Monday, October 22, 2007

Bhutto Calls on the West To Investigate

In an interview to be aired later today on the Today Show Benazir Bhutto in her first American television interview since the assassination attempt against her, speaks with NBC News' Ann Curry. In the interview Benazir Bhutto asks for international aid in investigating the bloody and deadly assassination attack on her and the procession to the Mausoleum of the founder of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Bhutto: "I have asked the government of Pakistan to hold an independent inquiry headed by a credible police officer and asked them to seek international assistance. When I talk to the British-- the British government as well as the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, I mention to both of them my conversation with the government inviting international assistant to a Pakistan-led inquiry."

Curry: "Why? Why do you want international assistance into the investigation as to why you were attacked? Do you not trust the government to do the investigation on it?"

Bhutto: "No, I trust the government. But I think that the international community has greater expertise. I also feel that there are elements within our administration who were associated with the past military dictatorship, which had founded the Afghan mujahideen and because of the friends of-- the friendship or the bonds that grew up at that time, they might not be able to do such a thorough job. Or because of a lack of expertise they might not be able to do such a thorough job. So, I would like to see an independent, credible investigation assisted by the international community [new-speak for US] with-- expertise in anti-terrorism so that we can get to the bottom of the militants."
Benazir Bhutto continues to elucidate on the security situation in Pakistan.
Curry: "Did the United States tip you off that you were in danger? Did the United States, I mean, help you name these three suspects?"

Bhutto: "No, no, United States didn't tip me off about the attacks. Nor did they help me name these three people. In fact, these three people, when named by me a brotherly country gave information-- a Muslim country gave information to the government of Pakistan to General Musharraf, which General Musharraf shared with me about the suicide bombers.

But my enmity and people who want to stop me, who want to stop democracy, I know who they are. I know they stopped me earlier. I know that these-- some of them destabilized my government in 1996. And I know they don't want me returning. Because they think that democracy will weaken their stranglehold on power and will basically undermine their whole agenda of taking on another superpower after having defeated one."
Benazir goes on to specify the source of the attack according to information she received from both outside and inside of Pakistan. However, she lives it up to the viewer to estimate the plan to overthrow and sack the "other superpower."
Curry:"Are you saying you believe you were targeted by members of Musharraf's government?"

Bhutto: "I wont-- don't want to be misinterpreted on this."

Curry: "I know you don't. But you are saying that three members of his government, high-ranking members are those you are worried may be plotting against you."

Bhutto: "Not all three, not all three, one of them-- I mean, not all three are members of the government."

Curry: "Well, I mean."

Bhutto: "And one of them-- no, no, let me tell you. One of them is not a member of the government. And-- General Musharraf says that person is already under some observance. As far as another member is concerned, he has openly made his opposition to me known which I don't mind.

Because politicians have opposition. But it is my information that his son fought-- was associate with the militant group called Natiterabom (PH). [Benazir Bhutto may have been referring to the Ummah Tamir-e-Nau here, a reconstruction of the Muslim Ummah] And it is now in the newspaper that under his influence one of the People's Islamist militants has been released from prison and taken to the VIP-- ward of the hospital. So, I mean, there are these-- I know he has connections with militant groups. And then, of course, there is a third individual who you have named which I have not named. I've not named about publicly other than in my letter. And I want these people--"

Curry: "Investigated?"

Bhutto: "Some say 500, yes, that's right. Wounded so many people investigated. Because I do not believe that militancy in Pakistan could have succeeded until the sympathizers of the militants had infiltrated the administrative and security apparatus."

Curry: "You're saying--"

Bhutto: "And now I'm to--"

Curry: "That, in fact, the government did not-- did not-- that members of the government did not organize this. You're saying that it could not have been-- it could not have happened had it not been for the collusion of some members of the government?"

Bhutto: "I know some members have ties with the militants. I just-- I know it. They've defended suicide bombings. They've done this publicly."
Benazir Bhutto also called for western investigators' help and questioned the motives of Pakistani security services at the Sunday Telegraph.
"We need a security service that is professional in its approach, which rises above ties of religious or political sentiment. I have strong reservations about some of the people still operating within the intelligence services, and we need reforms to get rid of them."
Benazir Bhutto has intimated that some in the ISI support the Taliban and even al-Qu'aeda. Her dismissal in 1990 of General Hamid Gul as Director of the ISI was key to the army's decision to engineer her ouster through the office of the Presidency [who has constitutional authority to dismiss the Prime Minister] that year and defeat her in questionable election procedure.

Military appointments and policy toward India [especially Kashmir] and Afghanistan are considered by the Pakistan army to be off limits to civilian officials. Now, as then, it is likely that Benazir Bhutto's negotiations with the army (carried out through the current ISI director) also focused on this issue. Maintaining "privy areas" of military control is a frequent demand of military institutions trying to negotiate their extrication from direct rule. By announcing her intention to clean up the ISI, Benazir Bhutto made promises to Kabul and Washington that she will most likely, be unable to carry out.

Washington has been calling for such policies from Pakistan since the invasion of Afghanistan. However, Musharraf has been able to maintain a balance between the demands of the west and Kabul by proxy and the calls of some in the security sector to support the forces opposed to the occupation of Afghanistan.

Benazir Bhutto has indicated that she might allow a U.S. military strike inside Pakistan to eliminate al-Qu'aeda leader Osama bin Laden if she were the country's leader.
"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 (I) would seek their cooperation in eliminating him," Bhutto said in an interview on BBC World News America.
Benazir Bhutto vows to purge Pakistan's security apparatus.

Benazir Bhutto plans to purge the intelligence services of hundreds of agents suspected of supporting extremist activity if she becomes prime minister again.

In a move that puts her on a collision course with the nation's most powerful institutions, Benazir Bhutto said Pakistan's security services had to become "professional" agencies free from political agendas. The security forces of Pakistan has always been its most powerful sector since independence. The necessity of maintaining a large force to ward off attacks from India and subversion at home has seen this faction at the apex of Pakistani society for 60 years.

Nevertheless, foremost in her sights if she returns to power will be the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), often described as a "state within a state;" that is accused of orchestrating some of the violence convulsing Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan.

Benazir Bhutto said on Saturday: "I have strong reservations about some of the people still operating within the intelligence services, and we need reforms to get rid of them."

However, A senior government official on Monday rejected a call from Benazir Bhutto for foreign experts to help investigate the suicide attack on her homecoming procession.

Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao said foreign experts would not be brought into the probe.
"I would categorically reject this," he told reporters. "We are conducting the investigation in a very objective manner."
"I would categorically reject this," he told reporters. "We are conducting the investigation in a very objective manner."

Benazir Bhutto, who escaped two suicide blasts on October 19, 2007, because she had stepped into her armored bus minutes before the bombs went off, has called for an independent inquiry, questioning why many streetlights were not working as her convoy inched its way through the darkness. Benazir Bhutto has said elsewhere that she contacted the authorities in the government to find out why the lights were not working hours before the blasts went off. Her security people procured flood lights to compensate for the dark conditions but they were ultimately, inadequate.

Benazir Bhutto also noted the chief investigator of the incident is a police officer who had been present as her husband was allegedly tortured while in custody on corruption charges in 1999. Her husband is known as Mr. 10% in Pakistan because of the numerous kickbacks he was accused of arranging.

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