Bhutto Was to Reveal Musharraf Fixing Elections
Benazir Bhutto was murdered just hours before handing over a report that President Pervez Musharraf was planning to rig the upcoming election, Saeed Shah reports for McClatchy Newspapers.
The day she was assassinated last Thursday, Benazir Bhutto had planned to reveal new evidence alleging the involvement of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies in rigging the country’s upcoming elections, an aide said Monday. Bhutto had been due to meet U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., to hand over a report charging that the military Inter-Services Intelligence agency was planning to fix the polls in the favor of President Pervez Musharraf.
Safraz Khan Lashari, a member of the Pakistan People’s Party election monitoring unit, said the report was “very sensitive” and that the party wanted to initially share it with trusted American politicians rather than the Bush administration, which is seen here as strongly backing Musharraf. “It was compiled from sources within the (intelligence) services who were working directly with Benazir Bhutto,” Lashari said, speaking Monday at Bhutto’s house in her ancestral village of Naudero, where her husband and children continued to mourn her death.
This dovetails with a report yesterday from UPI’s Claude Salhani that the assassination was likely carried out by the military.
Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on orders of lower- and middle-level officers of the Pakistani army and air force, according to various intelligence sources, including members of India’s counterintelligence service.
There’s a rather interesting twist, however: It likely was not the work of Musharraf loyalists.
According to a source who asked to remain unnamed, members of the Pakistani armed forces involved in Thursday’s killing of the former prime minister and leader of the opposition are sympathizers of the ultra-conservative Islamists with ties to the jihadis. “It’s worrying when half of your lower or mid-level Pak intelligence analysts have bin Laden screen savers on their computers,” a former official of the CIA was reported to have commented.
More than one analyst is of the opinion al-Qaida and other jihadis have managed to successfully penetrate Pakistan’s armed forces and security services. Given the fact Pakistan is in possession of nuclear weapons, the possibility of a pro-al-Qaida regime replacing President Pervez Musharraf would radically change the entire geopolitical alignment in southwest Asia, and it would have a spin-off effect on the Middle East, as well, primarily in regards to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
And it’s not for lack of trying, either. Pro-Islamist groups have tried to assassinate Musharraf multiple times. Two attempts took place in December 2003 when rockets were fired at his vehicle during a visit to Rawalpindi, the same city where Bhutto was assassinated last Thursday.
There are so many overlapping bad actors at work in Pakistan that almost any scenario proferred seems perfectly plausible. If in fact Bhutto was set to reveal that Musharraf was going to rig the elections, though, the irony is that most of us presumed that to begin with.
Photo: Getty Images/London Telegraph.