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Sunday, January 6, 2008

Why Pakistanis believe that US may also be a suspect in Bhutto killing
By Aamna Mahboob
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's pinkie, daughter of the East, BB of the Pakistani people and Darling of the West is no more with us. She was allegedly shot and killed by unknown assailants. The al-Qaeda hand was suspected in the murder but the group denied its involvement. If not al-Qaeda who is behind it then? Past records of al-Qaeda reveal that the group had not hesitated to claim responsibility for acts done by it.
A glance at al-Qaeda and its mentors would reveal that al-Qaeda/Taleban and the United States are two sides of the same coin. Since 9/11, the US has been evoking the fear of al-Qaeda to buy over the silence of its own people as it unleashes its military power in other parts of the world. In the name of fighting a war on terror, it first invaded Afghanistan and then Iraq. And now it wants to target Pakistan, the first Islamic nuclear power which could not be swallowed by some so-called superpowers. The Pakistan crisis aggravated only after the US efforts in attacking Iran on the pretext of that the oil rich country was developing nuclear weapons failed.
Women supporters of slain opposition leader Benazir Bhutto pray during a ceremony at the spot where she was assassinated in Rawalpindi. AP
Interestingly, before BB's murder, one American organization had said that according to their sources they were expecting Osama bin Laden's audio or video message where he would talk about Afghanistan and Iraq. As predicted, bin Laden issued a message. Does this mean that there exists a nexus between the US and al-Qaeda elements?
In the past whenever President George W Bush faced a crisis, either an Aiman-ul-Zawahiri tape or bin Laden tape would surface to bail him out. If US Intelligence could predict upcoming tapes of al Qaeda, one wonders why they cannot arrest bin Laden.
According to some political and strategic analysts, the United States is deliberately creating chaos in Pakistan in order to get hold of its nuclear arsenal. As part of this scheme, the United States and its NATO allies accuse Pakistan of not doing enough to contain cross border terrorism which they say destabilises Afghanistan.
Hamid Gul, a retired general who served as head of the Inter-Service Intelligence, said that he believed that al-Qaeda was a smokescreen orchestrated by the United States. He said he believed that the assassination of BB could have been masterminded by outside powers interested in destabilising Pakistan with the aim of finding an excuse to seize the country's nuclear weapons. That may seem far-fetched to foreigners, but not to many Pakistanis who strongly believe that the West does not want to see a nuclear-armed Muslim country.
The United States, claiming to be a friend of Pakistan, has ditched Pakistan on every occasion when it was in need of America's help. Its duplicity was exposed when it influenced France to cancel the agreement with Pakistan for the supply of a nuclear plant. Despite Pakistan being a member of CENTO and SEATO, two Cold War era security arrangments, the United States betrayed Pakistan during the two main wars against India.
When Pakistan’s very survival was at stake during the 1971 war with India backing the insurgents in East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, Washington assured Pakistani government that its Seventh Fleet would be reaching East Pakistan to help government forces. The fact remains that the Seventh Fleet never reached there and at last the Indian forces were able to dismember the world’s largest Islamic state. The rest is part of history now.
In the light of these American assurances, which were mere words, one cannot dismiss theories that speak of US designs for destabilsing Pakistan. The Western media as expected have also played a key role in this scheme. They project Pakistan as a nursery for terrorists. Every now and then the US media blame Pakistan for doing nothing to curb terrorism, even though Pakistan is bleeding from the wounds inflicted by terrorists who were trained and supported by the United States during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
A recent report aired by BBC projected the Punjabis in Pakistan as villains. The programme was deplored by many a Pakistani as a move to fuel inter-provincial hatred instead of peace and harmony. The American presidential hopefuls also joined the fray in flaying Pakistan.
Graham Allison in the 'Newsweek' magazine wrote the condition in Pakistan in these words: political instability, a demoralized army, a burgeoning Islamic insurgency and an intensely anti-US population have put the country's nuclear weapons at risk. (It speaks of American designs in Pakistan.)
He went on to say that the design of Pakistan's nuclear control systems creates a risk of inside theft. This system addresses Pakistan's first and foremost fear that if its arch-enemy, India, knew the location of the country’s weapons it could launch a pre-emptive attack to eliminate them.
Despite the fact that Pakistan had categorically stated that the nuclear programme was in safe hands with the command and control authority vested in the president, the west kept on expressing its concerns about the vulnerability of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.
The unearthing of the nuclear proliferation network, the subsequent arrest of the father of Pakistan's nuclear programme, A. Q. Khan, and the alleged rise in militancy linked to al-Qaeda give strength to the theory that one of the aims of the war on terror was to roll back Pakistan’s nuclear programme.
Th fear that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of al-Qaeda is being raised to either neutralize the nuclear assets or capture them. There is general perception among the people that the murder of B.B was the part of the same game.
General Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq who helped the United States run a covert war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, perished in an air crash in 1988. Many Pakistanis also believe that after the accomplishment of its task in Afghanistan, the US got rid of Gen. Zia along with a number Pakistani army officers and the US ambassador.
The Pakistanis ask if the US intelligence could sacrifice the US ambassador, why could not they be the prime suspect in the BB killing. The following piece of Urdu poetry depicts the intentions of outside miscreants. Jab se bulbul thu nay do tinkey liyea hain Gerti hain bijlian inhi ka liyea
(O nightingale since you picked the two straws the lightning falls for them)
(The writer is a Pakistani student who graduated from the Sri Lanka College of Journalism).

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