October 20, 2007

IRAN : Atefah Sahaaleh's (Madhuri Dixit of Neka), reconstruction of tragic end

Atefah Sahaaleh. Executed in the Northern Iranian town of Neka for “crimes against chastity”, Sahaaleh was, despite court papers suggesting she was 22, only 16 when her life was tragically ended. Growing up without a mother and with a father suffering from drug addiction, Atefah lacked the parental guidance and support most children have. A combination of dramatised reconstruction and secretly filmed footage, Execution of a Teenage Girl, described as an ‘impressive film’ by the Times, is a powerful account of the events leading to her execution.

There remain other women in Iran awaiting execution for “crimes against chastity”, and Reprieve welcomes this documentary as part of uncovering the hidden truth of Atefah’s story and that of others who face the same fate.

Benazir Bhutto has only herself to blame

By Imran Khan
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 21/10/2007

I'm sorry to say this, but the bombing of Benazir Bhutto's cavalcade as she paraded through Karachi on Thursday night was a tragedy almost waiting to happen. You could argue it was inevitable.

Everyone here knew there was going to be a huge crowd turning up to see her return after eight years in self-imposed exile. Everyone also knows that there has been a spate of suicide bombings in Pakistan lately, especially in the frontier region where I am campaigning at the moment.

How was it ever going to be possible to monitor such a large crowd and guarantee that no suicide bombers would infiltrate it?

This may sound equally harsh, but she has only herself to blame. By making a deal with Musharraf's government — a deal brokered by the British as well as the Americans, by the way — she was hoping to get herself off the corruption charges that have been levelled against her.

What she hadn't taken into account was Musharraf's unpopularity. He is regarded in Pakistan as an American stooge. And the US war on terror, which he supports, is now perceived as a war against Islam.

That is why there is no shortage of recruits for the fundamentalist cause here. By siding with him, Benazir was making herself a target for assassination.

The sad thing is, she didn't need to do it. Musharraf was sinking and isolated. He was on the point of declaring a state of emergency. Just when it looked as if he had no lifelines left, Benazir came back and bailed him out.

Worse, by publicly siding with a dictator, she has deliberately sabotaged the democratic process. We have an election coming up in January. As leader of the Justice Party, I am running in it but it will be a free and fair election if Musharraf is still in charge.

He has dismantled state institutions, such as an independent judiciary and an election commission, and has introduced a controlled assembly, a controlled prime minister and a controlled media.

The polls show he can only win this next election if he massively rigs it. That is what he did in 2002, as confirmed by the EU monitoring team.

Given the way that she has undermined democracy by siding with Musharraf, I don't know how Benazir has the nerve to say that the 130 people killed in those bomb blasts sacrificed their lives for the sake of democracy in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, you can take your pick as to who was responsible for the two bombs that went off. At least three jihad groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Taliban were plotting suicide attacks — but one thing is for sure, there is no shortage of candidates.

The war on terror is turning everyone in the tribal border regions into potential guerrillas. Not militants necessarily but disparate groups who are becoming united by their suspicion of America. A coalition is forming, and al-Qaeda is going to be only a small part of it.

Benazir has made enemies for herself in this respect also. She alone among Pakistan's political party leaders has given public support to the massacre of women and children that Musharraf caused when he ordered his troops to attack the Red Mosque in Islamabad.

She also backed his attacks on civilians in the tribal regions. Note that Musharraf has called the civilian deaths there "collateral damage" — an American euphemism.

Benazir also gave her backing to Musharraf's plan to allow Nato troops to hunt down maybe 200 or 300 Taliban and al-Qaeda supporters in the border region, but in doing that they have merely recruited a million potential supporters for the terrorists.

No one in the West understands that the tribal regions of Pakistan have always been an independent entity. They have never been conquered. Every man is a warrior and carries a gun. Even a superpower like the British Empire could not control that terrain. It had to bribe the tribes.

I have known Benazir since we were at Oxford together, but we have drifted apart politically since then. Perhaps I could have warned her that her life would be in danger if she returned to Pakistan and had a parade, but I doubt she would have listened.

After all, there has been no shortage of warnings from other quarters. But I can tell her this: it is not going to get any easier for her. Whenever she goes out campaigning in public, her life is going to be threatened.

It is different for me campaigning in public, even in the frontier region, because I am not perceived as an America stooge, or a supporter of the war on terror.

The British do not have clean hands in this latest suicide bombing outrage. Britain is providing a safe haven for Altaf Hussain, the Musharraf-supporting MQM political party leader who currently lives in London.

He's been living in London for 15 years and from there he controls Karachi with an iron will through his mafia-like party. It was this political gangster who persuaded Benazir that he could ensure her safety if she returned.

The only positive thing that might come out of this horrific bombing is that it will force everyone in Pakistani politics to sit down together at a big table and review our strategy on terror. We have to accept that it is not working, that, in fact, it is making matters worse.

It is an idiotic policy because the Americans are pushing people who are in favour of democracy at the moment towards extremism. Pakistan is in danger of turning into Algeria, a country where you had government forces firing on their own civilians.

Once the Pakistani army started its latest operation at the behest of the US, the whole border area rose up against it. And because the US has also bombed the area, killing many tribesmen, anyone who opposes the US becomes a hero.

The tribesman's culture is a revenge culture. When one is killed another takes his place. That is where the war on terror has been so misguided. It has benefited the people who caused 9/11. And it has made Musharraf — and now his ally Benazir Bhutto — look even more like puppets of America.




In association with Foundation for Aviation Development (India Chapter)

November 1-2, 2007, the Taj Mansingh, New Delhi


Day - I



Chairperson - Mr. Ashok Chawla, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation

Speakers - Mr. Ajay Singh, Director, Spice Jet

Mr. Kanu Gohain, Director General, DGCA

Dr. Sanat Kaul, Chairman, IFFAAD

Mr. Harry Dhaul, Director General, Aviation Watch

11:30AM - 11:45AM TEA BREAK

11:45 AM - 1:00 PM

Session - I

Safety Issues

RNAV & RNP Procedures

Chairperson - Mr. H.S. Khola, Fr. Director General, DGCA

Speakers - Mr. Manoj Muttreja - Regional Sales Manager, South Asia & Middle East, Honeywell

Air Marshal Ashok Goel, Social Entrepreneur, Advisor & Consultant

Mr. S. Parti, Chairman, AOC

1:00 -

2:00 Lunch Break

2:00 PM - 3:15 PM

Session - II

Move from Terrestrial Navigation to Satellite based navigation

Chairperson - Mr. K Ramalingam, Chairman, AAI

Speakers - Mr. Ian Linton, Controller, NATS

Mr. Satendra Singh, Fr DG, DGCA
Dr S V Kibe, Dy Director, ISRO
Mr. Ajay Kumar, Civil Aviation Specialist for South Asia, FAA
3:15 - 3:30 Tea Break
3:30 PM - 4:45 PM

Session - III

Disaster Management &HR Challenges in Aviation ( Foreign Personal)
Speakers - Capt. Davar, Fr Director, Indian Airlines (Multicrew Licensing and Training Procedures) Mr. K.P.S Nair , Chief of Flight Safety ,
InterGlobe Aviation Air Cmde Siwach / Ashok Rai , Rotary Wing Society
Mr. Gurumukh Singh, Advisor, Kingfisher
Ms. Nalini Khandelwal - Air Crash Survivor
Mr. Manoj Kasliwal - Air Crash Survivor
4:45 PM - 6:00 PM

Session - IV

Climate change & Global Warming Challenges
Chairperson - Mr. Mark Runacres, Senior Visiting Fellow, TERI
Speakers - Mr. Sanat Kaul, Chairman, IFFAAD
Mr. William Blair, Country Director, GE Aviation
Mr. Prodipto Ghosh - Fr. Sect Environment
Mr. Randall Fiertz , FAA
Day - II
10:00 AM - 11:15 AM

Session - V

Aviation Safety, Security & Its Impact on Tourism
Chairperson - Dr. Sanat Kaul , CMD, DTTDC
Speakers - Mr. S. Banerjee , Secretary, Ministry of Tourism
Dr. P.S. Senguttuvan, Manager Economic Planning Department, DIAL
Mr. Subhash Goyal , Chaiman , Stic Travel Group
Mr. S. Parti, Chairman, AOC
11:15AM - 11:30AM TEA BREAK
11:30AM - 12:45PM


Security Threat perception on the Ground & Air
Chairperson - Mr. Jaswant Singh
Speakers - Mr. Julio Rebeiro, Ex- Commissioner of Police Mumbai Mr. R.K. Padmanabhan, Head Security Department, Air India Mr. Udyan Banerjee, Chief Airport Security Officer, CISF Mr. Vijay Poonoosamy , Senior Advisor, International Civil Aviation Affairs Mr. Shyam Mehra , Secretary Security , Cabinet Secretariat Mr. J.K. Dutt , Commissioner of Security (Civil Aviation),BCAS
12:45 PM - 2:00 PM

Session - VII

New Equipments & Technology for Security, Airport Management & Environment Management
Chairperson - Dr. Ajay Mathur Director General, BEE Speakers - Mr. William Blair Country Director, GE Aviation Mr. Trib Singh - President & CEO Hi- Tech Lockheed Martin THALES
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM LUNCH
3:00 PM - 4:15 PM

Session VIII

How prepared are Indian Agencies to Meet the challenges of safety & security
Speakers - Mr. Vivek Pattanayak , Fr Rep. of India, ICAO
Mr. V.P. Aggarwal, Member Planning, Airport Authority of India
Prof. (Dr). P.S. Senguttuvan, Manager, Economic Planning Department ,DIAL

USABF will assist all it's member's globally to know about investment opportunities in the US and in India.Please call us at 562 865 2060

US-Asia Business Forum
18766 Pioneer Bl
Artesia CA 90701
Phone: 562 865 2060, 562 865 2075
Kevin Kaul: 562-572-8751 (Cell)
Fax: 562 865 2080
Email: info@usasiabusinessforum.com


Thanks and good luck to all of you.


Backstage, U.S. Nurtured Pakistan Rivals’ Deal


Published: October 20, 2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 — To lay the groundwork for Benazir Bhutto’s return to Pakistan, some of the highest ranking officials in the Bush administration lavished attention on her as they worked to broker a power-sharing arrangement between Ms. Bhutto and her longtime rival, President Pervez Musharraf.

But the violence that greeted Ms. Bhutto on her return after eight years in exile and the finger-pointing between her camp and General Musharraf’s after the attack on her motorcade on Thursday has raised questions about whether the tenuous deal that the United States helped midwife can survive.

Bush administration officials on Friday publicly played down the potential for a deepening rift between General Musharraf and Ms. Bhutto, pointing out that the opposition leader herself had praised the rescue efforts of Pakistan’s security forces after Thursday’s attack and that General Musharraf had called Ms. Bhutto to make sure she was safe after the blast.

But unresolved questions about the attack have added a new layer of distrust to relations between Ms. Bhutto and the government, as well as new uncertainties for the Bush administration policy.

On Friday, American officials acknowledged that there was no clear basis for confidence that the two leaders could work cooperatively. Now that Ms. Bhutto has returned to the country, they acknowledged that their control over events was limited, as Thursday’s bombing showed.

“There’s really not much left to say or do at this point,” one Bush administration official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss American policy on Pakistan. “But there’s no clear indication that there is a foundation for both sides to work together cooperatively.”

Ms. Bhutto used her time in exile to nurture influential connections within Washington’s power corridors. Still, the Bush administration had long kept her at arm’s length, in large part out of deference to General Musharraf, who cast his lot with the White House after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Two years ago, Ms. Bhutto could not even get the State Department’s top official for South Asia to show up at a dinner party in her honor. (A desk officer in charge of Pakistan was sent instead.)

But in recent months that began to change. The American courtship of Ms. Bhutto included a private dinner and a jet ride with Zalmay Khalilzad, the American ambassador to the United Nations, and, over the last month, several telephone calls to Ms. Bhutto from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

“The Bush administration for a long time decided that the only telephone number in Pakistan they were going to call was Musharraf’s,” said Husain Haqqani, a former adviser to Ms. Bhutto and a professor of international relations at Boston University. “But Bhutto made it clear to them that her phone number was available to call anytime.”

In turning back to Ms. Bhutto, administration officials said they acted with reluctance, after General Musharraf’s own political missteps and the mounting opposition to his military government had weakened his grip on power and threatened to plunge Pakistan deeper into turmoil.

The administration concluded over the summer that a power-sharing deal with Ms. Bhutto might be the only way that General Musharraf could keep from being toppled.
It began quietly nurturing the accord, under which Ms. Bhutto’s party did not boycott General Musharraf’s election last month, and the president issued a decree granting Ms. Bhutto and others amnesty for recent corruption charges, opening the way for her return.

Administration officials say that Ms. Rice stepped up her personal involvement last month, when it seemed possible that General Musharraf’s other political nemesis, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, would make his own bid to return to power, and upset the deal.

Still, even now, there is no great love in the Bush administration for Ms. Bhutto. While American intelligence officials have been frustrated at times with General Musharraf’s record in fighting the Islamic militants in northern Pakistan, they have also found a small level of comfort in dealing with him.

Now they worry that Ms. Bhutto’s re-entry to Pakistan’s political scene will complicate their lagging efforts to pursue insurgents from Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
State Department bureaucrats also fret that her turbulent past will further inflame an already volatile country. Inside and outside the American bureaucracy, there remains deep skepticism that the arrangement between two longtime enemies has a chance for long-term success.

“This backroom deal I think is going to explode in our face,” said Bruce Riedel, who advised three presidents on South Asian issues and is now at the Brookings Institution. “Ms. Bhutto and Mr. Musharraf detest each other, and the concept that they can somehow work collaboratively is a real stretch.”

Before she left for Pakistan and since her return, Ms. Bhutto has publicly pressed an agenda that should please American policy makers: advocating democracy and attacking suicide bombing and Islamic militancy in words more forceful than those normally used by General Musharraf.

Still, there is concern among American officials that, given rising anti-Americanism inside Pakistan, eventually she and General Musharraf could compete for public support by showing who is less beholden to the White House — especially on matters like attacking Al Qaeda’s haven in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

In their push to engineer a pact between Ms. Bhutto and General Musharraf, American officials for several months held private meetings in Islamabad, New York and Washington. The sessions included a dinner for Ms. Bhutto in New York in August with Mr. Khalilzad, followed several weeks later by a shared ride on a private jet to Aspen, Colo., where both addressed a conference of corporate leaders.

In addition to her conversations with Ms. Bhutto, Ms. Rice had several phone conversations with General Musharraf, including one in which she called him at 2 a.m. Pakistan time to urge him not to seize emergency powers.

John D. Negroponte, the deputy secretary of state, and Richard A. Boucher, the top State Department official for Pakistan, each went to Islamabad to press General Musharraf into the deal.

For Ms. Bhutto, years of relentless networking among America’s political, diplomatic and media elite also helped to vault her back into position to lead one of the United States’ most critical allies. “She is a networker par excellence, and she’s been keeping her contacts,” said Karl F. Inderfurth, the former assistant secretary of state for South Asia who dined across the table from her at a dinner party during her last swing through Washington, in September.

Ms. Bhutto was first introduced to America’s political power brokers in 1984, via the dinner party circuit. Peter Galbraith, whose family was friends with the Bhutto family and who at the time was on the staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, escorted the visiting Ms. Bhutto around Washington.
When she herself later became the first woman elected prime minister of a Muslim country, hers was the first state dinner given by President George Bush on June 6, 1989.

She also maintained her close ties to Washington during the Clinton administration, both while she was prime minister and afterward, when she was living in exile in London, Dubai and New York after being forced from power, accused of corruption. In 1998, Ms. Bhutto asked Mark Siegel, a well-connected Democratic Party operative, to set up a meeting for her at the White House with Hillary Rodham Clinton.
One close Bhutto friend described that meeting as “intimate and warm,” and as one that had touched, at Ms. Bhutto’s prompting, on Mrs. Clinton’s personal struggles in the midst of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

Mr. Riedel, who attended the meeting, said that most of the meeting was consumed by Ms. Bhutto pressing her case on a range of issues, from Pakistani politics and women’s rights to the rise of the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan.
“I think that Benazir did about 99 percent of the talking,” he said.


News Analysis
In Pakistan Quandary, U.S. Reviews Stance

Published: October 21, 2007

WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 — The scenes of carnage in Pakistan this week conjured what one senior administration official on Friday called “the nightmare scenario” for President Bush’s last 15 months in office: Political meltdown in the one country where Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and nuclear weapons are all in play
White House officials insisted in interviews that they had confidence that their longtime ally, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s president, would maintain enough control to keep the country stable as he edged toward a power-sharing agreement with his main rival, Benazir Bhutto.

But other current and former officials cautioned that six years after the United States forced General Musharraf to choose sides in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks, American leverage over Pakistan is now limited. Though General Musharraf seems likely to survive a multifront challenge to his authority, he is weakened.
His effort at conciliation in Pakistan’s tribal areas, where Al Qaeda and the Taliban are, proved a failure, and his efforts to take them on militarily have so far proved ineffective and politically costly. Almost every major terror attack since 9/11 has been traced back to Pakistani territory, leading many who work in intelligence to believe that Pakistan, not Iraq, is the place Mr. Bush should consider the “central front” in the battle against terrorism. It was also the source of the greatest leakage of nuclear arms technology in modern times.

After years of compromises and trade-offs, there are questions inside and outside the administration about whether Mr. Bush has invested too heavily in a single Pakistani leader, an over-reliance that may have prevented the administration from examining longer-term strategic options dealing with a country Mr. Bush designated, somewhat optimistically, a “major non-NATO ally.”

“It never stitched together,” said Dan Markey, a State Department official who dealt with Pakistan until he left government earlier this year. “At every step, there was more risk aversion — because of the risk of rocking the boat seemed so high — than there was a real strategic vision.”

Even some senior administration officials said privately and in a series of recent intelligence assessments that American influence over events in Pakistan was feared to be ebbing fast.

Some officials worry aloud that a year of unrest, violence and political intrigue in Pakistan may undercut Mr. Bush’s last chance to root out Osama bin Laden from the lawless territory where Al Qaeda has regrouped. Likewise, they fear, the unrest could cripple a renewed administration effort to turn around the war against Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.

If serious divisions emerge in Pakistan’s army, they could also threaten the security of Pakistan’s potent nuclear arsenal, something that Bush administration officials worry about far more than they let on publicly.
Over the past year, the Musharraf government has quietly sent officials to Washington to assure Bush administration officials that even if the general were ousted or assassinated, the mechanisms for controlling both weapons and nuclear technology — which Pakistan acknowledges it has put together with aid from other countries — are now unbreakable.

Several officials who have left the administration recently, and were involved in discussions with Pakistan about nuclear security, say they are less sanguine.
“We have to remember that the U.S. doesn’t have very much capability to affect internal developments” in Pakistan, said Robert D. Blackwill, the former American ambassador to India and a senior official in the National Security Council during Mr. Bush’s first term.

“What I am struck by are the trends we see today: the North-West Province is ungovernable and a sanctuary for terrorists,” he said. “The politics are fractured and deeply unstable, Musharraf is weaker, and the army is uncertain which way it will go.”

This summer, White House officials were clearly worried that General Musharraf would adopt extreme measures to maintain power. In early August, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called General Musharraf twice in one day — once at 2 a.m. in Islamabad — to persuade him not to declare martial law.

A steady parade of American officials, including Ms. Rice’s deputy, John D. Negroponte, have been sent to Pakistan to persuade General Musharraf to make good on his pledge to give up his role as army chief, which now appears likely assuming the country’s Supreme Court validates his victory in a presidential election held Oct. 6.

A senior administration official, who could not speak for attribution because of the sensitivity of the issues, argued in an interview on Friday that these steps had worked. Instability and paralysis in Islamabad “is certainly one scenario, but hardly the only one,” he said.

After trying for a year, and failing, to let tribal leaders deal with Al Qaeda and to negotiate with Islamist forces, the official contended, General Musharraf “learned you can’t appease these people, and they have to go after them. So there is room to be hopeful.”

But critics of the American policy say both General Musharraf and the Bush administration were slow to sense the gathering of new threats. A frequently cited example was the administration’s delay in responding to evidence starting in 2003 that Al Qaeda and the Taliban were creating a new sanctuary in the tribal areas, on the Afghan border. At the time, Mr. Bush and General Musharraf were publicly declaring that Al Qaeda’s ranks had been greatly weakened, and that the Taliban was a spent force

Zalmay Khalilzad, the American ambassador to Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005, began warning senior administration officials that Pakistan had become the new sanctuary in 2004, according to a senior administration official. But some administration officials warned against placing too much pressure on General Musharraf.
Skip to next paragraph

BALOCHISTAN : Dan Rather reports

America Over There: By Dan Rather

Pakistani politics are way beyond baffling

COMMENT BY Ramesh Parida on October 20, 2007 11:12 AM

Vicky Woods might very well say that Pakistani politics are way beyond baffling, but the fact of the matter is, Pakistan is a classic case of an independent country where democracy was subverted by the US and Britain right throughout the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies till date. Both these western powers consistently supported military dictatorships in Pakistan, so much so that, that at this moment, no democratic government can survive in Pakistan without the blessings of the army and US. I will not go far back into history. It is a fact that the rise of Islamist forces in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the guise of Taliban was only, and only due to the machinations of the US. It was the US, which, in order to throw out the Soviet army from Afghanistan, plied Pakistan's military dictator Zia ul Haq with arms and money, and this was funnelled to the Islamist forces in Afghanistan, which ultimately landed with the Taliban. It was Benazir Bhutto's government which reared the Taliban with the help of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence(ISI). It was the ISI which funded terrorist organisations in Pakistan to carry out mayhem in Kashmir and Afghanistan. Successive rulers like Nawaz Sharif and Pervez Musharraf followed this policy. The result is now there for all to see. During Musharraf's tenure, Islamist parties won elections in Northwest Frontier Province and revived Taliban, while on the other hand, Musharraf, in order to curry favours with the US, allowed American forces to use its airbases in the name of countering Al Qaeda. The situation has now come to such a pass that nearly 250 Pak soldiers are now being held by Taliban and Al Qaeda in South Waziristan. Hundreds of Taliban boys are being trained in the Islamic seminaries of Quetta and Peshawar and sent to Afghanistan as suicide bombers. The majority of the people in Pakistan are now fed up of America's Machiavellian policies. They want American forces to leave their country. The Pakistani people find that the US has armtwisted Musharraf to allow Benazir to come back, so that Musharraf could stay as a civilian President and Bhutto becomes the Prime Minister. That, also, will be a sham democracy, because a totally different treatment has been meted out to the other opposition leader Nawaz Sharif. The message has gone down to the Pakistani people that Bhutto and Musharraf have entered into a secret pact to share power with the blessings of the US. This has given Islamist forces a handle to beat America with. Thursday night's blasts in Karachi are a pointer to this. I shudder to think what will happen if any Islamist general in the Pak army acquires nuclear power through a coup, bloodless or otherwise. But all said and done, nobody can forgive the US and Britain for messing up with Pakistan's democracy

Bhutto Had Scant Security Before Blasts: Reporter's Notebook

By Janine Zacharia

Oct. 20 (Bloomberg) -- `Gia! Gia! Gia Bhutto!'' or ``Long live Bhutto.'' ``Bhutto is still alive,'' the throngs of supporters sang.

The slogans were jarring given a Taliban commander's promise to send suicide bombers to greet Bhutto at the airport and other threats to Benazir Bhutto's life.

As a reporter, I was accompanying the former prime minister on her return to Pakistan after eight years in exile. From the moment we landed on Oct. 18 at Karachi's airport, there was a striking absence of security. As a tearful Bhutto, 54, made her way down a set of yellow utility stairs she was surrounded by press and supporters. There were no police in sight.

The arrangements for the press, like most everything else, were chaotic. We ended up at the wrong terminal and piled into vans to take us to the main airport corridor, making our way past a huge placard welcoming Bhutto home with expectations for a ``Dawn of a New Pakistan.''

We all scattered and piled onto flatbed, open-air trucks to watch the slow-moving procession. It was hardly a procession at all, in fact. Rather, a parking lot of people, a sea of humanity.

The media trucks could barely move. Bhutto's truck -- a reconfigured vehicle that looked more like a float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade -- had an indoor compartment and space for people to stand on top, at the front, and to squish into the tiny space above the cab itself. It was the tallest vehicle among them.

After five hours, Bhutto's truck still hadn't made it out of the airport. Her advisers were estimating it would take 18 hours for her to travel the few miles to the mausoleum of Pakistan's founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, where she was to deliver a speech.

Flight From Dubai

On the two-hour plane ride from Dubai, Bhutto, dressed in green and white, the colors of the Pakistani flag, had tried, and failed, to walk through the aisles and talk to her supporters. She never made it to the back cabins. ``If she can't make it to the back of her own plane,'' I joked to a BBC reporter on the flight, ``how will she ever make it to the Jinnah memorial?''

Sadly, I was right. She never did. Two deadly bombs thwarted her path, killing at least 136 people. Bhutto, unharmed, was taken from the scene to safety.

Before the bombings, aboard the dusty, open-air truck, I tried not to think about the risk around me, about my concerns before the trip that the press would serve as human shields for Bhutto.

No Police

Why was there was no security cordon? Where were the Pakistani police? Why weren't they lining the roads, I thought.

This is the way politics is done in Pakistan, remarked Raziuddin Ahmed, a 25-year-old Bhutto supporter. ``She's showing to her detractors she's able to mobilize a third of the electorate.''

This is how it was the way she returned the last time. That was more than a decade ago, before al-Qaeda was carrying out regular suicide attacks, I thought.

A Pakistani police jeep with a rifle pointed outward moved ahead of Bhutto's reconfigured truck, the tallest in a sea of colorful, dusty open-air vehicles that crept along the congested road.

At one point, a beat-up, blue pick-up truck, a ``Bomb Disposal Unit'' from the ``special branch of the Sindh police,'' appeared. It hardly inspired confidence.

Most of the time, Bhutto's truck -- adorned with a huge photo of her on the side and dozens of people hanging off it -- had no serious protection whatsoever as the crowd swarmed around, touching it, chanting to music blaring from speakers attached to the vehicle.

`Pay the Price'

The Pakistan Peoples Party relied on its own ``security forces.'' Nazeer Hussani, a secondary school teacher from Larkana, where Bhutto's family is from, was one of them. He was working as a security guard, though he didn't carry a weapon. He rode atop an open-air truck with a journalist. A T-shirt Hussani wore bore a phrase in Urdu saying he would ``sacrifice his life for you.''

He may have. Bhutto herself estimated that 50 of these unarmed security guards had perished in the attacks. I wasn't able to determine whether Hussani lived or died.

I wasn't there for the blasts themselves. I arranged to get off the truck with four colleagues and navigate through the masses to a car that was parked some distance away. It was only once I got back to the hotel that I started fielding calls about the blasts. I wasn't surprised.

At her press conference with reporters in her heavily secured residential compound on Friday, Bhutto stated what everyone knew: ``It was no secret that terrorists and extremists would try to assassinate me.'' Why did she decide then to take such a perilous journey, exposing herself and her supporters to such danger, a reporter asked.

``I know that some people think that it was naïve,'' she said. To return to Pakistan and promote democracy, ``you have to be willing to pay the price.''

To contact the reporter on this story: Janine Zacharia in Karachi, Pakistan, at jzacharia@bloomberg.net
Last Updated: October 19, 2007 16:57 EDT

The Restoration of King Dollar

October 20, 2007
By Lawrence Kudlow

Sometime in the latter half of the 1990s I coined the phrase "King Dollar." This was back in the post-Soviet collapse period, when the U.S. greenback ruled the world currency roost. As the Berlin Wall came down, taking totalitarian socialism with it, global investors and businesses sought the U.S. dollar as their currency of choice. They also chose the American model of free-market capitalism -- including supply-side reductions in marginal tax rates -- as their economic reform of choice.

The result was the greatest world economic boom in the history of history.

From Eastern Europe to India and China, and points in between, the world has experienced an unprecedented prosperity boom, a story best captured by the unbelievable rise in global stock markets. But along the way, as the world moved toward growth economics and away from central planning, King Dollar began to slide. Not because the United States was faltering (as the doom-and-gloom pessimists see it), but more because the rest of the world has been doing better.

In other words, the dollar hasn't slumped because it is necessarily weak, but because the new euro and new market economies are so strong.

There comes a point in this transition when the United States must begin to stabilize the dollar, however. I believe we are at that point now. It is time to think about reviving King Dollar. If we don't, there may well be negative consequences for U.S. inflation, the stock market and economic growth. I'm not worried about too much foreign investment, but I am concerned about too little foreign investment. I do not want to see a collapse of the worldwide demand for dollars.

Although I have never been an advocate of currency intervention by governments, there are moments in market history when unexpected interventions have worked. Clinton Treasury man Robert Rubin, a canny trader from his Wall Street days at Goldman Sachs, undertook a few interventions to buy and support the dollar in the mid-1990s. He sent a signal to currency traders, and it worked. During those years, the Greenspan Fed generally maintained firm control over the creation of new dollars. So, with a restrained money supply, the Treasury dollar-buying actions proved very effective.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is today standing at a similar crossroads. Wouldn't this be a good time for Paulson to signal that enough is enough and call a halt to the dollar's decline?

Oil prices are rising. Gold prices are rising. And currency traders around the world have set up huge short-selling positions in the greenback. But a few strong words from Paulson, coupled with a few well-timed rounds of dollar-buying, could turn the U.S. currency story around.

Every time an international terrorist event occurs, like the al-Qaida assassination attempt on former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the dollar falls. When the Turks threaten military action in Kurdistan, Iraq, with speculation that they might march toward the Kirkuk oilfields, the dollar falls. When comrade Vladimir Putin shows up in Iran, with mischief-making statements that support trade and nuclear partnerships with that terrorist government, the dollar falls. It seems as though any nasty international event leads to a dollar decline. This is not good. The dollar needs some propping up.

Ronald Reagan stated frequently that a great country should have a reliable currency. And it was the pro-growth tax cuts and counter-inflationary money of the Reagan era that ultimately reversed a 15-year dollar decline. In President Clinton's second term, a similar policy was undertaken, and a dollar slide that began in the late 1980s under Papa Bush was reversed.

In recent news, Treasury man Paulson has in fact taken a strong-dollar step with his proposal to slash corporate tax rates. The former Goldman head honcho is working with House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel to reduce the 35 percent corporate tax rate all the way down to 25 percent. This is a terrific idea. Studies have shown that 70 percent of the benefits of a corporate tax cut would go to the American workforce, boosting jobs and wages.

Right now, Wall Street is worried about the housing recession, a subprime credit hangover and slowing domestic profits. But a big corporate tax cut would lift the animal spirits. In fact, cutting business taxes with the potential for better wage and investment returns is a much better economic stimulant than depreciating the currency. And business tax reform would add real meat and muscle to a steadier dollar.

King Dollar just might reign again.
Lawrence Kudlow is a former Reagan economic advisor, a syndicated columnist, and the host of CNBC's Kudlow & Company. Visit his blog, Kudlow's Money Politics.
Benazir Bhutto has spoken to the world after the suicide bomb attack that killed 136 people in Karachi.The former Pakistan Prime Minister has addressed supporters for the first time since the attack.

By Captain Johann

1.The lights were switched off just before the attack.Who switched off the street lights and under whose order?

2.If Mrs. Bhutto was told about the attack, then they wanted an alibi to escape future culpability.It will be interesting to see who gave the warning ? How they received the warning? Whether this warning was given only to Mrs.Bhutto or to all the other agencies who are involved in physical security, perimeter security and third line security. If not passed on to others. Why?

3.Whether any S.O.P in place for this very moment especially the threat level being severe with Musharaff himself warning her?

4.How many ambulances were following the cavalcade as per SOP?

5.The initial grenade throwing and susequent attack was cordinated to ensure her presence inside the armoured vehicle. Why?


India: POSCO's Steel Investment Challenge

October 19, 2007 19 02 GMT


South Korean steelmaker POSCO said Oct. 19 it will begin work on a 12 million-ton-capacity steel plant in the eastern Indian state of Orissa by April 2008. POSCO has reaffirmed its commitment to this massive $12 billion foreign investment project, despite extensive bureaucratic delays and a potent local protest movement that threatens to sabotage the entire deal. Even so, the South Korean company could soon discover that it might not be worth the trouble to battle its way through India's challenging foreign investment terrain.


South Korean steelmaker POSCO said Oct. 19 it plans to start work on a $12 billion, 12 million-ton-capacity steel plant in the eastern Indian state of Orissa by April 2008. The announcement by POSCO CEO Lee Ku Taek came after the POSCO board met in New Delhi with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Oct. 18.

The South Korean firm has re-emphasized that it plans to complete the deal. But India's difficult foreign investment atmosphere could convince POSCO that the project is not worth the effort.

The POSCO steel plant is India's single largest foreign investment project ever and fits into a long-standing Indian strategic initiative to become a heavyweight in the steel industry. With an industry dominated by Indian steel tycoons Ratan Tata of Tata Group and Lakshmi Mittal of Arcelor Mittal, India is now the seventh-largest crude steel producer in the world, as well as the largest producer of iron.

POSCO is the world's third-largest steelmaker and aims to increase its steel production substantially through foreign investment projects in India, Vietnam, Mexico and Thailand. For its part, the Indian government is eager to boost its steel production and attract more foreign investment through such a lucrative partnership.

But among the project's most daunting challenges are India's farming and village communities. With the help of India's powerful communist parties, farmers and villagers have achieved explosive successes during the past two years in staving off foreign direct investment (FDI) projects that threaten to seize their land. The series of violent riots that has taken place during the past year in West Bengal state over the building of a Tata Motors small-cars factory provides a dramatic example of this phenomenon. The POSCO project, which is expected to displace some 4,000 villagers, also has sparked such unrest.

During the past 27 months, villagers in Orissa have erected bamboo barricades to prevent POSCO and state officials from setting foot on the land designated for the plant. Though on paper the state government says it has given more than 1,100 acres of land to the company, the government so far has handed over only 193 acres out of the 4,004 acres required for the project. And the anti-plant protesters also have stepped up their campaign. During the week of Oct. 7, villagers abducted four POSCO officials, only releasing them after local police intervened and promised the villagers that POSCO officials would not enter the area.

POSCO has developed a high tolerance for violent and drawn-out labor protests from its experience in South Korea. But in India, foreign companies like POSCO will find it increasingly difficult to fall back on government assistance to help quell these vibrant protest movements. India's FDI policy can be extremely short-sighted and inconsistent, with most political leaders far more concerned with re-election than with long-term economic strategy. Unwilling to sacrifice votes from India's large and impoverished farming community, the government has sought to distance itself from the ugliness that surrounds FDI projects and land acquisitions in order to save political face. Recent revisions to India's deeply flawed special economic zone (SEZ) policy include measures under which SEZ planners themselves, not the government, will be responsible for negotiating land seizures directly with local communities.

This places an immense burden on corporations to ensure that their plans get implemented (which often involves buying off local police). Indians in general are highly suspicious of government compensation schemes and are more than likely to fight to protect their land.

Further complicating matters, Orissa is in Naxalite country. Indian Maoist rebels, known as Naxalites, are most active in the country's eastern states of Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh -- where 70 percent of India's coal reserves and 55 percent of its iron ore are located. This means most of the new steel plants are being built in Naxalite-infested areas. Recognizing the growth of India's burgeoning steel industry, India's Naxalite rebel movements now are focused on attacking steel mills, and they have publicly announced this strategic shift.

POSCO is a resilient company and is not risk-averse, provided it can get its work done. But if delays persist in India (and they probably will), POSCO might have to close up shop and move its steel plants to a more favorable investment climate, such as Vietnam

October 19, 2007


What Pakistan needs at this critical hour in its history is a leader, who is widely perceived as independent and not an American stooge. Neither Musharraf nor Mrs. Benazir is such a leader. Mr. Nawaz Sharif, if he is able to come back to power, could turn out to be such a leader. He has maintained a distance from the US. He does not fawn on the US like Mrs. Benazir does. Pakistan needs Mr. Nawaz Sharif more than it needs Musharraf or Benazir. --- B .RAMAN

To Annapolis via Jerusalem

With pre-Mideast summit preparations obscured by a miasma of often contradictory statements, Jerusalem is again looming as a potential deal breaker, as Israel debates the future of the city and its environs.

By Dominic Moran in Tel Aviv for ISN Security Watch (19/10/07)

Jerusalem has long loomed as the primary sticking point preventing a final status deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

With the upcoming US-hosted Middle East peace conference likely to determine the nature and pace of Israeli and Palestinian negotiations until beyond the 2008 US presidential race, the fate of the city is again occupying the Israeli government and media.

Slaughtering sacred cows
Right-wing opprobrium at the recent floating by Israeli Vice Premier Haim Ramon of a plan endorsing handing East Jerusalem neighborhoods to a future Palestinian state has been met with a popular apathy unthinkable in the 1980s and 1990s.

"Ramon is, in a way [doing], for [Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert, what Olmert did for [Ariel] Sharon. He is his [putting] his finger in the wind and showing which way the wind is blowing," Dror Etkes, a leading authority on West Bank settlements and former Peace Now program leader, told ISN Security Watch.

Olmert appeared to put his weight behind his deputy's plan on Monday, asking the Knesset, "Was it necessary to also add the Shuafat refugee camp, Sawakra, Walaje and other villages and define them as part of Jerusalem? On that, I must confess, I am not convinced."

A Yediot Ahranoth/Dahaf Institute poll published last month showed that a slight majority of Israelis were happy with changing the status of Jerusalem under a peace accord, while 61 percent favored maintaining Israeli sovereignty over the Western Wall and Temple Mount.

A firm 68 percent stood against handing East Jerusalem neighborhoods to the Palestinian Authority (PA), reflecting popular Israeli antipathy to the physical re-division of the city.

Israel-Palestinian program director at Tel Aviv's Institute for National Security Studies Shlomo Brom explained to ISN Security Watch that there has been a general trend in Israeli public opinion in recent years whereby "things that used to be sacred cows, such as the division of Jerusalem, are not so sacred anymore."

"On one hand, many Israelis support, in principle, some sort of territorial compromise, but when it comes to the details, much less than what the Palestinians can live with," Etkes said.

In a Thursday interview with ISN Security Watch, Kadima legislator Otniel Schneller said, "I believe that in the future, when the Palestinians have an independent state that part of Jerusalem will be part of Al Quds [Jerusalem].

"The formula, more-or-less, will be that all of the Jewish neighborhoods will be under Israel and most of the Arab neighborhoods will be [Palestinian-controlled] Al Quds, and in between it will be a special area/territory with special arrangements and status," he said.

Schneller has reportedly served in the past as Olmert's go-between with the settler leadership, building on contacts developed through his previous position as head of the settler Yesha Council, though their relationship is understood to have cooled.

E-1 development
The status of Israeli plans for large-scale suburban development in the E-1 corridor between Jerusalem and the large West Bank settlement of Ma'ale Adumim are an important bell-weather of the status of Israeli-Palestinian relations.

If "the original plans to build the E-1 area will be realized this will mean that Palestinian East Jerusalem is almost completely encircled by Jewish neighborhoods. […] It will make it [Palestinian capital in Jerusalem] very difficult," Brom said.

"Judging from previous experience, US pressure can be very effective and it can prevent Israel from realizing this plan," he said.

The establishment of new settlement in E-1 would also prevent the expansion of adjacent Palestinian villages, which Israeli planners fear could cut Ma'ale Adumin off from Jerusalem.

Heeding Palestinian fears, the US has long opposed Israeli settlement activity in E-1, and Washington may act to stymie the nearby construction of a road on 272 acres of recently expropriated Palestinian-owned land ahead of Annapolis.

Israeli determination can be seen in the decision last month to move the East Jerusalem headquarters of the Israeli police to a newly built compound situated in E1.

To Etkes, "The police station is a good example because it was supposed to be the first step in E-1. And they [the Israeli government] checked […] they saw that the American reaction was not too severe so they went ahead and constructed it."

"They are not constructing entire neighborhoods and hotels and an industrial zone as they had planned for E-1 because they sense that the American government will not accept it," he said.

Seeking augurs
There was a series of visits by Israeli officials to Washington this week as the Olmert government probes for signs that rumored divisions between Bush administration officials on the prospects for the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue are real.

"Certainly there are divisions." Brom said. "The Secretary of State [Condoleezza Rice] and her staff believe that it is possible to start a meaningful process and I think that the secretary of state succeeded in convincing President Bush to initiate this meeting in Annapolis and the process that precedes it."

"And the opposing position is the position I believe of people like [Deputy National Security Advisor] Elliot Abram who don't believe that any real process can take place now."

"The American partner is much weaker than it used to be; it has started to be a kind of lame duck," Brom opined. The Bush administration "took a conscious decision since the beginning of their term in office that they are not going to micromanage the process and be as involved as the Clinton administration was."

Recognizing a short-term opportunity to build pressure, Palestinian officials have enjoined the US to force Israel to freeze settlement construction in the West Bank.

Schneller argued that "if the Palestinians, Israeli government and American government will push the settlers to the corner" through freezing settlement development and insisting that settlers return to Israel, all right wing parties would oppose this.

"More than half of the members of Knesset in Kadima will be against these ideas. That means no government, no process, no agreement," he warned.

Addressing key issues
With Palestinian and Israeli negotiating teams finally sitting down to hammer out the details of an expected declaration of principles, there are increasing signs that this statement may deal with the fundamental issues of the conflict.

Olmert has sought to fudge his acquiescence to addressing Jerusalem, refugees and future borders in the summit document, appearing to agree to a loose statement of declarations while reportedly discussing key issues in recent conversations with Abbas.

Abbas took the position in recent comments that any future deal would involve the establishment of a Palestinian state on around 98 percent of the West Bank.

Building on its past experiences with the Bush administration, Israel appears to believe that it can ride out the current wave of pressure from Washington, regaining traction in the post-summit environment.

Semblance of action
For Schneller, "the main question [at Annapolis] is how to build the right atmosphere and right mechanisms to give the maximum amount of support to the United States and Western countries to find the right solutions in Iraq and against Iran."

"So the question of Israel and the Palestinians […] it's like a tool to create the right atmosphere and process that the conditions will be ready to support the United States in the near future, before the election in the States," he said.

Brom disagrees, arguing that the meeting is designed "to serve the purposes of Abbas. It is part of a broader paradigm that is saying that the way to get out of the present situation is to weaken Hamas, try to strangle it in the Gaza Strip and strengthen Fatah and Abbas as much as possible."

The semblance of action and achievements through the negotiations process is crucial to Abbas, who has succeeded in isolating the rump Hamas administration of Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza. For the PA chairman, the stakes of a breakdown in negotiations are far higher than for Israel, as a failure would immediately play into the hands of Hamas.

Asked what the stakes are for Olmert and Abbas at Annapolis, Etkes said, "What they have to lose politically is their heads. If Abbas is not able to come [home] with a serious series of concessions on the Israeli side it's hard to see how he will remain as a realistic alternative in the future."

As long as Jerusalem remains on the table and concrete Israeli confidence-building measures - expected at Annapolis - are forthcoming, Abbas retains a window of opportunity to negate Hamas in the West Bank while avoiding a necessary future power-sharing arrangement with the militant movement that would drive the US and Israel to end all support for negotiations.

Ultimately, a comprehensive peace agreement looks unlikely ahead of the US presidential elections in November 2008 - or in their immediate aftermath.

Schneller argued that "Abbas needs Hamas support too, and we need the Likud party to support our activities and also Ichud Leumi too [hard-right National Religious Party/National Union]. So I prefer to agree about the first declaration and then to start the work, very quickly, very professionally, until we have got an agreement."

To Schneller, if the Annapolis declaration deals with "the specifics: how to build the borders, it will be, from my point, of view ridiculous."

"In my point of view, the people who ask to come [to Annapolis] to get a full peace right now, it is a formula to turn back to the terror and maybe war. There is no chance right now for a full peace."

Asked if Jerusalem would be on the table at Annapolis, Brom said, "I believe that once real negotiations will start, yes. I don't believe that this will take place now. I think that what is preventing full negotiations is the weakness of all the parties involved. On the Palestinian side I think it's obvious. Mr. Abbas is not in control of anything."

Dr Dominic Moran, based in Tel Aviv, is ISN Security Watch's senior correspondent in the Middle East and the Director of Operations of ISA Consulting.

Bhutto's interview with : Paris Match

This is translated from this link using Google Language translation .

Interview with our special envoy in Karachi Olivier O'Mahony

Friday, October 19, between 4 and 5 o'clock in the morning, Benazir Bhutto has been in her home, at her home in Karachi, Bilawal House. It was surrounded by those who were with her in the truck during the explosions, clothing still soiled with blood. The former Prime Minister of Pakistan, still in shock from the attack, we gave his first reaction to the bombing which was designed and has cost the lives of more than 130 people.

Paris Match. How did you survive?

Benazir Bhutto. They tried to kill me, I was lucky. Minutes before the explosion, I am down inside the truck to reread the political discourse that I had to decide later. I was protected by armored walls of the truck and that's what saved me. I heard the first explosion, and then I saw the second, which I expected. My husband has often said that those who commit these attacks are still returning to two or even three times. The first bomb used to pull people, the second, completing them or kill them.

Paris Match. You have been evacuated immediately?

Benazir Bhutto. Yes. I wanted to stay because I feared a third fatal explosion. I said: "Evacuate!" . But since there was a fire, it has not left me a choice. I found myself in a car and returned here in this house. Go to the hospital support victims as I wanted might create too many complications on the spot.

Paris Match. What has exactly happened just before the attacks? What was your state of mind?

Benazir Bhutto. Just before the attacks occurred, I was very happy. The procession was a huge celebration, the atmosphere was festive, people danced in the streets, it was magnificent. For me, the real Pakistan, it is that. And then, half an hour before the explosions, we received a call of the intelligence services of the government. They warned us that the police had just received a bomb threat and she took very seriously. So they sent out a team to neutralize a suicide bomber armed with a belt packed with explosives found, according to them, near the truck where I was. It is these young people who have died during the explosions. They gave their lives to defend ourselves.

Paris Match. That night, at 4 o'clock in the morning, the attack had not yet been claimed. Who tried to kill you?

Benazir Bhutto. I know exactly who wanted to kill me. These are the dignitaries of the former regime of General Zia who are now behind extremism and fanaticism. We need to purge these elements still present in our secret services (Isi, N.d.l.r.). Many of them are due to retirements and then were rehired. They have a lot of power. For them, I represent a danger: if I back democracy in the country, they will lose their influence.

Paris Match. Are they behind the attacks last night?

Benazir Bhutto. The Taliban and Islamic extremists can not act alone. They can not carry out their suicide attacks since a cave in the mountains. They need a logistics, food, weapons and someone who oversees.

Paris Match. Or was it today to be held responsible for those attacks, to the extent that the President Pervez Musharraf has asked you several times to postpone your return?

Benazir Bhutto. I know that whenever announcing my intention to hold a major political meeting, the government will now answer me: "There are suicide bombers to your meetings, the risk is too great." But what happened is his fault, because he was not able to prevent this tragedy.

Paris Match. President Musharraf he telephoned you?

Benazir Bhutto. No, but I have been called by the Prime Minister and by the director of the Isi. (Intelligence services of Pakistan)

Paris Match. Are you afraid to die?

Benazir Bhutto. I am not afraid of death. When she must come, they come. It is something that nobody can control, not me more than another. God takes life and withdraws, it is our destiny. I believe that there is a life after, and it helps me to bear the idea of death. Not to be forgotten. I still live with the pain of the murder of my father and my brothers. But many people like me, I chance-là this is enormous. In Islam, withdraw someone's life is the worst of crimes. There are in Pakistan madrassas (Koranic schools) who practice brainwashing and drive some people to commit this crime. That night, I think first and foremost to all who have come to ensure our safety and who paid with their lives. They were full of youth for the future. I have a lot of pain for themselves and their families. Those who detonated the bombs wanted to kill the enthusiasm of the crowds that greeted me yesterday afternoon. But, fortunately for Pakistan, they have not been able to decapitate the movement for democracy.

PAKISTAN : Covert part of Pakistan intelligence agency responsible for twin blasts

Covert part of Pakistan intelligence agency responsible for twin blasts - Bhutto's husband Asif Ali Zardari calls for action
Kiran Chaube
Oct. 19, 2007

Who is behind the twin blast that killed more than 160 people in Pakistan and injured more than 600? It was Benazir Bhutto that was he target but the extremists could not harm her.

Pakistan’s intelligence agency has two wings since Musharraf took a one hundred eighty degrees turn in foreign relations after 911 terror attack in USA. The overt ISI tries to neutralize the Al-Quedqa and Taliban. But the covert ISI works to aide the terrorists and their operations extend into India and other countries.

Benazir was the target of this covert ISI, according to Bhutto's husband Asif Ali Zardari. The biggest problem is Pakistan Military is under the command of Musharraf but no one knows who controls the intelligence wing in Pakistan. Musharraf does not want to eliminate Bhutto. But some one does. It could not have been carried out without covert assistance of the Pakistani intelligence wind.

People who died and got injured are close supporters of Bhutto. Many of them are workers of Bhutto’s party.

Asif Ali Zardari called for action. But can Musharraf really control the covert part of ISI? He has tried for many years. He has even given the top Military position to the former ISI chief. But still the ques5tion looms, can he really control the covert ISI. If the answer is so, Benazir Bhutto will to watch every step of the way.

Some in Islamabad say, it was Musharraf who wants a weaker Bhutto. But that cannot be true. Musharraf wants a strong Bhutto to control the public opinion. The twin blasts could have killed the former PM of Pakistan. Musharraf cannot be behind the blasts. But, as Asif Ali Zardari says, action must be taken against the covert part of the ISI.

Analysis: What the Bhutto attack means for Pakistan

It was hoped that Ms Bhutto’s safe arrival, her show of strength and her subsequent dialogue with the military would increase pressure on Gen Musharraf to do the right thing.

Now that looks increasingly unlikely, as Ms Bhutto is forced to cordon herself off under tight security, reduce contact with her supporters and refrain from touring the country as she had planned to do.

The Karachi bombing will also have the indirect result of preventing right-wing politicians from deserting the ruling PML and joining her party as some had planned to do.

Whoever the bombers are, they have sent a clear signal that they will continue to target Ms Bhutto and anyone who is associated with her.


US Paradrop Lands Benazir in the Midst of Jihadis

Source: SAAG
By B. Raman

"The much talked about US plans for a political paradrop of a neo Benazir Bhutto into Pakistan in the hope of providing the badly-needed oxygen to President General Pervez Musharraf and saving the country from Al Qaeda, the Neo Taliban and an assortment of other pro-Al Qaeda and anti-US jihadi terrorist groups is likely to create a third mess in a row for the US after the earlier two in Afghanistan and Iraq." So I wrote in my article of September 2, 2007, titled "US PARADROP FOR A NEO BENAZIR", which is available at http://www.saag.org/papers24/paper2353.html.

2. The US paradrop seems to have landed her right in the midst of jihadis of various hues. It was due to God's grace ----and not due to the skills of Pakistan's police and intelligence agencies---- that she escaped the two explosions on the night of October 18, 2007, which were meant to kill her, but killed instead over 130 persons---members of her party, police personnel and innocent civilians The world only saw on the TV the huge crowds, mobilised by her party, which greeted her after she arrived in Karachi ending eight years of political exile with the blessings of the US. It could not have seen the thousands of invisible enemies she has. No other political leader of Pakistan has as many personal enemies as Mrs. Benazir. Her support is confined to Sindh and to the Seraiki areas of Southern Punjab. In the rest of the country, she has as many enemies as she has friends. Even in Sindh, the Mohajirs and the Sindhi nationalists dislike her. Even in her own Pakistan People's Party (PPP), she is strongly disliked by the supporters of her brothers Shah Nawaz Bhutto, who was allegedly poisoned by the Inter-Services Intelligence in Southern France in 1985, and Murtaza Bhutto, who was allegedly killed by the Karachi Police in a staged encounter in September, 1996, when she was the Prime Minister.

3. There are many in Pakistan----not just Al Qaeda--- who would be happy to see her killed. She was lucky on October 18. She has to be lucky every time a plot is hatched to kill her by some group or the other, by some individual or the other. Many commentators---including some in India---have described her as a brave woman, who dared to return to Pakistan as scheduled on October 18 without worrying about the threats held out against her. Brave, she was, but wise, definitely not.

4. Any wise leader would have noticed the widespread anti-Americanism in Pakistan and realised the importance of not projecting himself or herself as a leader blessed by the US and as the US choice to facilitate the transition of Pakistan back to democracy. He or she would have also realised the importance of keeping one's thoughts to oneself at a time when widespread anger against the US and Gen. Pervez Musharraf in the wake of the commando raid into the Lal Masjid in Islamabad from July 10 to 13, 2007, has let loose a wave of suicide terrorist attacks, many of them directed against the security forces and other public servants.

5. Many of her statements were like the red rag to the jihadi bulls---- that she would hand over A. Q. Khan, Pakistan's nuclear scientist, to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna for interrogation, that she would co-operate with the US in the war on terrorism, that she would hand over Dawood Ibrahim, the Indian mafia leader living in Karachi, to India etc etc.

6. Benazir and Musharraf have many things in common. One of them is an inability to keep their mouth shut. The second is a weakness for the TV cameras. The third is an eagerness to be liked by the Americans. The result: All anti-American groups in Pakistan were waiting for an opportunity to kill her.

7. The Karachi blast highlights once again the poor state of Pakistan's counter-terrorism and security apparatus. It also shows the extent of the penetration of terrorist elements into all parts of Pakistan---tribal as well as non-tribal, urban as well as rural. Pakistan is a society inextricably caught in the clutches of the jihadis. The jihadis are not yet in a position to capture power, but they are in a position to keep the country bleeding and targeting its leaders and public servants.

8. Extricating Pakistan from their clutches and defeating them will be a long drawn-out process. It can be done only by a leader, who is genuinely convinced of the need to defeat them and tries to do it on his or her own instead of seeming to do so to please the US. What Pakistan needs at this critical hour in its history is a leader, who is widely perceived as independent and not an American stooge. Neither Musharraf nor Mrs. Benazir is such a leader. Mr. Nawaz Sharif, if he is able to come back to power, could turn out to be such a leader. He has maintained a distance from the US. He does not fawn on the US like Mrs. Benazir does. Pakistan needs Mr. Nawaz Sharif more than it needs Musharraf or Benazir.

9. If the US really wants to save Pakistan and its nuclear arsenal from the clutches of the terrorists, it would be wise enough to encourage a genuine transition to democracy without any favourites. Let the people of Pakistan ----and not the US policy-makers and academics---decide whom they want to be their leader in free and fair elections. Let the leader so chosen deal with the terrorists in his own independent manner.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For topical studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com)

Bin Laden's Former Handling Officer Was In Charge of Benazir's Security

Source: SAAG

By B. Raman

According to latest reports, at least one hundred and thirty-two persons---20 of them police officers deputed to protect Mrs. Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister--- were killed in a suspected suicide attack on the convoy by which she was being taken from the Karachi airport to the Mausoleum of Mohammad Ali Jinnah on the night of October 18,2007.The suicide attack or attacks were clearly aimed to kill her on her arrival in Karachi to a triumphant welcome by her supporters, but she managed to escape.

2. Reliable sources say one or two suicide bombers were involved. The bullet-proof vehicle by which she was being taken by her supporters was protected by two cordons of security guards. The inner cordon consisted of security guards engaged by her Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians to protect her. Many of them were former policemen and ex-servicemen enjoying the confidence of her party and her confidence. The outer cordon consisted of police officers of the Sindh Police and plain-clothes security officers of Pakistan's Intelligence Bureau, which is now headed by Brig. Ejaz Shah, a former officer of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), who is a close personal friend of Gen. Pervez Musharraf and Gen. (retd). Mohammad Aziz, a Kashmiri officer belonging to the Sudan tribe, who orchestrated the overthrow of Mr. Nawaz Sharif as the Prime Minister in October, 1999. Shah is also a close personal friend of many Punjabi leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League (Qaide Azam), which is opposed to Benazir's return.

3. According to these sources, the suicide bomber or bombers managed to penetrate the security cordon of the Police and IB officers without being frisked, but could not penetrate the inner cordon of security guards of the PPPP. When they stopped them, they blew themselves up at a distance from her vehicle. At the time of the explosion, she was not standing on top of the vehicle. She had gone inside the vehicle to rest for a while. This seems to have contributed to her miraculous escape. Had she been standing on top she might have been injured, if not killed.

4. There are many elements in Pakistan and in Karachi itself, which are opposed to her and are determined to prevent her return to power. These include the various jihadi terrorist groups, Al Qaeda and its allies, those involved in the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl and the supporters of Dawood Ibrahim, the Indian mafia leader, who has been given shelter in Karachi by the Pakistani intelligence agencies. The anger against her is due to various reasons---- the fact that she is a woman, her close proximity to the US and her open statements supporting the US on various issues. They see her as the US' cat's paw. It is difficult to say at present who might have been responsible for the attack on her.

5. Brig. Ejaz Shah has been strongly criticised by Mrs. Benazir and her supporters for the security failure and they have demanded his removal and arrest. When he was in the ISI, he used to be the handling officer of Osama bin Laden and Mulla Omar, the Amir of the Taliban. After Musharraf seized power in October, 1999, he had him posted as the Home Secretary of Punjab. It was to him that Omar Sheikh, who orchestrated the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl, the American journalist, surrendered because Omar Sheikh knew him before and was confident that Ejaz Shah would see that he was not tortured.

6. After the murder of Pearl, there were many allegations regarding Shah's role. Musharraf tried to protect him by sending him as the Ambassador to Australia or Indonesia. Both the countries reportedly refused to accept him. Musharraf then made him the DG of the IB. As the DG of the IB, he has seen to it that the death sentence against Omar Sheikh for his role in the Pearl case was not executed. The courts have been repeatedly postponing hearings on the appeal filed by Omar Sheikh against the death sentence.

7. Ejaz Shah played an active role in the campaign to discredit Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Caudhury of the Pakistan Supreme Court after he started calling for the files of a large number of missing persons, who were taken into custody by the police and the intelligence agencies. Reliable sources in Pakistan reported that Gen. Pervez Kiani, who was the DG of the ISI at the time of the suspension of the Chief Justice, was against the suspension, but Musharraf suspended him on the advice of Ejaz Shah and Maj-Gen. Nadim Taj, who was at that time the head of the Directorate-General of Military Intelligence. Maj. Gen. Taj has since been promoted as Lt. Gen. and has succeeded Kiyani as the DG of the ISI.

8. While the ISI under Kiyani refused to file any affidavit against the suspended Chief Justice before the court when it was hearing the petition of the Chief Justice against his suspension, the IB and the DGMI filed affidavits giving details of all the information which their organisations had indicating the alleged unsuitability of the Chief Justice to head the Supreme Court.

9. Despite the political embarrassment caused by the case, which ended in a fiasco, Ejaz Shah continues to enjoy the total confidence of Musharraf.

10. Annexed is an article written by me in September, 2003, on Ejaz Shah and Damiel Pearl's case, which was carried by the South Asia Analysis Group (SAAG) and the Asia Times online.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail:seventyone2@gmail.com)


Daniel Pearl's case in limbo (http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/EJ01Df07.html)
By B Raman

The case relating to the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl, the US journalist, in the beginning of last year continues to be in a limbo, with no action by the government of Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf to have the hearing on the appeal filed by the accused expedited.

In the meanwhile, one of the dramatis personae - a former officer of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), who used to be the handling officer of Omar Sheikh, the principal accused, and one of the handling officers of Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar - the Taliban leader - could be rewarded with an ambassadorial appointment.

On July 15, 2002, a special anti-terrorism court in Hyderabad, Sindh province, found Ahmed Omar Sheikh, Syed Salman Saquib, Sheikh Muhammad Adil and Fahad Naseem guilty of the kidnapping and murder of Pearl. While Omar Sheikh was sentenced to death, the other three were sentenced to life imprisonment. Shortly thereafter, they appealed against their sentences before a division bench of the Sindh High Court.

Though it is now a year since the appeal was filed, there has been no progress in the hearing of the appeal. The defense lawyers have repeatedly absented themselves from the court, an action that has already adjourned the hearing six times. The sixth adjournment was granted on September 25. The case has now been fixed for hearing on October 21.

The court warned that if the defense lawyers do not appear on that date, it would dispense with their services and appoint a government lawyer to defend the accused.

Pakistan's Anti-Terrorism Act, which has been repeatedly amended by successive governments to ensure expeditious disposal of the trial and the appeal in terrorism-related cases, contains adequate provisions for preventing such repeated adjournments and other means for delaying a trial.

When Musharraf had former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif prosecuted under the Anti-Terrorism Act, the prosecution under his instructions ensured that the trial was disposed of and Sharif convicted within the time limits laid down by the act. In the case relating to the murder of Pearl, the prosecution itself has apparently been colluding with the defense lawyers and has refrained from moving the court to stop the delaying tactics repeatedly adopted by the defense lawyers.

In the meanwhile, Brigadier (retired) Ejaz Shah, Home Secretary of Punjab, before whom Omar Sheikh had surrendered in February last year, has reportedly been selected by Musharraf for posting as Pakistan's ambassador to Indonesia.

Before joining as home secretary, Punjab, he worked in the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and was once Omar Sheikh's principal handling officer, as well as one of bin Laden's and Mullah Omar's. When the Lahore and Karachi police started searching for Omar Sheikh after the kidnapping of Pearl, he surrendered to Ejaz Shah as he was afraid that the Karachi police might torture him.

Ejaz Shah immediately informed General Mohammad Aziz Khan, presently chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, who was No 2 in the ISI until October 1998, and the two carefully debriefed Omar Sheikh as to what he should tell the police during his interrogation. He was kept in their informal custody for a week and, thereafter, handed over to the police, who were told to announce that they had arrested him while searching for him, without mentioning that he had voluntarily surrendered to Shah.

Aziz and Shah did not want Omar Sheikh to admit to the Karachi police any role in the explosion outside the Legislative Assembly of Jammu & Kashmir in October, 2001, in the attack on the Indian parliament in December, 2001, and about his having told Lieutenant-General Ehsanul Haq, the present director general of the ISI, who was Corps Commander in Peshawar before October, 2001, about the plans of al-Qaeda to carry out terrorist strikes in the US.

However, Omar Sheikh disregarded their advice and told the Karachi police about these events. The News, a prestigious daily, came to know of some of his confessions to the Karachi police. The editor of the paper rejected a request from the ISI not to publish the story. Musharraf thereupon forced the owner to sack the editor, who went into exile in the US fearing a threat to his life from the ISI.

Thereafter, Musharraf selected Shah for posting as High Commissioner to Australia, which reportedly refused to give its agreement to his appointment. It is now learnt that Musharraf has instructed his Foreign Office that he should be sent as ambassador to Indonesia. It remains to be seen whether Jakarta agrees.

If it does, this will be the fourth instance in recent years of ex-ISI officers being appointed to head Pakistani diplomatic missions in this region. The other three missions are those at Pyongyang, North Korea, which has always been headed by an ISI officer who had worked in the division responsible for the clandestine procurement of nuclear materials and missiles; Kuala Lumpur, which is the nerve center for supervising the activities of the Tablighi Jamaat, a conservative Islamic missionary group founded in India 75 years ago, in the Southeast Asian region, Australia and New Zealand; and Bangkok, which is a suspected transit point for the infiltration of terrorists into India by air.

October 18, 2007

Pakistan's 'Leaders' Will Be Tested in Coming Months

This article appears in the October 19, 2007 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

by Ramtanu Maitra

The Western media, and some in Pakistan's English-language media, divided between the White House's wishful thinking and some others' aspiration for ushering in democracy in Pakistan, are busy debating whether a non-uniformed Pervez Musharraf, or the scandal-ridden democrat Benazir Bhutto, will be the appropriate choice for President at this juncture, to meet Washington's needs. Considering what Pakistan is going through, and what it could experience in the coming months and years, this is an utterly surreal debate.

The crisis in Pakistan today is not centered on who gets power in Islamabad, but how to put a stop to the process of "Talibanization" in Pakistan's western provinces, including the troubled Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), bordering the battlefields in Afghanistan, where foreign troops are on a search-and-destroy mission. No doubt, much of the anti-U.S. "Talibanization" occurred in Pakistan's west because of the insensitive U.S.-led military actions in Afghanistan, and Washington's riding roughshod over Pakistan. According to a U.S.-based Pakistani analyst, Taliban forces and their sympathizers are becoming entrenched in the region and are aggressively expanding their operations.

Considering Washington's modus operandi in the region, it is inconceivable that whosoever assumes power in Islamabad can do much to change this course of events, which has the potential to break up the country. But, long before that happens, Pakistan's military, the only stable institution as of now, will be torn apart.

What is equally disturbing is British involvement in the area, and their promotion of Benazir Bhutto to return to Pakistan's power structure. Britain knows the area well and thrives on splitting Islamic nations to maintain access not only to oil and gas, but also to the cash of the oil-exporting countries, which is heavily invested in the City of London. According to British Ministry of Defence figures, there are now more than 6,000 British troops in Afghanistan. That will rise to 7,700 by the end of this year, and it could go even higher next year.

A Civil War-Like Situation

Some analysts claim the process of a civil war between the Pakistani Army and locals in the Pushtun-dominated North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and FATA; and in the Baloch-dominated Balochistan against the Army, have already begun. While a sort of civil war may not have begun, preparations for it are under way.

On Oct. 9, according to the Pakistani Army, in North Waziristan, one of the three most alienated districts in the FATA, at least 45 Pakistani soldiers, and as many as 150 pro-Taliban militants, were killed in three days of fierce fighting. The military said that the militants were unusually well trained and were getting support from Afghanistan. Dozens of civilian casualties are also reported.

The Daily Times of Lahore reported on Aug. 15: Many people in the tribal areas marked Aug. 14 (Pakistan's independence day) as a "black day," in protest against the stepped-up military presence in the region near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Reports of clashes are pouring out of the area, between the so-called tribals, who consider the Pakistani military as intruders, and the Army. During the last three months, at least 250 Pakistani soldiers were killed, and another 250 remain in the insurgents' custody.

There are also indications that Pakistani soldiers are giving up their weapons and their identities to the insurgents, almost voluntarily. In one case in mid-September, an entire Pakistani Army company was "kidnapped" by the insurgents and released later—sans arms and identity cards. The identity cards would enable some of the militants to travel abroad. One leading Pakistani news daily in its editorial said on Oct. 10 that "the most serious development is that some of the security personnel seem to be succumbing to propaganda, or perhaps just criticism, that they are killing fellow Pakistanis."

The Tarbela Ghazi Incident

But the most troubling event for the Pakistan Army's security occurred on Sept. 13, when an ethnic Pushtun Army officer belonging to the elite Special Services Group (SSG) blew himself up at the headquarters mess hall of the SSG at Tarbela Ghazi, 100 kilometers south of Islamabad. Reportedly, the officer's younger sister was among the 300 girls killed during the Army's commando raid on the Lal Masjid in Islamabad between July 10 and 13, 2007.

The incident is of grave importance, because the U.S. Special Forces trained the SSG, to which Gen. Pervez Musharraf once belonged. The SSG was trained for covert operations, and also for counter-terrorism and counterinsurgency. There were rumors that CIA personnel were present in the mess hall, and that the U.S. National Security Agency's monitoring station was badly damaged by the explosion.

This is a serious breach in the security of Pakistan's most elite troops, and the officers' mess is secured more tightly than even the Presidential Palace, some point out. If all the details of these reports turn out to be accurate, it is evident that following the raid on the Lal Masjid, the Pakistani Army has inherited another ferocious enemy—mostly tribal, but also strong backers of the Islamist zealots who are anti-U.S., anti-NATO, anti-Musharraf, and anti-Army.

Two other recent events could contribute significantly to further instabilities. On Oct. 5, the new imam of Lal Masjid issued an implied warning to deploy suicide bombers. In his traditional Friday Jumma sermon, according to a report filed from the capital, Imam Abdul Ghaffar said, "There can be no compromise. If our demands are not fulfilled, we cannot guarantee that there will be law and order. There will be protests, unrest, and we may have to use our last option."

The second event involves Osama bin Laden, who was the beneficiary of the Pakistani establishment at one point, and had never verbally attacked the Pakistani Army. But on Sept. 20, As-Sahab, the propaganda and psywar unit of al-Qaeda, disseminated an audio message from bin Laden, the third since Sept. 7, 2007. It is a sort of fatwa against Musharraf and his Army. It is titled: "Come to Jihad: A Speech to the People of Pakistan."

The fatwa says: "It is obligatory on the Muslims in Pakistan to carry out Jihad and fighting to remove Pervez, his government, his Army and those who help him.... We in the al-Qaeda organization call on Allah to witness that we will retaliate for the blood of Maulana Abd al-Rashid Ghazi of the Lal Masjid [the imam who was killed during the Pakistani Army's raid in July] and those with him against Musharraf and those who help him, and for all the pure and innocent blood, foremost of which is the blood of the champions of Islam in Waziristan—both North and South—among them the two noble leaders, Nek Muhammad and Abdullah Mahsud."

Such incendiary speeches have already begun to find their mark. Violence is increasing not only in the western part of Pakistan, but also in Afghanistan, particularly in the areas adjacent to Pakistan.

Origin of the Crisis

The process of Pakistan's destabilization began following the erstwhile Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. The Reagan Administration, seeing an opportunity to bring the Red Army to its knees, presented the invasion as an attack against Islam. Organizing Islamic zealots, and assembling criminals from various Islamic countries, the Reagan Administration handed them over to the Pakistani Army to train them with modern arms and equipment. The operation was a success, at least in the short term. A defeated Red Army hightailed it back to the U.S.S.R. in 1989, and soon after, the Soviet Union vanished from the world map. What was left behind, however, were well-trained and indoctrinated militants who had secured a victory against the Red Army. A number of well-heeled warlords in Afghanistan fought each other, and looted and pillaged the citizenry, for years, seeking control of Kabul. It became evident that Afghanistan would remain a state in chaos for years, if not decades.

At this point, the Pakistani Army, partly with the intent to gain strategic control over Afghanistan, and partly to prevent the ongoing bloodshed, committed a tactical blunder by mobilizing Islamic zealots, most of whom were from Afghanistan, but quite a few from Pakistan as well. At the time, Benazir Bhutto was the premier and she had presided over this externally initiated development. These zealots—known as the Taliban—were used by the Pakistani Army in 1995 to capture Kabul.

The Army's mistake was its inability to realize that the Taliban would not get the support of the United States—a major benefactor of Pakistan. The Taliban's orthodox/fundamentalist Islamic tenets, very close to the Sunni-Wahhabi variety, were acceptable to Saudi Arabia, and, in fact, Saudi Arabia was providing financial help to the Taliban. But Washington remained suspicious of the Taliban, and of Pakistan's real intent behind developing this radical Islamic force.

After 9/11, the United States told Pakistan not only to stop providing support to the Taliban, but also to hunt them down and eliminate them. What soon became evident to Washington and others, was that the Taliban had developed a large support base within Pakistan, thanks to the Pakistani Army and the powerful Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. The United States invaded Afghanistan in November 2001 with the help of the Tajik-Uzbek-Hazara ethnic groups, to oust the Pushtun-dominated Taliban. Although the U.S.-led invading forces captured Kabul at breakneck speed, what followed was the failed attempt by the United States to establish a democratic system in Kabul, with a Pushtun, Hamid Karzai, as President. As a result, Washington leaned heavily on its military to bring about a "solution." The process continues to date, with the defeated Taliban getting stronger by the day; it is likely that they will come back to power in the not-too-distant future.

It is unlikely that the Taliban will return to power of Kabul, as long as the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) and NATO remain stationed in Afghanistan. At the same time, it is likely that the insurgents, no longer Taliban militants only, will continue to challenge the foreign forces whom the enemy has identified as an occupation force.

Pakistan is fully involved in this complex state of affairs; most of the insurgency operations against the foreign forces, and the U.S.-backed puppet government of President Karzai, were launched from Pakistan's FATA. Although President Musharraf ordered his Army to move in to the FATA in 2001, it did not come into real conflict with the tribal areas before 2004.

Musharraf came under extreme pressure from U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, who had been demanding that Pakistan clear the FATA of jihadis, al-Qaeda, and the Taliban—since unless Pakistan eliminates the "Islamic extremists," a victory in the "war on terror" in Afghanistan would be well-nigh impossible. The proposal translates into asking Musharraf to declare war against Pakistani citizens, on behalf of U.S. and NATO forces.

Once the conflict began between the tribal areas and the Army, it became apparent just how much Islamabad is risking in order to satisfy the United States. The tribals, who were sheltering the anti-U.S. and anti-Kabul militants in their territory, have now grown opposed to Musharraf and the Pakistani Army. The recent armed conflicts, and the emergence of suicide bombers in Pakistan, including in the capital city of Islamabad, are indicative of the level of animosity that exists between the militants and the Pakistani establishment.

An Existential Crisis

President Musharraf enjoys the support of many senior army officers and a large number of Pakistanis, who identify him as the true representative of the Army, the only institution of substance in Pakistan. He has agreed to shed his military uniform and remain only as President. He has taken the necessary moves to get "friendly" army officers to assume positions from which they can protect him. He has also agreed to the U.S. demand for "free and fair" general elections by the end of this year. He issued hurriedly on Oct. 5, a day before his election, a National Reconciliation Ordinance to grant immunity to former two-time Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Backed by the United States and Britain, Bhutto announced that she would return to Pakistan, after almost eight years, on Oct. 18.

On Oct. 6, Musharraf got himself re-elected as President, drawing his support from the existing National Assembly members, and ignoring the lawyers' debate over whether General Musharraf in uniform could participate in a Presidential election. A number of petitions have been placed before Pakistan's Supreme Court to invalidate the election. The court told Pakistan's Election Commission not to formally validate the results until it has finally decided the case, which it will start hearing on Oct 17. Musharraf has stated that he will remain the Chief of Army Staff until his re-election is validated.

It is evident that those Pakistanis who are looking for a strong government at this critical juncture are going to be deeply disappointed. Benazir Bhutto, for instance, has already been identified as a democratic face that Washington would like Pakistan to put on. But Bhutto as Prime Minister failed miserably twice, and she was out of country for almost eight years, afraid to face the corruption charges against her. This may further diminish her credibility as an effective leader. In addition, the very idea that Benazir Bhutto is an American choice would work against her. America is one of the least-liked nations in Pakistan today.

On the other hand, Musharraf has also lost much of his shine over the years. One reason is that his attempt to subdue the Supreme Court last March, when he sacked the Chief Justice, did not succeed. Another is that the much-vaunted economic development in Pakistan over the last eight years has bypassed the ordinary people, who are being hit hard by higher prices for food and other essential items. This has weakened President Musharraf as well.