US Paradrop Lands Benazir in the Midst of Jihadis
International Terrorism Monitor--- Paper No. 289 http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers25/paper2419.html
By B. Raman
(This article was written by me after the first attempt to kill Mrs.Benazir Bhutto at Karachi on October 18,2007)
"The much talked about US plans for a political paradrop of a neo Benazir Bhutto into Pakistan in the hope of providing the badly-needed oxygen to President General Pervez Musharraf and saving the country from Al Qaeda, the Neo Taliban and an assortment of other pro-Al Qaeda and anti-US jihadi terrorist groups is likely to create a third mess in a row for the US after the earlier two in Afghanistan and Iraq." So I wrote in my article of September 2, 2007, titled "US PARADROP FOR A NEOBENAZIR", which is available at http://www.saag.org/papers24/paper2353.html.
2. The US paradrop seems to have landed her right in the midst of jihadis of various hues. It was due to God's grace ----and not due to the skills of Pakistan's police and intelligence agencies---- that she escaped the two explosions on the night of October 18, 2007, which were meant to kill her, but killed instead over 130 persons---members of her party, police personnel and innocent civilians The world only saw on the TV the huge crowds, mobilised by her party, which greeted her after she arrived in Karachi ending eight years of political exile with the blessings of the US. It could not have seen the thousands of invisible enemies she has. No other political leader of Pakistan has as many personal enemies as Mrs. Benazir. Her support is confined to Sindh and to the Seraiki areas of Southern Punjab. In the rest of the country, she has as many enemies as she has friends. Even in Sindh, the Mohajirs and the Sindhi nationalists dislike her. Even in her own Pakistan People's Party (PPP), she is strongly disliked by the supporters of her brothers Shah Nawaz Bhutto, who was allegedly poisoned by the Inter-Services Intelligence in Southern France in 1985, and Murtaza Bhutto, who was allegedly killed by the Karachi Police in a staged encounter in September, 1996, when she was the Prime Minister.
3. There are many in Pakistan----not just Al Qaeda--- who would be happy to see her killed. She was lucky on October 18. She has to be lucky every time a plot is hatched to kill her by some group or the other, by some individual or the other. Many commentators---including some in India---have described her as a brave woman, who dared to return to Pakistan as scheduled on October 18 without worrying about the threats held out against her. Brave, she was, but wise, definitely not.
4. Any wise leader would have noticed the widespread anti-Americanism in Pakistan and realised the importance of not projecting himself or herself as a leader blessed by the US and as the US choice to facilitate the transition of Pakistan back to democracy. He or she would have also realised the importance of keeping one's thoughts to oneself at a time when widespread anger against the US and Gen. Pervez Musharraf in the wake of the commando raid into the Lal Masjid in Islamabad from July 10 to 13, 2007, has let loose a wave of suicide terrorist attacks, many of them directed against the security forces and other public servants.
5. Many of her statements were like the red rag to the jihadi bulls---- that she would hand over A. Q. Khan, Pakistan's nuclear scientist, to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna for interrogation, that she would co-operate with the US in the war on terrorism, that she would hand over Dawood Ibrahim, the Indian mafia leader living in Karachi, to India etc etc.
6. Benazir and Musharraf have many things in common. One of them is an inability to keep their mouth shut. The second is a weakness for the TV cameras. The third is an eagerness to be liked by the Americans. The result: All anti-American groups in Pakistan were waiting for an opportunity to kill her.
7. The Karachi blast highlights once again the poor state of Pakistan's counter-terrorism and security apparatus. It also shows the extent of the penetration of terrorist elements into all parts of Pakistan---tribal as well as non-tribal, urban as well as rural. Pakistan is a society inextricably caught in the clutches of the jihadis. The jihadis are not yet in a position to capture power, but they are in a position to keep the country bleeding and targeting its leaders and public servants.
8. Extricating Pakistan from their clutches and defeating them will be a long drawn-out process. It can be done only by a leader, who is genuinely convinced of the need to defeat them and tries to do it on his or her own instead of seeming to do so to please the US. What Pakistan needs at this critical hour in its history is a leader, who is widely perceived as independent and not an American stooge. Neither Musharraf nor Mrs. Benazir is such a leader. Mr. Nawaz Sharif, if he is able to come back to power, could turn out to be such a leader. He has maintained a distance from the US. He does not fawn on the US like Mrs. Benazir does. Pakistan needs Mr. Nawaz Sharif more than it needs Musharraf or Benazir.
9. If the US really wants to save Pakistan and its nuclear arsenal from the clutches of the terrorists, it would be wise enough to encourage a genuine transition to democracy without any favourites. Let the people of Pakistan ----and not the US policy-makers and academics---decide whom they want to be their leader in free and fair elections. Let the leader so chosen deal with the terrorists in his own independent manner.
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For topical studies, Chennai. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)