, Ken’s new thriller on Iran, radical Islam, and the war on
terror (which profiles a fictional version of Ahmadinejad).
By: Kenneth R. Timmerman
Former Pakistani Prime Minister
Benazhir Bhutto announced today that she would return to her home town
of Karachi, Pakistan on October 18, daring President Musharraf to
arrest her on outstanding corruption charges if the two fail to reach a
political agreement before then.
Asked if she feared she would be denied entry to Pakistan, Ms. Bhutto
said that she had never agreed to self-exile nor sought the help of a
foreign government, unlike Nawaz Sharif, another former prime minister
who was denied entry and sent to Saudi Arabia last week.
“I didn’t bring any foreign guarantors in, even though I was offered
that my husband should be released, so I can’t be deported,” she told
Newsmax in Washington this morning.
Her husband was jailed for eight years on corruption charges, although
he was never convicted in a court of law, she said.
A Pakistani court has issued an arrest warrant for Ms. Bhutto, although
in a gesture of reconciliation Gen. Musharraf withdrew a request to
Interpol to enforce the warrants, as Newsmax revealed in August.
The former two-term Prime Minister also made an impassioned argument
for why a civilian government in Pakistan would be a better partner for
the United States in the war on radical Islamic extremists.
“Unfortunately, on the ground the extremists are gaining in strength,
and we in Pakistan have lost control over the tribal areas which are
now being used as safe havens by militants who are crossing the borders
and destabilizing President Karzai [of Afghanistan].”
She blamed the upsurge in extremism to Musharraf and to military rule,
which had turned Pakistan into “the Petri dish of the international
“The very ones who created the mujahedin [in Afghanistan] and who later
moved on to the Taliban and al-Qaida, have today moved to control our
homeland security,” she said.
Ms. Bhutto promised that if she returned to Pakistan as prime minister,
her first priorities would be to provide an alternative to the radical
madrassas that now educate a majority of young Pakistanis by reforming
But she was less assertive of her ability to weed out extremist
officers from the army and from Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), the
powerful intelligence service that is dominated by the military.
“The reform of the armed forces depends very much on the
constitution of Pakistan,” she argued. “The constitution gives those
powers to the president, so reform of the intelligence services will be
a job for the president.”
Under a constitution reform now under discussion, Gen. Musharraf will
give up his post as army chief but be allowed to stand for re-election.
Pakistan’s parliament is now scheduled to hold the presidential vote on
If she gets elected as Prime Minister, Ms. Bhutto told Newsmax she
would “offer my advice” on an army purge. “And my first advice would be
to get rid of all those officers who are retired from the ISI and who
played a pivotal role in the jihad against the Soviets.
“They believe they defeated one superpower. They want to fight another
superpower. And their inclusion in key posts like Pakistan’s current
intelligence bureau and administration is detrimental to the fight
against terror,” she told Newsmax today.
Newsmax also asked Ms. Bhutto how she would make good on her pledge to
weaken the power of radical imams appointed by Gen. Musharraf’s
government to head major religious institutions in Pakistan.
“I would not allow them to build on government land,” she said.
She noted that the Red Mosque in Islamabad, where Islamist radicals
battled government forces recently, was illegally built on government
“This is why I say that elements of the government have supported and
protected the extremists. Without that support, the extremists could
not have built the Red Mosque complex in Islamabad, they could not have
mutinied, and we would not have lost a hundred innocent lives. So there
has to be a clear message to the militants that you can’t violate the
laws of the land.”
Ms. Bhutto hammered Gen. Musharraf and his administration for expanding
the powers of Islamic radicals, not weakening them.
”We say we are fighting against terrorism, but we are sending mixed
signals. Because the military regime needs the threat of an extremist
takeover to justify its stranglehold on power,” she argued.
In public remarks to the Middle East Institute before talking to
Newsmax today, Bhutto also made the following points;
only a return to civilian government could help recapture the
Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along the border with
Afghanistan, which she said had been “lost” to the Taliban and al-Qaida.
negotiations between her and Gen. Musharraf over a power-sharing
arrangement had broken down, “because the military fears a return to
democratic rule… and a reduction in their power.”
She and her Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) have set three
conditions for supporting a third term as president for Gen. Musharraf:
a constitutional amendment legalizing his candidacy, an immunity law
for prior members of parliament, and the repeal of a ban on
twice-elected prime ministers from seeking a third term. Both the
immunity law and the prime minister’s ban will affect her directly.
Ms. Bhutto PPP leaders will meet in London on October 3, to
determine whether or not to support Gen. Musharraf’s presidential bid.
Either way, however, Ms. Bhutto acknowledged that Gen. Musharraf “had
the votes” to win re-election if the issue of his eligibility was
© 2007 NewsMax. All rights reserved.