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Wrong Horse

01 November, 2007

By Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd)


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US Foreign Policy experts are once again backing a wrong horse in Pakistan. This time openly instead of doing it covertly.  Musharraf is being pressured for power sharing with BB and to accommodate her all demands. Ostensibly, it is being done with a view to creating an alternate basket to put their eggs into instead of placing them all only in Musharraf’s basket. However, what the Anglo Americans are not realising that by doing so they are buying the ill will of the Pakistanis.  Benazir and her husband have been allegedly the worst ever looters and plunderers of the national wealth in Pakistan. BB is, therefore, regarded a  corrupt ruler having stashed about US$ 1.5 billion in the  foreign banks. And, as far as her being a democrat in concerned, suffice it to say, she doesn’t enjoy that image either.  In fact she is reputed to be an autocrat of the order who would not tolerate even her own mother who was made the Chairperson of the party after the death of her husband – Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) - the founder of the PPP. Benazir first manoeuvred to share the Chair with the mother but soon engineered her ouster ignominiously getting herself installed as the Life Chairperson of the party. What a democrat – the ‘life long Chairperson’ of the party.  A party that has NEVER held its party elections ever since its inception – 40 years ago!  The poor mother is invalid and hospitalised for the last many years in London and hardly any one in the public knows of her present plight. Though BB has been to London umpteen times but one has never heard of her visiting the bed ridden mother there. Probably her only fault was that she wished to pass the ZAB mantle in the Eastern tradition to the male heir, the eldest son Murtaza Ali Bhutto and the BB has not forgotten it. 

Murtaza Bhutto was murdered under mysterious circumstances in police firing near his house in Karachi when Benazir herself was the Prime Minister of the country. Murtaza’s widow Ghinwa and daughter Fatima allegedly point their fingers towards BB and her husband for the dastardly crime and an FIR to this effect is pending with the Karachi police against the husband Mr. Asif Ali Zardari. The Life Chairperson rules the party with an iron hand and no one, including the founding fathers of the party, dare do anything without her explicit prior permission. Quite a few disillusioned stalwarts have left the party and only recently the two most important and very senior members of the party, the ex-Governor Punjab Mustafa Khar whom ZAB used to call his son and heir apparent in preference to his real sons, and General (Retd) Naseer ullah Khan Babur who was a staunch supporter of the BB and was her Interior Minister, have left the party only a few days ago. They parted the ways with the BB for her having negotiated a deal with a military dictator which, according to them, has tarnished the image of the party, compromised its principles, betrayed the party workers and their long arduous struggle for the restoration of democracy. They allege that only Benazir and her husband have gained from the deal, absolving them of all corruption charges and withdrawal of the court cases against them in Pakistan, Switzerland etc. She doesn’t seem to be much disturbed by such desertions in the party as nothing matters to her except her own self interest.  She is shrewd, an eloquent speaker and knows the art of winning the hearts of the naïve and gullible masses even with her hollow promises. Not only that, she can have her way in the international political arena as well. Though her influencing the Yankees is understandable yet, her winning over the British - respected the world over for their mature and far reaching policies - is rather amusing.  Such is her spell that both are openly pressuring Musharraf for sharing power with her.  What baffles most here is as to what is the compulsion for General Musharraf to yield to such pressures and shake hands with the most corrupt politician whose is known to have plundered the national exchequer of  at least 1.5 billion dollars?! A very common perception prevailing in Pakistan is that the UK and USA governments think that she would be able to help eradicate the extremism and restore full democracy in Pakistan.  What they don’t realize it that by thrusting upon the nation an allegedly corrupt of the order of Benazir, they are antagonising the people further to the extent that they are losing the support of even the moderates also along with the religious parties, who have already no love lost for them.

On the top of it all, the BB has made the blunder of issuing statements like that she will handover AQ Khan to the IAEA for questioning and also that she will permit the NATO and US forces to bomb the tribal areas, if required, etc. etc. This has left little doubt in the mind of the general public as to whose agenda she is carrying and shall follow and implement if elected to power and installed as the PM for the third time. This general perception is not only damaging the Americans and the British in Pakistan but also increasing the popular support in favour of the Islamists who are generally considered to be aligned with the Jihadis and extremists. 

Such a situation is not only detrimental for the Anglo-Americans but highly fraught with dangers for Pakistan itself.  If the extremists come to power, it will drive Pakistan further backwards and its hopes of achieving enlightened moderation and modern progress and development will be severely affected.  It is time that our western benefactors, if they wish well for Pakistan, had pulled their hands off from supporting Benazir as their such support for her is having a negative effect in Pakistan.

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