Category Archive 'Benazir Bhutto'

19 May 2009

Responsible Journalism Award

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Our special award for responsible journalism goes to that ever popular red-rag The Nation for today’s unsigned story, which quotes an alleged interview by arch-traitor Seymour Hersh with “Arab TV.”

The story contends, in broken and infelicitous English, that Pakistan president-elect Benazir Bhutto was murdered by a US assassination squad operating under the orders of Dick Cheney (!). Supposedly, she was killed because she had revealed in an interview in 2007 with Al Jazeera that Osama bin Ladin was dead, killed by Omar Saeed Sheikh.

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In this November 2, 2007 (14:38 video) interview with David Frost (at around 6:10), Bhutto refers to a “very key figure” in Pakistani security, a retired military officer, who she alleges “has had dealings” with (among others) “Omar Sheikh, the man who murdered Osama bin Ladin.”

But, as Omaron notes in this blog posting, Bhutto’s reference to bin Ladin was probably just a slip of the tongue.

While she did say what I (and now lots of others) thought she said, … both from reading the transcript and re-watching the clip, was that she simply misspoke, meaning to say “the man who killed [WSJ reporter] Daniel Pearl” – which Omar Sheikh is accused of – in such a matter of fact tone, because it is well known.

It appears she didn’t realize what she said. Even Frost, that ever-cunning interviewer, seems to have missed it.

Speaking not for the Al Jazeera network, but for myself – as a journalist – I can say that the question should have been cleared up in the interview. But why I chose not to pursue the story: Not because of a conspiracy or a cover-up, but because it was an apparent slip of the tongue.

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The Nation’s news story tells us that the US death squad is under the command of General Stanley McChrystal, just appointed by Obama as US commander in Afghanistan, and that it also killed Lebanese Prime Minister Rafique Al Hariri and the army chief of Lebanon.

One can only observe that the Nation’s news reporting fully equals its political and economic analysis in responsibility, accuracy, and quality.

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Ooops! What do you know? Why, Seymour Hersch himself denies having said any such thing, and calls the Nation’s report “complete madness.”

Are they embarassed, do you suppose?

03 Jan 2008

Pakistan, Bhutto and the U.S.-Jihadist Endgame

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George Friedman‘s latest from the Stratfor subscription service.

The endgame of the U.S.-jihadist war always had to be played out in Pakistan. There are two reasons that could account for this. The first is simple: Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda command cell are located in Pakistan. The war cannot end while the command cell functions or has a chance of regenerating. The second reason is more complicated. The United States and NATO are engaged in a war in Afghanistan. Where the Soviets lost with 300,000 troops, the Americans and NATO are fighting with less than 50,000. Any hope of defeating the Taliban, or of reaching some sort of accommodation, depends on isolating them from Pakistan. So long as the Taliban have sanctuary and logistical support from Pakistan, transferring all coalition troops in Iraq to Afghanistan would have no effect. And withdrawing from Afghanistan would return the situation to the status quo before Sept. 11. If dealing with the Taliban and destroying al Qaeda are part of any endgame, the key lies in Pakistan.

U.S. strategy in Pakistan has been to support Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and rely on him to purge and shape his country’s army to the extent possible to gain its support in attacking al Qaeda in the North, contain Islamist radicals in the rest of the country and interdict supplies and reinforcements flowing to the Taliban from Pakistan. It was always understood that this strategy was triply flawed.

First, under the best of circumstances, a completely united and motivated Pakistani army’s ability to carry out this mission effectively was doubtful. And second, the Pakistani army was — and is — not completely united and motivated. Not only was it divided, one of its major divisions lay between Taliban supporters sympathetic to al Qaeda and a mixed bag of factions with other competing interests. Distinguishing between who was on which side in a complex and shifting constellation of relationships was just about impossible. That meant the army the United States was relying on to support the U.S. mission was, from the American viewpoint, inherently flawed.

It must be remembered that the mujahideen’s war against the Soviets in Afghanistan shaped the current Pakistani army. Allied with the Americans and Saudis, the Pakistani army — and particularly its intelligence apparatus, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) — had as its mission the creation of a jihadist force in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets. The United States lost interest in Afghanistan after the fall of the Soviet Union, but the Pakistanis did not have that option. Afghanistan was right next door. An interesting thing happened at that point. Having helped forge the mujahideen and its successor, the Taliban, the Pakistani army and ISI in turn were heavily influenced by their Afghan clients’ values. Patron and client became allies. And this created a military force that was extremely unreliable from the U.S. viewpoint.

Third, Musharraf’s intentions were inherently unpredictable. As a creature of the Pakistani army, Musharraf reflects all of the ambivalences and tensions of that institution. His primary interest was in holding on to power. To do that, he needed to avoid American military action in Pakistan while simultaneously reassuring radical Islamists he was not a mere tool of the United States. Given the complexity of his position, no one could ever be certain of where Musharraf stood. His position was entirely tactical, shifting as political necessity required. He was constantly placating the various parties, but since the process of placation for the Americans meant that he take action against the jihadists, constant ineffective action by Musharraf resulted. He took enough action to keep the Americans at bay, not enough to force his Islamist enemies to take effective action against him. …

the United States now faces its endgame under far less than ideal conditions. Iraq is stabilizing. That might reverse, but for now it is stabilizing. The Taliban is strong, but it is under pressure and has serious internal problems. The endgame always was supposed to come in Pakistan, but this is far from how the Americans wanted to play it out. The United States is not going to get an aggressive, anti-Islamist military in Pakistan, but it badly needs more than a Pakistani military that is half-heartedly and tenuously committed to the fight. Salvaging Musharraf is getting harder with each passing day. So that means that a new personality, such as Pakistani military chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, must become Washington’s new man in Pakistan. In this endgame, all that the Americans want is the status quo in Pakistan. It is all they can get. And given the way U.S. luck is running, they might not even get that.

Read the whole thing.

29 Dec 2007

Differing Reports on Bhutto Death

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IBNNews reports that Pakistan’s government has denied that she died of bullet wounds at all.

Mystery shrouds the death of former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto. In an explosive revelation, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Hamid Nawaz on Friday said that Bhutto did not die of bullet wounds.

Nawaz said that Bhutto died from a head injury. At least seven doctors from the Rawalpindi General Hospital – where the leader was rushed immediately after the attack – say there were no bullet marks on Bhutto’s body.

The doctors have submitted a report to the Pakistan government in which they say that no post-mortem was performed on Bhutto’s body and they had not received any instructions to perform one.

“The report says she had head injuries – an irregular patch – and the X-ray doesn’t show any bullet in the head. So it was probably the shrapnel or any other thing has struck her in her said. That damaged her brain, causing it to ooze and her death. The report categorically says there’s no wound other than that,” Nawaz told a Pakistani news channel.

Government sources say there will be an investigation to determine why no autopsy was conducted.

According to agency reports doctors at the Rawalpindi General Hospital tried desperately for 41 minutes to revive former prime minister Bhutto after she was shot but failed in their efforts.

Bhutto was declared dead 41 minutes after she was brought the hospital’s emergency department at 1735 hrs (local time) (1805 hrs IST) with open wounds on her left temporal bone from which “brain matter was exuding”, the report said.

It said Bhutto was not breathing at the time and her pulse and blood pressure “were not recordable”.

IANS adds: According to the report, “immediate resuscitation (process) was started” and she was taken to the operation theatre where she was attended by a team of doctors headed by Musaddiq Khan, principal of the Rawalpindi Medical College, Dawn reported Friday.

“Left antrolateral thoracotomy for open cardiac massage was performed,” the hospital report said, adding: “In spite of all the possible measures she could not be revived and (was) declared dead at 1816 hrs IST (6.16 p.m.).”

An autopsy was not carried out at the hospital “because the district administration and police had not requested the hospital authorities (for this)”, the report said.
Bhutto was shot not far from where Pakistan’s first prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan was killed by an assassin’s bullet on Oct 16.

Nasir Jaffry, a correspondent for Agence France-Presse, who was present at the assassination, reported that in its immediate aftermath:

A truck came from the local fire brigade. They took their hoses and started spraying water on the street, trying to wash away the blood.

And all forensic evidence.

CNN quotes an aide from Bhutto’s political party, who insists that she was shot.

Sherry Rehman, Pakistan People’s Party information secretary, said it was clear that the former Pakistani prime minister suffered bullet wounds to her head, contrary to a government report that she died because she hit her head on a sunroof lever.

Cheema noted that if Rehman — as she said — believes she saw bullet wounds that caused Bhutto’s death, “We don’t mind if the People’s Party leadership wants her body to be exhumed and post-mortemed. They are most welcome, but we gave you what the facts are.”

Cheema emphasized that the government’s conclusion on the cause of death was based on “absolute facts, nothing but the facts.”

“It was corroborated by the doctor’s report; it was corroborated by the evidence of the footage we showed you.”

Rehman — who had been riding in the car behind Bhutto’s when it was attacked — called the government’s conclusion that Bhutto was not shot “the most bizarre, dangerous nonsense.” Watch Sherry Rehman’s interview with CNN »

“It’s beginning to look like a cover-up to me,” Rehman said in a CNN interview.

Rehman said Bhutto was hemorrhaging on the way to the hospital and that the two cars used to get her there were blood-soaked.

“There were clear bullet injuries to her head,” said Rehman. “When we bathed her we saw that.”

This 0:50 video shows the gunman firing three shots.

28 Dec 2007

Renegade Commando Units May Have Performed Attack

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Al Qaeda is taking credit for the assassination, and may very well have accomplished it using Pakistani military forces, abetted by Pakistani security services, Eli Lake, at the New York Sun reports.

American and Pakistani military leaders are seeking to account for what may be renegade commando units from the Pakistani military’s special forces in the wake of the assassination of Pakistan’s opposition leader and former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto.

The attack yesterday at Rawalpindi bore the hallmarks of a sophisticated military operation. At first, Bhutto’s rally was hit by a suicide bomb that turned out to be a decoy. According to press reports and a situation report of the incident relayed to The New York Sun by an American intelligence officer, Bhutto’s armored limousine was shot by multiple snipers whose armor-piercing bullets penetrated the vehicle, hitting the former premier five times in the head, chest, and neck. Two of the snipers then detonated themselves shortly after the shooting, according to the situation report, while being pursued by local police.

A separate attack was thwarted at the local hospital where Bhutto possibly would have been revived had she survived the initial shooting. Also attacked yesterday was a rival politician, Nawaz Sharif, another former prime minister who took power after Bhutto lost power in 1996.

A working theory, according to this American source, is that Al Qaeda or affiliated jihadist groups had effectively suborned at least one unit of Pakistan’s Special Services Group, the country’s equivalent of Britain’s elite SAS commandos. This official, however, stressed this was just a theory at this point. Other theories include that the assassins were trained by Qaeda or were from other military services, or the possibility that the assassins were retired Pakistani special forces.

“They just killed the most protected politician in the whole country,” this source said. “We really don’t know a lot at this point, but the first thing that is happening is we are asking the Pakistani military to account for every black team with special operations capabilities.”

28 Dec 2007

Putting Benazir Bhutto in Perspective

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Abu Muqawama reminds us not believe everything we read in the MSM.

The folks on NBC, though, are making it sound as if Bhutto was some brave liberal alternative to the Musharraf regime, swallowing hook, line, and sinker this narrative that Benazir Bhutto was some kind of Pakistani Aung San Suu Kyi.

Okay, folks, we all know she was eloquent, went to Harvard and Oxford and was a darling of the English-language media. But she was arguably the most corrupt woman in the history of South Asia. She was removed from office not once but twice on corruption charges. And ruthless? She killed her own brother in 1996.

28 Dec 2007

The Real Pakistan

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Andrew C. McCarthy thinks Benazir Bhutto’s assassination should be no surprise, considering the real nature of Pakistan.

A recent CNN poll showed that 46 percent of Pakistanis approve of Osama bin Laden.

Aspirants to the American presidency should hope to score so highly in the United States. In Pakistan, though, the al-Qaeda emir easily beat out that country’s current president, Pervez Musharraf, who polled at 38 percent.

President George Bush, the face of a campaign to bring democracy — or, at least, some form of sharia-lite that might pass for democracy — to the Islamic world, registered nine percent. Nine!

If you want to know what to make of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s murder today in Pakistan, ponder that.

There is the Pakistan of our fantasy. The burgeoning democracy in whose vanguard are judges and lawyers and human rights activists using the “rule of law” as a cudgel to bring down a military junta. In the fantasy, Bhutto, an attractive, American-educated socialist whose prominent family made common cause with Soviets and whose tenures were rife with corruption, was somehow the second coming of James Madison.

Then there is the real Pakistan: an enemy of the United States and the West.

The real Pakistan is a breeding ground of Islamic holy war where, for about half the population, the only thing more intolerable than Western democracy is the prospect of a faux democracy led by a woman — indeed, a product of feudal Pakistani privilege and secular Western breeding whose father, President Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto, had been branded as an enemy of Islam by influential Muslim clerics in the early 1970s.

The real Pakistan is a place where the intelligence services are salted with Islamic fundamentalists: jihadist sympathizers who, during the 1980s, steered hundreds of millions in U.S. aid for the anti-Soviet mujahideen to the most anti-Western Afghan fighters — warlords like Gilbuddin Hekmatyar whose Arab allies included bin Laden and Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the stalwarts of today’s global jihad against America.

The real Pakistan is a place where the military, ineffective and half-hearted though it is in combating Islamic terror, is the thin line between today’s boiling pot and what tomorrow is more likely to be a jihadist nuclear power than a Western-style democracy.

In that real Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto’s murder is not shocking. There, it was a matter of when, not if.

Read the whole thing.


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