terror". According to Musharraf, Armitage warned: "Be prepared to be bombed. Be prepared to go back to the Stone Age." Furthermore, during an interview with Jon Stewart of The Daily Show on September 26, 2006, Musharraf stated that then-Secretary of State Colin Powell also contacted him with a similar message: "You are with us or against us." Musharraf refused to elaborate further, citing the then-upcoming release of his book, In the Line of Fire: A Memoir (ISBN 0-7432-8344-9). Armitage has, however, categorically denied that the U.S. used such harsh words to threaten Pakistan, whereas President Bush has refrained from publicly acknowledging the possibility of the exact wordings being used."
Sheldon Richman - 12/28/2007
I wish Rockwell had provided a link for his claim that Bill Clinton was behind the 1999 military coup. Does anybody have one?