Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Posts Tagged ‘Bhutto’

Echoes From A Cold War

Posted by proliferationpresswm on March 30, 2009

posted by Bob Noziglia

Reports have made clear that the Obama administration will continue military strikes against terrorist sites in Pakistan. This holdover from the Bush administration demands we ask what just is going on in Pakistan and why America has wedged itself into Pakistan internal border disputes. Bob Noziglia explores these questions and Pakistan’s self-defeating liberal tendencies, which demand the continued presence of robust American military support. 

 

It must be a dire situation indeed when Russia, with its own nuclear armament history, to be concerned about the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.  Let us remember that not too long ago it was Russia, which after the Cold War ended in the disintegration of the Soviet Union, had nuclear submarines rusting in unsecured ports; and a fire-sale on all equipment. 

It is also important to note the silence that, until now, Russia has had towards the operations regarding Pakistan and Afghanistan.  This comes from the haunting memories similar to our Vietnam when they attempted to expand Soviet territory. 

It is then with new eyes we must re-examine Pakistan and Afghanistan while both have their own qualities that make efforts for reconstruction a slow and complicated process, they are linked by more than geographical boundaries. 

While it was not profoundly mentioned when Benazir Bhutto was assassinated last year, it was during her first tour as Prime Minister of Pakistan that she supported the rise of the Taliban, which was then one of many forces seeking to benefit from the Soviet’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. 

Bhutto felt it was better to have a strict Islamic state next door because it would allow them to concentrate on somehow defeating India for the territory of Kashmir.  This decision combined with the military’s hands off approach regarding the tribal areas however would cause dire consequences, as these are where her assassins most likely came from. 

With an outpouring of support because of the death of his wife, it was “Mr. 10%” Zardari who ascended to the political throne with a promise of political unity with another deposed President due to corruption, Sharrif.  This of course became a political crisis for the same reason that toppled Musharraf’s government, the topic of reinstating judges banned from their duties under dubious charges. 

The failsafe within Pakistan has been that if things were to get too bad, the military would flex political muscle and be able to step in and have confidence with the people of making things right. 

Recent events, however, have eroded the populace’s confidence dramatically.  The recent attacks of fundamentalists against the military near the border regions has left many with the impression that the Military is in fact just as incompetent as their civilian counterparts. 

Combined with the many perceived and real failures of Musharraf in Pakistan, the military credibility is also at its lowest point.  When one also considers new revelations that the military had tangential relations with those behind the attacks in Mumbai, one has a renewed sense of urgency. 

What makes this situation precarious is that many of the leadership in Pakistan are schooled in the West, especially so of their judicial branch.  With this they have come to expect and desire separate but equal branches of government and the fundamental right of law. 

These are qualities to be aspired to no question, but there also needs to be a tradition of legitimacy to that government.  Control over ones borders and checks and balances making sure that no power, however pervasive becomes dominate. 

It is these two qualities-recognized balance between government branches and border integrity-that appear to be lacking in Pakistan.  The tribal regions linking Pakistan and Afghanistan have been left to their own devices for decades.  A definition of a government is to be the ultimate authority of a given territory.  For all intents and purposes Pakistan has been a country divided by its government’s apathy to maintain that authority.  With Fundamentalist having secured a base of operations that the Government of Pakistan is afraid to confront, and jealously uses sovereignty to prevent others from attacking, these fundamentals represent a great threat. 

Should another civilian led government fail, these fundamentals could represent the most cohesive and unified political and military force in the country.  With raised expectations of a government led by a unified government, and the military now placed in a decidedly supportive role, the margin of error razor thin. 

It is then we will see a country run by a fundamentalist government, one which has ties to those responsible for the attacks in 2001 have nuclear capabilities, and the desire to proliferate and use those weapons.  This is something that can not be allowed to happen, and would be a just cause to intervene in the internal politics to make sure such a scenario does not occur. 

Pushing for accountability of Pakistan’s leadership is recognition of the dangerous dynamics that exist.  The United States should take the position of assisting the Pakistani military against those in the tribal regions.  This in conjunction with maintaining a coalition within Pakistan that would seek to maintain Pakistan as a country guided by the Principles of Islam, without the xenophobia or fundamentalist principles that terrorist groups have allowed to corrupt the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. 

Ultimately, this is a problem that can only be defeated by the people of Pakistan.  The United States has historically been a country which held to the principle of self determination, we must offer our assistance to aid Pakistan so that they may be able to live up to the definition of their country; Land of the Pure.

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Posted in Pakistan, Pakistan fundamentalism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Musharraf Fights for Control of Pakistan: Musharraf Declares Emergency Proclamation

Posted by K.E. White on November 3, 2007

Musharraf declares a state of emergency in Pakistan, taking full control of the Pakastani government. The Supreme Court meets for an official response while Benazir Bhutto flies back from Dubai. The public response? Not yet known.

President Pervez Musharraf has suspended the Pakistani constitution, issuing a “Proclamation of Emergency” (read full text here). The move essentially puts Musharraf in charge of Pakistan, freezing Pakistan’s constitution until the order is rescinded.

In the interim a Provisional Constitutional Order will dictate government operations—most likely vesting Musharraf with sole executive control of the Muslim nation.

Pakistan has witnessed numerous terrorist attacks in recent weeks, a fact Musharraf’s proclamation reiterates often. The proclamation also notes an “overstepping” judiciary that works at “cross purposes with the executive and legislature”.

Dawn points out that the Supreme Court, who has had past success limiting Musharraf stranglehold on power, has called the move “illegal and unconstitutional.” But meetings are still ongoing in regards to an official response.

The Pakistani public will undoubtedly disapprove of Musharraf’s move, but whether or not that discontent will spur the proclamation’s reversal has yet to been seen.

But in light of recent arrests and Musharraf’s shutdown on communications and cable news in the capital, it seems Musharraf is more than willing to silence dissent. Given the choice between allegiance to Musharraf or jail, only time will tell if opposition forces can successfully unite against this imposition of emergency powers.

Benazir Bhutto, former Pakistani Prime Minister and current candidate in what were to be recent elections, was in Dubai when Musharraf issued the emergency proclamation. She is currently flying back, to cheers or to handcuffs has yet to be seen.

Reuters notes Asif Ali Zardari’s—Bhutto’s husband—response to the imposition of emergency rule in Pakistan:

“(She’s flying back) tonight, yes of course,” Bhutto’s husband Asif Ali Zardari told Reuters by telephone from Dubai, saying she was already on the plane.

“It’s definitely not pleasant news, it’s not welcome news,” he added. “We’re hoping to build institutions, not destroy them.”

It seems American pressure against such a development in Pakistan failed to deter Musharraf. Here’s the State Department reaction to the Musharraf’s emergency proclamation:

The United States is deeply disturbed by reports that Pakistani President Musharraf has taken extra-constitutional actions and has imposed a state of emergency. A state of emergency would be a sharp setback for Pakistani democracy and takes Pakistan off the path toward civilian rule. President Musharraf has stated repeatedly that he will step down as Chief of Army Staff before re-taking the presidential oath of office and has promised to hold elections by January 15th. We expect him to uphold these commitments and urge him to do so immediately.

The United States stand with the people of Pakistan in supporting a democratic process and in countering violent extremism. We urge all parties to work together to complete the transition to democracy and civilian rule without violence or delay.

Posted in Bhutto, Musharraf, Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, proclamation of emergency, Provisional Constitutional Order, Supreme Court | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Pakistan Update: Bhutto Successfully Returns to Karachi

Posted by K.E. White on November 3, 2007

Benazir Bhutto has returned to Pakistan, successfully voicing her dismay over Musharraf’s proclamation of emergency powers:

”Unless General Musharraf reverses the course, it will be very difficult to have fair elections,” she told Sky News television by telephone, after President General Pervez Musharraf declared the emergency and suspended the constitution.

”I agree with him that we are facing a political crisis, but believe the problem is dictatorship, I don’t believe the solution is dictatorship. We had dictatorship, the situation has got worse,” she said.

”My fear is that the forces of extremism want a two-year period in which they can expand their influence, drive NATO out of Afghanistan, and control Pakistan‘s destiny,” she said. ”If they get this two-year period, the whole world will be facing a very dangerous situation.”

Bhutto will be welcomed home not only by supporters, but by military personnel guarding her Karachi home. From The Age:

Witnesses said 100 police and paramilitary troops were deployed at her home in Karachi, apparently as a protective cordon. A bomb disposal squad was also at the scene.

Posted in Benazir Bhutto, Bhutto, Musharraf, Pakistan | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Bhutto’s Deadly Homecoming: More Details On Attack

Posted by K.E. White on October 19, 2007

From AFP:

Twin bombs targeting former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto killed at least 124 people, turning her emotional homecoming parade after eight years in exile into a scene of carnage.

Bhutto was unhurt, narrowly escaping with her life as the blasts ripped through the police escort of the parade in the streets of Karachi, which were thronged with hundreds of thousands of her supporters.

Hospital officials said nearly 400 people were injured in the blasts late Thursday, which involved at least one suicide bomber.

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Pakistan Update: Bombs Blast During Bhutto’s Arrival

Posted by K.E. White on October 18, 2007

Celebration turns to carnage as twins blasted went off near a truck carrying former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

From the Associated Press:

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — Two explosions went off Thursday night near a truck carrying former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on her celebratory return to Pakistan after eight years in exile. Police and party workers said Bhutto was unhurt, but an official said there were at least 30 people killed and 100 wounded.

An Associated Press photographer at the scene said he saw between 50 and 60 dead or badly wounded people. He said some of the bodies were ripped apart.

The Times of India reports:

Militants linked to Al-Qaida, angered by Bhutto’s support for the United States war on terrorism, had threatened to assassinate her.

Bhutto returned to lead her Pakistan People’s Party into national elections meant to return the country to civilian rule.

Soon after arriving Bhutto, boarded the truck designed to withstand a blast in case of attack. Dressed in a green kameez, a loose tunic, her head covered by a white scarf, Bhutto had stood in plain view on top of the vehicle, ignoring police advice to stay behind its bullet proof glass, as it edged through crowds waving the red, black and green tricolour of her Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). Some 20,000 security personnel were deployed to provide protection.

This grisly episode illustrates such how treacherous any political progress in Pakistan can be.

Posted in Bhutto, bombing, Pakistan | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Bhutto Returns to Pakistan

Posted by K.E. White on October 18, 2007

Benazir BhuttoI’m watching WETA-carried BBC News World coverage of Bhutto arriving at Karachi airport. Elated supporters cheer while waiting for Bhutto.

Bhutto’s return is being called the beginning of Pakistani parliamentary elections, by BBC News reporter Barabara Plett. But it’s unclear if she even be able to run for Prime Minister.

And let’s not forget the need for open and fair elections.

BBC World’s coverage seems to be lacking in one respect: Between Bhutto advisor Rehmen Chishti and BBC reporter Barbara Plett, where are the questions about the past failure of paraliamentary politics in Pakistan?

Husain Haqqani’s Between Mosque and Military portrays Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto as weak, bickering leaders—unable to effectively govern the nation.

Instead BBC’s news-anchor keeps hammering Bhutto and Chishti about the constitutionality of the deal Bhutto and Musharraf made to guarantee the former prime minister’s return. The anchor continuously reprimands the deal as undermining the rule of law in Pakistan.

The line of critique, while not unfounded, misses the point: In a country like Pakistan, where constitutional manipulation has been a Musharraf norm, it would be virtually impossible for any political progress to occur without constitutional revision.

Here are two clips on Bhutto’s return.

From AFP:

Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto returned home to Pakistan after eight years in exile, defying warnings of an assassination by Al-Qaeda and vowing to restore democracy in her homeland.

Before her plane left Dubai, carrying her back from exile for the second time in a long political career, at least a quarter-million people thronged the streets of Pakistan’s biggest city Karachi to welcome her home.

She headed back to Pakistan after military president Pervez Musharraf agreed to drop corruption charges against her, hoping her immense popularity can help him cling to power in the face of mounting popular anger over his rule.

From the Telegraph:

The power-sharing agreement between Ms Bhutto and Gen Musharraf is reported to be based on an “understanding” but so far the only tangible facet of the deal has been a presidential ordinance scrapping corruption charges against the former prime minister and Mr Zardari.

Pakistan‘s supreme court is yet to rule on whether the ordinance is legal. The judiciary has also yet to rule on whether Gen Musharraf’s re-election as president while serving as army chief earlier this month was constitutional.

Most Pakistanis believe that the “marriage” between the general and the “Daughter of the East” will not last long.

Posted in Benazir Bhutto, Musharraf, Pakistan | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Musharraf Snags An Impressive Victory, But At What Cost?

Posted by K.E. White on October 8, 2007

Pakistan’s turbulent political scene continues, but President Musharraf is showing off his staying power.

But at what cost?

There’s the maneuvering over the Musharraf-Bhutto deal, referred to as the National Reconciliation Ordinance. Today’s update: Musharraf’s ruling party, the Pakistan Muslim League has successfully exploited the deal to seal Musharraf’s landslide victory in last weekend’s presidential election.

The ordinance had been hoped to restore stability to Pakistan, with two rivals—Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto—coming to agreements about Musharraf’s role in the military, his third race for President, and bringing parliamentary elections that include Musharraf rivals.

The landslide victory came easily after the Pakistan Muslim League successfully brewed infighting between their competitors by releasing terms of the National Reconciliation Ordinance. The ordinance was meant to return Benazir Bhutto—leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)—to Pakistani politics, and perhaps form a caretaker regime that would restore democratic rule to Pakistan.

The result was never in doubt, as Pakistan’s parliament selections the President and is now controlled by Musharraf’s political party. But the inevitable victory was made more impressive: with parliamentary opponents arguing with each other–instead creating a unified voice against Musharraf’s rule–over the terms of the controversial deal between Bhutto and Musharraf.

The Australian explores Musharraf’s successful manipulation of the negotiations over the deal:

“The Pakistan People’s Party (Ms Bhutto’s party) played games with us and we played our game, which we won,” said Chaudhry Shujaat of the National Reconciliation Ordinance, signed by General Musharraf hours before the start of polling, which granted indemnity to Ms Bhutto, her husband Asif Zardari, and their immediate allies over corruption charges.

The deal had the effect of stopping the PPP from ordering its MPs to resign their seats along with other opposition groups.

The PPP’s parliamentarians limited their protest again General Musharraf to abstaining from voting.

According to Mr Aziz and Mr Chaudhry Shujaat, that was the real purpose behind the deal, and a remarkably candid PML boss added: “If the higher judiciary strikes off the NRO, we have no obligation to renew it or bring any other law in its place.”

But Musharraf isn’t out of the woods. While on the ballot during last weekend’s presidential election, the Pakistani Supreme Court is ruling on the constitutionality of this third run for President.

From ABC News coverage of Musharraf’s court challenge and fading legitimacy:

A vast majority of people in Pakistan view Musharraf’s bid to secure another five-year term as illegal and unconstitutional. They say Musharraf is part of the problem that the country faces today.

Last week, Musharraf signed a national reconciliation ordinance, thereby absolving Pakistan’s former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, and other favorable politicians, of all corruption charges — a move that has been criticized by many national and international forums.

Bhutto, a one-time rival, termed as a “security risk” and a “plunderer of national wealth,” by none other that Musharraf, himself, is now seen as a major partner in the future government to be formed under Musharra.

The Associated Press brings focus to Pakistan’s democratic corrosion:

But many ordinary Pakistanis feel that power is the preserve of a corrupt elite, too busy securing their own interests to tackle issues such as rising Islamic militancy and the poverty and inflation that feed it.

“All politicians are the same,” said Ali Ahmad, a 28-year-old teacher in the eastern city of Quetta. “They are the enemy of poor people. They gave us nothing but suicide attacks, terrorism and violence.”

Musharraf acknowledged as much when he seized power in a 1999 coup, vowing to install “real democracy” in a country whose ineffectual civilian governments have been regularly swept aside by its generals.

Eight years later, the current wave of disappointment appears focused on the military strongman himself, but it has failed to dissuade him from seeking five more years.

Meanwhile Musharraf survives yet another brush with death: one of the helicopters traveling in a Musharraf caravan crashed–Musharraf’s helicopter was safely ahead of the downed aircraft. And fighting in North Waziristan has claimed the lives of 80 Pakistani soldiers.

The Hindu reports on the helicopter crash, apparently due to mechanical malfunction:

A helicopter carrying officials accompanying President Pervez Musharraf crashed in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir on Monday, killing four persons, including three armymen, onboard and injuring his spokesman.

Musharraf, who was in another helicopter flying ahead, reached his destination safely, military spokesman Maj Gen Waheed Arshad said.

Musharraf has survived three assassination attempts.

Posted in Bhutto, crash, election, helicopter, Musharraf, National Reconciliation Ordinance, Pakistan, Waziristan | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Pakistan Update: Political Deal Between Musharraf and Bhutto Imminent?

Posted by K.E. White on October 4, 2007

Fox News reports on the imminent deal between Musharraf and Bhutto:

Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, who is close to Musharraf, said an announcement of an agreement — expected to include the dropping of corruption charges against Bhutto — would come within hours. A senior official from Bhutto’s party in London also said there will be an agreement.

Neither side provided further details. The Bhutto aide spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to reveal the deal’s substance ahead of the formal announcement.

But AFP sheds light on the complicated politics of the deal between the rivals. Bhutto, while returning home, may mobilize forces against Musharraf’s re-election bid—or at least appear to do so. 

In any case, it seems Pakistani politics will remain volatile—with or without a Bhutto-Musharraf deal. 

From the AFP clip:

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s government said it was optimistic about a breakthrough in talks with Benazir Bhutto despite her threat to deal his re-election bid a “severe blow”.

Former prime minister Bhutto’s opposition Pakistan People’s Party was meeting in London on Thursday to mull mass resignations by MPs, in a bid to rob the vote by federal and provincial lawmakers of any semblance of credibility.

Bhutto said that talks with military ruler Musharraf on a power-sharing deal had “totally stalled” and denied reports that the government would give her an amnesty on the corruption charges that drove her into self-imposed exile.

But officials in Islamabad said it was likely Musharraf would on Thursday issue a decree granting her immunity from the allegations — one of her key demands for a pact ahead of her planned return to Pakistan on October 18.

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