Thursday, October 18, 2007

Benazir Bhutto Bombasts Bomb Blast (Work in progress)

The hunt for Benazir's booty

Zardari, Bhutto, Rockwood and a web of other properties and financial activities are the focus of an inquiry that, according to Pakistani investigators, involves the disappearance of $1.5 billion (£900m) from the public purse.

These investigators accuse Zardari, and by complicity Benazir, of taking secret kickbacks from airline, power station and pipeline projects, rice deals, customs inspections, defence contracts, land sell-offs, even government welfare. They allege that while the kickbacks were organised by Zardari, Benazir knew what was going on. As prime minister and finance minister, she had to approve many government contracts personally.

Benazir and her husband have often been accused of corruption. She was twice dismissed from office on such charges. But she consistently denied wrongdoing and nobody produced any evidence that stuck. Now, however, the Swiss government has frozen about £8.7m in 17 Bhutto family bank accounts and the inquiry has shifted to Britain.

Ordered by the Home Office to investigate allegations by the attorney-general of Pakistan that British property may have been acquired from drug deals involving Zardari, police officers from the South East Regional Crime Squad are collecting statements for the Pakistani government. Friends and associates of the Bhuttos will also be brought before Bow Street magistrates to swear statements of evidence.

Inquiries by The Sunday Times have revealed that four separate properties worth more than £4m are under investigation, along with 12 offshore companies and six London bank accounts.

Benazir declared war on the "avaricious politicians" who were looting the national finances of developing countries. Soon, however, her new husband had acquired the nickname "Mr 10%" as rumours spread that he was receiving kickbacks on contracts.

He was a man of limited wealth and limited education, having had a brief spell of business studies in Paddington, west London. The marriage had been an arranged union organised by Benazir's mother, Nusrat Bhutto. But, say many observers, Benazir quickly came to depend on him emotionally.

Dismissed on unproven corruption charges in 1990, she was none the less elected prime minister again in 1993. Now Zardari was not "Mr 10%" but "Mr 30%". Benazir made him investment minister. Power, say some of her former associates, went to her head.

"She no longer made the distinction between the Bhuttos and Pakistan," said Hussain Haqqini, Bhutto's former press secretary. "In her mind she was Pakistan, so she could do as she pleased."

Benazir herself is adamant about her innocence and denounces the "irreparable damage to my standing in the world". She says her family is rich, but certainly not by European standards. "Most of the documents are fabricated and the stories that have been spun around them are absolutely wrong," she has stated.

Video of Bhutto Karachi Bombing

Left: One of the Bosnian Army Muslim brigades marches through Zenica in a demonstration of strength by 10,000 soldiers. (1995)

1973-1979: The US Starts to Provide Support to Islamists Opposing the Soviets in Afghanistan

In 1973 Afghan Prince Muhammad Daoud ousts the king with help from the Soviet Union, and establishes an Afghan republic. The CIA in turn begins funding Islamist extremists, including Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, as a resistance movement opposing the Soviets. US allies, the Shah of Iran’s intelligence agency, SAVAK, and Pakistan’s Interservices Intelligence Directorate (ISI) play an important role in funneling weapons and other forms of assistance to the Afghan Islamist militants. After the pro-Soviet coup in April 1978, the Islamic militants with the support of the ISI carry out a massive campaign of terrorism, assassinating hundreds of teachers and civil servants.

1978: CIA Begins Covert Action in Afghanistan

The CIA begins covert action against the Communist government in Afghanistan, which is closely tied to the Soviet Union. Some time this year, the CIA begins training militants in Pakistan and beaming radio propaganda into Afghanistan. By April 1979, US officials are meeting with opponents of the Afghan government to determine their needs. Robert Gates, who will become CIA Director in the early 1990s, will later recall that in a meeting on March 30, 1979, Under Secretary of Defense Walter Slocumbe wonders aloud whether there is "value in keeping the Afghan insurgency going, ‘sucking the Soviets into a Vietnamese quagmire." In March 1979, there is a major revolt in Herat province, and in June and August there are large scale army mutinies. President Carter will formally approve covert aid to opponents of the government in July, which will result in a Russian invasion in December.

CIA Director William Casey makes a secret visit to Pakistan to plan a strategy to defeat Soviet forces in Afghanistan. Casey is flown to secret training camps near the Afghan border where he watches trainees fire weapons and make bombs. According to the Washington Post, “During the visit, Casey startled his Pakistani hosts by proposing that they take the Afghan war into enemy territory—into the Soviet Union itself. Casey wanted to ship subversive propaganda through Afghanistan to the Soviet Union’s predominantly Muslim southern republics.” The Pakistanis agree to the plan and soon the CIA begins sending subversive literature and thousands of Korans to Soviet republics such as Uzbekistan. Mohammad Yousaf, a Pakistani general who attended the meeting, will later say that Casey said, “We can do a lot of damage to the Soviet Union." This will eventually evolve into CIA and ISI sponsored Afghan attacks inside the Soviet Union.

October 1994: CIA and ISI Allegedly Give Help and Secret Cache of Weapons to Taliban

The two tenures of Benazir Bhutto as Prime Minister of Pakistan were:

1. December 1988 to August 1990.
2. October 1993 to November 1996.

Left: The scene of devastation caused by a bomb explosion at a procession of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in Karachi. Two explosions went off near the vehicle carrying Bhutto. Preliminary assessment note that the two explosions consisted of a grenade and a suicide bomber carrying approximately, 45 pounds of dynamite. The aftermath saw 138 persons dead and the wounding of 550 people. Party workers and police said Bhutto was unhurt.

Left: Dead bodies lie in front of burning vehicles and a poster of Benazir Bhutto after suicide attacks in Karachi on October 18, 2007. At least 133 people were killed, including 20 policemen, and nearly 500 people were injured by two bombs near former premier Benazir Bhutto's truck during her Pakistan homecoming parade.

Left: Former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto hugs a woman next to her husband Asif Ali Zardari, 2nd right, and daughter, Asfa, 1st right, as she leaves her house to the airport to depart for Karachi, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Thursday, October 18, 2007. (In reference to corruption charges against the Bhutto family, her husband’s nickname is "Mr. 10 percent.")

Left: Hundreds of thousands of Benazir Bhutto supporters massed in Karachi as security forces attempt to turn Pakistan's biggest city into a fortress ahead of the former premier's return from exile.

Left: Pakistani paramilitary soldiers stand guard as supporters of former premier Benazir Bhutto stand outside the Jinnah Terminal in Karachi, 18 October 2007.

Left: Pakistan's former PM Benazir Bhutto is rescued from her truck after a bomb explosion in Karachi.

Left: Critics claim there was not enough security, and that combined with the fact her convoy was barely able to move because of large crowds made it easier for attackers to strike.

Left: Scores were killed as two bomb blasts ripped through crowds who had gathered in Karachi to welcome home former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.




Left: Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto returned home to Pakistan after eight years in exile, defying warnings of an assassination by Al-Qaeda and vowing to restore democracy in her homeland.

Left: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, waves to awaiting supporters as she disembarks her airplane that brought her from Dubai, upon her arrival in Karachi, Pakistan, Thursday Oct. 18, 2007. Bhutto returned Thursday to Pakistan, ending eight years of exile and launching what she hopes will be a stunning political comeback, as tens of thousands of supporters gathered to greet her amid massive security.

Left: Supporters of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto chant slogans outside Karachi airport to greet their returning leader October 18, 2007. Bhutto set out on Thursday on a journey home to end eight years of self-exile.


BenazirBb Bhutto Returns To Pakistan

Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto returned home to Pakistan after eight years in exile, defying warnings of an assassination by Al-Qaeda and vowing to restore democracy in her homeland.

Before her plane left Dubai, carrying her back from exile for the second time in a long political career, at least a quarter-million people thronged the streets of Pakistan's biggest city Karachi to welcome her home.

She headed back to Pakistan after military president Pervez Musharraf agreed to drop corruption charges against her, hoping her immense popularity can help him cling to power in the face of mounting popular anger over his rule.

"My journey back home marks the beginning of a march towards a better future for Pakistan," the 54-year-old Bhutto, the first woman ever to lead an Islamic nation, said before boarding the plane.

"I am for the poor. I am their leader and I live for them and I will die for them," she said, dressed in a bright green traditional tunic. "My journey reflects the aspiration of the 160 million people of Pakistan."

Bhutto, who has repeatedly angered Muslim hardliners with harsh criticism of Islamic extremists, again shrugged off police warnings she would be targeted for assassination by Al-Qaeda or Taliban militants on Pakistani soil.

"I don't want to think of the risk," said the two-time prime minister, whose brother was shot dead by suspected Pakistan intelligence agents and whose father was hanged in 1979 by military dictator Zia ul-Haq.

"I want to think of the opportunity for my people," she said.

Her plane touched down around 0845 GMT.

Bhutto, who remained head of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) during her exile, left Dubai accompanied by dozens of supporters wearing scarves in the PPP colours of red, black and green.

More than 20,000 police and troops, backed up by bomb squads with sniffer dogs, patrolled the route of her planned homecoming parade from the airport to the imposing mausoleum of Pakistan's founding father.

Bhutto will also be protected by bullet-proof screens as she rides in a specially modified shipping container through the streets of Karachi, which has been decked out with colossal billboard portraits of her.

Pakistani police said more than 250,000 people had jammed the streets awaiting her return. Her loyalists put the crowd at more than one million.

Bhutto has vowed to contest general elections and win a third term in power as she returns to a Pakistan in the throes of political turmoil, as Musharraf has seen his popularity crash in just the past few months.

The military leader's bungled attempt to sack the head of the Supreme Court -- a move the Court itself later ruled was unconstitutional -- set off months of angry street demonstrations.

Seeing his tight grip on power start to loosen, Musharraf turned to Bhutto to bolster his position, pledging to step down as head of the army by November 15 after winning re-election by parliament earlier in October.

The amnesty was seen as a prelude to power-sharing, clearing the way for her to seek a third term as prime minister in general elections expected by January while he stays on as president.

The Supreme Court has since ruled, however, that it must validate his election win -- after hearing a raft of legal challenges over Musharraf's legal right to have stood for re-election.

Musharraf, who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999, has become a pivotal ally in the US-led "war on terror" and is seen as a bulwark against Taliban and Al-Qaeda extremism in Pakistan's tribal areas on the Afghan border.

But his challenge to the Supreme Court and his campaign against Islamic militants -- in particular a bloody raid on a militant Islamabad mosque in July -- have seriously dented his popularity at home.

Bhutto remains a vastly popular figure, particularly in her home town Karachi. She first returned from exile in 1986, when millions welcomed her back home before she became prime minister the first time.

Bhutto Clan Leaves Trail of Corruption in Pakistan

A decade after she led this impoverished nation from military rule to democracy, Benazir Bhutto is at the heart of a widening corruption inquiry that Pakistani investigators say has traced more than $100 million to foreign bank accounts and properties controlled by Bhutto's family.

Tracing the Bhutto Millions
A special report.
Starting from a cache of Bhutto family documents bought for $1 million from a shadowy intermediary, the investigators have detailed a pattern of secret payments by foreign companies that sought business favors during Bhutto's two terms as Pakistan's prime minister.

The documents leave uncertain the degree of involvement by Bhutto, a Harvard graduate whose rise to power in 1988 made her the first woman to lead a Muslim country. But they trace the pervasive role of her husband, Asif Zardari, who turned his marriage to Bhutto into a source of virtually unchallengeable power.

In 1995, a leading French military contractor, Dassault Aviation, agreed to pay Zardari and a Pakistani partner a $200 million commission for a $4 billion jet fighter deal that fell apart only when Bhutto's government was dismissed. In another deal, a leading Swiss company hired to curb customs fraud in Pakistan paid millions of dollars between 1994 and 1996 to offshore companies controlled by Zardari and Bhutto's widowed mother, Nusrat Bhutto.

In the largest single payment investigators have discovered, a gold bullion dealer in the Middle East was shown to have deposited at least $10 million into one of Zardari's accounts after the Bhutto government gave him a monopoly on gold imports that sustained Pakistan's jewelry industry. The money was deposited into a Citibank account in the United Arab Emirates sheikdom of Dubai, one of several Citibank accounts used by Zardari.

Together, the documents provided an extraordinarily detailed look at high-level corruption in Pakistan, a nation so poor that perhaps 70 percent of its 130 million people are illiterate, and millions have no proper shelter, no schools, no hospitals, not even safe drinking water. During Bhutto's five years in power, the country became so enfeebled that she spent much of her time negotiating loans to stave off default on more than $62 billion in public debt.

A worldwide search for properties secretly bought by the Bhutto family is still in its early stages. But the inquiry has so far found that Zardari went on a shopping spree in the mid-1990s, purchasing among other things a $4 million, 355-acre estate south of London. Over eight months in 1994 and 1995, he used a Swiss bank account and an American Express card to buy jewelry worth $660,000 -- including $246,000 at Cartier Inc. and Bulgari Corp. in Beverly Hills, Calif., in barely a month.

In separate interviews in Karachi, Bhutto, 44, and Zardari, 42, declined to address specific questions about the Pakistani inquiry, which they dismissed as a political vendetta by Bhutto's successor as prime minister, Nawaz Sharif. In Karachi Central Prison, where he has been held for 14 months on charges of murdering Bhutto's brother, Zardari described the corruption allegations as part of a "meaningless game." But he offered no challenge to the authenticity of the documents tracing some of his most lucrative deals.

Bhutto originally kindled wild enthusiasms in Pakistan with her populist brand of politics, then suffered a heavy loss of support as the corruption allegations against her and her husband gained credence. In an interview at her fortresslike home set back from Karachi's Arabian Sea beachfront, she was by turns tearful and defiant.

"Most of those documents are fabricated," she said, "and the stories that have been spun around them are absolutely wrong."

But she refused to discuss any of the specific deals outlined in the documents, and did not explain how her husband had paid for his property and jewelry. Lamenting what she described as "the irreparable damage done to my standing in the world" by the corruption inquiry, she said her family had inherited wealth, although not on the scale implied by tales of huge bank deposits and luxury properties overseas.

"I mean, what is poor and what is rich?" Bhutto asked. "If you mean, am I rich by European standards, do I have a billion dollars, or even a hundred million dollars, even half that, no, I do not. But if you mean that I'm ordinary rich, yes, my father had three children studying at Harvard as undergraduates at the same time. But this wealth never meant anything to my brothers or me."

The Student: Privileged Learning, Populist Platitudes

Bhutto, a student at Harvard and Oxford for six years in the 1970s, has been a vocal critic of "avaricious politicians." In a Harvard commencement speech in 1989, she said that such people had looted developing countries and left them without the means to tackle their social problems. Since she was ousted as prime minister during her second term, on Nov. 5, 1996, on charges that included gross corruption, she has been the leader of Pakistan's main opposition group, the Pakistan People's Party.

Some details of the allegations against Bhutto and Zardari appeared in European and American newspapers last fall, after Pakistani investigators began releasing some of the Bhutto family documents. But a much fuller picture emerged when several thick binders full of documents were made available to The New York Times over a period of several days in October. The Times' own investigation, lasting three months, extended from Pakistan to the Middle East, Europe and the United States, and included interviews with many of the central figures named by the Pakistani investigators.

Officials leading the inquiry in Pakistan say that the $100 million they have identified so far is only a small part of a much larger windfall from corrupt activities. They maintain that an inquiry begun in Islamabad immediately after Bhutto's dismissal in 1996 found evidence that her family and associates generated more than $1.5 billion in illicit profits through kickbacks in virtually every sphere of government activity -- from rice deals, to the sell-off of government land, even rake-offs from government welfare schemes.

The Pakistani officials say their key break came last summer, when an informer offered to sell documents that appeared to have been taken from the Geneva office of Jens Schlegelmilch, whom Bhutto described as the family's attorney in Europe for more than 20 years, and as a close personal friend. Pakistani investigators have confirmed that the original asking price for the documents was $10 million. Eventually the seller traveled to London and concluded the deal for $1 million in cash.

The identity of the seller remains a mystery. Schlegelmilch, 55, developed his relationship with the Bhutto family through links between his Iranian-born wife and Bhutto's mother, who was also born in Iran. In a series of telephone interviews, he declined to say anything about Zardari and Bhutto, other than that he had not sold the documents. "It wouldn't be worth selling out for $1 million," he said.

The documents included: statements for several accounts in Switzerland, including the Citibank accounts in Dubai and Geneva; letters from executives promising payoffs, with details of the percentage payments to be made; memorandums detailing meetings at which these "commissions" and "remunerations" were agreed on, and certificates incorporating the offshore companies used as fronts in the deals, many registered in the British Virgin Islands.

The documents also revealed the crucial role played by Western institutions. Apart from the companies that made payoffs, and the network of banks that handled the money -- which included Barclay's Bank and Union Bank of Switzerland as well as Citibank -- the arrangements made by the Bhutto family for their wealth relied on Western property companies, Western lawyers and a network of Western friends.

As striking as some of the payoff deals was the clinical way in which top Western executives concluded them. The documents showed painstaking negotiations over the payoffs, followed by secret contracts. In one case, involving Dassault, the contract specified elaborate arrangements intended to hide the proposed payoff for the fighter plane deal, and to prevent it from triggering French corruption laws.

Because Pakistan's efforts to uncover the deals have been handled in recent months by close aides of Prime Minister Sharif, who has alternated with Bhutto at the head of four civilian governments in Pakistan since the end of military rule 10 years ago, the investigation has been deeply politicized. Last week, the Sharif aides forwarded 12 corruption cases cases against Bhutto, Zardari and Nusrat Bhutto to the country's "accountability commission," headed by a retired judge, who has the power to approve formal indictments.

Apart from bolstering Sharif's power by exposing Bhutto and her family, Sharif's aides hope to protect him against the possibility that she will one day return to office and turn the tables on him. Sharif, who is 48, battled for years during Bhutto's tenure to stay out of jail on a range of corruption charges, including allegations that he took millions of dollars in unsecured loans from state-owned banks for his family's steel empire, then defaulted.

The Heritage: Landowning Class Accustomed to Rule

The Bhuttos are among a few hundred so-called feudal families, mostly large landowners, that have dominated politics and business in Pakistan since its creation in 1947.

Bhutto's father was an Oxford-educated landowner who became Pakistan's prime minister in the 1970s, only to be ousted and jailed in 1977 when his military chief, Gen. Mohammed Zia ul-Haq, mounted a coup. Bhutto was hanged two years later, after he refused Zia's offer of clemency for a murder conviction that many Pakistanis regarded as politically tainted.

Benazir Bhutto, the eldest of four children, spent the next decade under house arrest, in jail or in self-imposed exile, campaigning against Zia's military regime.

In 1987 she married Zardari, little known then for anything but a passion for polo. It was an arranged union, with Bhutto's mother picking the groom. Many Pakistanis were startled by the social and financial differences. By the Bhuttos' standards, Zardari's family was of modest means, with limited holdings and a rundown movie theater in Karachi. Zardari's only experience of higher education was a stint at a commercial college in London.

In part the match was intended to protect Bhutto's political career by countering conservative Muslims' complaints about her unmarried status. Barely eight months later, in 1988, Zia was killed in a mysterious plane crash, which opened the way for Bhutto to win a narrow election victory.

Years later, many Pakistanis still speak of the mesmeric effect she had at that moment, as the daughter who had avenged her father and the politician who had restored democracy. But euphoria faded fast. Within months, newspapers were headlining allegations of dubious deals. In the bazaars, traders soon dubbed Zardari "Mr. 10 Percent."

Twenty months after she took office, Bhutto was dismissed by Pakistan's president on grounds of corruption and misrule. But the Sharif government that succeeded Bhutto was unable to secure any convictions against her or her husband before Sharif, in turn, was ousted from office, also for corruption and misrule.

Mostly, Pakistanis gave Bhutto the benefit of the doubt after her first term, saying she might not have known what Zardari was doing. She was further aided by public suspicion of Sharif's motives. A taciturn man who got his start in politics as a protege of Zia, Sharif has left little doubt of his chagrin at having been overshadowed by Bhutto.

Part of his discomfort stemmed from her success in fostering a favorable image for herself in the United States, as a staunch foe of Muslim fundamentalism, a relentless campaigner for the rights of the poor and -- a point she stressed in her Harvard speech in 1989 -- an opponent of leaders who use their power for personal gain, then "leave the cupboard bare."

When she took office as prime minister again, after a victory in 1993, Bhutto struck many of her friends as a changed person, obsessed with her dismissal in 1990, high-handed to the point of arrogance, and contemptuous of the liberal principles she had placed at the center of her politics in the 1980s. "She no longer made the distinction between the Bhuttos and Pakistan," said Hussain Haqqani, Bhutto's former press secretary. "In her mind, she was Pakistan, so she could do as she pleased."

Bhutto's twin posts, as prime minister and finance minister, gave her virtually free rein. Zardari became her alter ego, riding roughshod over the bureaucracy although he had no formal economic powers until Bhutto appointed him Investment Minister, reporting only to herself, in July 1996. They maintained an imperial lifestyle in the new prime minister's residence in Islamabad, a $50 million mansion set on 110 acres on an Islamabad hilltop.

Within days of moving in, Zardari ordered 11.5 acres of protected woodland on an adjoining hilltop to be bulldozed for a polo field, an exercise track, stabling for 40 polo ponies, quarters for grooms and a parking lot for spectators. When a senior government official, Mohammed Mehdi, objected to paying for the project with $1.3 million diverted from a budget for parks and other public amenities, Zardari "categorically told me that he does not appreciate his orders to be examined and questioned by any authority," according to an affidavit filed with the Pakistani investigators by Mehdi. A few months later, with the work in progress, Zardari had Mehdi dismissed.

The investigators say that Zardari and associates he brought into the government, some of them old school friends, began reviewing state programs for opportunities to make money. It was these broader activities, the investigators assert, more than the relatively small number of foreign deals revealed in the documents taken from the Swiss lawyer, that netted the largest sums for the Bhutto family.

Among the transactions Zardari exploited, according to these officials: defense contracts; power plant projects; the privatization of state-owned industries; the awarding of broadcast licenses; the granting of an export monopoly for the country's huge rice harvest; the purchase of planes for Pakistan International Airlines; the assignment of textile export quotas; the granting of oil and gas permits; authorizations to build sugar mills, and the sale of government lands.

The officials have said that Bhutto and Zardari took pains to avoid creating a documentary record of their role in hundreds of deals. How this was done was explained by Najam Sethi, a former Bhutto loyalist who became the editor of Pakistan's most popular political weekly, Friday Times, then was drafted to help oversee a corruption inquiry undertaken by the caretaker government that ruled for three months after Bhutto's dismissal in 1996.

Sethi said Bhutto and Zardari adopted a system under which they assigned favors by writing orders on yellow Post-It notes and attaching them to official files. After the deals were completed, Sethi said, the notes were removed, destroying all trace of involvement.

When Sharif won a landslide election victory earlier this year, the corruption inquiry appeared, again, to fizzle. But a few days before the election, the caretakers hired Jules Kroll Associates, a New York investigative agency, to look for evidence of corruption abroad. The Kroll investigators put out feelers in Europe; Sharif's aides said it was one of these that produced the offer to sell the Bhutto family documents, and that they took over from Kroll Associates and completed the deal.

The Negotiations: Flight and Crash of a Dassault Deal

Potentially the most lucrative deal uncovered by the documents involved the effort by Dassault Aviation, the French military contractor, to sell Pakistan 32 Mirage 2000-5 fighter planes. These were to replace two squadrons of American-made F-16s whose purchase was blocked when the Bush administration determined in 1990 that Pakistan was covertly developing nuclear weapons.

In April 1995, Dassault found itself in arm's-length negotiations with Zardari and Amer Lodhi, a Paris-based lawyer and banker who had lived for years in the United States, working among other things as an executive of the now-defunct Bank of Commerce and Credit International. Lodhi's sister, Maleeha, a former Pakistan newspaper editor, became Bhutto's ambassador to the United States in 1994.

Schlegelmilch, the Geneva lawyer, wrote a memo for his files describing his talks at Dassault's headquarters on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. According to the memo, the company's executives offered a "remuneration" of 5 percent to Marleton Business SA, an offshore company controlled by Zardari. The memo indicated that in addition to Dassault, the payoff would be made by two companies involved in the manufacture of the Mirages: Snecma, an engine manufacturer, and Thomson-CSF, a maker of aviation electronics.

The documents offered intriguing insights into the anxieties that the deal aroused. In a letter faxed to Geneva, the Dassault executives -- Jean-Claude Carrayrou, Dassault's director of legal affairs, and Pierre Chouzenoux, the international sales manager -- wrote that "for reasons of confidentiality," there would be only one copy of the contract guaranteeing the payoff. It would be kept at Dassault's Paris office, available to Schlegelmilch only during working hours.

The deal reached with Schlegelmilch reflected concerns about French corruption laws, which forbid bribery of French officials but permit payoffs to foreign officials, and even make the payoffs tax-deductible in France. The Swiss and the French have resisted American pressures to sign a worldwide treaty that would hold all businesses to the ethical standards of American law, which sets criminal penalties for bribing foreign officials.

"It is agreed that no part of the above-mentioned remuneration will be transferred to a French citizen, or to any company directly or indirectly controlled by French individuals or companies, or to any beneficiary of a resident or nonresident bank account in France," one of the Dassault documents reads.

Negotiations on the Mirage contract were within weeks of completion when Bhutto was dismissed by another Pakistani president in 1996. They have bogged down since, partly because Pakistan has run out of money to buy the planes, and partly because the Pakistan Army, still politically powerful a decade after the end of military rule, waited until Bhutto was removed to weigh in against the purchase.

A Dassault spokesman, Jean-Pierre Robillard, said Carrayrou, the legal affairs director, had retired. Two weeks after he was sent a summary of the documents, Robillard said that the company had decided to make no comment.

The Profits: Scams at Both Ends of Customs System

One deal that appears to have made a handsome profit for Zardari involved Pakistan's effort to increase its customs revenues. Since fewer than one in every 100 Pakistanis pays income tax, customs revenues represent the state's largest revenue source. But for decades the system has been corrupted, with businesses underinvoicing imports, or paying bribes, to escape duties.

In the 1980s Pakistan came under pressure from the International Monetary Fund to increase government revenues and to cut a runaway budget deficit. During Bhutto's first term, Pakistan entrusted preshipment "verification" of all major imports to two Swiss companies with blue-ribbon reputations, Societe Generale de Surveillance SA and a subsidiary, Cotecna Inspection SA. But the documents suggest that this stab at improving Pakistan's fiscal soundness was quickly turned to generating profits for the Bhutto family's accounts.

In 1994, executives of the two Swiss companies wrote promising to pay "commissions" totaling 9 percent to three offshore companies controlled by Zardari and Nusrat Bhutto. A Cotecna letter in June 1994 was direct: "Should we receive, within six months of today, a contract for inspection and price verification of goods imported into Pakistan," it read, "we will pay you 6 percent of the total amount invoiced and paid to the government of Pakistan for such a contract and during the whole duration of that contract and its renewal."

Similar letters, dated March and June 1994, were sent by Societe Generale de Surveillance promising "consultancy fees" of 6 percent and 3 percent to two other offshore companies controlled by the Bhutto family. According to Pakistani investigators, the two Swiss companies inspected more than $15.4 billion in imports into Pakistan from January 1995 to March 1997, making more than $131 million. The investigators estimated that the Bhutto family companies made $11.8 million from the deals, at least a third of which showed up in banking documents taken from the Swiss lawyer.

For Societe Generale de Surveillance, with 35,000 employees and more than $2 billion a year in earnings, the relationship with the Bhutto family has been painful. In addition to doing customs inspections, the company awards certificates of technical quality. In effect, its business is integrity.

In an interview in Geneva, Elisabeth Salina Amorini, president of Societe Generale, said the Pakistan contracts had been the subject of an internal company inquiry. But Ms. Salina Amorini, a 42-year-old lawyer, said the company had reorganized its government contracts division under a new executive and had sold Cotecna, acquired in 1994, back to the family that had previously owned it. The internal inquiry, she told reporters in Geneva last month, had shown "a number of inadequacies which enabled certain irregularities to take place."

Ms. Salina Amorini said in the interview that a study of Societe Generale's dealings with Pakistan had uncovered a $650 million shortfall in customs revenues that the Bhutto government was supposed to have collected over a 21-month period in 1995 and 1996. She said the company had reported the shortfall to Washington-based officials of the monetary fund and the World Bank, which monitor customs revenues to check Pakistan's compliance with conditions set for emergency loans. The conditions are meant to help the country avoid default on its foreign debt.

Officials at the two financial institutions are investigating the Swiss company's report to determine whether the customs system was corrupted at both ends -- from commissions paid to Bhutto family companies on the preshipment inspection contracts and, later, in illicit payments by Pakistani importers seeking to avoid customs duties.

The Gold Connection: Granting a License, Reaping a Profit

Pakistan's Arabian Sea coast, stretching from Karachi to the border with Iran, has long been a gold smugglers' haven. Until the beginning of Bhutto's second term, the trade, running into hundreds of millions of dollars a year, was unregulated, with slivers of gold called biscuits, and larger weights in bullion, carried on planes and boats that travel between the Persian Gulf and the largely unguarded Pakistani coast.

Shortly after Bhutto returned as prime minister in 1993, a Pakistani bullion trader in Dubai, Abdul Razzak Yaqub, proposed a deal: In return for the exclusive right to import gold, Razzak would help the government regularize the trade.

In January 1994, weeks after Bhutto began her second term, Schlegelmilch established a British Virgin Island company known as Capricorn Trading, SA, with Zardari as its principal owner. Nine months later, on Oct. 5, 1994, an account was opened at the Dubai offices of Citibank in the name of Capricorn Trading. The same day, a Citibank deposit slip for the account shows a deposit of $5 million by Razzak's company, ARY Traders. Two weeks later, another Citibank deposit slip showed that ARY had paid a further $5 million.

In Nov. 1994, Pakistan's Commerce Ministry wrote to Razzak informing him that he had been granted a license that made him, for at least the next two years, Pakistan's sole authorized gold importer. In an interview in his office in Dubai, Razzak acknowledged that he had used the license to import more than $500 million in gold into Pakistan, and that he had traveled to Islamabad several times to meet with Bhutto and Zardari. But he denied that there had been any secret deal. "I have not paid a single cent to Zardari," he said.

Razzak offered an unusual explanation for the Citibank documents that showed his company paying the $10 million to Zardari, suggesting that someone in Pakistan who wished to destroy his reputation had contrived to have his company wrongly identified as the depositor. "Somebody in the bank has cooperated with my enemies to make false documents," he said.

The Documentation: Erasing the Proofs of Secret Power

The Pakistani investigation of Bhutto's two terms in office has tied a range of overseas properties to her husband and other family members. Among these are Rockwood, a 355-acre estate south of London, and a $2.5 million country manor in Normandy. The listed owners of the manor, which is known as the House of the White Queen, are Hakim and Zarrin Zardari, Bhutto's parents-in-law, who had only modest assets when she married Zardari.

Other properties that Pakistani investigators have linked to members of the Bhutto family include a string of luxury apartments in London. Pakistan has asked the U.S. Justice Department to investigate still more bank accounts and properties, including a country club and a polo ranch in Palm Beach County, Fla., said to be worth about $4 million, that were bought by associates of Zardari in the mid-1990s.

The Pakistani request to Washington, made in December, also sought American help in checking allegations that some of Zardari's wealth may have come from Pakistani drug traffickers paying for protection. In the past decade, Pakistan and its neighbor Afghanistan have become the world's largest source of heroin, shipping 250 tons of it every year to Europe and the United States.

The purchase of overseas properties by well-connected members of the elite in a developing country is hardly a new phenomenon. But the disclosures about Bhutto's family have underscored a trend that international financial officials have long found troubling: the willingness of the monetary fund and the World Bank, which are substantially financed by the United States, to prop up economies like Pakistan's that have been bled dry by corruption.

A former high-ranking official of the World Bank in Islamabad who requested anonymity acknowledged that both institutions were all too willing to make additional loans on the vague promise that corruption would be reined in. "We made a mantra out of the phrase 'good governance,"' the official said, "as though we intended to try and stamp the corruption out. But the truth is that we turned a blind eye, telling ourselves this is the way things are done in Pakistan, and it's not our business to stop it."

In the years Bhutto was in office, Pakistan received billions of dollars in new loans, much of it to enable the country to pay interest on its debt. By 1996, interest on the accumulated public debt, including $32 billion in foreign loans, was absorbing nearly 70 percent of state revenues. With Pakistan's defense costs absorbing the remaining 30 percent, scarcely anything was left for the social programs that Bhutto had promised.

While The Times inquiry confirmed some of the allegations made by the Pakistani investigators, other matters remained unresolved. For example, none of the documents for the foreign bank accounts or offshore companies uncovered thus far bear Bhutto's name, nor do any of the letters promising payoffs make any mention of her.

The only document that refers to Bhutto is a handwritten ledger for an account at the Union Bank of Switzerland in Geneva. In Schlegelmilch's handwriting, the ledger contains the notation "50 percent AAZ 50 percent BB." This account showed deposits of $1.8 million for one 90-day period in 1994 and received at least $860,000 in payments by the two Swiss customs-inspection companies.

Some of Bhutto's friends say she cannot fairly be held accountable for her husband's questionable deals, since she was too busy as prime minister to know of them. Others say Bhutto, having lost her father and both of her brothers in tragic circumstances, became so dependent emotionally on Zardari, with whom she has three children, that she told friends she found it impossible to rein him in.

Her younger brother, Shahnawaz, died of poisoning in Cannes, France, in 1985 after a dispute that Murtaza Bhutto, her older brother, linked to arguments over family assets stashed in Switzerland. Murtaza Bhutto was killed by a police hit squad in Karachi in September 1986, after a long-running power struggle with his sister and her husband. Zardari has been charged with masterminding the second murder, but he and Bhutto say he was framed by their political enemies.

Officials in Bhutto's two governments tell another story, of Zardari's holding meetings on some of his deals in the prime minister's residence, and of his invoking his wife's authority when ordering officials to override regulations meant to prevent graft in the assignment of contracts.

Furthermore, several senior officials in Bhutto's governments said they had met with repeated rebuffs when they tried to warn her about Zardari. One senior minister said that when he had raised the issue, "She said, 'How dare you talk to me like that?' and stalked out."

Nor has Bhutto made any effort to distance herself from Zardari's activities. In the Karachi interview, she said her husband's deals had been made only for Pakistan's benefit. "He's a very generous person," she said. "His weakness, and his strength, is that he's always trying to help people."

The tax returns filed by Bhutto and her husband in her years in office give no hint of the wealth uncovered by the Pakistani inquiry. Bhutto, Zardari and Nusrat Bhutto declared assets totaling $1.2 million in 1996 and never told Pakistani authorities of any foreign bank accounts or properties, as required by law in Pakistan. Zardari declared no net assets at all in 1990, the year Bhutto's first term ended, and only $402,000 in 1996.

The family's income tax declarations were similarly modest. The highest income Bhutto declared was $42,200 in 1996, with $5,110 in tax. In two of her years as prime minister, 1993 and 1994, she paid no income tax at all. Zardari's highest declared income was $13,100, also in 1996, when interest on bank deposits he controlled in Switzerland exceeded that much every week.

Pakistan's inquiry is in its early phases, but it has already prompted international action. Swiss officials have frozen 17 bank accounts belonging to the Bhutto family, and authorities in Britain and France are searching for other accounts and properties. In recent weeks, Bhutto has maintained a heavy travel schedule, flying between Pakistan, Dubai and Geneva, as well as between London and New York, a route that she flew on a supersonic Concorde in October.

Bhutto described the investigation as a persecution. At one point she attacked the Clinton administration, saying it had ignored her plight while deploring the treatment of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese opposition leader and Nobel laureate who has suffered various forms of persecution by the Burmese military.

"This is the most horrendous human rights record, what is happening to me, the former prime minister of Pakistan," Bhutto said. "It is shocking to see that the Clinton administration talks so much about Burma, when this is happening to a woman who leads the opposition here." Tears welling in her eyes, she added, "The Bhuttos have suffered so much for Pakistan."

The First Government of Benazir Bhutto

Benazir Bhutto, the first woman prime minister of a modern Muslim state, is clearly the beneficiary of dynastic politics and of the emotional ties of a large section of the electorate to her charismatic family. However, this legacy as the daughter of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto has proven to be a mixed political blessing. Although she inherited her father's party, the PPP, and has led it to victory, the party won a very narrow plurality in the 1988 elections and was therefore forced to enter into a coalition with the MQM (representing Pakistan's muhajir community) and several other parties in order to form a government. Benazir wanted to repeal the Eighth Amendment in order to strengthen her position as prime minister but could not muster sufficient political support and soon abandoned the effort. Benazir also faced not only the old problems of the political role of the military forces, the division of power between the central and provincial governments, and the role of Islam, but also pressing new ones, including a large budget deficit and growing ethnic violence.

Several early actions appeared to strengthen Benazir's ability to deal with these problems. In choosing her cabinet, for example, Benazir kept the portfolios of finance and defense for herself but appointed a seasoned bureaucrat, Wasim Jafari, as her top adviser on finance and economic affairs. Her retention of Zia's foreign minister, Sahibzada Yaqub Khan, signaled continuity in pursuit of the country's policy on Afghanistan. Also, when working out their political coalition, the MQM agreed to support the PPP government at both federal and provincial levels. The agreement, signed by the Sindh-based MQM and the head of the PPP in Sindh, pledged to protect and safeguard the interests of all the people of Sindh, regardless of language, religion, or origin of birth, as well as to stamp out violence and to support the rule of law. The agreement--short-lived, as it turned out--was an effort to achieve peace and cooperation between the indigenous population and the muhajirs in Benazir's troubled home province.

Benazir's assumption of office brought great expectations from inside as well as outside Pakistan. In her first address to the nation, Benazir pledged to work for a progressive and democratic Pakistan--one guided by Islamic principles of brotherhood, equality, and tolerance. At the same time, she invoked the Quaid-i-Azam's vision for a Pakistan that would grow as a modern state. Benazir's rhetoric soared, promising much to an expectant nation: strengthened relations with the United States, the Soviet Union, and China; protected minority rights; increased provincial autonomy; improvement of education; introduction of a comprehensive national health policy; enhanced rights for women, with equal pay for equal work; and the like. When faced with the hard realities of government, however, most of Benazir's rhetoric did not translate into action. Although she was successful in advancing the democratization process in Pakistani politics and was able to achieve warmer relations with the United States and, for a short while, with India as well, Benazir's first term in office is usually looked back upon, by both foreign and domestic observers, as ineffectual--a period of governmental instability. Within months she had lost much of her political support.

The scion of the feudal elite of Sindh, the Harvardand Oxford-educated Benazir was often described as autocratic during her first term. Although she spoke of healing wounds and putting an end to the past, she was inexorably tied to her father's political legacy, which included harsh repression of political opposition. Further, her appointment of her mother, Nusrat, as a senior minister without portfolio, followed by the selection of her father-in-law as chairman of the parliamentary public accounts committee, was viewed in some quarters as ill-advised nepotism. Benazir's government also set up the controversial Placement Bureau, which made political appointments to the civil bureaucracy, although the bureau was later abolished. Benazir let the political legacy of her family intrude, for example, when able public servants, who had earlier harbored disagreements with her father, were dismissed for reasons other than job performance.

Benazir also had to contend with growing political opposition. As a political power broker, she was in the late 1980s no match for her main rival, then chief minister of Punjab, Nawaz Sharif. In the 1988 elections that brought Benazir to power, her party had won the largest number of seats in the National Assembly but controlled only one of the four provinces. Punjab, the most populous province, with over half of Pakistan's population, came under the control of the opposition IJI and of its leader, Nawaz Sharif, who was the only major political figure from the Zia era to survive the reemergence of the PPP. To maintain her power and implement her programs, Benazir would have needed to maneuver successfully between a powerful president and the military elite and to reach a political accommodation with Nawaz Sharif. Instead, she pursued a course of confrontation, including unsuccessful efforts to overthrow him in the provincial assembly. In addition, the failure of the PPP to share power and spoils with its coalition partners caused further alienation, including the withdrawal of the MQM from the government in October 1989.

The public's sense of disillusionment deepened as the government failed to deliver its promised employment and economic development programs. Inflation and unemployment were high, and the country's burgeoning population put increased pressure on already overburdened education and health systems. The government also failed to deal with the country's growing drug abuse problem, and there was opposition from religious conservatives who distrusted the degree of Benazir's commitment to the state's Islamic principles. Despite tensions, disagreements, and mutual misgivings, however, Benazir continued to be supported by the armed forces. The chief of the army staff, General Mirza Aslam Beg, publicly stated his intention to maintain a politically neutral army.

Benazir narrowly survived a no-confidence motion in the National Assembly in October 1989. Her government did not compile a record of accomplishment that might have helped to offset her other difficulties. No new legislation was passed, and fewer than a dozen bills, all minor amendments to existing legislation, passed the National Assembly. Benazir complained that legislation was stymied because the Senate was dominated by her opposition.

Benazir's problems were further accentuated in February 1990 when an MQM-directed strike in Karachi escalated into rioting that virtually paralyzed the city. The strike had been called to protest the alleged abduction of MQM supporters by the PPP. The resulting loss of life and property forced Benazir to call in the army to restore order. In addition to the violence in Sindh and elsewhere, she had to cope with increasing charges of corruption leveled not only at her associates, but at her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, and father-in-law. On the international front, Pakistan faced heightened tensions with India over Kashmir and problems associated with the unresolved Afghan war.

Finally, on August 6, 1990, President Ghulam Ishaq Khan dismissed the Benazir government, dissolved the National Assembly as well as the Sindh and North-West Frontier Province provincial assemblies, and appointed a caretaker government headed by Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi, the leader of the Combined Opposition Parties in the National Assembly. In accordance with the constitution, the president scheduled national and provincial elections for October 1990. Ishaq Khan said his actions were justified because of corruption, incompetence, and inaction; the release of convicted criminals under the guise of freeing political prisoners; a failure to maintain law and order in Sindh; and the use of official government machinery to promote partisan interests. A nationwide state of emergency was declared, citing both "external aggression and internal disturbance." Benazir called her dismissal "illegal, unconstitutional, and arbitrary" and implied that the military was responsible. She added that the PPP would not take to the streets to avoid giving Ghulam Ishaq Khan's regime's any pretext for not holding scheduled elections. The military proclaimed that its only interest was in maintaining order.
Pakistani high court upholds Bhutto's dismissal

Benazir Bhutto lost a bid to regain office when Pakistan's highest court ruled yesterday that her ousted government was corrupt. New elections will be held as planned Monday.

A lawyer for the former prime minister called the ruling disappointing. Bhutto said it was expected.

President Farooq Leghari used his constitutional powers to dismiss Bhutto's government Nov. 5, two years before her term expired. He accused her of driving Pakistan toward economic ruin, stealing billions from the national treasury and using police in the southern city of Karachi to quash a rival political movement.

Bhutto denied the charges and accused the president of dismissing her government in an attempt to consolidate power. But Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah told a packed courtroom there was abundant evidence to support them.

In a 6-1 ruling, the judges upheld the president's actions and ordered Monday's general elections to go ahead as scheduled.

"There is significant proof of corruption," Shah said. "There is enough evidence which shows the government was involved in extrajudicial killings."

Bhutto's government was accused of sanctioning police hit squads that targeted members of the opposition political group Mohajir Qami Movement. The movement represents Indian Muslims who fled to Pakistan when the country was created in 1947.

Hundreds of riot police surrounded the white marble courthouse, wearing helmets and holding steel shields. About a dozen women pelted police with stones and tried to storm the gate of the courthouse when the decision was announced. Earlier, they lay down on a road and blocked traffic.

In Karachi, Bhutto told reporters she wanted to withdraw her legal challenge two days ago because she did not expect justice, but her lawyers persuaded her to await the decision.

Her lawyer, Aitzaz Ahsan said the ruling "was disappointing."

A lawyer for the president, Khalid Anwat, said the judgment sent a warning to future governments "not to go beyond the law, not to take dictatorial power."

Bhutto is a candidate in Monday's election and has threatened to contest the results if her Pakistan People's Party wins fewer than 90 seats in the 207-seat National Assembly or lawmaking lower house of Parliament.

The Supreme Court said the only allegation made by the president that could not be substantiated was that her husband was involved in the fatal shooting of her brother last September.

The president said that Asif Ali Zardari may have been involved in the shooting and may have interfered with the police investigation.

Zardari was investment minister in his wife's government and was known to his detractors as "Mr. 40 Percent," a reference to the alleged kickbacks he demanded of potential business contacts.

The court's ruling has no impact on the charges against him in connection with the shooting.

Campaigning for next week's elections has been low-key. The interim government has banned the use of posters and loudspeakers and has outlawed large rallies.

Nawaz Sharif, whose own government was dismissed on corruption charges in 1993, but reinstituted in a Supreme Court decision, is considered the front-runner.

Ms. Bhutto inherited the leadership of her late father's populist party after he was deposed by military strongman Gen. Mohammed Zia-ul Haq in a bloodless coup in 1977, then executed two years later. After several months in prison, Ms. Bhutto was allowed to leave the country.

She returned triumphantly to Pakistan in 1986 after Zia announced an end to eight years of military rule.

She was elected prime minister in 1988 in the first free elections in more than a decade, but her first government was dismissed after only 20 months amid similar charges of corruption and incompetence. She was re-elected in 1993.


She was once a model for feminists: a Harvard University graduate chosen over two brothers as her father's political successor; an opposition leader who endured imprisonment and house arrest; the first woman to rule an Islamic country; and a populist who presided over her nation's transition from martial rule to democracy.

But these days former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is being viewed by many as proof that female leaders are no better than male ones.

Having lost elections for a third term almost two years ago after dismissal for widespread corruption and mismanagement, the 45-year-old Bhutto is now fighting for her political survival and her life. Pakistani investigators uncovered foreign bank accounts in her and her family's name worth a staggering $1.4 to 1.6 billion. Ample evidence suggests the money came from an extensive pattern of kickbacks from foreign companies during the Bhutto Administration, most received by the prime minister's husband, Asif Ali Zardari. Also, Zardari has been imprisoned on charges that he murdered his wife's brother.

The Bhuttos' troubles are not just in Pakistan. In mid-July, a court in Switzerland, where the couple has bank accounts, charged Zardari with money-laundering, and was preparing to charge his wife also.

Although she admits to being wealthy and having bank accounts abroad, Bhutto has denied having looted money. Bhutto believes she and Zardari are being framed by her successor, Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif. In the Western limelight, Bhutto has blamed her problems on sexism: "I feel that the venom directed against me in the corruption charges, or the so-called murder charges against my husband, are due to the fact that I had challenged the entrenched culture of tradition and pride which predominated in the subcontinent for centuries,'' Bhutto said during the recent first summit of the Council of Women World Leaders at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, as reported in Reuters.

But most Pakistani female activists are not among Bhutto's defenders. Rahila Tiwana, a former student leader in Bhutto's party, said Bhutto herself benefited from that "centuries-old system of the subcontinent" she now blames for her problems, having inherited political power from her father.

"Bhutto has always tried to earn people's sympathies by portraying herself as bereaved," said Tiwana.

Many female activists were bitterly disappointed by the Bhutto regimes. They had hoped the election of a woman would mean dramatic changes in this ultra-conservative Islamic nation. Although Pakistan's 1973 constitution forbids discrimination on the basis of race, sex or religion, women face legal discrimination in many areas: Rape victims must produce four witnesses or face imprisonment -- and even death by stoning -- for adultery; a woman cannot marry without a male guardian's permission; a wife married to a foreigner cannot pass on citizenship to her husband or child. Honour killings against women for alleged adultery, domestic violence and rape are serious problems.

Under Bhutto, Pakistan became a signatory of the International Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, but the situation for women didn't improve, said activists. A newly-formed Women Rights' Committee, comprised of women's activists and government officials, presented proposals to the government, but none were ever implemented, according to the committee's head, Rashida Patel, head of the Pakistan Women Lawyers Association.

"On a national level, and particularly on a woman's level, the Bhutto government disappointed us," said Anis Haroon, founder of the Women's Action Forum. "Although we felt more space during her regime, she did nothing in particular for women. We made proposals several times to the Bhutto government to change [discriminatory] laws, but in vain."

Activists charge that Bhutto did not try hard enough to push through legislation that would reestablish a quota of women's seats in parliament. Only one percent of Pakistan's parliament is female.

But others argue that the failure to pass pro-women's legislation lay with the legislature, and that Bhutto's fragile coalition government included several conservative religious parties protective of any changes in Islamic laws. Moreover, these supporters add, under Bhutto the lives of women did improve: They were appointed for the first-time as judges on higher courts; a five percent women's quota was set in government jobs; separate police stations for women were established; a campaign against domestic violence began on electronic media; and a women's bank was established with branches nationwide.

"Benazir's [actions on behalf of] women were impressive in a very conservative male-dominated society," said Sheen Farrukh, former editor of a family magazine.

Bhutto's biography is of a woman who managed to reach the top within this male-dominated society. She was born into an important and wealthy political family from the backward rural area of Sindh province. Although he had two sons, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, raised his eldest daughter to continue his legacy. In 1971, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, head of the Pakistan People's Party which his daughter would later head, became prime minister on an anti-feudal and anti-capitalist platform. But six years later, he was overthrown by General Ziaul Haq after a military coup. In 1979, the new regime hanged the elder Bhutto on charges, trumped-up many believe, of harboring the murder suspect of a political opponent.

His daughter spent three years in house arrest by the martial regime. Upon her release in 1984, she fled to England where she studied at Oxford University and planned her return. Two years later, Bhutto came back to Pakistan where she was welcomed by hundreds of thousands of supporters. She was popular, not only because of her name, but because of her intellect, charismatic personality and populist image. Arrested again, Bhutto led the fight for the restoration of democracy in Pakistan from her prison cell. The tall, slim woman with the fair complexion, finely chiseled face and duppata (head covering) became an international human rights symbol.

The turning point in the country's political history came in August 1988 with General Zia-ul-Haq's death in a plane crash. General elections were held a few months later, and Bhutto won with a simple majority. Several legislatures from religious parties refused to participate in the vote to ratify Bhutto's nomination as prime minister because of her gender. Others believed that Pakistan was poised for a major transformation.

But many Pakistanis were disappointed with Bhutto's administration. She made few improvements in the staggering problems of widespread illiteracy, lack of proper medical care, and international debts -- not to mention women's problems. And there were charges of corruption, particularly involving her husband.

Less than a year before her election, Bhutto wed Asif Zardari, scion of a small political family in Sindh province, through a match arranged by her mother. Observers were surprised that Bhutto married into a family so beneath her own's wealth and prominence. But marriage was necessary in a nation where unmarried women past a certain age -- let alone those who are public figures -- are considered suspect.

"Seven days after I met Asif, we were engaged," Benazir wrote in her 1989 autobiography, Daughter of the East, written in English and still selling in Pakistan. "An arranged marriage was the price in personal choice I had to pay for the political path my life had taken."

As it would happen, the marriage would prove integral to Bhutto's political downfall.

Twenty months after serving in office, Bhutto was dismissed by the president for corruption. In 1993, the newly elected government fell and elections were held again bringing Bhutto back to office. But her new administration once again fell short of its promises, and the corruption charges resurfaced.

Zardari, who was made Federal Minister for Investment and Environment accountable only to his wife, was rumored to be receiving millions of dollars in bribes from a range of foreign corporations doing business with Pakistan, and had earned the street sobriquet of "Mr. Ten Percent." His largest deal allegedly involved a Middle East gold dealer who deposited $10 million into one of Zardari's bank accounts after the government gave him a monopoly on gold imports. Particularly troubling for many Pakistanis, who have a per capita income of about $2,000, was a $4 million opulent mansion he bought in Britain's Surrey countryside under an assumed name and about which Benazir Bhutto claims to know nothing. She has herself even suggested that perhaps he bought it for another woman. Some Bhutto supporters contend that the former prime minister is a woman wronged by her husband, who is now being unfairly blamed for his crimes.

In November 1996, Bhutto was again ousted from power for corruption, mismanagement and incompetence. Soon after, Zardari, a member of Pakistan's Senate, was jailed and faces the death penalty for allegedly approving the death of his brother-in-law. Murtaza Bhutto was killed by a police hit squad in 1996 after a family power struggle.

In February 1997 elections, Sharif was elected with a thumping majority and set up a committee to investigate his predecessor. Bhutto faces the possibility of a jail sentence, although it is unlikely, given her continued support by many.

Bhutto remains a popular figure internationally, who lectures worldwide and is often called upon by the media to represent her nation, such as during Pakistan's recent decision to detonate a nuclear bomb. Back home, Bhutto sits in the National Assembly's lower house and is an outspoken opposition leader who has decried the state of the national budget and imposition of emergency law following the nuclear bomb detonation. Her Pakistani People's Party recently joined an alliance of opposition parties to become the Pakistan Awami Itihad (Pakistan People's Alliance) that is mobilizing supporters through rallies, and hopes to bring down the government.

Although the fledgling alliance has little support due to its unclear agenda, it could become increasingly popular as Pakistanis become fed up with their nation's problems including inflation and increased lawlessness. While she has said that she is not interested in becoming prime minister again and would just like to become a "moral figure" within her party, Bhutto is still young, and her name is still revered in parts of Pakistan. Under the right conditions, she could return to power.

Benazir Bhutto: Comeback Kid?

Benazir Bhutto, world-class political pugilist, is refusing to go down for the count. For over a year now, this twice-elected, twice-deposed ex-prime minister of Pakistan, has seemed to be on the ropes. Her next term looked more likely to be served in prison than in parliament. Her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, is already a longtime resident of Karachi Central Jail and Benazir herself was served with an arrest warrant by the Sindh High Court on charges of abuse of power. Magistrates in Britain and Switzerland are formally investigating claims of corruption and drug-dealing against the Bhutto family. The United States, France and Spain also have been asked to help trace overseas stashes of ill-gotten gains. And yet to see Benazir Bhutto taunt the government in the National Assembly, rouse a rally of tens of thousands in her rival’s home base and cajole former enemies into an anti-government alliance, is to watch an indefatigably resilient politician at work. Bhutto started on her comeback offensive, spurred on by two things: the growing unpopularity, ineffectiveness and internal discord of the government that replaced her; and the bogging down of the so-called accountability process aimed at indicting her and her husband for massive corruption. She was recently blocked in a first effort to turn the table against her pursuers by initiating cases to disqualify them from politics for failing to disclose hidden assets. This same charge, levied against Benazir, would be the simplest way for the government to remove her from the field of battle. The fact that this has not been done and that none of the major corruption charges against her and her husband has yet resulted in a court trial in Pakistan has raised serious doubts about whether the government actually intends to carry its anti-corruption crusade to its logical conclusion.

MacFarquhar01.jpg Benazir Bhutto, former prime minister of Pakistan, and her spouse Asif Zardari, left, arrive in Rawadlpindi, Pakistan on July 28th to face charges of corruption and looting of public money during their tenure. Bhutto claims the charges are part of a campaign by her political enemy, the current Premier, Nawaz Sharif.

The reason many Pakistanis are skeptical that Benazir Bhutto will ever be convicted of corruption is that this would set a dangerous precedent in a country where no senior figure has ever been made to pay a price for looting the public till. In 1996 Transparency International, a non-governmental watchdog group in Berlin, named Pakistan as the second most corrupt country in the world. It has since slipped to number five but few people would argue that the level of Pakistani corruption has significantly diminished. When Benazir was in power, her government estimated that its predecessor, Nawaz Sharif, had stolen some $1.2 billion. Back in office, the Nawaz team claims that the Bhutto-Zardari family got away with $1.5 billion to $2 billion. How much of this is provable is besides the point. Both sides have closets-full of damning evidence against the other and, once one set is used to lethal effect, the chances are greatly enhanced that the wheels of justice will one day reverse direction. It may be that those wheels have already gone too far to be stopped. On April 2, the Bow Street magistrates court in London began cross-examining witnesses to establish whether bank accounts and properties belonging to the Bhutto family in Britain were financed by profits from drug-dealing. Britain is cooperating with Pakistan in these investigations under the Vienna convention which guarantees mutual assistance among signatories in cases related to drug trafficking. According to Pakistan’s lawyers in Britain, Asif Ali Zardari had business dealings with at least 10 known drug lords, including four who were extradited to the United States and interviewed in American jails. An anti-narcotics court in Pakistan brought formal charges against Zardari. If he is found to have knowingly profited from narcotics offences, he would be subject to imprisonment of 5 to 14 years. Benazir Bhutto is not directly implicated in the drug charges. But in drug enforcement as in other many areas, she chose a fox to guard the chicken coop: the man she appointed as chairman of parliament’s All-Party Committee on Narcotics was arrested a year later carrying 35 kilos of heroin and 30 kilos of hashish in his car.

MacFarquhar02.jpg Benazir Bhutto, former prime minister of Pakistan and leader of its opposition, held a news conference last spring in Islamabad, Pakistan to describe the current prime minister’s performance as “zero.” She accused the government of failing to provide security to people while bomb explosions are routine in the country.

Bhutto’s name does not appear on any of the bank accounts or property deeds in Britain or the numerous bank accounts in Switzerland or more than a dozen dummy companies set up in the British Virgin Islands that have been traced to her husband and her mother. The only document connecting Benazir to any of these overseas assets is a handwritten ledger taken from the family money-manager in Geneva, with the notation that 50% of one account belonged to AAZ (Zardari) and 50% to BB (Benazir). So even if the British court upholds the charges it is investigating and even if the Swiss magistrate, now examining sources of funds in Swiss accounts, concludes that they include the proceeds of corruption, Benazir Bhutto herself could not be held accountable for earning or hiding illicit profits.

The accounts in Switzerland, known to contain at least $13 million and perhaps much more, have been frozen since last autumn. The British accounts will be frozen only if Pakistan can provide some additional information demanded by the Home Office. But since the threat has been hanging in the air for months, it would be surprising if any of the accounts already identified contains more than sixpence. The most notorious of the real estate holdings linked to Bhutto and husband - a $4 million mansion in Surrey, surrounded by 355 acres with helipad and stabling for dozens of polo ponies - is rumored to have been resold.

MacFarquhar03.jpg Benazir Bhutto spoke to the press last August in Islamabad after lodging a complain of corruption and tax evasion against Pakistanti Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Bhutto has asked for an early trial in the case.

The Bhutto-Zardari family is also reported to have accounts in at least four banks in France, seven in the United States, two properties in Texas, six in Florida and several homes in France but legal processes to freeze or confiscate them have yet to begin. The Americans are treating the search for laundered loot and drug links as a political timebomb, classified as top secret. The French are also skittish about launching investigations which may end up confirming reports that tens of millions of dollars in kickbacks were paid by French state enterprises on sales of submarines and aircraft to Pakistan.

For Benazir Bhutto, the international asset hunt is about much more than money. It is about the political future of the Bhutto dynasty and the Pakistan People’s party (PPP), founded by her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, 30 years ago. And it could also be about her 10-year marriage to Asif Ali Zardari. When Bhutto was thrown out of office for the second time in November 1996, massive corruption ranked high among the charges against her. Three months later Pakistani voters handed her and her party a devastating election defeat. Her public humiliation was compounded in September last year when reports surfaced of multi-millions of dollars salted away in foreign accounts. Pakistani commentators were nearly unanimous in writing her off. Today they are not so sure. In just a few weeks, she has re-emerged as Benazir Reclux, still a pyrotechnic orator, master political manipulator and the biggest crowd-puller in Pakistan. Even among the chattering classes, the charisma is still there. When the Harvard- and Oxford-educated beauty waltzed through Lahore a few weeks ago, invitations to lunches, dinners and late night chats with her were the hottest tickets in town.

Bhutto’s resurgence is due to her talents, her fighting spirit but also to the barrenness of Pakistan’s political landscape which leaves her the only viable alternative to a successor who is not delivering the goods. But she still carries heavy baggage in the shape of a husband who is widely blamed for turning her second administration into a profit center for the benefit of the first couple and a circle of cronies. The loyalest of the loyal insist that Benazir was duped by the machinations of an avaricious (and womanizing) mate. More skeptical supporters admit that Benazir must have known what her husband was up to and probably collaborated with him. They see only one way she can hope to regain power: by dumping Asif Ali Zardari.

For Zardari, who is now in jail on two murder charges, this calculation may be his strongest protection. The last thing Benazir’s enemies want to do is to assist her political rehabilitation by eliminating her biggest liability. For 44-year-old Benazir, love and three young children are strong bonds tying her to her dashing rogue of a husband. But for a member of Pakistan’s pre-eminent political dynasty, there may be another love that conquers all: the love of power.
Biography of Benazir Bhutoo

Benazir Bhutto (1953- ), Pakistani political leader, who served as first female prime minister of a Muslim country, she served for Pakistan from 1988 to 1990 and from 1993 to 1996. Born into a wealthy landholding family with a tradition of political activism in southeastern Sindh province, Bhutto enjoyed a privileged childhood

Bhutto was educated at Harvard's Radcliffe College in the United States and at the University of Oxford in England, where she excelled in studies as well as other activities including debating competitions, she was the first Asian woman to be elected president of the Oxford Union. The daughter of a intelligent and Charismatic Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (1971-1977), she returned to Pakistan in june 1977, planning on a career in the foreign service. But only two weeks later, however, military officers led by General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq , capitalizing on public protests of disputed parliamentary elections overthrew Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in a bloodless coup. Benazir Bhutto spent the next eighteen months in and out of house arrest as she struggled to rally political support to force Zia to drop fallacious murder charges against her father. The military dictator ignored worldwide appeals for clemency and had Zulfikar Bhutto hanged in April of 1979.

Bhutto's persecution began in earnest after the dismissal of her father's government in 1977 and his execution in 1979 as she intensified her denunciations of Zia and sought to organize a political movement against him. Repeatedly put under house arrest, she was finally imprisoned under solitary confinement in a desert cell in Sindh province during the summer of 1981. Bhutto described the hellish conditions in her wall less cage in "Daughter of Destiny":

"The summer heat turned my cell into an oven. My skin split and peeled, coming off my hands in sheets. Boils erupted on my face. My hair, which had always been thick, began to come out by the handful. Insects crept into the cell like invading armies. Grasshoppers, mosquitoes, stinging flies, bees and bugs came up through the cracks in the floor and through the open bars from the courtyard. Big black ants, cockroaches, seething clumps of little red ants and spiders. I tried pulling the sheet over my head at night to hide from their bites, pushing it back when it got too hot to breathe."

Released in 1984, she went into exile in Britain until 1986, when martial law was lifted in Pakistan.She returned with a huge crowd numbering in the hundreds of thousands turned out on the streets to greet her, by then the leading symbol of the anti-Zia movement, when she returned to Lahore in April of 1986. Formally elected chair in the following month, Bhutto lost no time in organising mass protests and civil disobedience campaigns to pressure Zia to relinquish office and call national elections. Bhutto's stirring oratory, familiar name, and striking appearance helped give her a strong mass appeal, but she had to struggle to wrest real power from the PPP's old-guard leadership, members of which were wary of her gender, youth, and political wisdom. Supported by tumultuous crowds, Bhutto again called for fresh elections, resulting in another short prison term that same year. She also had to contend with internal dissension among the anti-Zia forces.

In 1988 Zia was killed in an airplane crash, less than three months after announcing that elections would take place. In the November elections the PPP gained a huge popularity in the National Assembly, and in December 1988 Bhutto, 35 only became prime minister of Pakistan, the first woman to hold this office in any modern Islamic state. During her first term, Her objective was to return Pakistan to civilian rule and oust the men who executed her father, she also started Peoples Program for economic uplift of the masses. Benazir Bhutto lifted a ban on student and trade unions. The PPP. Government hosted the fourth S. A. A. R. C. Summit held in Islamabad, in December 1988.

In August 1990, however, President Ghulam Ishaq Khan dismissed her, charging her with incompetence and corruption. ,The President and the Caretaker Prime Minister filed a series of references against Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. Her husband, Mr. Asif Ali Zardari was arrested and imprisoned for over two years on a number of up charges.

Her party was soundly defeated in the elections that followed in November 1990, and Bhutto became an opposition leader in the parliament. Subsequent attempts to oust the ruling party resulted in Bhutto’s deportation to the city of Karachi in 1992, and she was temporarily banned from entering Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan.

Addressing at UN

In July 1993, the President of Pakistan dismissed the Government of Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif on corruption charges and called for fresh elections. The Pakistan Peoples Party went to the people in October, 1993 with a new "Agenda for Change". The programme envisaged government at the door-step of the people and priority to the social sectors. Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto was again elected Prime Minister with a broad mandate after achieving strong popular support in all the four provinces of Pakistan .

Bhutto's platform has been leftist, including food for the hungry, health care, jobs, slum clearance and a monthly minimum wage.

She has been opposed by Islamic fundamentalists who have been suspicious of the PPP because of its alleged leftist.

Due to Benazir’s Personal world popularity, during her term Pakistan’s relation with other countries improved ,her moderate foreign policy had been credited for improving the wrong image of Pakistan around the world ,however domestically she and her party have been widely blamed for excessive corruption.

Benazir again faced trouble from the opposition. In the autumn of 1994, Nawaz Sharif led a "train march" from Karachi to Peshawar. This was followed by general strike on September 20. Two weeks later Nawaz Sharif called a "wheel jam" strike on October 11.

Bhutto was dismissed from office for the second time in late 1996. In October, large street demonstrations shut down the capital, and Bhutto aroused criticism when she had arrested several rival party leaders who had participated in the demonstrations.

Bhutto came under pressure from the press and public, who charged her government with corruption and mismanagement. On November 5, 1996, President of Pakistan Farooq Leghari dismissed Prime Minister Bhutto and dissolved the National Assembly.

Bhutto's husband, Zardari, was the focus of much of the criticism. She had appointed him to the cabinet post of investment minister. He was accused of taking bribes and pocketing money from government contracts. President Leghari also charged that Zardari was responsible for "extrajudicial killings" in Karachi, where Bhutto rivals had been killed by police.She denounced all charges as politically motivated, and went into self-imposed exile. In 2001 the Supreme Court of Pakistan suspended a high court’s 1999 conviction of Bhutto, ordering a retrial, but in a separate trial Bhutto was sentenced in absentia to three years in prison. She is currently still in self-exile in London and faces charges if she returns back.

She has been mentioned as "The world's most popular politician" in the New Guinness Book of Record 1996.

The "Times" and the "Australian Magazine" (May 4, 1996) have drawn up a list of 100 most powerful women and have included Benazir Bhutto as one of them.

She has received many honoury degrees and awards from several countries.

She also lectures and takes part in several major world events.


Benazir Bhutto is the author of two books "Foreign Policy in Perspective" (1978) and her autobiography, "Daughter of the East" (1989). Several collections of her speeches and works have been compiled which include "The Way Out", Pakistan Foreign Policy, Challenges and Responses in the Post-Cold War era in "After the Cold War" by Keith Philip Lepor and Male Domination of Women offends her Islamic religion in "Lend Me Your ears: Great Speeches in History" by William Saffire. "The Way Out" (1980). She has also contributed to many periodicals and to the books, "Predictions for the Next Millennium" by Kristof and Nickerson and "Book of Hopes and Dreams" published by Bookmaster Inc.


Bruno Kreisky Award of Merit in human Rights, 1988.

Honorary Phi Beta Kappa Award (1989), presented by Radcliffe College.

Highest Moroccan Award "Grand Cordon de Wissam Alaoui"

Highest French Award "Grand-croix de la Legion Honneur" (1989)

The Noel Foundation Award, 1990 (UNIFEM).

The Gakushuin Honorary Award, Tokyo (1996)

Award by the Turkish Independent Industries and Businessmen Association (MUSAID) on account of providing assistance to the people of Bosnia.

Golden medal Dragon of Bosnia awarded by President of Bosnia (1996)

Key to the city of Los Angeles, presented by the Mayor of Los Angeles (1995)

Presidential Medal, Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Science (1995)

Medal by University of California at Los Angeles (1995)

Honorary Doctorate of Law, L.L.D Harvard University (1989)

Honorary Doctorate of Law (Honoris Causa), University of Sindh (1994)

Honorary Doctorate from Mendanao State University, Philippines (1995)

Honorary Doctorate of Law (Honoris Causa), Peshawar University (1995)

Honorary Doctorate of Economics, Gakushuin University, Tokyo (1996)

Honorary Fellowship by Lady Margaret Hall, University Oxford, (1989)

Honorary Fellowship by St. Catherine College, University of Oxford, (1989)

Honorary Professor of the Kyrghyz State National University (1995) Kyrghyzstan.

Honorary Professor of Yassavi Kazakh Turkish University, Kazakh-Turkish International Language University, Kazakhstan, 1995.

Honorable Member of OHYUKAI, Alumni Association of Gakushuin, conferred by OHYUKAI Tokyo (1996).

Awarded the 2000 Millennium Medal of Honor by American Biographical Institute, Inc. in November 1998. Awarded American Academy Award of Achievement in London, October 28, 2000

Pakistan gets $2.4 million from Benazir Bhutto's Swiss bank account

Pakistan is to get back $2.4 million that former prime minister Benazir Bhutto allegedly received in kickbacks for purchasing tractors from Poland and parked in a Swiss bank account.

A Swiss court ordered November 18 that the money be returned to Pakistan, The News reported Sunday.

The money was seized from the account of Dargal Associated SA, a shell company floated by Bhutto and her husband Asif Ali Zardari. The kickbacks had been deposited in Cantrade Ormond Burrus Banque Privee SA (now Ferrier Lullin et Cie SA) in Geneva.

Bhutto, who lives in exile, divides her time between London and Dubai, and faces arrest on graft charges if she returns home. Zardari is in jail in Pakistan on similar charges. Both have denied charges of illegal gratification.

Pakistan filed a mutual legal assistance request in 1997 for the return of the money.

"The implementation of the request for mutual legal assistance has clearly established that the assets seized with Banque Cantrade originate directly from the offences for which mutual legal assistance has been granted," Christine Junod, examining magistrate of Geneva, ruled on November 18.

"The documentary evidence and the statements of the persons heard allow, without any ambiguity, to link the transfers credited to the banking relationship of Dargal to the commissions paid by (Polish firm) Ursus for the sale of its tractors to a Pakistani governmental entity."

"Also, the file establishes beyond doubt that these commissions, under the cover of alleged consultancy fees, were meant to remunerate the illicit advantages obtained by Ursus from the Pakistani administration, thanks to the interventions of Asif Zardari.

"The Bhutto couple, citizens of the requesting state, indicted in its national proceeding, may file their possible claims there on the assets at stake.

"They (the assets) will be transferred to the benefit of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, at their current value, up to the amount of the undue commissions paid by Ursus, $2,390,133 in principal along with accrued interests, in accordance with terms which will be indicated to the bank once this decision will have entered into force," the magistrate ruled.

The Swiss government, acting on Pakistan's request, had frozen the account of Dargal Associated SA and communicated its details to Islamabad.

Based on this, a case was filed before the Accountability Bench of the Lahore High Court in 1998, alleging that Bhutto and Zardari, in collusion with others, had obtained illegal gratification and undue pecuniary advantage in commissions and kickbacks in the purchase of Ursus tractors from Poland.

It was also alleged that the contract was awarded in violation of relevant laws, regulations, rules and procedures, which caused loss to the Agricultural Development Bank of Pakistan (now Zarai Taraqqiati Bank Ltd) and the Central Board of Revenue.

In July 2002, the Pakistani government had requested the Swiss authorities to return the money in the account of Dargal Associated SA.

Former Pakistani Premier Discusses Power-sharing Plan

MARGARET WARNER: The South Asian nation of Pakistan, one of the linchpins in the U.S.-led war on terror, is in political turmoil. From pro-democracy lawyers marching in the streets, to angry Islamic militants in the mosques and the country's hinterlands, to criticism from U.S. intelligence over letting Pakistan's tribal regions become a haven for the Taliban and a resurgent al-Qaida, President Pervez Musharraf has been under enormous pressure. Ten days ago, he briefly considered imposing a state of emergency until dissuaded by Washington.

Stepping now into this uncertain mix is a once-familiar face on the Pakistani political scene, the exiled two-term former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. She is trying for a political comeback through a power-sharing deal with Musharraf that would let her return to run for prime minister again, while he is re-elected to the presidency he seized in a military coup eight years ago.

The Harvard-educated Bhutto was first elected prime minister in 1988, the first elected woman leader of any Muslim nation. It was a personal triumph for the 35-year-old Bhutto, whose father, a former president of Pakistan, had been executed by a military government nine years earlier.

But after just two years, she was ousted by the president and military amid charges of corruption against both her and her businessman husband. She won the prime ministry again in 1993 and was toppled again in 1996 on charges of corruption.

Yet Bhutto still leads the Pakistan People's Party, or PPP. Polls suggest it could win the most seats in parliament later this year if elections are free and fair. After months of back-channel negotiations, Bhutto and Musharraf reportedly met late last month in Abu Dhabi to discuss conditions for a deal.

While in New York on private business this month, she's been meeting with senior Bush administration and U.N. officials. I spoke with her there today.

Madam Bhutto, thanks for joining us.

BENAZIR BHUTTO, Former Pakistani Prime Minister: Thank you.

General Musharraf promised that he would consider the reforms we had proposed for fair elections. But none of those reforms, other than transparent ballot boxes, have actually been enacted.

Returning to Pakistan

MARGARET WARNER: There have been weeks of speculation about a possible agreement being forged between yourself and President Musharraf under which you'd be free to return and run for prime minister, and he'd be able to retain the presidency. Is that deal going to happen?

BENAZIR BHUTTO: We're trying to have an understanding to take Pakistan towards a civilian and democratic dispensation. We've talked with General Musharraf, but we're still waiting for him to implement the measures within a timeframe that would enable it to go through. People in my party are nervous that, if time just passes, and at the end of the day the general changes his mind, we'll be left high and dry. They don't want that to happen. They said there are reforms going to come; they should start coming.

MARGARET WARNER: So you are waiting for him to make some commitments about the nature of the elections, for example, and your role?

BENAZIR BHUTTO: That's right. For example, there's a ban on a twice-elected prime minister, such as myself, seeking a third term. So if they're going to enter into a transition to democracy where we're working towards a civilian dispensation, he needs to accept, if he wants us to accept him of contesting, he needs to accept us. So that's one of the issues.

But there are much more important issues, and that is holding fair elections. So fair elections involves the nature of the care take of government, who's going to be in it. It involves the police power. Are they going to be under a political party that would disarm them? And if the police aren't there to protect the voters, the elections can be stolen in the field.

MARGARET WARNER: So you expected him to come out and say a number of these things publicly, since you all met, what, was it three weeks ago?

BENAZIR BHUTTO: That's no official confirmation of the meeting, but, yes, we have been having contact. And General Musharraf promised that he would consider the reforms we had proposed for fair elections. But none of those reforms, other than transparent ballot boxes, have actually been enacted. So now there's a nervousness within my party that they haven't been enacted and we're on the eve of the general election, then when are they going to be enacted?

Benazir Bhutto
Benazir Bhutto
Former Pakistani Prime Minister
So we're not trying to bail out a military dictator by saying we will come there on your terms. What we are seeking is a compromise that could help bring about a stable, democratic, civilian order in Pakistan.

Sharing power with Musharraf

MARGARET WARNER: Now, there has been, as you know, criticism of you, as well, that you're even thinking about going into sort of an alliance with this man that you have criticized in the past as anti-democratic and also as coddling extremists, that you'd be selling out essentially. What do you say to that?

BENAZIR BHUTTO: Well, I wouldn't sell out. The Pakistan People's Party has been struggling to take military out of politics. And the fact that General Musharraf wears a uniform blurs the distinction between civilian and democratic rule. So we are seeking our core elements. We want him to take the uniform off. Secondly, the People's Party wants fair elections. The elections of 2002 were not fair.

So, in seeking fair elections, we need to have the negotiations to have the reforms implemented. We need a lifting of the ban on the twice-selected prime minister and a level playing field for all.

So we're not trying to bail out a military dictator by saying we will come there on your terms. What we are seeking is a compromise that could help bring about a stable, democratic, civilian order in Pakistan. And it's for the people of Pakistan then to vote in the party or the leaders they would like to see lead them.

MARGARET WARNER: Now, in a compromise, of course, both sides have to give. What did you tell him you were willing to give? Were you willing to, for instance, support him and have your party support him in the presidential election in the parliament?

BENAZIR BHUTTO: There are going to be two presidential elections. The first presidential election is going to take place in September, when General Musharraf is still wearing the uniform. And I made it very clear that it's not possible for my party to vote for a uniformed president. General Musharraf understands that.

But if the elections are fair, and we have a level playing field, and he seeks re-election from the next assembly, then certainly the parliament can consider that, if the uniform is not there and the elections have been fair.

MARGARET WARNER: Are you also asking the corruption charges against you and your husband be dropped?

BENAZIR BHUTTO: Well, those corruption charges obviously have to go, not just against myself or my husband, but against the holders of public office who have been persecuted for a very long time with no end in sight. For example, there's no corruption charge proved against my husband or myself or against so many others who are our supporters or supporters of the democratic movement. So how much more of taxpayers' money is going to go to fund a witch hunt?

General Musharraf recognizes this. He says he wants internal reconciliation, and he says, as part of the internal reconciliation, he is considering indemnity for holders of public office prior to a certain date.

Benazir Bhutto
Benazir Bhutto
Former Pakistani Prime Minister
Certainly, the United States has a key interest in the stability of Pakistan, which is a key ally in the war against terrorism, and instability in Pakistan impacts on NATO troops in nearby Afghanistan, as well as the war on terrorism.

U.S. relations with Pakistan

MARGARET WARNER: How active has the United States been in helping to mediate this deal and helping to push it along?

BENAZIR BHUTTO: There's no great U.S. plot, as speculated in some of the Pakistan press, to put together General Musharraf and the Pakistan People's Party. But, certainly, the United States has a key interest in the stability of Pakistan, which is a key ally in the war against terrorism, and instability in Pakistan impacts on NATO troops in nearby Afghanistan, as well as the war on terrorism.

So we keep them briefed. And they're certainly engaged with all the political parties in Pakistan, Mr. Nawaz Sharif's party and mine, met Assistant Secretary of State Boucher when he visited Islamabad. And they would like to see it facilitated, transferred to a democracy if it's possible. But they're leaving it to the people of the Pakistan, and they're leaving it to the players involved.

MARGARET WARNER: Do you think that President Musharraf is doing all he could to battle extremists, both in the territories, the tribal areas, and also in Pakistan itself?

BENAZIR BHUTTO: General Musharraf is working through a set or a team of people, and I think that that team has certainly failed to stop terrorism, and I think not enough has been done. In fact, I've been deeply worried about what sometimes appears to me collusion between members of the cabinet and the militants.

For example, a very brave police officer intercepted a militant smuggling weapons into Islamabad for the Red Mosque. He arrested the man, but one of the captured ministers interfered and got the man bailed out, not bailed out even, just released without a court procedure.

So it really worries me that there are all these people, from the top of my country right down to the shores of the Arabian ocean, who keep blocking the process of stemming terrorism, so, in fact, it's spread. It's spread its tentacles all over this country. In 2002, the tribal areas were under Pakistan's command, but now it's under the authority of the pro-Taliban forces. So I don't think enough has been done.

MARGARET WARNER: So why would a future government that might have you as prime minister, with General Musharraf still as -- or President Musharraf still as president, be any better in combating terrorism and extremism?

BENAZIR BHUTTO: Well, it would be no better if the same constitution dispensation existed, so one of the discussion points with General Musharraf is a balance of power between the parliament and the presidency. We don't want to end up in a powerless parliament that does not stop militancy.

And what we're negotiating for are certain changes that will empower the parliament to take on the militants, without being destabilized by elements of the security apparatus, who do not wish to see the terrorists and the extremists contained. Without the redefinition of the powers, I don't think the Pakistan People's Party would be interested in coming up just as a decoration piece.

Benazir Bhutto
Benazir Bhutto
Former Pakistani Prime Minister
I think it's important for Pakistan to defend its own sovereignty by making sure that it can control the tribal areas. Tribal areas are part of Pakistan. And if it's part of Pakistan, our law must be supreme there.

Acting on al-Qaida

MARGARET WARNER: Now, some Bush administration officials, including the White House spokesman, have suggested that, if Pakistan didn't do enough on its own to take action against al-Qaida figures in those areas, that the U.S. would consider acting on its own. What would be the consequences of that?

BENAZIR BHUTTO: Well, I don't support any unauthorized military action that violates Pakistan's sovereignty. But at the same time, I recognize that, unless the government of Pakistan is able to take control of its own territories, Pakistan will face the danger of outside military strikes.

So I think it's important for Pakistan to defend its own sovereignty by making sure that it can control the tribal areas. Tribal areas are part of Pakistan. And if it's part of Pakistan, our law must be supreme there. Instead, we're signing cease-fires and peace treaties. And we're actually, in a sense, handing over our property, our territory to outside forces.

So that worries me as a Pakistani, because I feel my nation's territorial integrity is under threat. I feel that the militants are slowly going to try and take away bits of Pakistani's territory.

So it's not just an American problem. I understand the American frustration. But there's also a great degree of frustration within Pakistan that we face a civil war-like situation. And we must stop the terrorists and extremists; otherwise, they're going to just go on expanding their influence.

MARGARET WARNER: So back to the immediate future. How much more time are you going to let elapse before you conclude that General Musharraf, in fact, is not serious about sharing power?

BENAZIR BHUTTO: I've shared with General Musharraf that my party is getting very upset, because the election is around the corner, and that, by the end of this month, we really need to know where we stand. We either have a package or we don't have a package. And if we have a package, well then, we need the measures that we've agreed upon to come into play.

MARGARET WARNER: And so what if there isn't a package, what do you do then?

BENAZIR BHUTTO: If there isn't a package, I still intend to go back to Pakistan and campaign for my party and do the best I can with the other moderate political parties in the country to try and bring about a transition. I hope it doesn't come to a breakdown in the negotiations between General Musharraf and the PPP, but at the end of the day, we can't afford to be contaminated by his unpopularity without getting the prize for democracy.

MARGARET WARNER: And what would happen if he tried to impose emergency rule? Could he do it?

BENAZIR BHUTTO: He could try to impose emergency rule, but in my view, it will be knocked down by the courts. So any course of emergency or military rule will complicate the issue inside Pakistan, create greater uncertainty, and I think that it would be absolutely detrimental to Pakistan's stability for General Musharraf to do that. It will be far better for him to leave the country than to put us onto a path that can lead to a confrontation with the people and the courts.

MARGARET WARNER: Do you risk arrest if you go back without a deal?

BENAZIR BHUTTO: Well, the state can always try and hinder my return by trying to arrest me, but our courts have become more independent since the restoration of the chief justice of Pakistan to the Supreme Court. And I'm quite confident that there are no major obstacles to my being able to return to Pakistan.

MARGARET WARNER: What's to keep General Musharraf from just toughing it out, getting himself re-elected by the current parliament, keeping his uniform?

BENAZIR BHUTTO: I don't think that General Musharraf's own self-interest lies in toughening it out. He saw when he toughened it out with the chief justice of Pakistan that he didn't win that battle. And if he tries to tough out the next few weeks by seeking re-election, breaking with the political parties, not seeking a transition, then I think he might end up losing that battle.

So the job that he has, also, is to tell the nation that, "I support the democratic process, I'm willing to give up some of the powers the presidency has enjoyed to the parliament, I'm willing to make a new start through internal reconciliation."

MARGARET WARNER: Benazir Bhutto, thanks for being with us.

Pakistan and the World
An Interview with Benazir Bhutto

SJIR: If you were in power in today’s Pakistan, would you do anything differently with respect to Pakistani foreign policy?

Bhutto: Well, the general parameters I think I would agree on, which would be to join the international coalition against terror. Terror is a threat to the United States but it is also a very real threat for us in Pakistan. The rise of the extremist groups in Pakistan has left unguarded militias, and has led to the proliferation of weapons and to the killing of many Pakistanis. So I think its important for us to have joined that battle. As for the details, obviously Id bring my own experience as the regime brings its own experience. While I may have handled things differently, as prime minister I wouldn’t like them breathing down my neck, so Id like to avoid breathing down their necks.

SJIR: There is clear evidence that the 1999 Kargil crisis involved the implicit cooperation of the Pakistani military with known terrorist organizations, and there is speculation that that cooperation continues today. How will the relationship between Pakistan and radical Kashmiri elements change with Musharraf’s highly public stance on cooperating with Americas global antiterrorism campaign?

Bhutto: You see, I propose that there should be a world summit on terrorism to define what is terrorism. Of course, with what happened in New York and Washington, everyone has agreed that that is terrorism. But terrorism is one thing, and national aspirations of oppressed people is another. We need to make that distinction. Kashmir is a dispute which is recognized by the United Nations in Security Council resolution after another. So as far as Kashmir is concerned, we must recognize it within its context. Now in Kashmir, two developments are taking place: one is the battle of the indigenous Kashmiri people, and that battle was largely against military targets, not civilians. On the other hand, there is a new phenomenon that has come about, which is of non-Kashmiris, or what is called the Al-Qaeda group, which is going and fighting wars in different countries, which has a global reach, which has a lack of a direct nexus with the national aspirations of a particular region and their people.æ As Prime Minister of Pakistan I was offered their good services to help with the Kashmir movement, and I said that must never be allowed because it would damage the Kashmiri movement. I said it then and I say it now because even though there was no such thing as global terrorism then, I could see that getting unrelated people involved in a regional dispute would have serious consequences.

SJIR: Do you think that if there is an international conference on terrorism that it might face the same fate as the conference on racism in Durban? There are so many different definitions of what terrorism is, and there are so many people who make different claims about terrorism, that it might just end up producing nothing.

Bhutto: Well, it might end up producing nothing or it could produce something. The important aspect is for people to get together to hear another point of view rather than fail to meet, or even fail to hear a debate. Conclusion comes after many debates and many discussions. So I think a first step needs to be taken in establishing that world summit to define what terrorism is. Second, I was very pleased to note that President Bush and Prime Minister Blair have both talked about the Palestinians. And by sending Colin Powell to the region, statements on Kashmir have also been made by the Bush administration which are very important ones. So I hope that after the immediate goals of breaking up the Al-Qaeda network and ensuring that Pakistan is not used to harbor terrorists, then attention can be given to the underlying causes of tension. The Muslim community is really at a crossroads, and most of the regional conflicts that we face today happen to be in the Muslim world rather than elsewhere. These do need addressing, and America did the right thing and so did Europe in going in to stop the civil war in Bosnia and Kosovo. Some Muslims say that the West has done nothing, but I think that the West, when its informed about something, can act. But we also need to lobby hard and work hard to get the message across as to what our grievances are and where we need attention.

SJIR: General Musharraf has promoted economic reforms and has made substantial bilateral overtures with India, and has made a promise to hold elections next October. How appropriate is the term military government for the current situation?

Bhutto: Well, it is a military government. It came into being by suspending the constitution, ending the assemblies, banning political activities, and establishing a judiciary that functions outside of the universal norms of justice and human rights. So he is a military dictator. The facts that have been narrated are also disputed, with regard to how far he has turned the economy around and how far he has been able to achieve success with India. I think the Agra summit ended without a joint statement. So we do think that he is a military dictator, but if his heart is in the right place, he needs to ensure that those elections that he has promised are fair. We have concerns.æ The recent local elections gave us evidenceæ about 30 percent of the seats were rigged, and those happened to be seats that my party is strong in. So we would have gotten a much bigger majority if it hadn’t been for that, and we need to ensure that that doesn’t happen in the next elections. If General Musharraf wants fair elections I’m sure he’d like us to certify that they are fair. So wed like him to have negotiations with us on how there can be a smooth transition to democracy and on what constitutes fair elections.

SJIR: Is there any dialogue right now between his administration and your party?

Bhutto: Yes, he is in contact with the vice-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party, and some of his generals are in contact. They have been in contact for two years. Of course there’s a big gulf still between General Musharraf and ourselves, but now that some hardline generals have been removed, we hope that we can expect some more positive results.

SJIR: What do you think Musharraf’s prospects are for retaining control of the military given that he fired four of his top military officials? And what is his potential to even retain the support of the Pakistani population for what he is doing?

Bhutto: This is a difficult question to answer because there are problems, and we are unsure as to how it will turn out. General Musharraf is the chief of army staff. Our army has traditionally been very disciplined, and therefore there is no precedent of a coup succeeding to date against an army chief. They have succeeded against civilians, but not against an army chief. General Musharraf, by sidelining certain generals has secured his position within the army. Now the question that bothers many of us is, if the agitation picks up and the army is called upon to confront the agitators, then the army may decline. It may do so, or it may decline. So that’s what’s bothering us. Wed like to see the army stable and united, but its discipline will be strained if it is called upon to take on the agitators.

SJIR: As the agitation potentially grows, do you think Islamic radicals within the country will pose a threat to the administration, or is there a way Musharraf can control that?

Bhutto: Well, so far the agitation has remained confined to those areas where there are strong Afghan populations. You know that many of the refugees from the Taliban are living in Peshawar and Quetar, and there is a very large Afghan refugee presence also in the city of Karachi. This is primarily where the demonstrations have been. So I think as long as the demonstrations remain confined there is less danger. But there is a clear tension within Pakistan and no one knows how this will play out. There is tension because one wonders about civilian casualties and the capacity of the people of Pakistan to absorb such civilian casualties. So we just have to watch the situation and see how it emerges. Its very difficult to say. However, the political parties have given our support unconditionally to General Musharraf, and what we have said is that there should be a broad-based national unity government to demonstrate a public mobilization to counter the militants.

SJIR: To your knowledge, what is the state of the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal at this point? And what are the chances of it being used in the wrong way by someone in the military if command and control is lost?

Bhutto: When I was Prime Minister of Pakistan, our policy was to avoid putting together a device until it was necessary. We had the components, but we avoided putting it together. Other prime ministers followed in our footsteps. There were many other who came, and they all followed in our footsteps. But after the second overthrow, a situation arose when India detonated five nuclear devices and Pakistan followed suit with six. After that I am unaware of what happenedæ whether they built more bombs or whether they decided to make other components. I am unaware of the command and control structures, so I am unable to say whether they are safe or aren’t safe. However, I would assume that the machinery of government would have evolved to a stage where they would have the maximum security. So while the possibility of the fundamentalists taking control of the nuclear weapons is there, the probability is not. However, Pakistan needs to engage with the international community on this issue to see what can be done to give confidence while maintaining Pakistan’s security and addressing the concerns of the international community.

SJIR: What role do you think Pakistan should play in the reconstruction of Afghanistan?

Bhutto: For the first phase, which is the formation of a broad-based government, I think Pakistan needs to stop having favorites and leave it to the Afghan people to choose who they want. I think Pakistan needs to decide that a stable Afghanistan is more important than a country driven by civil war which is run by a favorite.

Secondly, I think that Islamabad needs to work with the international community for the return of the 1.5 million refugees who are on our soil. These people will not go back while there is fighting, while there are landmines and while their entire irrigation system is decimated. So I think really we need a kind of Marshall Plan. And I am also glad to hear President Bush talk about compassion. He talks about politics but he also talks about compassion. He talks about the bombardment, which is necessary, but he also drops food. I think that dual message is important. I used to fight against the Vietnam War, and I feel very uneasy about the bombardment, but I also wonder what else can be done other than a military solution if the Taliban refuses to turn over one individual and prefers that the whole country be bombed.

SJIR: Also, you spoke in your speech about support for insurgent groups during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Do you think there may be a parallel situation to that with the Northern Alliance today, with the possibility of perpetuating more terror?

Bhutto: Well, all of them have pretty rough edges, but then all of them have led pretty rough lives. These are people who are 18 and 19. They’ve lived with war and bloodshed. Maybe your and my idea about the situation is a little more than what we see. We need to work with what is there in Afghanistanæ we need to work with people who are relatively more moderate than the Taliban. I would say that we need to see who will keep Afghanistan for the Afghan people without making it a recruiting and training center.

SJIR: If you and your party come to power in the next Pakistani election, what is the first thing you would do to help economic reform in Pakistan?

Bhutto: The first thing the economy needs is confidence. It is confidence that makes people invest in businesses. So I would really concentrate on that. But along with confidence, I would work with the world community in seeking some type of debt retirement for Pakistan. Pakistan is playing an important role in the coming conflict, and I think our people need to see that if Pakistan stands up for freedom, that Pakistan’s contribution is appreciated. Most importantly, we, the Pakistanis, have to stand on our own feet, and the best way we can do that is by moving towards decentralization, devolution, and deregulation. Id like to be able to contribute further to that process.

Benazir Bhutto served two terms (1988-1990 and 1993-1996) as Pakistan's Prime Minister, and in so doing became the first female leader of a Muslim nation. At the end of her second term Benazir Bhutto was exiled from Pakistan, but she still hopes to return to her country and contribute to the progress of Pakistani society. In an interview conducted on October 18, 2001, the Stanford Journal of International Relations asked Bhutto to comment on the future of Pakistan as well as its role in the international community.


Money laundering case against Benazir Bhutto difficult to prove

‘Money laundering case against BB difficult to prove’

* Prosecutor can bring the case to trial, suspend it, or dismiss it

GENEVA: A Swiss investigative judge said on Thursday that he had completed a long-running probe into alleged money laundering by former premier Benazir Bhutto and her husband.

Judge Vincent Fournier conceded that money-laundering allegations would be harder to prove under Swiss law after President Pervez Musharraf granted an amnesty to protect Bhutto from corruption charges at home.

Fournier, who spoke as Bhutto returned to her homeland after eight years in self-exile, said he would hand over his confidential findings next week to Geneva Chief Prosecutor Daniel Zappelli for action.

Prosecutor’s options: Zappelli has three options - to bring the case to trial, suspend it, or dismiss it. “It is not impossible, but much more difficult,” Fournier said. “The fact that Pakistan has withdrawn its own prosecution does not help the Swiss demonstration of money-laundering,” he added. At least $13 million remains frozen in bank accounts in the Swiss city in connection with the criminal case, which relates to alleged kickbacks from Swiss cargo inspection companies in the 1990s, officials said.

“I regard my investigation as completed and the case is ready for the prosecutor,” Fournier said.

To obtain a conviction under Swiss federal law, a prosecutor must prove that graft or other crimes have been committed abroad and the proceeds were laundered in Switzerland. A conviction for aggravated money laundering can mean up to five years in prison.

Bhutto and her husband Asif Ali Zardari were convicted in Geneva in 2003 of having laundered funds worth around $13 million through offshore companies and ordered to return the frozen funds to the Pakistani government, which currently remains a civil party in the case.

But this verdict was thrown out automatically upon appeal, sparking a new probe. Bhutto denied the money-laundering charges in testimony two years ago before Fournier.

Bhutto’s lawyer: Alec Reymond, Bhutto’s lawyer in Geneva, said he expected Zappelli to drop the case following Musharraf’s amnesty, which also applies to Zardari.

“The abandonment of the prosecution in Pakistan should lead to the affair being closed in Geneva,” Reymond said.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court has still to rule on the legality of the amnesty and of Musharraf’s recent re-election.

Ms Bhutto, a "slave of the US

Pro-Taleban militants in the north-west are seen as the most obvious suspects behind the blasts in which scores died and many more were wounded.

In recent weeks, at least two top militant leaders had warned that Ms Bhutto, a "slave of the US", may face suicide attacks.

Bhutto seen in bed with Musharraf

Pakistan could not have remained unmoved by the bloodbath in Karachi. The angry red flames that set the streets ablaze, the lifeless bodies lying scattered about the dusty sidewalks like forgotten garbage, the screeching sirens, the desperate, overcrowded hospitals, the defeated pleas for help and the inevitable pandemonium. And then, Benazir Bhutto herself, barely unhurt and finally forced to face the new realities of the land that was once her home.

To watch these images on late-night television was to be a mute witness to a country standing at a horrible, dangerous crossroads — a country fighting for life itself.

Ironically enough, the audacious assault on her was what everyone feared and expected — everyone, except Bhutto herself. I met her in Dubai just two days before she boarded the fateful flight back to Pakistan. Wasn’t she scared, I asked, by the gamble she was taking with her life? After all, the Taliban had threatened to send suicide bombers to greet her at the airport. She glared at me with characteristic defiance and, with a declamatory wave of the hand, said that suicide bombers were enemies of Islam; she was sure she would be safe.

At that time, I thought it was just the natural rhetoric of political performance — a sort of practised bravado. But looking back, and on deeper thought, I wonder — as have several commentators in the last 24 hours — whether she was perhaps genuinely out of sync with how deeply Pakistan had slid down the rabbit hole of fundamentalism in her absence.

And did she not fully understand that by piggybacking a ride home with General Musharraf, she was in fact stepping straight into quicksand that could easily ensnare her and leave her gasping for breath? It was obvious that the very pact that had enabled her to return home had simultaneously endangered her future forever.

After all, by making a ‘deal’ (it’s a word she rejects) with the General, she had made enemies on both sides. She had disillusioned many within her own constituency — especially the enlightened middle-class — who accuse her of selling out to a dictator.

At the same time, her vow to dismantle the “structure assembled by Pakistan’s intelligence agencies” made the military establishment she was negotiating with very nervous. They had allowed the genie out of the bottle, but now worried that it had acquired a life of its own. Their (unsuccessful) pleas for her to postpone her return were one sign of this lack of confidence.

And then there was the perception that the United States had mediated the talks between Bhutto and Musharraf, with Condoleezza Rice and Richard Boucher playing postmen. In a country seething with hatred for America, Bhutto is seen as secular, pro-West and a liberal. Throw in a degree from Oxford and she is The New York Times dream come true; and anathema for the religious orthodoxy back home.

It hasn’t stopped her, though, from being candid about the changes she imagines for Pakistan. Her critics will point out that she has conveniently forgotten her own complicated history with the Taliban. But whether it’s pragmatic and self-serving re-invention or a genuine ideological shift, she seems keen to leave the past behind. In Dubai, she didn’t hold back on her criticism of terrorist groups like the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba or the Jaish-e-Mohammed. Their politics, she told me, were dangerous for all of South Asia.

Listening to her, what struck me was the paradox of being Benazir Bhutto — in many ways, she was both fighting against the General and fighting on the same side as him. It’s a paradox that may soon have to define India’s response to the turbulent politics of Pakistan as well.

For a while now, we have watched the unpredictable and volatile developments with horrified fascination. We may not come out and say so in as many words, but there is a silent sub-text to how we view Pakistan. We believe they had this coming to them. For decades, we have watched Islamabad export terrorism to our land. For years, we have warned against placing religion in the hands of mercenaries and maniacs. The peace process has spluttered and coughed up blood with alarming regularity precisely because the disease of doublespeak has never allowed any real healing. And now, as we watch Pakistan tumble into self-destructive decline, we can’t help but feel vindicated.

This covert gloating may be natural in the short term, but is entirely myopic and foolishly passive for India in the long run. The storm within Pakistan cannot leave us unscathed much longer.

Musharraf’s government is in serious danger of losing the war in the tribal belt of Waziristan. The Taliban is clearly winning the fight in Afghanistan, with its cadres now beginning to infiltrate the safe haven of Kabul as well. And the Lal Masjid stand-off in the heart of Islamabad was evidence, if any were needed, of just how weakened the Pakistani State is in the fight against fundamentalism.

But here’s the question: can India afford for Pakistan to lose this battle? Aren’t Pakistan’s enemies also opponents of the secular politics we believe in? Strategically speaking, once they are done wrecking havoc within, won’t we be next? India can no longer just stand by and watch the chaos next door with a thinly-disguised sense of satisfaction. On the contrary, we have reason to worry that the General’s war will soon be at our doorstep.

Bhutto has already spoken out against Islamabad’s policy of “strategic depth” within Afghanistan. This is diplomatic-speak for how Pakistan’s intelligence agencies have encouraged militant groups within Afghanistan just to remain competitive with India’s influence there. It may have been unthinkable once, but perhaps it’s now imperative that India take the lead in fostering a peace initiative in Afghanistan, with Hamid Karzai and Musharraf taken along as allies and partners. It may be the first step towards cleaning up the rot within a State where religion, politics and the army have mixed seamlessly into a poisonous cocktail.

India has to take the same dangerous gamble that Bhutto has with Musharraf. We have to treat him both as a potential opponent and a possible partner. For, this is no longer just about the neighbours; this could well soon be about us.

Benazir Bhutto was custodian over Pakistani Nuclear Program and the Talebanization of Afghanistan as well as supporting tens of thousands of Mujaheddin fighters in the was against the Soviets in Afghanistan.

Profile: Benazir Bhutto
Benazir Bhutto was a participant or observer in the following events:
1986-1992: CIA and British Recruit and Train Militants Worldwide to Help Fight Afghan War
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William CaseyWilliam Casey [Source: CIA]Following an agreement between the CIA and Pakistan’s ISI to make more use of Arabs in the Soviet-Afghan War, recruitment of potential fighters increases significantly. The agreement was a result of CIA dissatisfaction at infighting between indigenous Afghan rebels (see 1985-1986). According to Australian journalist John Pilger, in this year, “CIA Director William Casey [gives] his backing to a plan put forward by Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, to recruit people from around the world to join the Afghan jihad. More than 100,000 Islamic militants [are] trained in Pakistan between 1986 and 1992, in camps overseen by the CIA and [the British intelligence agency] MI6, with the [British special forces unit] SAS training future al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters in bomb-making and other black arts. Their leaders [are] trained at a CIA camp in Virginia.” [Guardian, 9/20/2003] Eventually, around 35,000 Muslim radicals from 43 Islamic countries will fight with the Afghan mujaheddin. Tens of thousands more will study in the hundreds of new madrassas (Islamic schools) funded by the ISI and CIA in Pakistan. Their main logistical base is in the Pakistani city of Peshawar. [Washington Post, 7/19/1992; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/23/2001] Ironically, although many are trained, it seems only a small percentage actually take part fight in serious fighting in Afghanistan, so their impact on the war is small. [New Yorker, 9/9/2002] Richard Murphy, assistant secretary of state for Near East and South Asian relations during the Reagan administration, will later say, “We did spawn a monster in Afghanistan. Once the Soviets were gone [the people trained and/or funded by the US] were looking around for other targets, and Osama bin Laden has settled on the United States as the source of all evil. Irony? Irony is all over the place.” [Associated Press, 8/23/1998] In the late 1980s, Pakistani President Benazir Bhutto, feeling the mujaheddin network has grown too strong, tells President George H. W. Bush, “You are creating a Frankenstein.” However, the warning goes unheeded. [Newsweek, 10/1/2001] By 1993, President Bhutto tells Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that Peshawar is under de facto control of the mujaheddin, and unsuccessfully asks for military help in reasserting Pakistani control over the city. Thousands of mujaheddin fighters return to their home countries after the war is over and engage in multiple acts of violence. One Western diplomat notes these thousands would never have been trained or united without US help, and says, “The consequences for all of us are astronomical.” [Atlantic Monthly, 5/1996]

Entity Tags: Benazir Bhutto, UK Secret Intelligence Service, Richard W. Murphy, Central Intelligence Agency, William Casey, John Pilger

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline
October 1990: Bin Laden Helps Install Pakistani Leader
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In October 1990, Nawaz Sharif is running for election to replace Benazir Bhutto as the prime minister of Pakistan. According to a senior Pakistani intelligence source, bin Laden passes a considerable amount of money to Sharif and his party, since Sharif promises to introduce a hard-line Islamic government. Bin Laden has been supporting Sharif for several years. There is said to be a photograph of Sharif chatting with bin Laden. Sharif wins the election and while he does not introduce a hard-line Islamic government, his rule is more amenable to bin Laden’s interests than Bhutto’s had been. Sharif will stay in power until 1993, then will take over from Bhutto again in 1996 and rule for three more years.

US agents uncover photographs showing Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) has ties with the Pakistani ISI. Several weeks after the World Trade Center bombing, US agents come to Pakistan to search for Ramzi Yousef for his part in that bombing. Searching the house of Zahid Shaikh Mohammed, Yousef’s uncle, they find photographs of Zahid and KSM, who is also one of Yousef’s uncles, with close associates of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. They also find pictures of Osama bin Laden. US agents are unable to catch Yousef because Pakistani agents tip him off prior to the US raids. Yousef is able to live a semi-public life (for instance, he attends weddings), despite worldwide publicity naming him as a major terrorist. The Financial Times will later note that Yousef, KSM, and their allies “must have felt confident that their ties to senior Pakistani Islamists, whose power had been cemented within the country’s intelligence service [the ISI], would prove invaluable.” [Financial Times, 2/15/2003] Several months later, Yousef and KSM unsuccessfully attempt to assassinate Benazir Bhutto, who is prime minister of Pakistan twice in the 1990s (see July 1993). She is an opponent of Sharif and the ISI. The Los Angeles Times will later report that KSM "spent most of the 1990s in Pakistan. Pakistani leadership through the 1990s sympathized with Osama bin Laden’s fundamentalist rhetoric. This sympathy allowed [him] to operate as he pleased in Pakistan."

Ramzi Yousef and his uncle Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) unsuccessfully try to assassinate Behazir Bhutto, the leader of the opposition in Pakistan at the time. Yousef, with his friend Abdul Hakim Murad, plan to detonate a bomb near Bhutto’s home as she is leaving it. However, they are stopped by a police patrol. Yousef had hidden the bomb when the police approached, and after they left the bomb is accidentally set off, severely injuring him. KSM is in Pakistan at the time and will visit Yousef in the hospital, but his role in the bombing appears to be limited to funding it. Bhutto had been prime minister in Pakistan before and will return to power later in 1993 until 1996. She will later claim, “As a moderate, progressive, democratically elected woman prime minister of Pakistan, I was a threat to the fundamentalist zealots on multiple levels…” She claims they had "the support of sympathetic elements within Pakistan’s security apparatus," a reference to the ISI intelligence agency. [Slate, 9/21/2001] This same year, US agents uncover photographs showing KSM with close associates of previous Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Bhutto’s main political enemy at the time. Presumably, this failed assassination will later give KSM and Yousef some political connection and cover with the political factions opposed to Bhutto (see Spring 1993). Sharif will serve as prime minister again from 1997 to 1999.

It is frequently reported that the Pakistani ISI created the Taliban. For instance, in 1996 CNN will report, "The Taliban are widely alleged to be the creation of Pakistan’s military intelligence [the ISI], which, according to experts, explains the Taliban’s swift military successes." And counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke will later claim that not only did the ISI create the Taliban, but they also facilitated connections between the Taliban and al-Qaeda to help the Taliban achieve victory. The Wall Street Journal will state in November 2001, "despite their clean chins and pressed uniforms, the ISI men are as deeply fundamentalist as any bearded fanatic; the ISI created the Taliban as their own instrument and still support it." Technically, the Taliban appear to have actually started out on the own, but they were soon co-opted by the ISI and effectively became their proxy force. Benazir Bhutto, prime minister of Pakistan at the time, will later recall how ISI support grew in late 1994 and into early 1995. “I became slowly, slowly sucked into it.… Once I gave the go-ahead that they should get money, I don’t know how much money they were ultimately given.… I know it was a lot. It was just carte blanche.” Bhutto was actually at odds with her own ISI agency and will later claim she eventually discovered the ISI was giving them much more assistance than she authorized, including Pakistani military officers to lead them in fighting.

Not long after bin Laden moves back to Afghanistan (see After May 18, 1996-September 1996), he tries to influence an election in Pakistan. Benazir Bhutto, Prime Minister of Pakistan, is running for reelection against Nawaz Sharif, who had been prime minister earlier in the 1990s. (Bin Laden apparently helped Sharif win in 1990 (see October 1990).) “According to Pakistani and British intelligence sources, bin Laden traveled into Pakistan to renew old acquaintances within the ISI, and also allegedly met or talked with” Sharif. Sharif wins the election. Bhutto will later claim that bin Laden used a variety of means to ensure her defeat and undermine her. She will mention one instance where bin Laden allegedly gave $10 million to some of her opponents. Journalist Simon Reeve will later point out that while Bhutto claims could seem self-serving, "her claims are supported by other Pakistani and Western intelligence sources." While Sharif will not support the radical Islamists as much as they had hoped, they will have less conflict with him that they did with Bhutto. For instance, she assisted in the arrest of Ramzi Yousef who had attempted to assassinate her.


Benazir Bhutto and the Taliban

Bhutto: During the days of fighting the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan [1980s], a military dictator in Pakistan [Zia] used religious parties to recruit fighters. He used money to set up religious schools whose real purpose was to indoctrinate young men into becoming robots. Since he was associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, he used those links to bring together members of the Muslim Brotherhood from different parts of the world. They were brainwashed into believing that after defeating the Soviet Union, they could take on the other superpower, namely America. They were never told that the success against the Soviets was because it was a proxy war with international backing. These indoctrinated elements were patronized in the military, security, civilian and political structure of Pakistan. They believe that Islam came to Pakistan through the shores of Central Asia and can now be exported to Europe through Central Asia. Hence we see the cells operating in that area.

I believe that both my governments were destabilized by these forces. The Pakistan People's Party and I posed the most potent threat to them. We gave an alternative vision of freedom, human rights, modernity compatible with religion as well as progress and prosperity. Pakistan, under the PPP, was an example of a moderate, enlightened and modern democracy to 1 billion Muslims at the crossroads having to choose between the past and the future. These elements prefer Musharraf to the PPP. Musharraf is a military dictator and is not an ideological alternative to them. They have scuttled all attempts at rapprochement between the army led by Musharraf and the people led by the PPP. This is why some sections of the media have speculated that Islamabad could be seized by a combine of religio-political-military elements. I do not believe that this nightmare scenario is possible because I believe that the restoration of democracy can turn the wheel of disaster into one of opportunity for the people of Pakistan - and the wider world community.

Previously, the religious parties were used to help recruit militants. With the passage of two decades, the militant cells are becoming more independent of the religious parties. While they take their spiritual mentoring from the religious parties, their organizational structures are cellular and independent. But there is a real danger today. Disillusioned with military dictatorship and unable to express disillusionment through a fair electoral process, the danger is of the radicalization of the masses. This disillusionment provides a perfect breeding ground for extremist organizations. That was why in Pakistan, parties that are sympathetic to the Taliban and al-Qaeda claim that neither democracy nor military dictatorship works and that theocratic rule should be given a chance. Thus, when people are denied the democratic model of development, they can choose a system that is even worse than military dictatorship.

ATol: Where do liberation movements such as those in Palestine and Kashmir stand?

Bhutto: The armed struggle of the people of Palestine and Kashmir and others under occupation received a setback following the events of 9/11. Now there is zero tolerance for armed struggle. However, the causes of unrest are political and the search for a solution will continue through peaceful avenues.

PPP Chairperson and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto said on Monday that she
might allow a US military strike inside Pakistan to eliminate Al-Qaeda leader Osama
bin Laden if she were the country’s leader, reports The New York Times October 1,

I would hope that I would be able to take Osama bin Laden myself without
depending on the Americans. But if I couldn’t do it, of course we are fighting this
war together and would seek their cooperation in eliminating him,” she said in an
interview on BBC World News America.

Americans must remember that Taliban was formed by her beloved interior minister. She
does not have the courage to fight militants. She is making big promises to get power and release her 2 billion dollar frozen accounts.

Benazir Bhutto guest speaker at the Council on Foreign Relations

I find that my country, Pakistan, is once again in a crisis, and it's a crisis that threatens not only my nation and region, but possible could have repercussions on the entire world.

It's a crisis that has its roots almost half a century ago, when the military in my country first seized power, in 1958. Four military dictatorships -- and most recently those of General Zia ul-Haq in the '80s and now General Musharraf -- have ruled my nation for the last 30 years, except for a few years of civilian government. And so I believe that democracy has never really been given a chance to grow or nurture in my homeland.

As an example, I was only allowed to govern for five of the 10 years that my people elected me to govern. And now Pakistan has changed dramatically from the days when I left office, in 1996, for now, from areas previously controlled by my government, pro-Taliban forces linked to al Qaeda launch regular attacks on NATO troops across the border in Afghanistan.

In the view of my party, military dictatorship, first in the '80s and now again, under General Musharraf, has fueled the forces of extremism, and military dictatorship puts into place a government that is unaccountable, that is unrepresentative, undemocratic, and disconnected from the ordinary people in the country, disconnected from the aspirations of the people who make up Pakistan. Moreover, military dictatorship is born from the power of the gun, and so it undermines the concept of the rule of law and gives birth to a culture of might, a culture of weapons, violence and intolerance.

The suppression of democracy in my homeland has had profound institutional consequences. The major infrastructure building blocks of democracy have been weakened, political parties have been marginalized, NGOs are dismantled, judges sacked and civil society undermined. And by undermining the infrastructure of democracy, the regime that is in place to date was a regime put into place by the intelligence agencies after the flawed elections of 2002. This regime has not allowed the freedom of association, the freedom of movement, the freedom of speech for moderate political forces, and so by default, the mosques and the madrassas have become the only outlet of permitted political expression in the country.

And so just as the -- we've seen the emergence of the religious parties, we've seen the emergence of the extremist groups, and just as the military dictatorship of the '80s used the so-called Islamic card to promote a military dictatorship while demonizing political parties, so too the present military establishment of this century has used the so-called Islamist card to pressurize the international community into supporting military dictatorship once again.

But I am here this afternoon to tell you that as far as we, the Pakistan People's Party, is concerned, the choice in Pakistan is not really between military dictatorship and religious parties; the choice for Pakistan is indeed between dictatorship and democracy. And I feel that the real choice that the world also faces today is the choice between dictatorship and democracy, and in the choice that we make between dictatorship and democracy lies the outcome of the battle between extremism and moderation in Pakistan.

The U.S. intelligence recent threat assessment stated that, and I quote, "Al Qaeda and the Taliban seem to be fairly well-settled into the safe haven spaces of Pakistan. We see more training, we see more money, we see more communications, we see that activity rising." That's the most recent U.S. national intelligence threat assessment. And so it's often surprising to those of us in Pakistan who see the international community back the present regime. But this backing continues, despite the regime's failure to stop the Taliban and al Qaeda reorganizing after they were defeated, demoralized and dispersed following the events of 9/11.

This is a regime under which the religious parties have risen, for the first time, to power, and they run two of Pakistan's four federating units -- two most critical states of Pakistan, those that border Afghanistan. And even while the military dictatorship has allowed the religious parties to govern two of Pakistan's most critical four provinces, it has exiled the moderate leadership of the country, it has weakened internal law enforcement and allowed for a very bloody suppression of people's human rights.

The military operation in Baluchistan is an example of the brutality of the suppression. The killings that took place in Karachi on May 12th, where 48 peaceful political activists were gunned down in the streets of Karachi, and not one person has been arrested for those murders that were actually televised, shows the level to which the regime permits the suppression of the political opposition. And most recently, 17 members of my party were killed in Islamabad on July 17 at the hands of a suicide bomber.

The weakness of law enforcement has led to a series of suicide bombings, roadside bombings. To give you an example, since last July, 300 people have fallen victim to suicide bombers within Pakistan. Disappearances, too, which were unheard of in our country's history, have become the order of the day. And even as I speak to you, a Pak-origin American, Dr. Sarki, has disappeared, not because he supports extremists, but because he's a nationalist, and the level of intolerance for differing views is so high that people can disappear simply for supporting nationalism.

The West's close association with a military dictatorship, in my humble view, is alienating Pakistan's people and is playing into the hands of those hardliners who blame the West for the ills of the region. And it need not be this way. A people inspired by democracy, human rights and economic opportunity will turn their back decisively against extremism.

While many are judging Benazir Bhutto as an oportunist who is will to go to lengths both, to free her frozen assets and gain political power in Pakistan, the realpolitik implications of her raproachment with Musharraf is in fact a shrew policy to guard Pakistan as a free Nation.

HAASS: Could you imagine yourself -- to use the French concept -- entering into cohabitacion with somebody such as President Musharraf?

BHUTTO: Well, it would depend on how the event unfolded. At the moment, the situation is this, but we have been having a negotiation for almost a year. And while there's been agreement on several issues and where General Musharraf has committed to taking certain confidence-building measures, those haven't been taken. So my party's asking that -- you know, is it just the talk or is it going to turn into a walk? So that would very much depend on what happens up front and whether we have an understanding.

We have tried to have it, and it's not easy because, you know, the IRI polls showed that two-thirds of Pakistanis feel he's very unpopular and should go. But we are risking our popularity by even having this dialogue, but we understand Pakistan is a critical country. We understand that instability in Pakistan could threaten our own security as well as that of the region, so we've taken the risk, but we really need General Musharraf also to come up with the measures that he has already promised, to implement the measures that he has already promised by the end of this month, preferably.
Benazir Bhutto take responsibility for policy supporting Taliban

TONY JONES: You have suggested that America should be very careful here. That their support for Musharraf is something like their support in another era for the Shar of Iran?

BENAZIR BHUTTO: Well there are concerns that we might - they're fears and they are unfounded fears at the present, but nonetheless, Pakistan had an experience with him.

He used the US, he used the critical importance of Afghanistan to the United States to bolster his own dictatorship and Pakistanis fear that this history could repeat itself.

We believe the democratisation can help Pakistan and the larger world community, including the United States.

After all, the democratisation of Pakistan will mean the success of the politics of moderation and of pluralism. Whereas, to our minds, dictatorship could produce a backlash.

The world walked away from Afghanistan once before and we had a result in the Taliban and al Qaeda.

I think it's important for the world not to walk away from democracy in Pakistan. Otherwise we could have some terrible consequences.

TONY JONES: Are you essentially saying, like the Shar of Iran, General Musharraf may be in danger of being overthrown in Islamic revolution.

BENAZIR BHUTTO: Partially, yes, partially I am saying that if the democratic process is stifled the underground militants could emerge as the only opposition to Musharraf.

That they could be discontent, because he would be seen as a dictator bolsted by external forces.

So I think that it's very important for the US to show appreciation for Musharraf, yes, but at the same time to stand by its very firm commitment to the democratic process and to transparent elections in Pakistan and not to put all its eggs in one basket.

TONY JONES: Let me ask you this, do you going back into history a bit, do you take any responsibility yourself for the rise of fundamentalist Islam in Pakistan?

After all, it was during your second term as PM that Pakistan sponsored the birth of the Taliban, sent them into Afghanistan.

BENAZIR BHUTTO: Yes, that's partially true and certainly there is a perception. In retrospect, having seen what the Taliban did, I would say that was a wrong decision by our part.

At the same time, as PM of the Pakistan, I ensured the Taliban could not control the whole of Afghanistan.

I persuaded them to sign an agreement, for a broad-based understanding, sponsored by the United Nations, but when my brother was killed and my government was going, my policies fell apart and I was thrown out soon after.

Had I been in power, I doubt the Taliban would have taken Afghanistan or invited al Qaeda, or permitted it to use its territory for acts of terror overseas.

TONY JONES: But you do accept responsibility for allowing the Taliban to be born, for having them armed by Pakistan sent into Afghanistan to sponsor a revolution?

BENAZIR BHUTTO: No, I would like to say that I never permitted the arming of the Taliban and if this was done, it would have been done against state policy and orders.

I did make the error of allowing political support for the Taliban in Kandahar.

I gave that political support because I thought it was important to influence them and prevent them from trying to take Kabul alone on their own.

I encouraged them to hold negotiations with other key players, which they did, and they were about to sign an agreement on November 3 for a broad-based government, but my government was overthrown on November 4, and after that, the Taliban were never reined in.

TONY JONES: At the same time this was happening, once again during the years you were PM, Pakistan had a secret policy of developing nuclear weapons.

Now, were you aware of that when you were PM?

BENAZIR BHUTTO: Pakistan did have a nuclear program, and I worked very closely with President Bush senior to get a framework for that nuclear program in place.

Under the framework of that nuclear program, Pakistan undertook not to make nuclear weapons unless its security was threatened.

That agreement of mine with the US was upheld and sustained by my successors. In 1998, that policy broke.

India detonated nuclear devices and Pakistan followed suit, but until that time, the agreement that we reached with the United States, that Pakistan would not put together a nuclear device, did hold.

TONY JONES: But it takes a very long time indeed for a military industrial complex to develop a nuclear weapon.

There's clear intelligence that was actually happening during your time in government. Were you not aware of it?

BENAZIR BHUTTO: I was not aware of it. Never was a report put to me during my terms in office from 93 to 96 that such a device was being put together or a weaponisation was coming.

I was in close touch with many leaders of the G8. They used to come and meet me and we used to discuss different issues, but this issue was not discussed at all during my second term.

TONY JONES: Was the military, do you believe at that time, the military intelligence out of control, out of your control in particular?

BENAZIR BHUTTO: Yes, military intelligence was totally out of my control. I don't believe that power was ever transferred in Pakistan fully.

The military and the military intelligence could plot and plan and conspire against the civilian PM and destabilise it. It could adopt individual policies of its own.

I, as PM, if I came to know of something, I could restrain them and pull them in, but I was unable to promote or demote or punish any officer that was destabilising my government, leave alone violating government policy.

This is why I believe General Musharraf must not take us to the past. If decision-making in Pakistan is going to be confined to a few individuals, I'm afraid the hardliners will be calling the shots.

TONY JONES: The interesting thing here, if you look at Pakistan from today's perspective, if you look at it during that time, it could easily sound like a member of the axis of evil, secretly developing nuclear weapons, giving birth to the Taliban and sponsoring an Islamic insurgency in Kashmir.

BENAZIR BHUTTO: Yes, it could appear like that, but that would be a very superficial perception.

I think one needs to look deeper at the issues. I agree that we in Pakistan face a lot of problems. There is the issue of nuclear proliferation.

After the events of September 11, there's a great degree of concern about nuclear proliferation.

Pakistan needs to put into place checks to satisfy the international community that rogue elements or terrorists will not be able to access Pakistan's nuclear program. We also have to have a clear direction about our future.

Whether our future will be one where militants call the shots or whether our future will be one anchored in the principles of freedom, fundamental human rights and free markets.

I think Pakistan needs the support of the international community in ensuring that we follow a path of moderation and progress, and what happens in Pakistan has a tremendous impact on the rest of the Muslim world.

So I think that the battle that is taking place in Pakistan has echoes in the much larger world community of ours.

Corruption charges answered by Benazir Bhutto

TONY JONES: One last question. Last week you failed to appear in court to answer corruption charges. You were sentenced to three years in jail. Can you imagine that being set aside to allow you to take part in these elections?

BENAZIR BHUTTO: Well, General Musharraf made a new law with retrospective effect called the absentee law.

He had me sentenced under the absentee law. That sentence was wrong. I was present in court through my defence lawyer. My defence lawyer wanted to answer the charges, which are politically motivated.

We were denied the right to defence and we'll be challenging that in a court of law. It depends what the court of law decides.

I hope they will decide in my favour, but I'm concerned at the same time of the pressure that is put on the courts by the military regime.

The military regime sacked the Chief Justice of Pakistan, and junior judges think they can be sacked too.

I hope, though, one of them will have the conscious to put aside this grave injustice to me.

Benazir Bhutto comments in The Washington Post that the Pakistani military junta uses corruption charges as a subversion tactic to silence the democratic opposition:

Of course Musharraf's regime, to legitimize its coup and divert attention from the institutionalized corruption of the military, accuses Pakistan's secular, democratic parties of corruption. But according to Transparency International, 67 percent of the people believe the regime is corrupt, surpassing the rate for past civilian governments. Musharraf's regime has lasted twice as long as any civilian government in Pakistan. Yet not one of its ministers or key political supporters has been investigated.

The National Accountability Bureau has persecuted opposition leaders for a decade on unproven corruption and mismanagement charges, hoping to grind them into submission. However, when politicians accused of corruption cross over to the regime, the charges miraculously disappear. Musharraf's regime exploits the judicial system as yet another instrument of coercion and intimidation to consolidate its illegitimate power. But the politics of personal destruction will not prevent me and other party leaders from bringing our case before the people of our nation this year, even if that could lead to imprisonment.


PAKISTAN’S PROXY wARS, ISLAMIC JIHAD aND tHE TALIBAN: Legacy of Benazir Bhutto’s Premiershipsby Dr. Subhash Kapila

Benazir Bhutto twice ousted as Prime Minister of Pakistan, prompted by fears of arrest is presently in self-imposed exile in Dubai for the last two years. Sensing that elections may be held by the Pakistan Army next year and with a political vacuum existing due to banishment of the last Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, she has been active in running around Western countries subtly projecting that she is the only viable civilian alternative to head Pakistan. With the inauguration of President Bush in Washington, she has already visited Washington in February and embarking soon on a second outing. Her campaign on Capitol Hill is aimed at impressing the American law makers and the think-tanks in Washington that she is a moderate Pakistani leader having nothing to do with Islamic fundamentalism, proxy war in Kashmir or with Taliban. Such a line carries conviction to the Americans when coupled with her personal charm and western education eloquence.

Benazir Bhutto’s Islamic Fundamentalization of Pakistan

Benazir Bhutto’s first advent as Prime Minister coincided roughly with the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan where Pakistan was spearheading the American effort. Since strategic aims had been met, it would have been logical for the self-proclaimed Pakistani democrat Prime Minister to wind up the Islamic fundamentalist Mujahideen bases in Pakistan and their nurseries. No such thing happened.

On the contrary "Benazir Bhutto, who became the Prime Minister in 1989 had a profoundly different perception of the role and utility of Islamist terrorism. Convinced that Pakistan’s destiny lay in strategic alliances with such countries as Syria, Iran, China (PRC) and North Korea, Benazir Bhutto’s Islamabad re-examined all aspects of Pakistan’s involvement in Afghanistan and the world of State-sponsored terrorism became an instrument of crucial significance for Pakistani policy. Islamabad now committed to furthering Islamism in the heart of Asia. Islamabad recognized the growing specter of confrontation with the United States over strategic posture in the region. Still Islamabad shifted to active support for militant Islamism." Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America, by Yossef Bodansky,
Rocklin, California. Forum an imprint of Prima Publishing, California. 1999. Pp., 24.

However, if this is so, then how does Mr. Kapila explain the apparent rift between Benazir Bhutto and Islamists? Why is it that the echelon of Al Qu'aeda and other fundamentalist groups in Pakistan are calling for the execution of Benazir Bhutto?

As a follow-up of Benazir Bhutto’s policy of exploiting Islamic fundamentalist terrorism as a state-sponsored tool, Pakistan was flooded with about 16000-20000 Islamist militants from over 20 countries all freely given visas for Pakistan. The Soviets had withdrawn from Afghanistan and surely they had not come for Afghanistan’s liberation. They had come for training in Pakistan and to fight for Pakistani state-sponsored Jihads from Kashmir to Central Asia.

General Zia as military ruler of Pakistan for eleven years preceding Prime Minister Bhutto could not achieve what she achieved in terms of Islamic fundamentalisation of Pakistan. In the quest for Islamic violence the camps of the Islamist Afghan resistance in Pakistan became to Sunni Islamist terrorism what Lebanon had been for radical leftist terrorism. Pakistan became a place of pilgrimage for aspiring Islamist radicals.

Benazir Bhutto on return to power in 1993 had not lost her zeal for Islamic fundamentalisation. By the end of 1993, after her round of visits to Beijing, Pyongyang and Tehran, Bhutto clearly demonstrated her determination to implement these policies (Islamic terrorism as state-sponsored foreign policy tool) and realise this strategic posture as soon as possible. Markedly increasing Pakistan’s participation in the Islamist international terrorist system was an integral part of Bhutto’s new strategy.

Benazir’s active linkages with Pan-Islamic fundamentalist terrorist organisations stands adequately exposed in the book referred. In mid-December 1993, Turabi (Sudanese Islamic fundamentalist leader) organised another "Popular Arab and Islamic Conference (PAIC) in Khartoum to discuss the next phase of the Islamist struggle. The PAIC conference focussed on the role of Pakistan . . . in particular Pakistan’s future active support for Islamist armed struggles and international terrorism. The official Pakistan delegation was led by two other Bhutto confidants (the other was a close Bhutto adviser from her party PPP) General Mirza Aslam Beg, the former Chief of Staff of Pakistani Armed Forces and Lt. General Hamid Gul, the former chief of ISI (Pakistani intelligence). Their participation in the Khartoum conference and leading role in the formulation of Pakistan’s relations with the PAIC and the Islamist (read Islamic fundamentalist) world was proof that Bhutto’s Islamabad would continue to pursue Islamist policies.

Benazir Bhutto’s Duplicity with the United States: Forming a Trans- Asian anti-USA Alliance

Since Benazir Bhutto’s current visits to USA are related to garner US support for her installation as Prime Minister on return to civil rule, it is pertinent to highlight her duplicity with the United States and formation of a Trans-Asian and anti-US Alliance.

Washington should note that the Islamist surge coincided with Benazir Bhutto’s return to power in Islamabad. Behind a facade of pro-Western and pro-democracy rhetoric she initiated a program designed to make Pakistan a central member of both the Islamic bloc and the Trans-Asian axis, an anti-US radical alliance stretching from the Mediterranean to North East Asia. Islamabad emerged from these alliances with distinct roles.

a.- The roles assigned to Pakistan, can be summarised as follows:

b.- Pakistan would serve as centre for defence production for the Islamic bloc. This would also incorporate nuclear weapon technologies.

c.- Pakistan would be the financial centre for laundering Islamist drug money.

d.- Pakistan would acquire legally or illegally sophisticated western technology for its Islamic and other allies.

e.- Islamabad and its allies were convinced that Bhutto’s rise to power, especially in view of her pro-democracy rhetoric, would relax the western guard" and that "Pakistan would be able to acquire the necessary items. It seems that USA and the West were taken in by this approach.

Bezazir Bhutto’s apologists may argue that all this was done under Pakistan Army’s pressure. It does not seem so as Bodansky clarifies that Pakistan’s growing role in the anti-US build up was one of Bhutto’s personal priorities (note 'personal priorities’). Immediately after return to power in fall 1993, she embarked on a series of political moves that would formulate the new grand strategy for a post-Cold War and post- Gulf crisis Pakistan.

Benazir Bhutto’s Intensification of Pak Proxy War in Kashmir

It needs to be noted that: "From 1972 to December 1989, Kashmir was not an issue of high crisis in Indo- Pakistan relations, though Pakistan continued to harp on it during this period."(9) It would be obvious from this that both in her father’s tenure as Prime Minister and that of eleven years of President Zia no major escalation took place on the Kashmir issue.

Kashmir was whipped up as an emotive and frenzied issue only by Benazir Bhutto when she came into power in 1989 and thereafter in1993. Never before had Kashmir been made such a provocative issue in Pakistani elections as done by Benazir Bhutto. She outdid what Islamic fundamentalists uttered on Kashmir. "Indo-Pak relations were to go off into a spin from the end of 1989" and that "The tenuous hopes of a new beginning (friendly Indo- Pak relations) came to a somewhat abrupt end in December 1989" (10). This was mid-way in Benazir Bhutto’s first tenure as Prime Minister of Pakistan.

The following need to be noted in relation to Benazir’s escalation of proxy war in Kashmir:
  • Violence in Kashmir increased between December 1989 and February 1990. India had firm information about a quantum increase in the flow of arms and infiltration by trained terrorists.
  • Benazir Bhutto visited POK for the first time as Prime Minister on 13 March 1990. She gave a historical speech at a public meeting in Muzzafarabad declaring the struggle in Kashmir to be a ‘holy jihad.’
The increased jihadi infiltration in Kashmir and acts of terrorism during Benazir's tenures as Prime Minister was the manifestation of what has been discussed earlier, i.e., the adoption by PM Benazir Bhutto of state- sponsored Islamic fundamentalist terrorism as a foreign policy tool. Retrospectively, it can also be analysed that Benazir Bhutto was carrying a chip on her shoulder from the Simla Agreement 1972 days when she was a witness to her father Z.A. Bhutto giving in to Indian demands that Kashmir was to be a bi-lateral issue between the two countries.

The Taliban’s Creation During Premiership of Bhutto

Pakistan figures prominently in any discussions related to the Taliban in terms of creating this medieval monster in Afghanistan and the subsequent inhuman repression that the Taliban has imposed on the Afghans themselves. ISI also figures prominently in relation to provision of Pak Army cadres, military advisers and military hardware. However what does not figure is Benazir Bhutto’s role in its creation. The Taliban emerged forcefully on the Afghan scene in the period 1993-94 and captured the whole of Afghanistan, less the Northern Provinces by September 1996. It requires to be noted that all these developments took place during Benazir Bhutto’s second tenure as Prime Minister, i.e., 1993- 1996. Furthermore, there was considerable evidence to suggest that the Taliban were being strongly supported by the Pakistani government led by Benazir Bhutto, ironically a woman educated at Oxford and Harvard.

Initially, more than the ISI, it was the Bhutto party machine both at Islamabad and in the provincial capitals at Peshawar(NWFP) and Quetta (Baluchistan) which were active in the reinforcement and furtherance of Taliban operations. It is indicated that when the Taliban captured Kandahar, the ISI was initially more sceptical than the Government about the chances of further success. While General Babar( Bhutto’s Interior Minister) and the Jamiat-e Ulema-i Islam pushed for support to the Taliban, the ISI took a back seat. Thus Babar had a free hand in "civilianising" the initial support to the Taliban.

Benazir’s newly created Taliban ensured that they had the right connections in Pakistan to enable continued support as this would suggest. And the Taliban soon developed close relations with several businessmen close to Asaf Ali Zardari- the husband of Benazir Bhutto, who in turn were given the highly lucrative permits to export fuel to Afghanistan. As the Taliban’s war machine expanded, permits for fuel supplies from Pakistan became a major money earner for Pakistani politicians. The linkages and implications are self evident.


Benazir’s pretentious pronouncements are avidly lapped up in Washington and New Delhi as emanating from a committed democrat, a Pakistani politician of moderate hues and above all a Muslim with western educated secular values, in short someone New Delhi could trust in political dealings. The above record of Benazir Bhutto however does not match up with what she would like us to believe about her.

Bodansky states that: " Pakistan’s ascent in the Islamist terrorist system is particularly important in a strategic context. Pakistan’s growing involvement resulted in both escalation of the war by proxy in Kashmir and the rise of Taliban in Afghanistan, two movements that still provide shelter and closely cooperate with Osama bin Laden." What Bodansky has not added to complete this summation is that in terms of contextual time-spans both these developments emerged during the two tenures of Benazir Bhutto as Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Benazir’s duplicity against the United States of America of forming a Trans-Asian anti- US alliance while mouthing platitudes on democracy during Washington visits indicates a fatal flaw in her political credibility. Comparatively speaking, former PM Nawaz Sharif appears far superior to Benazir’s Bhutto. He had at least the courage to fight an election in Pakistan on the agenda of improvement of Indo-Pak relations and won on this issue with an overwhelming majority.

Regrettably, Benazir Bhutto’s record on Islamic fundamentalism of Pakistan, escalation of the proxy war in Kashmir and the creation of the Taliban leads one to the conclusion that Washington’s assessments of Pakistani politicians and Pakistan’s political scene tend to be faulty and unreliable as inputs for any Track II diplomacy. Both these conclusions are pertinent presently for those advising and espousing the continuation of India’s cease fire in Kashmir.


Benazir Bhutto's bond with the military dictatorship and the Islamists

Her father's hanging by another hated military dictator in 1989 catapulted the very young Benazir Bhutto into prominence. Six years later she was the leader of her father's People's Party. In another four years, her party won the elections and she was sworn in as the democratically elected prime minister in 1988.

The whole Pakistani establishment, including the army, civil servants and elite Mohajirs, conspired against her. It was not long before she lost her job. Prime minister for less than two years, she had not many accomplishments to boast of. Re-elected in 1993, she remained prime minister for another three years, but was sacked again. Political power went over to another aspiring Punjabi leader named Nawaz Sharif.

Four important things happened in Bhutto's two truncated terms as prime minister. First, she created the Taliban to conquer Afghanistan. Second, she gave the go-ahead for insurgency in Indian-occupied Kashmir. Third, she brought the only port and the biggest city of Pakistan, Karachi, to its knees. She encouraged the local Sindhis to grab political power from the Mohajirs, who had aligned themselves with the Pathans from Afghanistan. The latter were drug barons and elite criminals who had made Karachi their home. Each of these communities had about one-third of the population base, hence could not grab political power without the support of the other. Fourth, she visited North Korea at the behest of China and swapped nuclear technology for missiles.

In her two decades-old political career, Bhutto has encouraged the Sindhis of Karachi to assert themselves. Mayhem followed this encouragement. Ten years of bloodshed ended three years after Bhutto was unseated. Also the leader of the Mohajir was banished to London, far from his political base.

In this period, Benazir also lost her two brothers -- one to the machinations of Pakistani intelligence in Paris and the other to the inter-community and inter-gang rivalry in Karachi.

Since her exile in 1999, she has portrayed herself as a moderate pro-Western enlightened democrat. This façade, which she has built for herself, has garnered her media attention and admiring handshakes from world leaders.

Initially the world leaders were not sure about Musharraf. But after 9/11, America needed a reliable ruler in Pakistan who would permit them a free hand in Afghanistan. Musharraf was their choice. This effort was a partial success. It was lower-level Pakistani military officers that frustrated U.S. efforts to capture the key conspirators of 9/11.

Al-Qaida and the Taliban were also unsure about Pakistani military support and stayed on the run for five years. The Pakistani people's anger at the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 turned to a political backlash against Musharraf. Many became al-Qaida and Taliban supporters. They hated the United States, although Washington was pumping US$2 billion in military and economic aid into Pakistan every year. That was the signal al-Qaida and the Taliban were looking for. They began setting up bases along the Afghan-Pakistan border in the tribal region.

Bhutto was overjoyed at these unpleasant developments for the military dictator, who had the United States breathing down his neck to do something about the re-invigorated Taliban and al-Qaida. Musharraf did not know what to do.

The Pakistani military has all along been trained to fight pitched battles with India on the eastern border. Guerilla warfare is not their specialty. Hence, fight after fight, they have been losing men and material. The Taliban, the movement of Pathans in the tribal areas, has succeeded for a century and a half in beating back the mighty British Army, the Soviets and in 1962-70 the Pakistanis, during clashes over demarcation of the Durrand line. The present fight is simply business as usual for them.

Thus Musharraf found himself in a fix, with the United States breathing down his neck on one hand, and on the other, an insurgency taking a heavy toll on army morale. Meanwhile, the two exiled prime ministers were having a field day criticizing him as a leader and challenging his intention to remain commander-in-chief of the army as well as president of the country. Even the religious parties, which supported Musharraf initially, were unwilling to support him in the dual job.

Musharraf was unable to reach an accommodation with former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, because he is the man whom he ousted in a bloodless coup. Hence, he has picked Bhutto with whom to work out a political accommodation.

The deal that Musharraf and Bhutto have struck includes that Musharraf will be elected as president in normal indirect elections in which national and provincial legislatures vote. The legislatures will be selected in a rigged election to guarantee a favorable presidential vote. Later Musharraf will dump the uniform and appoint Bhutto as prime minister. This will keep the other political opponent, Nawaz Sharif, out of the picture. He does not like this arrangement and has tried to return to Pakistan, only to be ejected once again.

Bhutto is so eager to reclaim her God-given post of prime minister that she will accept any deal, even if it is with the devil. The United States has also been nudging her to accept Mushharrf as her boss and president. Those in Washington like the general so much they are prepared to forego all democratic principles of free elections and the freedom to vote, to keep him in power.

Musharraf is prepared to grant Bhutto a full pardon as long as he knows that the modified Pakistani Constitution grants the military an exclusive right to dump any policy or strategic change that is not to their liking. To perpetuate his influence in the military after he dumps his uniform, Musharraf has been making changes in the top echelons of the military and appointing persons friendly to his cause.

So the die has been cast. General Musharraf will drop his uniform after he is elected. Benazir Bhutto will be figurehead civilian prime minister, and the military will have the power to veto any move she makes toward supremacy. Meanwhile the United States will be happy that a civilian has been restored to the prime minister's job. This is a very poor portrayal of the democratic rights of the people.

This leaves out Nawaz Sharif, who technically is the elected civilian prime minister. He did not resign, but was expelled to Saudi Arabia under duress.

In fact, nobody will be happy with the Musharraf-Bhutto-army troika at the helm of power. Enlightened moderation will be hard to digest in an increasingly rights-conscious world. Religious parties, which have already gained major ground in Pakistan, will sabotage this troika in favor of Koranic rule.

The worst loser in this scenario will be the United States. Washington has spent US$10 billion to prop up Pakistan over the last six years. This money will end up being aid to the devil.

See also the Taliban regroups in Tribal border of Afghanistan and Pakistan


Benazir Bhutto had information concerning the attacks of October 19, 2007

Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, 54, knew an attempt would be made upon her life. She informed the media and wrote to officials in Pakistan: "I have been informed that Baitul Masood, an Afghan, Hamza Bin Laden, an Arab, and a Red Mosque militant have been sent to kill me. I wrote (President Pervez) Musharraf telling him that if something happened, then I wanted these three held responsible -- the people who I think are behind them. I have also left a copy of the letter in case something happens (to me), but I expect all to go smoothly."

Well, it didn't. Greeted by hundreds of thousands of supporters in Karachi, Pakistan's port city of 15 million, she was quickly bundled into a special bulletproof, truck-like vehicle with two decks and a dome-like turret from which she could wave to the 20-deep crowds on either side of her route home. Some 30,000 security forces were quickly overwhelmed and the motorcade could only inch forward, a near-perfect situation for a suicide bomber. The orange fireball killed 138 and wounded almost 200, shattered the windows of Bhutto's truck and blew off one of its doors.

Bhutto had just walked down to the lower deck of her vehicle as her first stop was going to be the tomb of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of the Pakistani republic. The 15 who had stayed topside were splattered with blood as body parts flew through a hot sultry evening. The twice Prime Minister Bhutto was eased out of the truck into a car that sped off among the dead and wounded.

Musharraf called the attack a "conspiracy against democracy." Conspiracy seems to be Pakistan's middle name. For more than half its 60-year life as an independent nation, Pakistan has been ruled by the military. And ever since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when Musharraf, who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999, decided to turn his back on the Taliban and join the U.S. war on terror, the military has been in charge. The real power is in the hands of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency that permeates every facet of national life. Bhutto's husband, Asif Ali Zardari, who spent six years in prison on graft and corruption charges, was quick to blame the intelligence agencies for the attack as they feared Bhutto would win next January's elections -- and be back as prime minister a third time.

More likely were the pro-Taliban and pro-al-Qaida terrorist groups that have never been successfully stamped out. Two of Pakistan's four provinces are governed by the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, a coalition of six politico-religious parties that are pro-Taliban and admire Osama Bin Laden, the world's most wanted terrorist leader.

Over the past few months Musharraf and Bhutto secretly negotiated a power-sharing deal. Musharraf was to get himself re-elected president for five years by the four provincial assemblies, the federal assembly and the Senate, and then take off his uniform. The Supreme Court is yet to validate this vote as all opposition parties boycotted Musharraf's election, which gave him a near-unanimous nod from parliamentarians who are about to lose their seats. For her part, Bhutto agreed to recognize Musharraf as a civilian president while she took her chances in next January's general election. And if her Pakistan People's Party, the country's most popular, won a majority, she would then be asked by Musharraf to form a new government.

That's a lot of hurdles before Bhutto becomes prime minister again. And even if she does reclaim her national leadership role, obtaining the loyalty of ISI and the respect of the military is a formidable challenge.

A week before her departure from London to Dubai for the Emirates flight home, she e-mailed this reporter to say, "While I very much want you near me and will have you seated next to me for the final leg to Karachi, and have on my priority list, I fear there will be a situation that would endanger your safety. I also think it would be wiser for you to join me later after I have settled down. But if you still want to come, I will understand." We opted not to go.

One of Bhutto's trusted intelligence contacts in Pakistan, a retired ISI field-grade officer, sent her a grim report before her departure about the situation in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, seven tribal agencies that form most of the 1,400-mile frontier of craggy mountains with Afghanistan. The report's main points:

FATA is ungovernable and out of control.

The army is still facing high casualties. It's now well over 1,000 killed and 3,000 wounded. Of the 245 Pakistani soldiers captured by Taliban fighters (they were ambushed in a narrow pass and surrendered without a fight), 100 were released but an unknown number have been Talibanized and decided to join the insurgency.

The army feels strongly that this has been a U.S.-ordered military campaign imposed on Musharraf.

Foreign Secretary Khurshid Kasuri has said as much in conversations with several foreign ambassadors.

There are several thousand Uzbek, Tajik and Arab fighters in FATA who have married local women and are more loyal to al-Qaida than the Taliban.

The local FATA population refuses to assist the army.

The only political party that has been allowed to operate in FATA is MMA. It is important to open up FATA to Pakistan's principal political parties. This would be a way to promote the growth of "moderate" Talibans, weaning them away from the hard-line core.

Madrassa reform has still gotten nowhere after several years of U.S. aid to promote change in these Koranic schools that have turned out several million youngsters since Sept. 11 who have learned Arabic and the Koran by rote, as well as the conviction that America and Israel are crusading powers whose only objective is the destruction of Islam.

A former ISI general heads the Education Ministry, and U.S. aid has not altered the bleak outlook for some 12,000 madrassas.

The Valley of Swat, once a princely state under the British Raj, is a previously moderate region that is being slowly Talibanized through private FM radio stations that sing the praises of Taliban jihadis.

All this would be bad enough for a Muslim state of 160 million. But Pakistan is one of the world's eight nuclear powers.


Benazir Bhutto public political views seem at odds with a sizable and militant sector of Pakistan

All the same, the views she expressed were not well received in Islamabad; some pro-establishment commentators characterised them as "anti-national".

Shireen M. Mazari, who is known to be close to the military regime, has said that Benazir Bhutto's pronouncements in Delhi on issues ranging from Kashmir to Afghanistan, were anti-Pakistan. Benazir Bhutto had laid all the blame for Pakistan's present discomfiture over Afghanistan to the policies pursued by the military government and its immediate predecessor, the democratically elected Nawaz Sharif government.

The meteoric rise of the Taliban started when Benazir Bhutto was the Prime Minister of Pakistan in the mid-1990s. Nasrullah Babbar, the Interior Minister in her Cabinet, was alleged to be the key architect of the Taliban, which started out as a small, armed movement of former madrassa students. Babbar was a mentor of sorts to Mullah Mohammad Omar, who went on to head the Taliban. When the Taliban movement took on the Afghan warlords, the Pakistan Army put its ammunition dump in Spinboldak at the disposal of the Taliban, leading to the chain of events that eventually saw the Taliban ensconced in Kabul.

During her visit Benazir Bhutto even claimed that Osama bin Laden played an important role in her unceremonious ouster from power during her second term in office. She claimed that the current predicament of Pakistan resulted from the flawed policies that were implemented after her ouster.

Benazir Bhutto has been quoted as saying that immediately after her departure from office, the "Taliban was hijacked by Al Qaeda and the Pakistan government". She characterised the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) as a "state within a state" and added that even when she was Prime Minister, her conversations were monitored by the ISI. She blamed the military for encouraging Pakistan-based militant organisations such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), the Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Harkatul Mujahideen to be active in the Kashmir valley. She said that during her tenure the government had ensured that no outside militant group hijacked the movement in Kashmir. Benazir Bhutto regretted that Kashmiri political organisations such as the All Parties Hurriyat Conference had been sidelined.

Afghanistan the source of strife in Pakistan

Tony Blair said memorably: "To the Afghan people, we make this commitment. We will not walk away... If the Taliban regime changes, we will work with you to make sure its successor is one that is broadbased, that unites all ethnic groups and offers some way out of the poverty that is your miserable existence." He was echoing George Bush, who had said a few days earlier: "The oppressed people of Afghanistan will know the generosity of America and its allies. As we strike military targets, we will also drop food, medicine and supplies to the starving and suffering men and women and children of Afghanistan. The US is a friend of the Afghan people."

Almost every word they spoke was false. Their declarations of concern were cruel illusions that prepared the way for the conquest of both Afghanistan and Iraq. As the illegal Anglo-American occupation of Iraq now unravels, the forgotten disaster in Afghanistan, the first "victory" in the "war on terror", is perhaps an even more shocking testament to power.

It was my first visit. In a lifetime of making my way through places of upheaval, I had not seen anything like it. Kabul is a glimpse of Dresden post-1945, with contours of rubble rather than streets, where people live in collapsed buildings, like earthquake victims waiting for rescue. They have no light and heat; their apocalyptic fires burn through the night. Hardly a wall stands that does not bear the pock-marks of almost every calibre of weapon. Cars lie upended at roundabouts. Power poles built for a modern fleet of trolley buses are twisted like paperclips. The buses are stacked on top of each other, reminiscent of the pyramids of machines erected by the Khmer Rouge to mark Year Zero.

There is a sense of Year Zero in Afghanistan. My footsteps echoed through the once grand Dilkusha Palace, built in 1910 to a design by a British architect, whose circular staircase and Corinthian columns and stone frescoes of biplanes were celebrated. It is now a cavernous ruin from which reed-thin children emerge like small phantoms, offering yellowing postcards of what it looked like 30 years ago: a vainglorious pile at the end of what might have been a replica of the Mall, with flags and trees. Beneath the sweep of the staircase were the blood and flesh of two people blown up by a bomb the day before. Who were they? Who planted the bomb? In a country in thrall to warlords, many of them conniving in terrorism, the question itself is surreal.

A hundred yards away, men in blue move stiffly in single file: mine-clearers. Mines are like litter here, killing and maiming, it is calculated, every hour of every day. Opposite what was Kabul's main cinema and is today an art deco shell, there is a busy roundabout with posters warning that unexploded cluster bombs "yellow and from USA" are in the vicinity. Children play here, chasing each other into the shadows. They are watched by a teenage boy with a stump and part of his face missing. In the countryside, people still confuse the cluster canisters with the yellow relief packages that were dropped by American planes almost two years ago, during the war, after Bush had prevented international relief convoys crossing from Pakistan.

More than $10bn has been spent on Afghanistan since October 7 2001, most of it by the US. More than 80% of this has paid for bombing the country and paying the warlords, the former mojahedin who called themselves the "Northern Alliance". The Americans gave each warlord tens of thousands of dollars in cash and truckloads of weapons. "We were reaching out to every commander that we could," a CIA official told the Wall Street Journal during the war. In other words, they bribed them to stop fighting each other and fight the Taliban.

These were the same warlords who, vying for control of Kabul after the Russians left in 1989, pulverised the city, killing 50,000 civilians, half of them in one year, 1994, according to Human Rights Watch. Thanks to the Americans, effective control of Afghanistan has been ceded to most of the same mafiosi and their private armies, who rule by fear, extortion and monopolising the opium poppy trade that supplies Britain with 90% of its street heroin. The post-Taliban government is a facade; it has no money and its writ barely runs to the gates of Kabul, in spite of democratic pretensions such as the election planned for next year. Omar Zakhilwal, an official in the ministry of rural affairs, told me that the government gets less than 20% of the aid that is delivered to Afghanistan - "We don't even have enough money to pay wages, let alone plan reconstruction," he said. President Harmid Karzai is a placeman of Washington who goes nowhere without his posse of US Special Forces bodyguards.

In a series of extraordinary reports, the latest published in July, Human Rights Watch has documented atrocities "committed by gunmen and warlords who were propelled into power by the United States and its coalition partners after the Taliban fell in 2001" and who have "essentially hijacked the country". The report describes army and police troops controlled by the warlords kidnapping villagers with impunity and holding them for ransom in unofficial prisons; the widespread rape of women, girls and boys; routine extortion, robbery and arbitrary murder. Girls' schools are burned down. "Because the soldiers are targeting women and girls," the report says, "many are staying indoors, making it impossible for them to attend school [or] go to work."

In the western city of Herat, for example, women are arrested if they drive; they are prohibited from travelling with an unrelated man, even an unrelated taxi driver. If they are caught, they are subjected to a "chastity test", squandering precious medical services to which, says Human Rights Watch, "women and girls have almost no access, particularly in Herat, where fewer than one per cent of women give birth with a trained attendant". The death rate of mothers giving birth is the highest in the world, according to Unicef. Herat is ruled by the warlord Ismail Khan, whom US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld endorsed as "an appealing man... thoughtful, measured and self-confident".

"The last time we met in this chamber," said George Bush in his state of the union speech last year, "the mothers and daughters of Afghanistan were captives in their own homes, forbidden from working or going to school. Today, women are free, and are part of Afghanistan's new government. And we welcome the new minister of women's affairs, Dr Sima Samar." A slight, middle-aged woman in a headscarf stood and received the choreographed ovation. A physician who refused to deny treatment to women during the Taliban years, Samar is a true symbol of resistance, whose appropriation by the unctuous Bush was short-lived. In December 2001, Samar attended the Washington-sponsored "peace conference" in Bonn where Karzai was installed as president and three of the most brutal warlords as vice-presidents. (The Uzbek warlord General Rashid Dostum, accused of torturing and slaughtering prisoners, is currently defence minister.) Samar was one of two women in Karzai's cabinet.

No sooner had the applause in Congress died away than Samar was smeared with a false charge of blasphemy and forced out. The warlords, different from the Taliban only in their tribal allegiances and religious pieties, were not tolerating even a gesture of female emancipation.

Today, Samar lives in constant fear for her life. She has two fearsome bodyguards with automatic weapons. One is at her office door, the other at her gate. She travels in a blacked-out van. "For the past 23 years, I was not safe," she told me, "but I was never in hiding or travelling with gunmen, which I must do now... There is no more official law to stop women from going to school and work; there is no law about dress code. But the reality is that even under the Taliban there was not the pressure on women in the rural areas there is now."

The apartheid might have legally ended, but for as many as 90% of the women of Afghanistan, these "reforms" - such as the setting up of a women's ministry in Kabul - are little more than a technicality. The burka is still ubiquitous. As Samar says, the plight of rural women is often more desperate now because the ultra-puritanical Taliban dealt harshly with rape, murder and banditry. Unlike today, it was possible to travel safely across much of the country.

At a bombed-out shoe factory in west Kabul, I found the population of two villages huddled on exposed floors without light and with one trickling tap. Small children squatted around open fires on crumbling parapets: the day before, a child had fallen to his death; on the day I arrived, another child fell and was badly injured. A meal for them is bread dipped in tea. Their owl eyes are those of terrified refugees. They had fled there, they explained, because warlords routinely robbed them and kidnapped their wives and daughters and sons, whom they would rape and ransom back to them.

"During the Taliban we were living in a graveyard, but we were secure," a campaigner, Marina, told me. "Some people even say they were better. That's how desperate the situation is today. The laws may have changed, but women dare not leave their homes without the burka, which we wear as much for our protection."

Marina is a leading member of Rawa, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, a heroic organisation that for years tried to alert the outside world to the suffering of the women of Afghanistan. Rawa women travelled secretly throughout the country, with cameras concealed beneath their burkas. They filmed a Taliban execution and other abuses, and smuggled their videotape to the west. "We took it to different media groups," said Marina. "Reuters, ABC Australia, for example, and they said, yes, it's very nice, but we can't show it because it's too shocking for people in the west." In fact, the execution was shown finally in a documentary broadcast by Channel 4.

That was before September 11 2001, when Bush and the US media discovered the issue of women in Afghanistan. She says that the current silence in the west over the atrocious nature of the western-backed warlord regime is no different. We met clandestinely and she wore a veil to disguise her identity. Marina is not her real name.

"Two girls who went to school without their burkas were killed and their dead bodies were put in front of their houses," she said. "Last month, 35 women jumped into a river along with their children and died, just to save themselves from commanders on a rampage of rape. That is Afghanistan today; the Taliban and the warlords of the Northern Alliance are two faces of the same coin. For America, it's a Frankenstein story - you make a monster and the monster goes against you. If America had not built up these warlords, Osama bin Laden and all the fundamentalist forces in Afghanistan during the Russian invasion, they would not have attacked the master on September 11 2001."

Afghanistan's tragedy exemplifies the maxim of western power - that third world countries are regarded and dealt with strictly in terms of their usefulness to "us". The ruthlessness and hypocrisy this requires is imprinted on Afghanistan's modern history. One of the most closely guarded secrets of the cold war was America's and Britain's collusion with the warlords, the mojahedin, and the critical part they played in stimulating the jihad that produced the Taliban, al-Qaida and September 11.

"According to the official view of history," Zbigniew Brzezinski, Presi dent Carter's national security adviser, admitted in an interview in 1998, "CIA aid to the mojahedin began during 1980, that is, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan... But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise." At Brzezinski's urging, in July 1979 Carter authorised $500m to help set up what was basically a terrorist organisation. The goal was to lure Moscow, then deeply troubled by the spread of Islamic fundamentalism in the Soviet central Asian republics, into the "trap" of Afghanistan, a source of the contagion.

For 17 years, Washington poured $4bn into the pockets of some of the most brutal men on earth - with the overall aim of exhausting and ultimately destroying the Soviet Union in a futile war. One of them, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a warlord particularly favoured by the CIA, received tens of millions of dollars. His speciality was trafficking opium and throwing acid in the faces of women who refused to wear the veil. In 1994, he agreed to stop attacking Kabul on condition that he was made primeminister - which he was.

Eight years earlier, CIA director William Casey had given his backing to a plan put forward by Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, to recruit people from around the world to join the Afghan jihad. More than 100,000 Islamic militants were trained in Pakistan between 1986 and 1992, in camps overseen by the CIA and MI6, with the SAS training future al-Qaida and Taliban fighters in bomb-making and other black arts. Their leaders were trained at a CIA camp in Virginia. This was called Operation Cyclone and continued long after the Soviets had withdrawn in 1989.

"I confess that [countries] are pieces on a chessboard," said Lord Curzon, viceroy of India in 1898, "upon which is being played out a great game for the domination of the world." Brzezinski, adviser to several presidents and a guru admired by the Bush gang, has written virtually those same words. In his book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives, he writes that the key to dominating the world is central Asia, with its strategic position between competing powers and immense oil and gas wealth. "To put it in terminology that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires," he writes, one of "the grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy" is "to keep the barbarians from coming together".

Surveying the ashes of the Soviet Union he helped destroy, the guru mused more than once: so what if all this had created "a few stirred up Muslims"? On September 11 2001, "a few stirred up Muslims" provided the answer. I recently interviewed Brzezinski in Washington and he vehemently denied that his strategy precipitated the rise of al-Qaida: he blamed terrorism on the Russians.

When the Soviet Union finally collapsed, the chessboard was passed to the Clinton administration. The latest mutation of the mojahedin, the Taliban, now ruled Afghanistan. In 1997, US state department officials and executives of the Union Oil Company of California (Unocal) discreetly entertained Taliban leaders in Washington and Houston, Texas. They were entertained lavishly, with dinner parties at luxurious homes in Houston. They asked to be taken shopping at a Walmart and flown to tourist attractions, including the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida and Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, where they gazed upon the faces of American presidents chiselled in the rockface. The Wall Street Journal, bulletin of US power, effused, "The Taliban are the players most capable of achieving peace in Afghanistan at this moment in history."

In January 1997, a state department official told journalists in a private briefing that it was hoped Afghanistan would become an oil protectorate, "like Saudi Arabia". It was pointed out to him that Saudi Arabia had no democracy and persecuted women. "We can live with that," he said.

The American goal was now the realisation of a 60-year "dream" of building a pipeline from the former Soviet Caspian across Afghanistan to a deep-water port. The Taliban were offered 15 cents for every 1,000 cubic feet of gas that passed through Afghanistan. Although these were the Clinton years, pushing the deal were the "oil and gas junta" that was soon to dominate George W Bush's regime. They included three former members of George Bush senior's cabinet, such as the present vice-president, Dick Cheney, representing nine oil companies, and Condoleezza Rice, now national security adviser, then a director of Chevron-Texaco with special responsibility for Pakistan and Central Asia.

Peel the onion of this and you find Bush senior as a paid consultant of the huge Carlyle Group, whose 164 companies specialise in oil and gas and pipelines and weapons. His clients included a super-wealthy Saudi family, the Bin Ladens. (Within days of the September 11 attacks, the Bin Laden family was allowed to leave the US in high secrecy.)

The pipeline "dream" faded when two US embassies in east Africa were bombed and al-Qaida was blamed and the connection with Afghanistan was made. The usefulness of the Taliban was over; they had become an embarrassment and expendable. In October 2001, the Americans bombed back into power their old warlord friends, the "Northern Alliance". Today, with Afghanistan "liberated", the pipeline is finally going ahead, watched over by the US ambassador to Afghanistan, John J Maresca, formerly ofUnocal.

Since it overthrew the Taliban, the US has established 13 bases in the nine former Soviet central Asian countries that are Afghanistan's resource-rich neighbours. Across the world, there is now an American military presence at the gateway to every major source of fossil fuel. Lord Curzon would never recognise his great game. It's what the US Space Command calls "full spectrum dominance".

It is from the vast, Soviet-built base at Bagram, near Kabul, that the US controls the land route to the riches of the Caspian Basin. But, as in that other conquest, Iraq, all is not going smoothly. "We get shot at every time we go off base," said Colonel Rod Davis. "For us, that's a combat zone out there."

I said to him, "But President Bush says you liberated Afghanistan. Why should people shoot at you?"

"Hostile elements are everywhere, my friend."

"Is that surprising, when you support murderous warlords?" I replied.

"We call them regional governors." (As "regional governors", warlords such as Ismail Khan in Herat are deemed part of Karzai's national government - an uneasy juxtaposition. Karzai has pleaded with Khan to release millions of dollars of customs duty.)

The war that expelled the Taliban never stopped. Ten thousand US troops are stationed there; they go out in their helicopter gunships and Humvees and blow up caves in the mountains or they target a village, usually in the south-east. The Taliban are coming back in the Pashtun heartland and on the border with Pakistan. The level of the war is not independently known; US spokesmen such as Colonel Davis are the sources of news reports that say "50 Taliban fighters were killed by US forces". Afghanistan is now so dangerous that it is virtually impossible for reporters to find out.

The centre of US operations is now the "holding facility" at Bagram, where suspects are taken and interrogated. Two former prisoners, Abdul Jabar and Hakkim Shah, told the New York Times in March how as many as 100 prisoners were "made to stand hooded, their arms raised and chained to the ceiling, their feet shackled, unable to move for hours at a time, day and night". From here, many are shipped to the concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay.

They are denied all rights. The Red Cross has been allowed to inspect only part of the "holding facility"; Amnesty has been refused access altogether. In April last year, a Kabul taxi driver, Wasir Mohammad, whose family I interviewed, "dis-appeared" into Bagram after he inquired at a roadblock about the whereabouts of a friend who had been arrested. The friend has since been released, but Mohammad is now in a cage in Guantanamo Bay. A former minister of the interior in the Karzai government told me that Mohammad was in the wrong place at the wrong time: "He is innocent." Moreover, he had a record of standing up to the Taliban. It is likely that many of those incarcerated at Bagram and Guantanamo Bay were kidnapped for ransoms the Americans pay for suspects.

Why, I asked Colonel Davis, were the people in the "holding facility" not given the basic rights he would expect as an American taken prisoner by a foreign army. He replied: "The issue of prisoners of war is way off to the far left or the right depending on your perspective." This is the Kafkaesque world that Bush's America has imprinted on the recently acquired additions to its empire, real and virtual, rising on new rubble in places where human life is not given the same value as those who perished at Ground Zero in New York. One such place is a village called Bibi Mahru, which was attacked by an American F16 almost two years ago during the war. The pilot dropped a MK82 "precision" 500lb bomb on a mud and stone house, where Orifa and her husband, Gul Ahmed, a carpet weaver, lived. The bomb killed all but Orifa and one son - eight members of her family, including six children. Two children in the next house were killed, too.

Her face engraved with grief and anger, Orifa told me how the bodies were laid out in front of the mosque, and the horrific state in which she found them. She spent the afternoon collecting body parts, "then bagging and naming them so they could be buried later on". She said a team of 11 Americans came and surveyed the crater where her home had stood. They noted the numbers on shrapnel and each interviewed her. Their translator gave her an envelope with $15 in dollar bills. Later, she was taken to the US embassy in Kabul by Rita Lasar, a New Yorker who had lost her brother in the Twin Towers and had gone to Afghanistan to protest about the bombing and comfort its victims. When Orifa tried to hand in a letter through the embassy gate, she was told, "Go away, you beggar."

In May last year, the Guardian published the result of an investigation by Jonathan Steele. He concluded that, in addition to up to 8,000 Afghans killed by American bombs, as many as 20,000 more may have died as an indirect consequence of Bush's invasion, including those who fled their homes and were denied emergency relief in the middle of a drought. Of all the great humanitarian crises of recent years, no country has been helped less than Afghanistan. Bosnia, with a quarter of the population, received $356 per person; Afghanistan gets $42 per person. Only 3% of all international aid spent in Afghanistan has been for reconstruction; the US-led military "coalition" accounts for 84%, the rest is emergency aid. Last March, Karzai flew to Washington to beg for more money. He was promised extra money from private US investors. Of this, $35m will finance a proposed five-star hotel. As Bush said, "The Afghan people will know the generosity of America and its allies."

The use of Islamist militants by American and Israeli militarists -- The war in Afghanistan to September 11 and beyond

Left: Dr. Abdul Qadeer (A. Q.) Khan. (The father of the Islamic Bomb)

Benazir and the Bomb

by Emily MacFarquhar

Way back in 1984, when Benazir Bhutto had just been released from years of detention by a military dictator, she traveled to Washington for benedictions and support. The brave young Pakistani politician told admiring American audiences what they wanted to hear: That she was not only seeking to bring democratic freedoms to her country, she opposed building nuclear weapons.

Other Pakistanis had given anti-bomb pledges, of course, including Benazir's nemesis and jailer, President Zia-ul Haq. But Benazir, a product of the anti-war years at Harvard, was seen to be the real anti-nuclear thing. She was everyone's best hope for a democratic, bomb-free Pakistan.

Fast forward 15 years, two Bhutto prime ministerships, and 11 South Asian nuclear tests. As the world seeks to come to terms with two newly declared nuclear powers, policymakers will be asking whether Benazir Bhutto, now leader of the opposition, should still be seen as a force for nuclear restraint in Pakistan.

When Indian set off the nuclear test match in May, 1998, one of the most strident champion of a vigorous Pakistani response was Benazir Bhutto. Theatrically tossing glass bangles on the ground, she taunted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as a womanly wimp for not rushing to test. And she issued the single most provocative suggestion for dealing with India's claims to nuclear powerdom. "Rogue nations that defy world opinion ought to be taught a lesson," she wrote in the Los Angeles Times. "If a preemptive military strike is possible to neutralize India's nuclear capability, that is the response that is necessary." Her designated instrument of retribution? "The West," meaning, inevitably, the United States.

In the uproar that followed India's nuclear tests, no western government chose to notice this modest proposal for nuclear castration from a former prime minister of Pakistan. Even in her home country, where jingoism reigned in the wake of the nuclear test match, Bhutto's ultra-hawkishness was seen as over-the-top. So once Pakistan had carried out its tat-for-tat tests, she became the peacemaker. She called for Pakistan to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and to conclude a no-first-use nuclear agreement with India.

A month later, it turned out that Bhutto the hawk was not so far out after all. The Sharif government was exploring a preemptive attack by Pakistan, according to one of four Pakistani nuclear scientists who fled the country in protest against orders to provide data for strikes on Indian military targets, including the possible use of nuclear weapons. The appearance of an unknown F-16 in Pakistan's airspace hours before its own nuclear tests had set off fears in Islamabad of an imminent Indian-Israeli attack. Pakistan appealed to both the U.S. and the UN to intervene and put its own forces on alert. Bhutto made no further calls for military action.

Hawk and dove coexist in the hearts of many a politician. But for Benazir Bhutto, nuclear attitudes are further complicated by filial feelings. As she never ceased reminding her countrymen, it was her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who first threw down a nuclear gauntlet in the mid-1960's with a famous pledge: "If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass or leaves--even go hungry--but we will get one of our own." In 1972, after Pakistan's defeat in the Bangladesh war, President Bhutto gave the go-ahead for building nuclear weapons. When India exploded its nuclear device two years later, the Pakistani program was speeded up and Bhutto gave it a new justification, as an "Islamic bomb."

Zulfikar Bhutto liked to tell a story about Henry Kissinger threatening to make "a horrible example" of him if he did not give up the nuclear program. The incident probably never happened. But Benazir has woven it into an explanation of her father's execution by President Zia in 1979--that Bhutto was killed at America's behest, in fulfillment of Kissinger's threat. She repeated this myth-history in Pakistan's national assembly in June 1998.

Pakistan may well be the world's leading producer, and consumer, of conspiracy theories, most of them involving American plots. Does Benazir Bhutto herself believe that the United States had her father bumped off in the name of non-proliferation? Impossible to say, and for Pakistanis, not strictly relevant. They got her message--that Bhutto was martyred for the bomb.

This is a point Benazir was less eager to push in the years when she was working to establish her credentials as America's most reliable ally in Pakistan. Then, she had to damp down her party's anti-American instincts, and its penchant for stars-and-stripes-burning, as well as disavow the bomb program. Her conservative rivals tried to use her nuclear dovishness against her in the first election in 1988. As a condition for taking power, she was compelled to cede authority over the nuclear program, among other things, to the president and the army. But her exclusion from nuclear policy-making was less than total. The first major nuclear decision in her tenure--a leveling down of uranium enrichment to below bomb grade--seems to have been taken on her initiative.

In June, 1989, Benazir returned to Washington in triumph, as democratically-elected prime minister, and told a joint session of Congress: "I can declare that we do not possess nor do we intend to make a nuclear device." Americans loved her rhetoric and rewarded her with a sale of 60 F-16 jet fighters. But those in the know were less impressed. The day before her speech, she was given an unprecedented briefing by CIA director William Webster on what Americans knew about the Pakistan bomb. Bhutto was said to be shocked. But she already was aware that her nuclear assurances were hollow. Her army chief later admitted that she was "putting on a show for the Americans."

That summer, Bhutto began to take a positive line on the utility of the nuclear option. She was the first Pakistani leader to say out load that Pakistan's nuclear program was a deterrent against India. This may have marked the quiet death of Bhutto the dove.

In the winter of 1990, Pakistan found itself at daggers drawn with India over a separatist insurgency in the disputed territory of Kashmir. There still is some disagreement about what happened that spring--whether Pakistan and India were on the brink of war and whether Pakistan put nuclear weapons on some F-16s, as writer Seymour Hersh asserted in the New Yorker. What is indisputable, at least to American analysts, is that Pakistan pushed across a nuclear red line, probably by machining highly enriched uranium into weapons cores as well as by resuming bomb-grade enrichment.

Bhutto later told ABC television that she was out of the nuclear loop. It may have been more a matter of not wanting to know. When deputy national security advisor Robert Gates flew out to South Asia that May on a nuclear fire-fighting mission, she made herself unavailable. In August, she was thrown out of power. She had fought one too many battles with the president and the army. But Bhutto loyalists saw the hidden hand of the Americans, punishing her because Pakistan had crossed a nuclear threshold. Two months later, President George Bush cut off American aid to the post-Bhutto government, stating he could no longer certify that Pakistan did not have a bomb.

Bhutto and Spokeman vow that Pakistan is not seeking a nuclear bomb

To the Editor:

An Associated Press report datelined Karachi, published on Nov. 21, stated that the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, "vowed today that Pakistan would not give up its nuclear weapons program despite pressure from Washington."

That report is entirely inaccurate. The Prime Minister did not refer to Pakistan's "nuclear weapons program" because Pakistan is not building nuclear weapons.

Pakistan has time and again declared that its nuclear program is designed for peaceful purposes only. It does not possess a nuclear explosive device and does not intend to make one.

Pakistan remains firmly committed to the objective of nuclear nonproliferation for which it is willing to accept any equitable and nondiscriminatory regime in South Asia. In consonance with its commitment to nuclear nonproliferation, Pakistan will also not transfer sensitive nuclear technology to another country.

In the process of developing its peaceful nuclear program, Pakistan has acquired a certain technical capability in the nuclear field. However, a political decision has been taken at the highest government level to use this capability for peaceful purposes only and not to manufacture nuclear weapons. Malik Zahoor Ahmad, Press Attache, Embassy of Pakistan, in Washington, D.C., November 26, 1993.

When Benazir Bhutto bounced back to power in October, 1993, she no longer faced a hostile president and army and no-go policy areas. Other things had changed, too. Pakistan no longer was playing coy about its nuclear capacity and American no longer was trying to coax Pakistani leaders into rolling it back. Bhutto's aim was to win the release of Pakistan's paid-for but confiscated weapons, including a few dozen F-16s. America's aim was to trade the planes for a freeze on Pakistan's nuclear program. Neither side ended up getting what it wanted before Bhutto was ousted a second time. But she had shown her generals that she still carried clout enough in Washington to resist nuclear concessions and yet bring some military hardware home. In 1995, when India was reported to be preparing a nuclear test, she had ordered Pakistan's nuclear planners to be ready to respond within 24 hours.

Left: The Pakistani scientists posing with a nice view of Koh Kambaran in the background. The 28 May shot was fired in a tunnel bored underneath this mountain. The principal scientists responsible for developing the devices and conducting the tests were the team leader Dr. Samar Mubarakmand (right of the man in the blue beret) and Dr. Tariq Salija and Dr. Irfan Burney, all of the PAEC. The better known A.Q. Khan of KRL is left of the man in the beret (who may be General Zulfikar Ali, the ranking military officer present).

With the testing outbreak in 1998, nuclear politics in South Asia has been transformed. Benazir Bhutto, dove that was, is now laying claim to a new titled, "architect of Pakistan's missile technology." She knows that in a climate of nuclear pride, there are no rewards for abolitionists. Would-be mediators can look to Benazir Bhutto these days, not for nuclear compromise, but as a guide to the outer limits of the new debate. As the most agile of Pakistan's politicians, she has straddled them all.

See timeline of nuclear weapons development factors and events affecting Pakistan's bomb

See also chronology of Pakistani Nuclear Development

Proliferation Of Nuclear Technology By Pakistan

After years of blanket denials, Pakistan's government has finally admitted that during 1989-2003 Pakistani nuclear scientists and entities proliferated nuclear weapons-related technologies, equipment, and know how to Iran, North Korea, and Libya. The Pakistani government's denials collapsed after Libya formally decided to terminate its clandestine weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs in October 2003 and make a full disclosure of its efforts to build nuclear weapons; and after Iran, in fall 2003, agreed to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and provide details of its clandestine uranium enrichment programs that originated in the mid-1980s.

The Iranian and Libyan revelations have exposed a vast black market in clandestine nuclear trade comprising of middle men and shell companies; clandestine procurement techniques; false end-user certifications; transfer of blueprints from one country, manufacture in another, transshipment to a third, before delivery to its final destination. But even more remarkably, the investigations of Iranian and Libyan centrifuge-based uranium enrichment efforts have exposed the central role of the former head of Pakistan's Khan Research Laboratories (KRL), Dr. A.Q. Khan, in the clandestine trade. Detailed information has surfaced about transfers of technical drawings, design specifications, components, complete assemblies of Pakistan's P-1 and P-2 centrifuge models, including the blueprint of an actual nuclear warhead from KRL. But the transfer of hardware apart, there is equally damning evidence that Khan and his top associates imparted sensitive knowledge and know how in secret technical briefings for Iranian, North Korean, and Libyan scientists in Pakistan and other locations abroad.

Three decades ago, Khan, with the support of Pakistan's government, set out to create a new model of proliferation. He used centrifuge design blueprints and supplier lists of companies that he had pilfered from URENCO's facility in the Netherlands to launch Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. In the process, he perfected a clandestine model of trade in forbidden technologies outside formal government controls. By the end of the 1980s, after KRL acquired the wherewithal to produce highly-enriched uranium for a nuclear weapons program, it reversed course and began vending its services to other clients in the international system. KRL and Khan's first client was Iran (or possibly China even earlier); but the list gradually expanded to include North Korea and Libya. Starting in the late 1980s, Khan and some of his top associates began offering a one-stop shop for countries that wished to acquire nuclear technologies for a weapons program. Khan's key innovation was to integrate what was earlier a disaggregated market place for such technologies, design, engineering, and consultancy services; and in the process offer clients the option of telescoping the time required to develop a nuclear weapons capability.

As independent evidence of diversions from KRL has come to light, the Pakistani government has swiftly sought to distance itself from Khan and his activities. President Pervez Musharraf's regime has publicly denied that it or past Pakistani state authorities ever authorized transfers or sales of sensitive nuclear weapons-related technologies to Iran, Libya, or North Korea. Islamabad attributes Khan's clandestine nuclear trade to personal financial corruption, abuse of authority, and megalomania. Alarmed that Khan's past indiscretions might directly implicate the Pakistani military and state authorities, the Musharraf regime also launched an internal probe to apparently get a clearer picture of the activities of its top nuclear lab and senior scientists. In fall 2003, Pakistani investigators traveled to Iran, Dubai, Vienna, and Libya to investigate US and IAEA complaints against Khan. They discovered that the complaints were borne out by evidence; and more alarmingly, that Khan had apparently made unauthorized deals unbeknownst to Islamabad and reaped huge personal financial rewards in the process.

Since October-November 2003, Khan and his close associates' movements have been restricted. While Khan himself has been under placed under informal house arrest, his aides are undergoing what Pakistani government spokesmen politely describe as "debriefing sessions." In late January 2004, the government ultimately stripped Khan of his cabinet rank and fired him from his position as senior advisor to the chief executive. As part of a deal, Khan made a public apology on television before the Pakistani nation. In that apology, he admitted to personal failings, accepted responsibility for all past proliferation activities, and absolved past and present Pakistani state authorities of any complicity in his acts. In return, the Jamali cabinet granted Khan a conditional pardon. However, Khan's senior aides remain in custody and the government has not made up its mind on whether to press formal charges against them for violating the state's national secrets or to pardon them.

We know that Israel and South Africa have full nuclear capability -- a Christian, Jewish and Hindu civilization have this capability ... the Islamic civilization is without it, but the situation (is) about to change. said deposed Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, from his jail cell, in 1978.


Pakistan’s official name is "the Islamic Republic of Pakistan." Pakistan became the first Muslim country to use the religious appellation in its constitutional name.


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