Sunday, December 30, 2007

Pieces of the Pakistan Puzzle

Piece #1
President Pervez Musharraf- He shot into the global arena after 9/11, providing invaluable assistance to the US and its allies for the war on terror. Vowed to fight terrorism. The only Muslim country under an Authoritarian leader to support the effort. Yet he gave the Taliban leadership permission to resettle in Quetta and entered into peace deals with the extremist tribal bands on the border, while allowing Islamic extremists to go unabated in their propagation of jihad and Sharia law inside Pakistan. He agreed to shift to Democracy but bargained and secured the nod of the US for a "localized" Democracy, a version in which he will retain power. He could not get a confirmation of his election in November from the Supreme Court; declared a state of emergency, replaced the justices with his handpicked people, and got the confirmation. Under US pressure, he relinquished his post as concurrent head of the military but handpicked his successor too. He acceded to a brokered truce by Condoleezza Rice with Benazir Bhutto, allowing her return and dropping corruption charges , and was seen working towards sharing power with her as Prime Minister. Yet he had Bhutto arrested, then placed under house arrest after the bombing in her initial campaign rally. Following this, he continued to ignore requests for additional police vehicles and security arrangements for Bhutto's sorties. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto took place near a military installation.

Questions: Is President Musharraf playing both sides? If so, is it because he does not trust the US to keep him in power as proven time and again in recent history? Now that Pakistan is threatened by various extremist elements running wild plus the rampaging riots courtesy of Bhutto's supporters, can President Musharraf hold on to power?

Piece #2

Benazir Ali Bhutto-
Undoubtedly an intelligent, charismatic and populist political figure and leader with a long history of violent deaths in the family because of politics. Possesses strong grassroots support and is fully committed to a return to meaningful democratic processes for Pakistan. Vowed to uplift the lives of Pakistanis and institute tougher measures against extremists and Al Qaeda in particular; in contrast to Musharraf's coddling of jihadists and purveyors of the ultra conservative Sharia Law. Agreed to share power with the President on the truce brokered by Rice, but contradicts Musharraf's decisions in her speeches. Apparently possesses a weakness for corruption and a lavish lifestyle as against the poverty ridden countrymen she supposedly speaks for.

Questions: Did Benazir Bhutto demand, and eventually secure, a secret agreement from the US about taking full power after winning the election in January as part of the brokered truce? Are the conflicts with Musharraf's actions and decisions in her policy statements a prelude for this purpose? Knowing the dangers she was to be exposed to, were her efforts to unite her party and subsequent sorties meant to seek redemption, more for her countrymen; or for herself, the family's name and status?

Piece #3

The US Involvement -
Uncomfortable with the growing anti-US sentiment in Pakistan affecting its efforts in the war on terror, and the chaotic situation in its political structure; plus the emerging influence of extremists and jihadists in the country, the US sought to balance the hostility by engaging Pakistan's most popular political figure, Benazir Bhutto. Expressing full support for the US efforts, Bhutto's return and outpouring of acceptance by the Pakistanis, allowed her to regain a considerable amount of respectability and influence, and a more positive view of the US as a supporter of Pakistan's development; in addition to creating a sense of renewed power within her grasp. The US saw the power sharing arrangement with Musharraf as the best of both worlds they could get to win the war on terror. The CIA and the Defense department are, ironically, the ones encouraging more participation and involvement for civilian politicians.

Questions: Does the US sense some duplicity in the actions and/or intentions of Musharraf? Was the negotiation with Bhutto meant to check this duplicity? Was Bhutto made the pawn to see the true nature and intent of Musharraf? Did the US fail to see a successful assassination of Bhutto despite knowing the "many enemies" that threatened her life? Is the US prepared for, and capable of, repairing its tattered foreign policy in this region?

Piece #4

Three Versions of the Cause of Death-
The Ministry of Interior, through Minister Hamid Nawaz stated that the assassination was done by Al Qaeda through a militant leader named Baitullah Mehsud, based on obtained transcripts. The attack as reported by Italian News Agency, was planned by Al Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahiri in October. However, the cause of death was given last Thursday as bullet wounds from the assassin's gun. By Friday, the declaration was "the impact of shrapnel on her skull" caused the death. Then later on the same day, it was changed to Bhutto banging her head against the metal support of the sunroof in her car as she ducked, that fractured her skull and caused her death.

Questions: Without a message claiming ownership of the assassination, was the Interior Ministry acting too fast in laying blame on Al Qaeda? Are those they named mere fall guys and usual suspects? Was the assassination carried out by "enemies" of Bhutto and laid on the lap of Al Qaeda to divert the investigations away from the real killers? And, is Al Qaeda quietly accepting this act to enhance its influential image to the west and the rest of the Islamic world? Are the three versions of the cause of death a ruse to deflect the investigations and negate other evidence to hide the real perpetrators?

Piece # 5

Nawaz Sharif -
The former Prime Minister and only remaining populist political figure in Pakistan, who was once the most powerful man in the country prior to being deposed by Musharraf; returned in September from Saudi Arabia. He was subsequently deported. The amnesty signed by Musharraf that paved the return of Bhutto did not include Sharif. How he managed to return without arrest was purportedly at the request of his host, Saudi Arabia. The former PM was
spared a jail sentence together with his family, at the request of the Saudis. Sharif has also vowed to oppose President Musharraf's government in the January elections. He has been making attempts to align himself with Bhutto's forces.

Questions: Did Sharif's avoidance of jail terms for himself and his family via the Saudi request include a strong "suggestion" from the US to the Saudis? Is his return and apparent acceptance by Musharraf's government hinged on the same "request and suggestion"? Will Sharif become the standard bearer of Bhutto's party and eventually be Prime Minister? Is this the counter-request of Musharraf to his perceived intentions of Bhutto? Is he Musharraf's secret candidate or is he the secret candidate of the US? If he is some interest group's secret candidate, could that interest group have complicity in the murder of Benazir Bhutto?

Now, you put the pieces together and you will see the picture. Of course, this is purely conjecture on my part, especially the questions for each piece of the puzzle, but the facts of each piece are accurate. I simply put myself in the shoes of each puzzle piece. You can ask your own questions too after reading the piece facts, the picture may still come out the same. Same dog, different collar.


Sources: CNN, MSNBC, BBC, Newsweek


Anonymous said...

Great job on this blog Durano I can appreciate all the work that you put into it.

Tapline said...

Got your blog from dd2. First time visitor....excellent post with much insight....We will see what transpires in the followind days. I wonder how much will be leaked to the American press?????by the know.....stay well......