Friday, December 28, 2007

Bhutto assassination conspiracy

With Pakistan in chaos for months and the recent murder, I knew I had to bite the bullet and write something about it. Not that what I say about it matters or makes any difference. I'm no Pakistani, neither do I know the politics asside from what the news tells me. And maybe it sounds crazy if I say Bhutto wasn't killed by terrorists, but I have a feeling the authorities are using Al Qaida and the Taliban as a scapegoat.

There's no reason why it shouldn't be either of them. In fact, they'd throw acid in the face of people like Bhutto because she appeared publically without bhurka. Her political activism and ex-presidency is seen by those types and a threat to the male dominated societies they strive to impose. But they're simply not the only enemy Bhutto had, and not even the most powerful one.

I prefer to blame General Musharraf. From everything the man's done so far, this seems like an act of desperation. People like Bhutto had been gnawing at his ankles with moderate success: he lost his post as commander-in-chief. The country's lawyers abandoned him, leaving him with just his obvious lackeys in the courts to perpetuate his fake democracy. The man who he stole the presidency from is coming back with a vengeance. And like Adolph Hitler, he's picked a fight with the wrong neighbour (Osama bin Laden) while he was already embattled and allied a Musolini comparison (Bush).
After 9/11 he pretty much hoped to win legitimacy for his usurped position as president by scoring brownie points when he joined the "War on Terror" hype by handing over a bunch of 'sand ******s' persecuted on thrumped-up charges. The poor sods now live in Gitmo without there having been any investigation into the past. Those that have returned are suspected for what they may or may not have done to deserve such treatment. But having shown his colours, he was marked by the Taliban and their allies in the indominable mountains in north Pakistan as an enemy of Islam. In a pathetic show of force, Musharraf's army was soundly defeated during an attempt to evict the dug-in islamists and the concessions he had to pay the warlords more than made up for the losses they led, and humiliated Pakistan in the face of the world. And yet the propaganda value of the defeat made the truce between Musharraf and the warlords only a military one, it spread word of the strength of the warlords to influentianable southern provinces accelerating dissent.
Bush's pressure on Musharraf and unilateral strikes by the US reinforced the message that Musharraf was not the man who would defend Pakistan. And led to the situation seen throughout the year. Conservatives fortifying mosques and Taliban allies taking over whole cities. Musharraf's retaliations have distanced him from his people who now seek his removal even while extremists are bearing down on the whole state. Bhutto was the only 'ally' he could make who was of any use against the extremists as she could calm the people who listened to her, but Musharraf was clearly going to lose influence as he couldn't lead Bhutto on.

It's just a theory, but I believe he sacrificed her as a martyr to plead for solidarity from her supporters and point at the dangers of Islamic extremism in an attempt to secure the elections in January and rally Pakistan around him, using the ever present threat of terrorism the way it's been used in America and how Communism was used in the same way by Hitler and McCarthy. In this way Bhutto is clearly worth more to Musharraf as he will not have to fear an electoral victory from her anymore and if succesful it takes away a huge number of dissenters.
What does seem to contradict it is that the assassin was a suicide bomber. Governments like Musharraf's usually don't inspire the kind of fanaticism it takes to drive a man to murder himself along with his target. At the same time, Musharraf's government does have much greater reach and legal assistance for such a plot that the Taliban and her allies. The cover-up is pretty obvious already: blame terrorists for her death as misdirection and hastily eliminate the evidence. The fact that the killer blew himself up clearly doesn't allow an interrogation.

Rather than risking a three-way civil war between democrats, government and islamists, Musharraf now only faces civil war between islamists and the government. Interesting how the death of one woman can mean such a huge difference. Is this the new JFK conspiracy of the century?

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