It has been known for months that the Bush-Cheney administration and its allies have been manuevering to strengthen their political control of Pakistan, paving the way for the expansion and deepening of the “war on terrorism” across the region. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto does not change this agenda. In fact, it simplifies Bush-Cheney’s options.
Seeding chaos with a pretext
“Delivering democracy to the Muslim world” has been the Orwellian rhetoric used to mask Bush-Cheney’s application of pressure and force, its dramatic attempt at reshaping of the Pakistani government (into a joint Bhutto/Sharif-Musharraf) coalition, and backdoor plans for a military intervention. Various American destabilization plans, known for months by officials and analysts, proposed the toppling of Pakistan’s military.
The assassination of Bhutto appears to have been anticipated. There were even reports of “chatter” among US officials about the possible assassinations of either Pervez Musharraf or Benazir Bhutto, well before the actual attempts took place.
As succinctly summarized in Jeremy Page’s article, “Who Killed Benazir Bhutto? The Main Suspects”, the main suspects are 1) “Pakistani and foreign Islamist militants who saw her as a heretic and an American stooge”, and 2) the Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, a virtual branch of the CIA. Bhutto’s husband Asif Ali Zardari directly accused the ISI of being involved in the October attack.
The assassination of Bhutto has predictably been blamed on “Al-Qaeda”, without mention of fact that Al-Qaeda itself is an Anglo-American military-intelligence operation.
Page’s piece was one of the first to name the man who has now been tagged as the main suspect: Baitullah Mehsud, a purported Taliban militant fighting the Pakistani army out of Waziristan. Conflicting reports link Mehsud to “Al-Qaeda”, the Afghan Taliban, and Mullah Omar (also see here). Other analysis links him to the terrorist A.Q. Khan.
Mehsud’s profile, and the reporting of it, echoes the propaganda treatment of all post-9/11 “terrorists”. This in turn raises familiar questions about Anglo-American intelligence agency propaganda involvement. Is Mehsud connected to the ISI or the CIA? What did the ISI and the CIA know about Mehsud? More importantly, does Mehsud, or the manipulation of the propaganda surrounding him provide Bush-Cheney with a pretext for future aggression in the region?
Classic “war on terrorism” propaganda
While details on the Bhutto assassination continue to unfold, what is clear is that it was a political hit, along the lines of US agent Rafik Harriri in Lebanon. Like the highly suspicious Harriri hit, the Bhutto assassination has been depicted by corporate media as the martyring of a great messenger of western-style “democracy”. Meanwhile, the US government’s ruthless actions behind the scenes have received scant attention.
The December 28, 2007 New York Times coverage of the Bhutto assassination offers the perfect example of mainstream Orwellian media distortion that hides the truth about Bush/Cheney agenda behind blatant propaganda smoke. This piece echoes White House rhetoric proclaiming that Bush’s main objectives are to “bring democracy to the Muslim world” and “force out Islamist militants”.
In fact, the openly criminal Bush-Cheney administration has only supported and promoted the antithesis of democracy: chaos, fascism, and the installation of Anglo-American-friendly puppet regimes.
In fact, the central and consistent geostrategy of Bush-Cheney, and their elite counterparts around the world, is the continued imposition and expansion of the manufactured “war on terrorism”; the continuation of war across the Eurasian subcontinent, with events triggered by false flag operations and manufactured pretexts.
In fact, the main tools used in the “war on terrorism” remain Islamist militants, working on behalf of Anglo-American military intelligence agencies—among them, “Al-Qaeda”, and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, the ISI. Mehsud fits this the same profile.
Saving Bush-Cheney’s Pakistan
In an amusing quote from the same New York Times piece, Wendy Chamberlain, former US ambassador to Pakistan (and a central figure behind multinational efforts to build a trans-Afghan pipeline, connected to 9/11), proudly states: “We are a player in the Pakistani political system”.
Not only has the US continued to be a “player”, but one of its top managers for decades.
Each successive Pakistani leader since the early 1990s—Bhutto, Sharif and Musharraf—have bowed to Western interests. The ISI is a virtual branch of the CIA.
While Musharraf has been, and remains, a strongman for Bush-Cheney, questions about his “reliability”, and control—both his regime’s control over the populace and growing popular unrest, and elite control over his regime—have driven Bush-Cheney attempts to force a clumsy (pro-US, Iraq-style) power-sharing government. As noted by Robert Scheer, Bush-Cheney has been playing “Russian roulette” with Musharraf, Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif—each of whom have been deeply corrupt, willing fronts for the US.
The return of both Bhutto and the other former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has merely been an attempt by the US to hedge its regional power bets.
What exactly were John Negroponte and Condoleeza Rice really setting up the past few months?
Who benefits from Bhutto’s murder?
The “war on terrorism” geostrategy and propaganda milieu, the blueprint that has been used by elite interests since 9/11 to impose a continuing world war, is the clear beneficiary of the Bhutto assassination. Bush/Cheney and their equally complicit pro-war/pro-occupation counterparts in the Democratic Party enthusiastically support the routine use of “terror” pretexts to impose continued war policies.
True to form, fear, “terrorism”, “security” and military force, are once again, the focuses of Washington political rhetoric, and the around-the-clock media barrage.
The 2008 US presidential candidates and their elite campaign advisers, all but a few of whom enthusiastically support the “war on terrorism”, have taken turns pushing their respective versions of “we must stop the terrorists” rhetoric for brain-addled supporters. The candidates whose polls have slipped, led by 9/11 participant and opportunist Rudy Guiliani, and hawkish neoliberal Hillary Clinton, have already benefited from a new round of mass fear.
Musharraf benefits from the removal of a bitter rival, but now must find a way to re-establish order. Musharraf now has an ideal justification to crack down on “terrorists” and impose full martial law, with Bush-Cheney working from the shadows behind Musharraf—and continuing to manipulate or remove his apparatus, if Musharraf proves too unreliable or broken to suit Anglo-American plans.
The likely involvement of the ISI behind the Bhutto hit cannot be overstated. ISI’s role behind every major act of “terrorism” since 9/11 remains the central unspoken truth behind current geopolitical realities. Bhutto, but not Sharif or Musharraf would have threatened the ISI’s agendas.
Bhutto, militant Islam, and the pipelines
Now that she has been martyred, many unflattering historical facts about Benazir Bhutto will be hidden or forgotten.
Bhutto herself was intimately involved in the creation of the very “terror” milieu purportedly responsible for her assassination. Across her political career, she supported militant Islamists, the Taliban, the ISI, and the ambitions of Western governments.
As noted by Michel Chossudovsky in America’s “War on Terrorism”, it was during Bhutto’s second term that Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) and the Taliban rose to prominence, welcomed into Bhutto’s coalition government. It was at that point that ties between the JUI, the Army and the ISI were established.
While Bhutto’s relationship with both the ISI and the Taliban were marked by turmoil, it is clear that Bhutto, when in power, supported both—and enthusiastically supported Anglo-American interventions.
In his two landmark books, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia and Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia, Ahmed Rashid richly details the Bhutto regime’s connections to the ISI, the Taliban, “militant Islam”, multinational oil interests, and Anglo-American officials and intelligence proxies.
In Jihad, Rashid wrote:
“Ironically it was not the ISI but Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the most liberal, secular leader in Pakistan’s recent history, who delivered the coup de grace to a new relationship with Central Asia. Rather than support a wider peace process in Afghanistan that would have opened up a wider peace process in Afghanistan, Bhutto backed the Taliban, in a rash and presumptuous policy to create a new western-oriented trade and pipeline route from Turkmenistan through southern Afghanistan to Pakistan, from which the Taliban would provide security. The ISI soon supported this policy because its Afghan protégé Gulbuddin Hekmatyar had made no headway in capturing Kabul, and the Taliban appeared to be strong enough to do so.”
In Taliban, Rashid provided even more historical detail:
“When Bhutto was elected as Prime Minister in 1993, she was keen to open a route to Central Asia. A new proposal emerged backed strongly by the frustrated Pakistani transport and smuggling mafia, the JUI and Pashtun military and political officials.”
“The Bhutto government fully backed the Taliban, but the ISI remained skeptical of their abilities, convinced that they would remain a useful but peripheral force in the south.”
“The US congress had authorized a covert $20 million budget for the CIA to destabilize Iran, and Tehran accused Washington of funneling some of these funds to the Taliban—a charge that was always denied by Washington . Bhutto sent several emissaries to Washington to urge the US to intervene more publicly on the side of Pakistan and the Taliban.”
Bhutto’s one mistake: she vehemently supported the pipeline proposed by Argentinian oil company Bridas, and opposed the pipeline by Unocal (favored by the US). This contributed to her ouster in 1996, and the return of Nawaz Sharif to power. As noted by Rashid:
“After the dismissal of the Bhutto government in 1996, the newly elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his oil minister Chaudry Nisar Ali Khan, the army and the ISI fully backed Unocal. Pakistan wanted more direct US support for the Taliban and urged Unocal to start construction quickly in order to legitimize the Taliban. Basically the USA and Unocal accepted the ISI’s analysis and aims—that a Taliban victory in Afghanistan would make Unocal’s job much easier and quicken US recognition.”
Her appealing and glamorous pro-Western image notwithstanding, Bhutto’s true record is one of corruption and accommodation.
The “war on terrorism” resparked
Every major Anglo-American geostrategic crime has been preceded by a convenient pretext, orchestrated and carried out by “terror” proxies directly or indirectly connected to US military-intelligence, or manipulated into performing as intelligence assets. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto is simply one more brutal example.
This was Pakistan’s 9/11; Pakistan’s JFK assassination, and its impact will resonate for years.
Contrary to mainstream corporate news reporting, chaos benefits Bush-Cheney’s “war on terrorism”. Calls for “increased worldwide security” will pave the way for a muscular US reaction, US-led force and other forms of “crack down” from Bush-Cheney across the region. In other words, the assassination helps ensure that the US will not only never leave, but also increase its presence.
The Pakistani election, if it takes place at all, is a simpler two-way choice: pro-US Musharraf or pro-US Sharif.
While the success of Bush-Cheney’s 9/11 agenda has met with mixed results, and it has met with a wide array of resistance (“terroristic” as well as political), there is no doubt that the propaganda foundation of the “war on terrorism” has remained firm, unshaken and routinely reinforced.
As for Nawaz Sharif, who now emerges as the sole competitor for Musharraf, he, like Musharraf and Bhutto, is legendary for his accommodation to Anglo-American interests—pipelines, trade, and the continued US military presence. As Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie noted in the book Forbidden Truth, the October 1999 military coup led by Musharraf that originally toppled Sharif’s regime was sparked by animosity between the two camps, as well as “Sharif’s personal corruption and political megalomania”, and “concerns that Sharif was dancing too eagerly to Washington’s tune on Kashmir and Afghanistan”.
In other words, Bush-Cheney wins, no matter which asset winds up on the throne.