Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Who really killed Benazir Bhutto?

While Al Qaeda or the Taliban may have pulled the trigger, the simple answer is we, the west, killed her.

Who was Benazir Bhutto? If you ask most in the west they’d tell you she was a wonderful women who helped with women’s rights and to bring democracy to Pakistan when she was the Prime Minister but was she really that? Not even close, she has been the Prime Minister twice and twice has done very little for women’s right or democracy but worse was heavily involved in corruption or at the very least certainly looked the other way while her husband became the most corrupt man in the country. Her own niece has accused her or her husband of killing her brother while many charges were brought against her and her husband by various Pakistani courts. Her family runs a political party that only allows members of the family to run the party…most of us would say that’s more in line with a monarchy than a political party but I digress.

Condoleezza Rice was directly and heavily involved in brokering this return by putting tremendous pressure on the Musharraf government to appease Congressional leaders who were demanding that Pakistan truly become democratic in exchange for the billions in funding. It was believed that Bhutto was a liberal who could balance off the impression that Musharraf was running a one-man show. This well played into the fact that Congress was getting antsy over where the 10 billion in aid has gone and was threatening hearing in the New Year. Sadly this misguided move by the administration set off a chain of events that couldn’t be controlled by Washington or Pakistan for that matter. The first problem was the return of another former Prime Minister, this time a leader of a Muslim fundamentalist group, Nawaz Sharif who was also in exile for corruption but even though his plea agreement stated he couldn’t return for 8 years the Musharraf government was stuck between Bhutto and a hard place.

When President Musharraf declared marshal law in the wake of the last assassination attempt against Bhutto that took the lives of some 140 people the first night of her return to Pakistan it was the west that screamed the loudest and threatened the Musharraf government if he didn’t quickly end the emergency crack down on insurgents. Shortly after emergency rule was lifted another suicide bomber stepped forward and did what his masters ordered and now we’re asking why the Musharraf government allowed this to happen?

When I said we in the west are responsible for this, I meant that our ignorance of the real situation on the ground in Pakistan has never been more evident. While the mainstream media focus on whether it was a bullet or shrapnel that killed Bhutto or if the nuclear weapons are in safe hands they are missing the point completely. It’s easy to say Musharraf isn’t doing enough to reign in Al Qaeda or the Taliban but there’s a reality to it all. There have been several attempts on his life over the past 8 years and when he does crack down, we then complain that we don’t like his methods, now that Bhutto is lying next to her father we’re once again telling him what to do…perhaps it’s time for us to listen and back off.

If we really value stability in Pakistan and a Pakistan that is an allie in the war on terror then we need to stop trying to appease the main stream media, the Liberal left and Congress and let Musharraf do what needs to be done. Pakistan like many countries in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East operate much better when an authority figure is running the show. Many people prefer a strong central leader that takes charge and makes them safe rather than our version of democracy, which encourages a lot of talking and very little doing but I suppose we have the luxury of talking because we don’t have to worry about assassinations and suicide bombers attacking our political candidates.