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Full Version: Benazir Bhutto Welcomed In Style
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A woman premier in a Muslim country, in the Muslim country, always seemed a paradox to me. However, isn't she living proof that Muslim women have beneath their veils the same possibilities to learn and employ the fine arts of corruption and power abuse as men do? Back from self imposed exile in the poverty of Dubai, her mere presence started to enrich the political debate in Pakistan. You Americans did the right thing to supply a fine democracy like that with nuclear weapons.
Quote:KARACHI, Pakistan - A suicide bombing in a crowd welcoming former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto killed up to 126 people Thursday night, shattering her celebratory procession through Pakistan's biggest city after eight years in exile.

Two explosions — a grenade followed by a suicide blast — struck near a truck carrying Bhutto, but police and officials of her party said she was not injured and was hurried to her house. An Associated Press photo showed a dazed-looking Bhutto being helped away.

Officials at six hospitals reported 126 dead and 248 wounded. Police chief Azhar Farooqi put the death toll at 113, including 20 police, with 300 people wounded. It was not immediately possible to reconcile the differences. But it was believed to be the deadliest bomb attack in Pakistan's history.

Bhutto flew home to lead her Pakistan People's Party in January parliamentary elections, drawing cheers from supporters massed in a sea of the party's red, green and black flags. Police said 150,000 were in the streets, while other onlookers estimated twice that.

The throngs reflected Bhutto's enduring political clout, but she has made enemies of Islamic militants by taking a pro-U.S. line and negotiating a possible political alliance with Pakistan's military ruler, President Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

Musharraf, a close U.S. ally in the war against terrorism, condemned the blasts in Karachi as "a conspiracy against democracy," state news agency Associated Press of Pakistan reported.

"It is premature to pinpoint who may be behind the attack, but there were threats from extremists elements," Farooqi said.

An estimated 20,000 security officers had been deployed to protect Bhutto and her cavalcade of motorized rickshaws, colorful buses, cars and motorcycles.

Authorities had urged Bhutto to use a helicopter to reduce the risk of attack amid threats from extremists sympathetic to the Taliban and al-Qaida, but she brushed off the concerns.

"I am not scared. I am thinking of my mission," she had told reporters on the plane from Dubai. "This is a movement for democracy because we are under threat from extremists and militants."

Last month, Bhutto told CNN she realized she was a target. Islamic militants, she said, "don't believe in women governing nations, so they will try to plot against me, but these are risks that must be taken. I'm prepared to take them."

Leaving the airport, Bhutto refused to use a bulletproof glass cubicle that had been built atop the truck taking her to the tomb of Pakistan's founding father, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, to give a speech. She squeezed between other party officials along a railing at the front and rode high above the street.

Her procession had been creeping toward the center of Karachi for 10 hours, moving at a snail's pace while dancing and cheering supporters swarmed around the truck, when a small explosion erupted near the front of the vehicle.

That was quickly followed by a larger blast just a few feet from the truck, setting an escorting police van on fire and breaking windows in Bhutto's vehicle. Party members on top of the truck scrambled to the ground, one man jumping while others climbed down a ladder or over the side.

Christina Lamb, Bhutto's biographer, said the former premier had just gone to a downstairs compartment in the truck for a rest when the blast went off.

"She knew she was a target, I was talking to her about it .... she was worried that the lights were going off, the street lights, and that snipers could be on tops of buildings and bridges," Lamb told Sky News. "Luckily the bus had a downstairs enclosed compartment for her to go and rest in, and she just happened to be there when it went off, so she wasn't on top in the open like rest of us, so that just saved her."

Farooqi, the Karachi police chief, said the first blast was from a grenade and the second a suicide bombing targeting Bhutto. Police found the severed head of a young man believed to have been the bomber, Farooqi said.

At the scene of the attack, bodies lay motionless in the street, under a mural reading "Long Live Bhutto" on the side of the truck.

"People were shouting for help but there was no one to help them out. It smelled like blood and smoke," said AP photographer B.K. Bangash, who was 150 feet from Bhutto's truck when he heard a small blast just before midnight.

The bombs exploded just after the truck crossed a bridge about halfway on the 10-mile journey from the airport to the tomb.

Pools of blood, broken glass, tires, motorcycles and bits of clothing littered the ground. Men carried the injured away from burning cars. One bystander came upon a body, checked for signs of life, and moved on.

Some of the injured were rushed into a hospital emergency room on stretchers, and others were carried in rescuers' arms. Many of the wounded were covered in blood, and some had their clothes ripped off.

Karachi has a history of violent attacks by Islamic militants, but Thursday's was believed to be the deadliest. In 2006, a suicide bombing killed 57 people, including the leaders of a Sunni Muslim group.

The United States condemned "the violent attack in Pakistan and mourns the loss of innocent life there," said Gordon Johndroe, foreign affairs spokesman for President Bush. "Extremists will not be allowed to stop Pakistanis from selecting their representatives through an open and democratic process."

Richard Haass, president of the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, said the attack emphasized that "one of the fundamental realities of Pakistan today is that the government is not in total control of the country."

He said he did not think Musharraf would declare a state of emergency, saying there were more serious challenges to state authority recently, like the summer battle between militants and police at Islamabad's Red Mosque.

The bloodshed marred what had been a jubilant day for Bhutto. She received a rapturous welcome from tens of thousands of supporters, many craning from tree branches and foot bridges to glimpse her return.

The 54-year-old politician wept for joy.

"I feel very, very emotional coming back to my country," Bhutto told AP Television News at the airport, after passing under a Quran held over her head as she got off the plane.

"I dreamt of this day for so many months, and years. I counted the hours, the minutes and the seconds just to see this land, sky and grass. I'm so emotionally overwhelmed," she said, dressed in green with a white head scarf to match Pakistan's national flag.

Bhutto had paved her route back to Pakistan through negotiations with Musharraf, a longtime political rival whose rule she has often condemned but whose proclaimed mission to defeat Islamic extremism she shares.

The talks yielded an amnesty covering the corruption charges that made Bhutto leave Pakistan, and could lead to a political alliance uniting moderates in parliamentary elections for a fight against militants allied with al-Qaida and the Taliban.

U.S. officials are believed to still favor Musharraf, despite his sagging popularity, over his two main civilian rivals — Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, the elected premier ousted by the general in a 1999 coup and sent back into exile when he tried to return last month.

Washington considers Musharraf a source of stability in a nuclear-armed country fighting militants along the border with Afghanistan, an area where Osama bin Laden may be hiding.

Still, amid the uncertainty that parliamentary elections will establish a U.S.-friendly government, the United States wants Pakistan to at least keep moving toward democracy — and Bhutto's return could help that goal.

Musharraf had urged Bhutto to delay her return because of political uncertainty in Pakistan, including a pending court challenge to his presidential election victory this month.

The Supreme Court will rule soon on whether he was eligible to compete in the vote by lawmakers, since he also holds the post of army chief. If he is confirmed for a new five-year presidential term, Musharraf has promised to quit the military and restore civilian rule.

Bhutto said there was still a long way to go in political reconciliation with Musharraf, but added that she expected the court to decide in his favor. "If the court did not stop his election, it's unlikely to stop the result of that election," she said.

After flying in, Bhutto declared she returned to fight for democracy and to help Pakistan shake off its reputation as a hotbed of international terrorism.

"That's not the real image of Pakistan. The people that you see outside are the real image of Pakistan. These are the decent and hardworking middle-classes and working classes of Pakistan who want to be empowered so they can build a moderate, modern nation," she said.

Bhutto became leader of the Pakistan People's Party more than two decades ago after the military's 1979 execution of its founder, her father Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, a populist prime minister still exalted by many Pakistanis as the finest leader in the country's 60-year history.

She served twice as the democratically elected prime minister between 1988 and 1996 — the first female premier in the Muslim world — but both governments fell amid allegations of corruption and misrule. After Musharraf seized power, she was charged with illegally amassing properties and bank accounts overseas while in office and she left Pakistan.
Yes, I've heard that BB was corrupt in some way. Something about "accruing foreign assets" while she was leader of Pakistan. Can you provide some info, quadrat?
Nope. My point was rather the sophisticated way of political work in Pakistan, which currently enjoys an era of relative peace and stability.
She is a classic example of what you get in a third world country when you try to mix socialism with tribal corruption. Ralph Peters has a good article on her, and what to expect with her return to power.

Of course Col Peters is one of those ultra-right wing military kooks, right?



October 18, 2007 -- WE simplify the problems of others. It's bad enough when we do it to family and friends, but it can be fatal when we simplify the problems of the developing world.

The generally accepted line is that all civilian leaders are good, while military coups are always bad. Like most such generalities, it's often wrong.

Our prejudice is on display again as Benazir Bhutto, a feudal landlord posing as a democrat, returns to Pakistan.

In the West, Bhutto is popular because she's a civilian - and that's about it. Her champions merrily overlook the pestilential corruption, social polarization and pandering to extremists that marked her two terms as prime minister.

Her opposite number (with whom she's cut a deal) is Gen. Pervez Musharraf - who's unpopular in Europe and America because he's a military man. But had a civilian led the country's last coup, the new government would've been globally accepted by now - no matter how miserably it failed its people.

This isn't to say that military regimes are good news. The point is that we need to stop being so intellectually lazy and self-righteous. We have to try to understand the dynamics at work in self-tormented, failing countries.

After corruption, the greatest curse on "developing" states has been charismatic leadership in the absence of robust institutions of government. We overlook the fact that, along with tribal and religious loyalties, the key factor in determining elections in the badlands beyond the West has been irresponsible flamboyance - the snake-oil salesman in the presidential palace.

Charisma will always be with us. It's human nature to be drawn to a dramatic speaker who struts artfully upon the political stage, telling us that all of our problems are the fault of others and that, if he receives our vote, we'll all soon live in paradise.

In healthy states, such as our own, where robust institutions of government have developed over centuries, charismatic leadership encounters checks and balances. The other branches of government limit great presidents, but also restrain the worst men who reach the White House.

In the developing world, those institutions were stillborn, as tribal ties and landed aristocracies often proved ill-matched to the demands of modern statehood. Uneducated electorates chose charlatans over technocrats (when any such were available to stand for office).

The results? Even the best-intentioned demagogues rapidly grew frustrated at their inability to make their visions real. Egos swelled as capacities dwindled. And the wretched of the earth had to eat ever-more-vitriolic rhetoric instead of rice or wheat.

It happened from Ghana to Pakistan: Economies collapsed, corruption metastasized, elections became gangland affairs and the average citizen's life worsened with "freedom." Parliaments deteriorated into noisemakers or rubber-stamps. The judiciary went up for sale. And the demagogues atop the state blamed outsiders for every ill.

Invariably, the strongest institution - often the only reliable one - that the colonial powers left behind was the military. Usually, it was the only institution with a truly national sense of identity. Even in states never colonized (such as post-Ottoman Turkey), the army came to see itself as the guarantor of the state's integrity in the face of government corruption, divisiveness and failure.

Certainly, many of the military coups that overthrew incapable (or downright vicious) regimes failed in their turn to deliver a better quality of life. No one would accuse Congo's Joseph Mobutu or Uganda's Idi Amin of saving their countries. But, blinded by our reflexive prejudices, we fail to acknowledge that coups also have empowered Jerry Rawlins, who rescued Ghana and, yes, Musharraf - who, if he hasn't saved Pakistan, has at least kept the gasping patient alive.

We assume - thanks to the West's leftist atmospherics - that all military plotters just want power and yearn to torture university professors. In reality, the men in uniform more often view themselves as the last hope of their people.

Most coup-makers then botch the job of governing, just as the civilians they overthrew failed before them. From Argentina to Burma, junta leaders, accustomed to being obeyed, have tried to punish the population into succeeding (an approach the Left readily approved when Stalin and Mao took it).

The generals and colonels learn that patriotism, no matter how heartfelt, is no substitute for sound economic principles, the rule of law and a merit-based society. The absence of healthy governmental institutions is as fateful for the coup-makers as for the demagogues they overthrow.

Nonetheless, we blind ourselves to the forces in play when we caricature all coup-makers. For all his faults, Musharraf views himself as a Pakistani patriot - not as a political party boss in the fashion of Bhutto, nor as a Punjabi or Pashtun, Baluch or Sindhi first. Indeed, only the military holds the fractured state of Pakistan together.

Now Benazir Bhutto - one of the figures who did so much to destroy the fabric of society and the economy - is back in Pakistan. It appears that she and Musharraf have worked out a power-sharing arrangement. We may hope for the best, but we also need to be prepared for the worst: a new era of hyper-corruption, as Bhutto's grab-all gang replaces the relative moral rigor of the military in the public sphere.

And let's not forget those nukes.

The answer to the desperate needs of the people of countries such as Pakistan doesn't lie with demagogues. And it would be better if it didn't lie with military regimes, either. But the old rotation between the charlatans and the generals is likely to continue throughout our lifetimes.

Given the inability of non-Western societies to build effective government institutions, it may be time to rethink our faith in the state itself as the answer to their needs.

Ralph Peters' latest book is "Wars of Blood and Faith."
Quote:Of course Col Peters is one of those ultra-right wing military kooks, right?
Dunno about him, but you definitely are. What includes that famous loss of reality syndrome. Evidence?
Quote:She is a classic example of what you get in a third world country when you try to mix socialism with tribal corruption.
Bhutto and socialism? What a crap.
quadrat Wrote:
Quote:Of course Col Peters is one of those ultra-right wing military kooks, right?
Dunno about him, but you definitely are. What includes that famous loss of reality syndrome. Evidence?
Quote:She is a classic example of what you get in a third world country when you try to mix socialism with tribal corruption.
Bhutto and socialism? What a crap.

Instead of allowing your mouth to overload your brain, you should first use the gray matter, and try educating yourself a bit "Q". The madaam is the head of Pakistan's Peoples Party. You can find the Official web site, right here, you genius you. Now, just in case you are too lazy to click on the link, I will cut and paste, from the very site, their very own words.

Quote:Among the express goals for which the Party was formed were the establishment of an egalitarian(in other words, equality of results, not opportunity) democracy and the application of socialistic ideas to realize economic and social justice(to wit: whatever we wish it to be).

"Q", your designated position here, an important one I might add, is to be the official Fool/Heyoka, not the official Idiot. Being a well trained Fool requires intellect and guile. Being an Idiot requires none of that. Now if you prefer the later, to the former, we can always change your official job description.
if you need to ridicule yourself further, I'd love to see it. Egalitarian means people are equal from birth, as shortest definition. What means equal opportunities, and not the BS you claimed.
Where socialism is concerned, their definition of it is as funny as yours of individualism, and freedom, and also socialism. "Whatever we wish it to be". True.