Who killed Benazir Bhutto?
While there is no conclusive answer to who killed former Pakistani prime minister Bhutto, so far the only claim of responsibility has come from an Al Qaeda leader in Afghanistan, who posted the claim of responsibility on an Italian Web site. Al Qaeda posted the following message: "We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat the mujahideen. (holy warriors.)"
Bhutto was an outspoken critic of Al Qaeda and other extremist Islamist groups. Consequently, Al Qaeda and other Islamist groups hated her for her rhetoric, for supporting secularism and for being a woman.
While we can't know for sure who killed Bhutto, on two occasions, Al Qaeda has also tried to kill Pakistani president Musharraf. This brings us to the state of emergency that was enacted by Musharraf in November to "defend Pakistan from extremists and terrorists." At that time the United States and much of the world criticized Musharraf and pressured him to lift the state of emergency and to resign as army chief, a position he held alongside the position of president.
Currently, the only force that can keep Pakistan intact and safe from the terrorists is the Pakistani military. The Pakistani military and president Musharraf know better than any outsider what it takes to keep Pakistan from failing and falling in the hands of terrorists and extremists. It is a mistake for the United States or any other country to interfere in the internal affairs of Pakistan by pressuring the Pakistani government to take any action that Pakistan does not want to take. It should be left up to the Pakistani people to decide whether emergency rule stays or not, whether the president wears an army uniform or not and when and whether elections are held.
The wrong interference by the United States and the weakening of the Pakistani military's control over Pakistan may produce a repeat of the disaster that brought clerical rule to Iran. In 1979, the Shah of Iran was deposed when the military refused to back him and the country fell in the hands of religious fundamentalist who continue to rule the country until today. This must not happen in Pakistan. The United States needs to be more emphatic to the particular circumstances of Pakistan and not to pressure Pakistan to do anything that is a threat to the stability and security of the country. If president Musharraf abuses his powers it is up to the majority of the Pakistani people to stop him and not foreign governments. The Pakistanis have a long democratic tradition and are capable of protecting their rights and institutions. An example is when Pakistani lawyers took to the streets to demonstrate against the weakening of the judiciary.
While democracy is a great ideal, Pakistan is currently facing turmoil and the Pakistanis need a strong president, a strong central government and a strong military to keep order. This remains the case despite allegations that the Pakistani military has been infiltrated by extremist elements. The United States should take no action to undermine the power of the central government, the military or president Musharraf, who has been a great ally in fighting Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Currently, the Pakistani military has more than 100, 000 troops fighting extremists on the Pakistani/Afghanistan border at a miniscule cost to the United States.
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