Shake Your Bhutto, Rock Your World
Bad news on the global terror front: Unstable Pakistan will become even more shaky when its former leader (and Musharraf's enemy) returns home this week.
As Benazir Bhutto prepares to return to Pakistan later this week from her Dubai exile and becomes a target of strongman prick Pervez Musharraf's assassins, we can only recall how tragic it was for the U.S. to pull back from that volatile region more than five years ago.
Back in 2002, the Bush-Cheney regime abandoned the full-fledged hunt for Osama bin Laden and duped Congress and the country into invading Iraq.
Pakistan was where it was at. Bin Laden was hiding there and in neighboring Afghanistan. As the Soviets found out, you can't fight rebels in Afghanistan without somehow, some way also fighting them as they scurry across the border into Pakistan, where they have even government support.
Officials of Pakistan's spy agency, the ISI — widely credited with co-opting the Taliban and, along with the Saudis and Reagan administration, arming them — were sympathetic to bin Laden as long as he didn't destabilize their own country.
Recall that Porter Goss and Bob Graham, chairs of the House and Senate Intelligence committees, were having breakfast on the morning of 9/11 with Mahmood Ahmed, the Pakistani ISI official who later turned out to be hijacker Mohammed Atta's bagman. It was also Ahmed who had sent $100,000 to Atta on orders from the guy who later kidnapped Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. You can't make this shit up.
Yes, we left Pakistan in 2002. Big mistake.
We invaded Iraq. Bigger mistake.
We inflamed the Shia-Sunni schism in Iraq, widening everywhere else that ancient rift between Islam's main sects. Take Pakistan. Unlike in Iraq, the Sunnis are the majority. Please remember that most of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis, and despotic monarchy Saudi Arabia is ruled by Sunni fanatics.
There has long been sectarian violence in Pakistan — see this October 2004 BBC backgrounder. Add to that the return to the country of Benazir Bhutto, whose daddy, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was Pakistan's prime minister in the '70s before he was executed by the country's military. Later, Benazir Bhutto — nearly a dead ringer for Andrea Martin/Edith Prickley's version of another South Asia strongwoman, Indira Ghandi — became prime minister, and then she was driven from Pakistan amid corruption charges.
Pakistan was a bigger threat to world stability after 9-11 than Iraq was. Yes, Iraq was a bigger threat to Israel and always a danger to Kuwait, but Pakistan's instability was a much more dangerous threat to the U.S., no matter what the Bush regime's propagandists have drummed into our heads.
Now's the perfect time to recall that the hunt by Musharraf and the ISI for bin Laden was half-hearted at best. Our reaction has been to step up arm sales to Musharraf, as I noted in April 2005.
Don't be surprised if that well-armed Pakistan government sends more Lockheed fighter jets swooping down on Bhutto than it sent to look for bin Laden.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.