Reprinted from NewsMax.com
Bhutto Defiant to the End
Thursday, December 27, 2007 12:52
By: Kenneth R. Timmerman
By: Kenneth R. Timmerman
In her last public appearance in the United States before
returning to Pakistan last October, former Pakistani Prime Minister
Benazhir Bhutto showed the defiance and willingness to make powerful
enemies that was her trademark.
Speaking to Newsmax after a speech to the Middle East Institute in
Washington, DC on September 25, Mrs. Bhutto defied President Musharraf
for imposing emergency rule, and accused him of harboring Islamic
radicals in the army and the intelligence services at the same time
that Musharraf claimed he was their worst enemy.
In a gesture of reconciliation just before she announced her intention
to return to Pakistan, Musharraf withdrew a request to Interpol to
enforce a Pakistani arrest warrant against Mrs. Bhutto on corruption
But Musharraf’s gesture did little to temper Mrs. Bhutto’s
determination to unseat the Pakistani president, with whom she had been
negotiating a power-sharing formula.
She blasted Musharraf for turning Pakistan into “the Petri dish of the
international extremist movement,” and said that military rule had
increased the power of Islamic extremists, not diminished it.
“The very ones who created the mujahedin [in Afghanistan] and who later
moved on to the Taliban and Al Qaeda, have today moved to control our
homeland security,” she said, referring to Musharraf and his military
In Islamabad today, Geo TV – the largest private television network
broadcasting in Urdu - revealed that Bhutto had sent a letter to Gen.
Musharraf just two days before returning to Pakistan on October 16
naming three members of his government she claimed were conspiring to
In her interview with Newsmax, Mrs. 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 government schools.
But she was less confident 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 said. “The constitution gives those
powers to the president, so reform of the intelligence services will be
a job for the president.”
However, she told Newmax that if she was elected as Prime Minister, 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
“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.
Mrs. Bhutto was shot today when she emerged through the sunroof of her
armored SUV to address supporters after a political rally.
According to eyewitnesses, the lone assassin emerged from the crowd and
shot her in the head and the chest, before detonating explosives and
killing himself and others in the crowd.
Mrs. Bhutto had angered the radical imams appointed by Gen. Musharraf’s
government to head major religious institutions in Pakistan, and
declared that she would “not allow them to build on government land,”
as Musharraf had done.
She noted that the Red Mosque in Islamabad, where Islamist radicals
battled government forces earlier this year, was illegally built on
“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.”
In a televised statement in Crawford, Texas, President Bush blamed
“murderous extremists” for the murder.
“The United States strongly condemns this cowardly act by murderous
extremists who are trying to undermine Pakistan’s democracy. Those who
committed this crime must be brought to justice,” the President said.
Mrs. Bhutto understood that the fight against extremism had to begin
within the Pakistani government itself. Her outspoken criticism of
radicals within the armed forces may ultimately have been her undoing.
© 2007 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
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