Thursday, December 27, 2007

Jeremy Page: Did Pakistan's ISI Kill Benazir Bhutto

One of the things we learned in the wake of 9/11 is that there is no daylight between the ISI and the CIA: no Pakistani policy of any importance is undertaken before the CIA signs off, if they haven't first directed it. After all, who pays their salaries?
After the first assassination attempt on Benazir Bhutto on her return to Pakistan in October 2007, the NYTimes reported that the former Prime Minister clearly pointed to the ISI as the responsible party.(See below: The author notes that Bhutto's husband directly blamed the ISI.) In other words, according to the equation above, if it was the ISI, it was the CIA. If it was the CIA, it was Bush and Cheney. Now why would they want to further destabilize an already tottering, nuclear armed country?
Now that Bhutto is dead, she can't point any fingers and there is no one of sufficient stature to do the pointing even to the level of making it to the columns of the NYT. However, BBC TV news reported that one of the surviving, slightly injured members of Bhutto's party noticed that at the time of the shooting/bombing there happened to be very few police in the vicinity.

Did Pakistan’s ISI Kill Benazir Bhutto?
Jeremy Page
Times Online
December 27, 2007

The main suspects in Benazir Bhutto’s assassination are the Pakistani and foreign Islamist militants who regarded her as a heretic and an American stooge and had repeatedly threatened to kill her.

But fingers will also be pointed at Inter-Services Intelligence, the agency that has had close ties to the Islamists since the 1970s and has been used by successive Pakistani leaders to suppress political opposition.

Ms Bhutto narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in October, when a suicide bomber killed about 140 people at a rally in the port city of Karachi to welcome her back from eight years in exile.

That month, two militant warlords based in the lawless northwestern areas of Pakistan, near the border with Afghanistan, had threatened to kill her on her return.

One was Baitullah Mehsud, a top commander fighting the Pakistani army in the tribal region of South Waziristan. He has close ties to al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taleban.

The other was Haji Omar, the “amir” or leader of the Pakistani Taleban, who is also from South Waziristan and fought against the Soviets with the Mujahidin in Afghanistan.

After that attack Ms Bhutto revealed that she had received a letter signed by a person who claimed to be a friend of al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden threatening to slaughter her like a goat.

She accused Pakistani authorities of not providing her with sufficient security and hinted that they may have been complicit in the bomb attack. Asif Ali Zardari, her husband, directly accused the ISI of being involved in that attempt on her life.

Ms Bhutto stopped short of blaming the Government directly, saying that she had more to fear from unidentified members of a power structure that she described as allies of the “forces of militancy”.

Analysts say that President Musharraf himself is unlikely to have ordered her assassination, but that elements of the army and intelligence service would have stood to lose money and power if she had become Prime Minister.

The ISI, in particular, includes some Islamists who became radicalised while running the American-funded campaign against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and remained fiercely opposed to Ms Bhutto on principle.

Saudi Arabia, which has strong influence in Pakistan, is also thought to frown on Ms Bhutto as being too secular and Westernised and to favour Nawaz Sharif, another former Prime Minister.

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