Democrats & Liberals Archives

Bhutto - a "liberal" - assassinated

It is all over the news that Benazir Bhutto was assassinated as she was leaving a political rally in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

Original reports said that she died from shrapnel from a suicide bomber on a motorcycle. The story then changed to the assassin shooting her, and then blowing himself up.

Bhutto had recently returned to Pakistan to run in the January elections against Musharraf. Her death raises concerns about democracy in Pakistan.

Bhutto's death marks a string of events that have occurred to strengthen Musharraf's likelihood of reelection. However, the issue of "democracy" has been in doubt for some time. In March 2007, Musharraf removed Pakistan's Supreme Court Chief Justice (who has been highly vocal about the legality of Musharraf's rule) attacked which sparked growing protests. Musharraf continued his purge of the courts in spite of lawyers, judges, and massive public protest. The protests have continued into the present, and even in November were still being met with aggressive confrontation by Musharraf's forces. Since the Supreme Court is central in the election process, the "stacking the court is certainly preparation for the upcoming elections.

In November 2007, Musharraf he declared "emergency rule." This was purportedly to crack down on terrorism, except that those arrested and confined (including Bhutto) were primarily members of the political opposition. The declaration of emergency was supported by the U.S. even while asking for moderation from Musharraf. The purported reason for the continued U.S. support of Musharraf is his position as an ally in the "war on terrorism." This support makes clear that U.S. "interests" trumps "democracy" whether in Pakistan, Iraq, or the United States.

While the corporate press discusses "democracy" and the "liberal" nature of Bhutto, there are other reports that discuss the more questionable nature of the former Prime Minister of Pakistan (for example, "Benazir Bhutto's life a sweeping epic of blood and controversy).

Bhutto left office under a cloud of corruption, yet she is being held up as the "hope" for democracy in Pakistan. Musharraf on the other hand, has clearly been corrupt when it comes to remaining in power and his status as an ally is belied by ongoing links to both the Taleban and other "Islamists." One might well ask where the $5 billion in U.S. aid has disappeared to. Or even if there are larger concerns about the Punjab pipeline might be of concern.

All of this begs the question of Who Killed Benazir Bhutto?. Was it "extremists," the ISI (Pakistan's intelligence agency), or other political contenders? It should also be asked what exactly "democracy" means - whether in Pakistan or elsewhere?

Regardless of corruption, manipulation, and strong arm practices, the death of Bhutto seems likely to both increase the conflict inside Pakistan, and narrow the field for a "democratic" coup by Pervez Musharraf. The loss of Bhutto is damaging to hopes for peace in Pakistan and the region. Despite her questionable background, she did offer a different path, and perhaps a path back to constitutional democracy in Pakistan. Perhaps the best question to ask is who are the benefactors of ongoing chaos - in Pakistan and elsewhere.

Recommended Additional Reading
Blowback, Pakistan-style. Mark LeVine. Al Jazeera. 10/24/2007.

Benazir Bhutto's life a sweeping epic of blood and controversy. AP. 12/27/2007.

Pakistan's Missing Are Doubly Lost. Bruce Wallace. LA Times. 12/27/2007.

Posted by Rowan Wolf at December 27, 2007 4:30 PM
Comment #241598

The assination was without doubt the work of a lone gunman from the window of a schoolbook depository.

It will be telling as to whether Pakistan allows an international investigation into the incident. At the very least Pakistans security forces failed to protect her.Biden is calling for such an investigation. Edwards sounds suspicisious also.I wouldn’t give a plug nickel for any presidential aspirant that isn’t.

Posted by: BillS at December 27, 2007 8:49 PM
Comment #241603

The Question should not be Who killed Bhutto, but why was she killed? For why you and I can disagree to the point that neither will talk to each other and still remain civilized. The use of Violence from the so called Leaders of Men to maintain control over the Hierarchy of Society in the World has got to the point were it is almost easier to throw All the Players into Hell and rebuild a New World from the ground up.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at December 27, 2007 9:56 PM
Comment #241618

What a mess Bush has made of the world. Musharraf claims that he is attacking moderates and liberals so that he can stop conservative extremist. A suicide bomber means that she was attacked by an extremist, but just like 9/11, who looked the other way.

Posted by: Ray Guest at December 28, 2007 1:49 AM
Comment #241620

An analysis of Musharif described him as a perfunctory bureaucrat incompetent, incapable of leadership. That description could also apply to Bush.

What a wonderful place we find ourselves in. A World with incompetent leaders. Pakistan seems incapable of choosing between corrupt conservatives and radical extremeists who appeal to independent natives seeking an isolationistic theocratic authoritarianism. America seems incapable of choosing between theocratic conservatives with colonial and mercantile aspirations, and extremist left wing radicals seeking authoritarian new age isolationism.

Am I sensing a pattern here?

Posted by: googlumpugus at December 28, 2007 4:08 AM
Comment #241622

Bhutto’s death changes almost nothing in the long run. Musharraf is still a dictator, who will one day be replaced by another whose qualities are unknowable today. That and the fact that Pakistan has nuclear weapons and short and midrange ballistic missiles, makes Pakistan a large and looming potential threat to the global economy, India, and all people in the Middle Eastern region and near Eastern regions.

Bhutto’s previous rulership was marred by accusations of horrible corruption and her use of power to protect that corruption. Bhutto was no panacea for Pakistan’s future. The fact remains, Pakistan is a divided nation, a growing trend in Middle Eastern nations, and a divided nation remains a potential threat to itself, and all within its realm of influence.

Her death changes nothing about the longer term reality of Pakistan. In the short term, it affords Musharraf continued rule. This is seen as a temporary short term gain by many who have come to accept Musharraf as the best predictable leader that can be had in Pakistan. But, Musharraf’s continued rule in Pakistan will do nothing to unite Pakistan, and may even further divide the nation.

If history is any teacher, divided nations suffer less who get on with the business uniting or splitting, rather than delaying resolution for decades or centuries, which allow division to become a national character trait and victims of the divide to suffer generation after generation as was the case for slavery and racism in America which divided our nation for more than 2 centuries, and still does today as part of our national character.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 28, 2007 7:45 AM
Comment #241645

Thank you David… all this eulogizing (sp?) about Bhutto is really a little over the top… she left power under charges of massive corruption and was, by most accounts, not a very good leader. Of course it is sad when anyone is killed, and I am not trying to downplay that, but Bhutto was in no way destined to be the savior of Pakistan.

“If history is any teacher”… silly David… why would you think that we should pay any attention to history at all? It is so much more interesting to make the same mistakes over and over and over and over and over and ov…..

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at December 28, 2007 12:29 PM
Comment #241654

The only thing that Bhutto’s assination means to us is that American taxpayers will be sending more money to Musharraf.

Posted by: jlw at December 28, 2007 1:48 PM
Comment #241708

Our choices are always limited. Sometimes we need to deal with people who are not the best, but may be the best available.

I think it is amusing that those who demand we work with Iran, Syria or N. Korea can be so shocked when we work with Pakistan. I am sure that if we truly succeeded in working constructively with the Iranians, the anti-American crowd would start complaining that we were…working with the Iranians.

As many have said, Bhutto was also imperfect. All leaders are imperfect. The people who killed her, however, were the enemies of democracy and enemies of the U.S. Whether such murders take place in Pakistan, Iraq, London, Madrid or New York, they are deplorable.

It should remind us of the nature of the enemy we face and the chaos that can be created by such violence. It should make us more firmly resolve to face down these violent people and put them where they belong.

We cannot wish they will go aways and ignoring the situation will not help.

Posted by: Jack at December 29, 2007 2:51 AM
Comment #241710


I don’t know anyone who questions “working with” any country. What people do question is who the U.S. supports and how. Throwing money at dubious two-timers like Musharraf, or even Bhutto, with little or no control of where that money goes, is something many of us question.

The fact that Al Qaeda is flourishing in Pakistan while we continue to support regimes that do nothing or actually encourage Al Qaeda, while back dealing with N. Korea are signs of poor policy actions and choices. Of course, I guess those little details are of no importance to your political stance.

Sadly it seems that many people of wealth seem to have been taught they can buy anything, and many of our empirious leaders are of that school of thought. It pervades our policies.

I am reminded of our dealing with similar duplicity in the case of Pol Pot, Pinnochet, etc…look where that led.

Posted by: googlumpus at December 29, 2007 4:21 AM
Comment #241715

We should not give any money or support any country that is killing democracy. Trying to appease these people does not work. They will just keep asking for more so they can continue to fund their mission to gain more power. I would like a policy of carrots for the good guys and sticks for the bad guys. The US has plenty of both.

About Bush being dumb—
Who is dumber, W or the people who voted for him?
W or the Congress that sent troops to Iraq?
For a dumb guy, he sure is fooling a lot of people. Bush-bashing is easy. dont forget about Congress. It pretty much has 55/45 one way, then 55/45 the other way. Both parties can cry about the other party having the advantage, but both are to blame. Sending them all to hell and starting with a fresh batch might be a good idea for this country,too.

Posted by: JoeRWC at December 29, 2007 10:02 AM
Comment #241720

Jack said: “I think it is amusing that those who demand we work with Iran, Syria or N. Korea can be so shocked when we work with Pakistan.”

There is a chasmic difference between calling for negotiations and talks with Syria, Iran, and N. Korea, and funding Pakistan with 10’s of billions of unaccounted for American taxpayer dollars, Jack.

Your inaccuracy in depiction is your source of amusement, not those you target. Your comment is the amusement around here I suspect, with its mixing of apples and oranges and subtle defense of your elected choice at the ballot box in 2004.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 29, 2007 11:16 AM
Comment #241722

Bhutto (more than one), Ghandi (more than one), Kennedy (more than one), Martin Luther King, Jesus Christ and others have opened their mouths and taken action to try and make things better for others. The power structure can’t have that now, can it? Keep us desperate so that we’ll be willing to do anything to feed our families. Keep us believing in weird emotional dogma so that we may have some kind of an identity.
A mine collapse kills 20 or a 100. War to fight for our “freedoms.” Tankers of milk poured down the sewer because of “economics” while children are starving.
Here’s a question for the power mongers and control freaks: Who told you that and why should I believe it?
Stephen Hines

Posted by: Stephen Hines at December 29, 2007 11:54 AM
Comment #241750


Saint Bhutto?

What about Mr. ten percent?

I suggest you read a little more in depth history before lumping these folks into the same martyr’s pot.

Posted by: googlumpus at December 29, 2007 8:27 PM
Comment #241761

So Pakistan is refusing an international investigation into the incident. Big surprise(not).
Bhutto was accused of corruption in the past. Political leaders are often accused of corruption as a way to justify removal by other than democratic means.Sometimes even by democratic means.We certainly have no right to get on our high horse about this.

Posted by: BillS at December 30, 2007 1:26 AM
Comment #241905

This has me shaking my head:

Who murdered Bin Laden and when?

Or was it just “miss-speak”?

Posted by: KansasDem at January 1, 2008 3:08 PM
Comment #241907

This link has the interview in it’s entirety:

I expected to hear a correction, but nope. I still think it must have just been a “goof”, but it would be nice to have some clarification from the BBC.

Anyone else have any info about this?

Posted by: KansasDem at January 1, 2008 3:49 PM
Comment #241944

KansasDem: Frost must be senile if he left that remark unchallenged.

This could be a possible motive for Bhutto’s assassination.
McClatchy Washington Bureau 12-31-2007 Bhu…

Posted by: jlw at January 2, 2008 3:13 AM
Comment #241945

McClatchy Washington Bureau 12-31-2007 Bhu…

Posted by: jlw at January 2, 2008 3:16 AM
Comment #241947

One of these day’s I’ll learn to link. If it doesn’t work this time you can read it at McClatchy or at Talking Points Memo.

Posted by: jlw at January 2, 2008 3:31 AM
Comment #241980


I’d also seen that but this “Bin Laden’s dead” thing has me bugged.

The tin-foil hatters are all over it, but it makes no sense.

Posted by: KansasDem at January 2, 2008 5:55 PM
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