After Benazir ... The death late last year of the controversial Benazir Bhutto has been much debated. Milan Vesely reports from the United States on some of the likely causes and culprits behind her cowardly killing.

Author:Vesely, Milan


TAHE ASSASSINATION OF Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan on 27 December highlighted the disarray in America s foreign policy. And with President Bush stubbornly sticking to the old Ronald Reagan guideline of backing individuals while at the same time pressuring them to take the fight to America's enemies, the flaws in such a policy are becoming ever more apparent. In the case of Pakistan, that policy is now bankrupt, leaving the Bush administration flailing about for a plan B, one that carelessly, it never put in place.

Presidential contender and Republican front-runner Governor Mike Huckabee of Oklahoma recently described Washington's foreign policy as being based on arrogance. This drew an unusual rebuttal from then White House press secretary Dana Perino. "President Bush's foreign policy is not based on arrogance, rather on America's vital interest," she retorted, refusing to be drawn into further discussion. This cutoff only encouraged others to play up Huckabee's statement, the American public now ever more critical of the US State Department's handling of America's relations with the world at large.

For the past two years the US has poured billions of dollars into Pakistan under the premise it was necessary to help fund the war on terror. Recent press reports claim this aid was used for no such thing; that the billions spent by the Pakistan military establishment went on strategic weapons more suited to fighting a conventional war with India than to fighting the Taliban in the rugged mountains of eastern Waziristan.

So who benefits most from the death of the American-supported Benazir Bhutto, other than the obvious; the Islamic fundamentalists who were afraid of her allowing US Special Forces free rein in the rugged tribal lands abutting western Afghanistan?

To answer that question one must look behind the scenes, turn the spotlight on even the least suspected of Pakistan's myriad and competing parties.

The obvious first choice must be fundamentalist Islamists, both Pakistani Taliban and religious party extremists.

With Bhutto gone, these avowed enemies of the US can breathe easier, America's ally now martyred, her violent demise causing ever more turbulence in the Pakistani political scene. As such, this is a major blow to President Bush, his patience with Pervez Musharraf already at a low ebb. Still vivid in the Islamist's mind is the storming of the Red Mosque; this considered such a crime that it may have warranted...

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