Thursday, December 27, 2007
Bhutto assassination could hurt US in Pakistan
--Nic Robertson, Senior International Correspondent

Today's assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is a blow for democracy in Pakistan and seems likely to cement the military's grip on power for the near future.

It will likely raise very serious concerns for the Bush administration that had been working behind the scenes since last summer to encourage Benazir Bhutto to end her exile, return to Pakistan, and seek political compromise with President Musharaff.

With Bhutto now dead, and Musharaff having shocked and disappointed US diplomats and State Department officials with his recent state of emergency, it seems the US has few reliable partners left.

The immediate future for Pakistanis seems undoubtedly one of high uncertainty with suspicion for Bhutto's death variously falling on President Musharaff, the country's intelligence services, and radical Islamists.

Any hope of having free and fair parliamentary elections, as scheduled for next month, appear to have been crushed.
Posted By CNN: 10:06 AM ET
  36 Comments
Nic,
It is SO sad that Bhutto was assassinated! But she was doing what she really believed would help her fellow countrymen! For that she should get alot of respect! She knew the risks and still pushed forward. Too bad that her efforts won't have an effect anytime in the near future but maybe in the long run they will.

I guess Bush and his administration must be feeling bad today seeing as though they talked her into going back again.

I bet we will never know for sure if Musharaff or any of his followers had anything to do with her death. And if they did who's really going to do anything to them. They control everything.

I just hope that her death doesn't cause Pakistan to go into total chaos with fighting and all. That would defeat her purposes all together!

Cynthia, Covington, Ga.
Posted By Blogger Cindy : 10:55 AM ET
Nic: I think Benazir was like a deer in the headlights. Her own party wanted her to go all around the country, even in the most dangerous parts where there is no security at all telling her that Musharraf has warned to not go there. She is definitely a martyr in the world's eye and everyone knew she would be the only leader who can bring democracy to a militant state but she was made a pawn so that people will have sympathetic view of the PPP.


Paul, Atlanta, GA
Posted By Anonymous Paul Varia : 11:44 AM ET
By eliminating a possible, albeit imperfect, democratic alternative to Mushariff, the Bhutto assassination has created further risks for the U.S. in a country and a region that already poses serious threats to U.S. foreign policy and our national security. The U.S. and its NATO allies face a resurgent Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan, Osama Bin Laden reportedly is hiding in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Pakistan possesses nuclear weapons which, in a destabilized Pakistan, may be the most available source of weapons of mass destruction for Islamic terrorists. Don’t forget that Pakistan’s A.Q. Kahn, the founder of its nuclear program, helped spread nuclear technology to Iran, Libya, and North Korea. The risks created by his actions would pale in comparison to the dangers that would be created should Al Qaeda, or other similar groups, obtain access to Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.


Craig Blakeley
Falls Church, VA
Posted By Anonymous Craig Blakeley, Falls Church, VA : 11:56 AM ET
Come on Nic! Pakistan is not a country that can properly have a "democratic" government. When countries such as Pakistan, Iran, Afganistan ect.. contain radical elements that are "uncontrolled" by the government, a democracy will never work. These countries need to be ruled with an iron fist to put the radicals in their place and prevent widespread subversion ...It was a good move by Musharraf to declare emergency rule and clamp down on the extremists. Bhutto's presence in Pakistan cuased more political upheaval in the country at a time when it was not needed. It is a shame that she did not have the sense to stay out until she could be fully protected in such a chaotic country. The United States should quit forcing the idea that "democracy" is good for everyone, its not, but it "is" good for civilised societies people who can think rationally.

Leo
Miami Florida
Posted By Anonymous Leo : 12:00 PM ET
Nic...I dont know when U.S is going to realize that Pakistan is the epicenter of terrorism. The only way Pakistan's behavior can be changed is if U.S recognizes it as a state sponsor of terrorism and designates it as a rogue state. U.S is playing a dangerous game and is going to suffer the consequences for supporting a dictator and indirectly supporting a state sponsor of terrorism.
Posted By Anonymous Rit : 12:03 PM ET
This is undoubtedly one of the saddest events to round up the year 2007. The assassination of Bhutto represents another blow to the democratic aspirations of the Pakistani people and an impetus for fear in the region. The US has to carefully reevaluate its relationship with Pakistan from the role of interferer to that of sincere support without any strings. Any other steps might just create a snowball effect that could spread to and destablise nations with significant Muslim populations, struggling with the concept of democracy.
Posted By Blogger Wale : 12:04 PM ET
Since 9/11, our ability to effectively combat Islamic terrorism has been hampered by the fear of disrupting the delicate balance created by Musharraf. If the country plunges into chaos, we need to seize the opportunity to cross the border, crush their safe haven and nab Bin Laden.

Todd
Phoenix, AZ
Posted By Anonymous Anonymous : 12:04 PM ET
I attened the welcome rally for Benazir in the 80s when she returned from exile. She was a gutsy woman back then taunting the Generals to stop her. She went on to win the popular election and become a Prime Minister.

I don't believe that Musharraf has total control or can control the events. That is a misconception. No government in power desires chaos as it ultimately leads to their own downfall. For Musharraf Benazir was the most palatable, as she understood him, negotiated with him and his position. It will now be very difficult for Musharraf to execute his exit strategy.
Posted By OpenID fzkhan : 12:05 PM ET
Nic,
Unfortunately, we in the West brought this on ourselves. Until we address the underlying causes of terrorism no decent politician is safe and the dictators win. We need to be adopting international policies that address the needs of everyday people around the world so they end up having “skin in the game” with a better future for their families similar to what we have. During the past few years in business I have traveled to various parts of the world and the ordinary “man in the street” wants the same thing we do. A house, education for his kids, a job, good food, and a safe environment. We don’t help him by doing what we did in Iraq. Yes it’s going to cost us – but it’s costing us anyway – big time, so we had better learn from the past before we repeat it again in Iran.

Bill Fisher, Ontario, Canada
Posted By Blogger Bill Fisher : 12:09 PM ET
I fear these new developments. In a war ravaged Middle East, our country and the armies of many countries, have tried to instill democracy, I believe Benazir was the only way the world could help the people of Pakistan adopt a more rational and humanitarian form of government, and she is dead. The United States is already involved in a war to instill and protect democracy and humanity, how thin can a country stretch before they are vulnerable to their own decisions?
Posted By Anonymous Lebanon, Indiana : 12:13 PM ET
This assassination really concerns me, especially the prior attempt on her life in October. CNN reported the authorities would not let our International FBI Agents help with the investigation. Only telling me that someone is afraid the FBI will get to the bottom of this crime, and they don't want that.
However, I think the FBI knows who is keeping them from helping with this investigation and has a good idea who may be behind this assassination.
Why would Pakistan not allow our FBI to help otherwise? Since Pakistan has tied the hands of our FBI, according to CNN, then maybe the Secret Service will step in.
Posted By Anonymous Kristy : 12:14 PM ET
The liberals in both Pakistan and the US are living in a fantasy world. Pakistan is already in the midst of a civil war - and the enemy isn't interested in democracy. Musharraf is the only chance Pakistan has.
Posted By Anonymous Neo Politicus : 12:15 PM ET
It will be interesting to see who takes claim for this horrible, horrible act.

We ought to look long and hard at our relationship with Musharraf is nobody comes forward and says "We did it."

Silence could be Musharraf's worst enemy right now.

Heidi, ABQ, NM
Posted By OpenID ravennaneroon : 12:18 PM ET
Something that eludes me is how none of coverage in the wake of Bhutto's death mentions the fact that she was one of the most corrupt leaders in Pakistan. She was involved in laundering, drug, and bribery schemes that led her to place millions in Swiss bank accounts and dummy corporations in the Caribbean. Her husband, Asif, Ali Zadari, is currently in jail for his rampant corruption--he was known in Pakistan as "Mr. 10%." I think that the Bush Administration is turning the other cheek to the issue of corruption of 3rd world governments, even though, ironically, it was the centerpiece of Paul Wolfowitz's presidency at the World Bank. What Pakistan needs most isn't democracy. There is evidence everywhere that democracy is no less corrupt a form of government than a military dictatorship. The effects of corruption on a country's stability are far underplayed in today's coverage on Pakistan. It one of the the biggest recipients of US aid, yet one can assume most of that money is pocketed away by the "washing machine" of corrupt politicians. Corruption allows precious capital to flow back to the richest nations of the world instead of staying inside the borders of the countries that need it most, and Benazir Bhutto and her family embodied this devastating process. She is no martyr.
Posted By Anonymous Courtney : 12:19 PM ET
NIC:
I hope this is not a flash back of the Assassination of Massoud in Sept. 9, 2001. I hope it does have a direct consequences on us as happened in 2001.

Al-Quaeda and the Pakistani Intelligence Service were working together for more than 30. Why the Bush Administration wanted to scarify her in that way?
Posted By Anonymous yao : 12:22 PM ET
The purpose of US Foreign Policy is to maintain the US national security. The US becomes engaged militarily if a risk to US national security is seen. Pakistan has atomic weapons. Pakistan has an unstable political system which in the event of leaders unfavorable to the US could cause or allow, intentionally or unintentionally nuclear weapons to be used against the US. Bhutto saw the advantage to Pakistan of a good working relationship with the US and had strong popular support. The risk to US national security is now increased substantially, but as yet by an unknown amount.
Posted By Blogger SkyKing : 12:26 PM ET
Musharraf can rest easy the person who would have ripped him from Pakistan's grip is gone. Bush was shocked? Why? He encouraged her to go back but yet supports Musharraf by backing his government with 2 billion US TAX DOLLARS since 9/11. Musharraf will hold onto his throne unfortunately until someone kills him.
Posted By Anonymous Brian, Philadelphia, PA : 12:31 PM ET
This is definitely gonna affect the US Policy in Pakistan.This is the work of ISI and the Islamic militants.These are the same militants fighting in Kashmir and the world came to know as Al-Qaeeda in Pakistan in post-911 world.US cannot win this war until they get involved completely.US has to re-analyse the money being put into Pakistan with no results whatsoever.
Posted By Anonymous Yatin Pradhan : 12:32 PM ET
This assassination is a frightening development in Pakistan's continuing political saga. As a nuclear nation, instability in Pakistan has significant ramifications for the whole world and as such, I hope that President Musharraf's regime was not involved because he can't afford to lose any more credibility.

Unfortunately, as it stands now he seems to have the most to gain by removing the most vocal and popular proponent of democracy. The coming days will obviously be turbulent ones for the citizens of Pakistan who clearly desire democracy and they may even serve to foreshadow political upheaval in other areas of the world where elite fundamentalist autocracies subvert and undermine the will of the people they govern.
Posted By Blogger Joshua : 12:33 PM ET
It's sad to see Bhutto got assassinated. But her death clearly paints the picture that the root of a successful democracy is a stable society. Did Musaraff do the wrong thing for calling marshal law? Personally, I don't think so. The root of Bhutto is not strong enough to counter the fundamentalists in her country. Using democracy and giving people their wills may not work that effectively. Her death, including Saddam's should be two great lessons on how to introduce democracy into these countries. More lessons from the communists winning in China, the war in Vietnam.... you don't win the hearts of people and give people their basic needs, democracy will not function effectively.
Posted By Anonymous Sean : 12:33 PM ET
Pakistan is a terrorist country with complete support to terrorism form both Musharraf and ISI (Pakistan's "official" intelligence agency).

No wonder democratic opposition leader is killed. I am sure Musharraf will be partying at his home now.
Posted By Anonymous Brad Bromage : 12:35 PM ET
It is very sad to see this happen, regardless of what you thought of Bhutto personally or politically. She was a flawed leader to say the least and her presence in the current election process in Pakistan is a complicated one, especially in regards to US or other outside involvement. Most of all you have to feel for the people of Pakistan, the last thing they needed was more uncertainty and violence.
Posted By Anonymous Jon-Michael : 12:48 PM ET
I dont know what to say about her death. The only positive she had was her secular position in politics. But thats it. She and her husband stole millions. She had two chances to do some good and did nothing. Pakistan needs to do a few things and they are. Control corruption, inflation, neutralize Altaf Husain and reform madrassas. I am from NWFP and I have seen first hand how these mullahs transform an orphan into a walking time bomb. Control the damn Mullahs and you will slowly eradicate the breeding grounds for terrorism.
Posted By Anonymous Ali : 12:49 PM ET
Nic:
What a sad day not only for democracy but for peace. Benazir is such a great example of someone who stood their ground, fought for what they believed in, and gained the respect as a champion of democracy and peace.

God Speed Benazir
Posted By Anonymous Gail : 12:57 PM ET
It is a sad day when any leader is taken in a violent and senseless way. But let us not annoint Ms. Bhutto to the status of sainthood. We must not forget that she was forced from office under the cloud of corruption and the "misappropriation" of over a BILLION Dollars. This does not justify an assassin's bullet, or a homicide bomber strapping on a belt. But we have a tendency to elevate those lost to violence to a level they would have never attained would they have lived and served. With that said, may she rest in peace.....and her image should serve as a beacon for those who will selflessly serve the cause of democracy in Pakistan.
Posted By Anonymous Eyes Wide Open : 1:24 PM ET
With Banazir gone from the picture army general & the self proclaimed President Musharraf has a ground open for himself. He had no plan to have elections and now he have a perfect excuse for not having one. What a shame in the moderen times that how head of states are playing in the hand of others. More funds Musharraf is getting from US more unstable Pakistan is getting. Can someone figuer this out that what is wrong with the picture????
Posted By Blogger Syed : 1:33 PM ET
Nic, the real problem is this:

Both the executive and legislative branches of this government fail to do the extensive research required before engaging in actions in the Middle East. A very careful look at the military, political, social history history provides much evidence to support glimpses into what has transpired in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and the other countries in the region.

Instead, a brief cursory look at incomplete and unverified intelligence was used to dictate Middle East policy.

Had cooler heads prevailed after 9/11, we could have possibly enjoyed a more successful Middle East policy.

Unfortunately for us, we, our children, and our children's children will have to endure the blowback from an ineffective Middle East policy long after the incompetents in the executive and legislative branches have retired to their villas in Dubai.
Posted By Anonymous Ben Dover : 1:34 PM ET
With Banazir gone from the picture retired army general & the self proclaimed President Musharraf has a ground open for himself. He had no plan to have elections and now he has a perfect excuse for not having one. What a shame in the modern times that how head of states are playing in the hand of others. More funds Musharraf is getting from US more unstable Pakistan is getting. Can someone figure this out that what is wrong with the picture????? Worst part of all this tragedy is that it happened in Rawalpindi where Pakistani army has their headquarters. With all the uncertainty in Pakistan, why proper protection was not granted for the election candidate????? Something is really fishy...Syed Sarim...Saint Louis...USA
Posted By Blogger Syed : 1:43 PM ET
With Such a devestating loss to the concept of another somewhat stable country in the middle east, the last thing the U.S. needs to do is "jump the gun" president Musharaff has been leading the country and wheather anyone agrees with the way he rules or the ties he has, he has been securing the country and (in the eyes of Modern civilization the Nuclear weapons he holds) While there is no easy answer as to the actions the U.S. should take one thing is clear they do not need another Iran or Iraq, because if everyone is up on history when you back a leader in the Middle East no matter how promising they are, the voice of the region and time will overpower them. Bush Sr. learned this the hard way, and Bush Jr. needs to tread lightly, because theres no son to clean up where he goes wrong.
Posted By Anonymous Cameron Las Vegas, NV : 2:31 PM ET
Somebody has commented that democracy cannot work in Pakistan. Its absolutely right. Pakistani political system is personality centered rather then policy centered. People vote for their leader, even if the leader is planning to sell his voters. People are not sincere with their country, not trustworthy, greedy; while as an engineering university student, I myself have seen student political wing of Benazir Bhuttos political party putting buses on fire, murdering police officers in broad daylight, thrashing professors, cheating by force in examination. How can I forget the pools of blood in washrooms and corridors. As you sow, so shall you reap. Political leaders are power hungry and devour national wealth once they are in power, make mockry of law and order, promote corruption and nepotism. I have spent 10 years watching this democratic drama. Although its a tragic event, not only this but killing anybody, anywhere in the world but I am sure that it will have its serious implications on Pakistani political scene. Let this country run by a single entity. Its like the more the merrier, the fewer the better. I am damn sure, once any of the political leader is in power, he will revenge Musharraf, even if the general has never done anything againt the interest of Pakistan, but only for harming his political and personal interests.
Posted By Blogger Shiraz : 2:47 PM ET
Nic, The Western fascination for democracy as the universal cure and the Western insistence for this one-without-second option is a myopic spectacle of the world reality. Bhutto's assasination is one glaring sorry example. Sitting here in India, I can only wonder with incredulous stupor what makes your President consider President Musharraf as an ally in its war against international terrorism. Even if you go by the Rawlsian maximin, the western perception of countries like Pakistan is so off the mark. I would in fact go ahead and say there is lack of sheer ground assesment and an overdose of arm-chair non-realistic political prattle from the Western World. Bhutto, as any political leader, should not have died the way she did.
Posted By Blogger Yogi : 3:26 PM ET
Benazir Bhutto was last hope of democratic and secular Pakistan. It is amazing that no one is attacking members of ruling party, or pro Musharif party. Musharif has literally silenced every opposition party member by either putting them in jail or have them assassinated. While all the mullahs and jihadists are roaming around in Pakistan!
Posted By Anonymous Anonymous : 3:37 PM ET
I am from Pakistan.
I am just 26, and i have lived under the rule of both Bhutto and Nawaz.
Let me begin by saying that what happened today is sad. thats not how civilized nations work.
But think about it. both Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto cultivateted the Corruption and terrorism, and we are repaing the regards today.
If the election was held as planed in 2008, would the losing party accept gracefully or raise cries of "RIGGED ELECTIONS"?
People think about it. who gave these 2 famalies i.e. bhutto and sharif family teh life long right to represent us? why can it only be Bhutto or Nawaz and now Musharraf?
Why cant some sober and intellegent person step up? some one who has the guts to show the world that pakistani's are peaceloving people who want to excel in every field? Some one who can erase the people who have created an extremist hell in the name of Islam and are giving iSlam a bad name..
Posted By Anonymous Zeeshan : 4:26 PM ET
This wasn't the first political assassination in mankind's history. I fail to understand why so much hue and cry is being raised on this one. I guess everyone at some level feels that their claim has been vindicated; for many of my fellow Pakistanis, it is an opportunity to criticize their government, the system, armed forces, and Musharraf; for my Indian friends from across the border, this is a great opportunity to bash their arch enemy and emphasize the involvement of the Pakistan Army and ISI in terrorist activities; fellow-Americans citizens hit by the mortgage crisis can easily question their government's decision to give billions of dollars in aid to a country on the brink; and US Presidential hopefuls would certainly grasp this opportunity to show-off their knowledge (or lack thereof) of other countries' issues.

So, everyone gets to say "I told you so...". Folks! What are you wailing about? This calls for celebration!
Posted By Blogger Adnan Farooq Hashmi : 4:47 PM ET
A nation that has had troubled history from the very start of its formation. Having followed the developments in this country for long. I strongly suspect Pakistan's secret agency - which is in bed with terrorists group to behind this - directly or indirectly. Musharraf has been fooling us for long, and we continue to play in his hands.
Posted By Anonymous Mike : 6:12 PM ET
Nic;
It is a sad situation that Benazir lost her life but she should have known that her life was in Danger after the suicide bombing back in October. Pakistan is a very different place and most of the people in the Western World will not understand Pakistan. Everytime a person tries to bring democracy in Pakistan either gets assissinated or removed very swiftly. Today's event is nothing new in Pakistan, starting from its independence leaders have been executed, killed, died strangely and killed in a plane crash. I have lived in Pakistan for many years and I think what is important to the western world to understand is in order to make Pakistan a country with no threat to the western world is to educate the people of that country and provide job opportunities in that country. Biggest problem with that country when I was a student in Pakistan is when a person graduates with an Engineering Degree or something similar they are not able to find a job and they don't have anything to do and therefore those young educated people faces frustration and social pressure and in some cases doing wrong things such as robberies. I think what is more important for Pakistan then democracy is western countries need to pump money and investing into the public sector hence creating jobs so that there is a very low unemployment rate. Secondly, what the western world needs to do is introduce free media and encourage freedom of Television and airwaves. This will educate a common person on what it means to live in a peaceful society and how to become a rational society. Democracy should be the last thing to be introduced in a country like Pakistan where almost 70 percent of the people cannot even read let alone understanding the meaning of Democracy.
Sohail from Ontario, Canada.
Posted By Anonymous Anonymous : 8:26 PM ET
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