Islam Under Scrutiny by Ex-Muslims

With Benazir Bhutto Killed, What Next For Pakistan?


Shortly after 5 p.m. local time on December 27th, Benazir Bhutto was killed in the city of Rawalpindi, northern Pakistan. She had been attending a rally in a city park for her Pakistan People's Party (PPP). As she was leaving the rally in a car, a suicide bomber detonated a device. One eyewitness report claimed that there were three shots before the bomb went off. The gunshots were fired by the suicide bomber. It has since been confirmed that 54-year-old Ms. Bhutto was shot in the neck before the explosion. Ms. Bhutto suffered serious head injuries, which were initially said to be caused by pellets contained within the device. She was rushed to hospital, but was dead upon arrival. At least 15 other people were killed in the explosion. Many of the injuries (below) were horrific.


Bhutto had her faults – she was accused of corruption during her two terms as prime minister from 1988 to 1990 and from 1993 to 1996. However, her death is seen as a massive blow to the hopes of both the people in Pakistan and also to Pakistan's allies in the West.


The President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, had ordered a State of Emergency on Saturday November 3rd. This emergency was triggered by Islamist attacks in various parts of the country, but for the six weeks that it was in effect, the majority of the thousands of people arrested were journalists, civil rights campaigners and lawyers – NOT the Islamists who threatened the country's stability. Musharraf promised that democratic elections would go ahead on January 8, 2008. It is now doubtful if these will go ahead.


The PPP party is in crisis as Benazir Bhutto was the uncontested head of the party, even during her exile. The structure of the PPP means that though there are regional party leaders (and during the last parliament there were representatives in the National Assembly), there is no clear successor. The party, founded by her late father, is run more on a system of personality. Recently Benazir Bhutto revived an earlier party slogan: "Food, Clothing and Shelter."


What is surprising is that such an attack could happen in Rawalpindi, a "garrison city" with a strong army presence. Rawalpindi is a 25-minute drive away from Islamabad, the capital. Questions about the strategic motivation and identity of the suicide bomber will be asked for weeks to come. One thing is certain: The event was designed to create instability, and is already succeeding. Already there are reports of rioting in various districts. The army is on red alert, and Islamabad and Rawalpindi are currently subject to curfew orders. Sindh province, where Ms. Bhutto had her political base, is expected to see mass protests.


On Christmas Eve, Benazir Bhutto addressed a rally of 4,000 people in Lodhran, and vowed to fight the Islamists who have created turmoil within the nation. She blamed Musharraf for the failure to control the al Qaeda and Taliban extremists who are currently in North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), adjoining the border with Afghanistan. These NWFP-based Islamists have been blamed for the many bomb attacks which have recently happened in Pakistan.


On Friday, December 21st, a suicide bomber launched an attack upon a mosque in Charsadda district in NWFP, killing 57 people. The mosque was attended by Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, the interior minister in the last government. Friday prayers are regarded as especially important in Islam, and what made the attack more shocking was that it happened at a service for Eid al-Adha – the remembrance of Abraham's order to sacrifice Isaac. Sherpao was not injured in last Friday's attack, but it appears that the bomb was aimed at him. Sherpao is a supporter of Musharraf and belongs to his PML-Q party. A newly-formed Islamist coalition called the Tehrik-i-Taliban claimed responsibility for the mosque bomb.


Benazir Bhutto had been in exile from Pakistan for eight years, mainly spending her time in Dubai and, to a lesser extent, in London. She returned in October this year after Musharraf had offered her immunity from prosecution on corruption charges. On the day she arrived back in Pakistan, attending a rally in Karachi, Punjab Province on October 18th, a suicide bomber attacked her procession. Shots had been fired before that attack, which killed 139 people, but Benazir Bhutto survived unhurt.


Bhutto had been advised to delay her return to Pakistan, as intelligence reports stated that she was a target. After the October attacks, Bhutto had said: "I know exactly who wants to kill me. They are dignitaries of General Zia's former regime who are behind extremism and fanaticism."


General Zia ul-Haq was the Islamist dictator who had ruled Pakistan from 1977 to 1998. This dictator, assisted by Islamists particularly from the Jamaat-e-Islami party, had introduced draconian legislation against blasphemy in 1986 and in 1979 he introduced the infamous Hudood laws, which made adultery a capital offense and removed distinctions between rape and adultery. Zia had hanged Bhutto's father, former prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, on April 4, 1979.


Bhutto hinted that those behind the Karachi attack had been connected to the ISI – the Inter Services Intelligence. This agency was behind the creation of the Taliban, and had also tried to mount an armed Sikh uprising in Punjab state in India. It is blamed for the disappearance of thousands of Pakistani civilians. Many of the leading figures in the ISI have been supporters of terrorism, such as former directors Lt Gen Mahmood Ahmed, Javed Nasir (who helped found the Taliban), and also Hamid Gul.


Hamid Gul, an admirer of bin Laden and the Taliban who supports Sharia law, has helped the Islamist opposition in Pakistan to mount demonstrations, and has been accused of funding the current Afghan insurgency. In January 2007, a captured Taliban fighter claimed the ISI still funds the Afghan Taliban.


Several ISI figures worshipped at the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad. This mosque was frequented by ul-Haq while he was in power, and in January 2007 it began a series of deliberate threats against the stability of the nation – warning of suicide attacks against anyone who interfered with their policies of kidnapping, arson and disruption. Many of the madrassa students at the Lal Masjid came from NWFP. The mosque – whose leaders demanded Pakistan become an Islamist state – was stormed in July. It reopened shortly after, but a suicide attack outside the establishment caused it to be closed again. Khalid Khawaja, formerly a leading figure in the ISI and an admirer of al Qaeda, was arrested in January this year for inciting members of the mosque.


Asim Bhutto – Benazir's cousin – mentioned on BBC News 24 that before her return to Pakistan, she knew that there were elements in the army and the ISI who wanted to kill her. He mentioned that a group calling itself the "Brothers of Punjab" was rumored to have said they would kill her. She informed Musharraf of this threat, Asim Bhutto said. This group, which I can find no information about, is claimed by Ms. Bhutto's cousin to have connections with the Pakistan administration.


A few hours after Bhutto was killed, al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack. Mustafa Abu Al-Yazid, the main al Qaeda leader in Afghanistan, said in a phone statement: "We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat [the] mujahadeen."


It would be unwise at this time to point the finger at specific individuals or groups. However, it is of concern that Musharraf used Islamist unrest to declare the State of Emergency but did not target Islamists in the mass arrests which followed. Additionally, he has done nothing to remove the Islamists who still exist in both the army and the ISI.


Benazir Bhutto, for all her faults, was widely seen as a modernizing figure in Pakistan. Since the 1950s, Islamists and dictators have disrupted the nation's original democratic ideals. When Pakistan was founded in 1947, its leader for its first 13 months was Mohammed Jinnah. At that time, Pakistan was a secular nation with a constitution similar to that still being used in India. Jinnah argued for Pakistan to be created when Britain's colonial rule came to an end. He wished for Muslims to have a safe haven and made no attempts to enforce Islamic law. Shortly after he died, the constitution was changed to state that Pakistan was an Islamic, rather than a secular, nation.


Benazir Bhutto's killing has been condemned by President Bush and other world leaders. The United States tried to bring Benazir Bhutto into Pakistan's political process as she had popular support and made no bones about her intentions to combat the Islamist extremists. She said that she would allow the United States to pursue Afghanistan Taliban from their sanctuaries in NWFP. Initially, it was suggested that a partnership of Musharraf as President and Bhutto as prime minister would have been a "dream ticket," offering Pakistan a chance of stability. When Musharraf imposed the State of Emergency and started jailing political rivals and sacking members of the judiciary, Bhutto became his political enemy.


Educated at Harvard and Oxford Universities and a former president of the Oxford Union, Benazir Bhutto was an intelligent, sophisticated and brave woman. She was the first woman to become head of an Islamic state. Though she has been accused in Pakistan, Britain, Switzerland and elsewhere of corruption, it should be mentioned that her husband Asif Ali Zardari (pictured) has also been accused of corruption, and was accused of ordering a murder in 1998. Though he was acquitted of this charge, Zardari is an individual who has attracted controversy.


The pair married in 1987 but it was not a romantic marriage – it was arranged by Benazir Bhutto's mother. Zardari was accused – but not convicted – of murdering Benazir's brother Murtaza. He was accused of drug running, a case that was never concluded. From November 4, 1996, Zardari spent eight and a half years in jail.


While Musharraf ruled virtually uncontested, another politician and former prime minister was sent into exile. Nawaz Sharif was prime minister when Perves Musharraf seized power in December 1999. He was forced to leave the country. Nawaz Sharif heads the Pakistan Muslim League – N faction (PML-N). He tried to return earlier this year, but was immediately deported, even though Chief Justice Iftikhar Choudary had authorized his return. Eventually Nawaz returned, but was not allowed to stand in the January 8, 2008 elections because of criminal charges which still remain against him. Nawaz Sharif visited the hospital in Rawalpindi shortly after the bomb attack, and saw the body of Benazir Bhutto. He announced a few hours later that his PML-N party will boycott the elections and will not be fielding any candidates in the upcoming elections. He has called for a general strike today.


Nawaz Sharif and Bhutto were not friends, but the State of Emergency brought them together on some political issues. On Christmas Day, Bhutto phoned Nawaz. She sought Nawaz's assistance to counter possible vote-rigging by Musharraf's PML – Q party in the upcoming elections. Both leaders warned of street demonstrations should these elections become rigged in Musharraf's favor. Demonstrations are already happening in several Pakistani cities, with four civilians shot dead at the time of this writing, and several reports of arson attacks.


With one leading party boycotting the imminent elections and another party without its figurehead, the only party with a large groundswell of support will be that of President Musharraf – the PML-Q party. An election held in these conditions will be neither democratic nor credible. It could also open the doors for Islamist parties to gain more power. In the last National Assembly, the MMA held 65 seats. This group comprises six Islamist parties, the largest of which is the Jamaat-e-Islami party.


The MMA support the Taliban and wishes for Sharia Law to be imposed - which of itself is undemocratic. Sami ul-Haq, who runs one of the MMA component parties, educated the leading members of the Taliban at his Haqqania madrassa in NWFP. His students included Mullah Omar. In March, the MMA introduced a draft Apostasy Law which would see anyone who converted out of Islam subject to the death penalty. Any increase of MMA power in the country would be catastrophic for democracy and human rights.


How the situation will develop over the next few days is not easy to predict. There is widespread anger. Musharraf will be damned by the public if he holds an election on January 8th, and he will be damned if he suspends elections. World leaders have condemned the killing of Ms. Bhutto. The future of Pakistan's democracy is genuinely under threat as a result of this attack.


The conditions that led to the declaration of a State of Emergency still remain. In Swat, a region of NWFP that was formerly a tourist destination nicknamed Pakistan's "Switzerland," an uprising continues. Since June of this year at least 300 militants have been killed in this conflict, yet it shows no signs of abating. The Taliban and al Qaeda have bases in Waziristan and other agencies of NWFP, exploiting the porous mountainous border with Afghanistan. Since March 2006, the "Pakistan Taliban" has been in full control of both North and South Waziristan.


Most analysts have said that the nuclear weaponry that Pakistan possesses is still secure, with the army unlikely to allow such weapons to fall into unauthorized hands. Yet for the War on Terror, Bhutto's death is a severe blow. Musharraf has already shown himself to have little regard for the freedom of the people of Pakistan, even though he has nominally supported the War on Terror. For the past five years, 70,000 soldiers have been posted in the troubled regions of NWFP, but these have done little to control the Taliban and al Qaeda.


Either there is a lack of will on the part of Pakistan's army commanders in the region, or they have no ability to control the insurgents. Islamists object to American troops being sent in to these regions, but if the Pakistan military establishment cannot control its own territory, certain questions must be asked. Is Musharraf is genuinely committed to defeating Islamism, or is he merely exploiting the situation to gain American funds? Does Musharraf support genuine democracy? The signs so far do not bode well. Over the next few weeks, those questions will be answered.


If you like this essay: Stumble it   Stumble Upon Toolbar digg it reddit

Adrian Morgan, aka Giraldus Cambrensis of Western Resistance, is UK-based writer and artist. He is a regular contributor to Family Security Matters. His article also appear in Spero News and He has previously contributed to various publications, including the Guardian and New Scientist and is a former Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Society.

Name:     closed

Comments Notes: Keep comments short. Our system cannot separate paragraphs. Comments must be relevant to the topic of the article. We did not regulate the comments but if irrelevant comments, materials, adds of other websites etc. are being uploaded, we will have to regulate the comments and even ban the IP addresses of such nuisance posters.

Name: getreal
Date: Thursday December 27, 2007
Time: 18:44:05 -0700


Pakistan was created by the British to punish Hindu India. Pakis adhered to the quranic verses, Mushie & the ISI created the Taliban. When Benazir was PM she had to kowtow to the islamists and quite unable to make substantial changes set in stone by that islamist Zia Ul Haq. It is loathsome to the Taliban that a woman should be PM again (they prefer to keep them worse than animals which is the norm). THE BIGGEST THREAT TO THE WORLD IS: ARE THE NUCLEAR FACILTIES SECURE FROM RADICAL ISLAMIST HANDS? OR WILL THIS BE USED AS LEVERAGE TO TURN PARTS OF DARUL HARB COMPLETELY INTO DAR UL ISLAM?

Name: kafir/infidel ( & Ex-communist ).
Date: Thursday December 27, 2007
Time: 23:31:08 -0700


Adrian Morgan writes with nostalgia and romantic notions about Ms. Bhutto. What nonsense it is. Ms. Bhutto was a committed Moslimah . She was a P.M of PAKISATAN for 5 yrs. What did she do to loosen the grip of ISLAMISTS in PAKISATAN. PAKISTAN was created by two most evil forces - the Monster ISLAMISTS and their surrogate supporters the Christians ( british ). Adrian's writing to say that PAKISATAN was like secular is also not true at all - how can it be - when it was snatched from INDIA/Hindus on the basis of religion and exclusively for Moslems. Was ther any declaration or guarantee that PAKISATAN will be secular? This is oxymoron - How can a state formed on the basis of ISLAM will be secular ? Ms. Bhutto was always harping on ISLAM/ISLAMISM. only after 9/11 , she changed her tune, outwardly, for the acceptence by the west and christianity. PAKISATAN is the most fundamentalist, /ISLAMIST / country with majority of PAKIS supporting,wanting to establish the ultra,ultra,ultra fascist,fundamentalist,totalitarian,ISLAMIC country surpassing SAUDI ARABIA. Benazir BHUTTO was killed becoz she was a woman trying to rule on men which is unislamic. Several statements were there from time to time that ISLAMISTS will not allow a woman to rule a Moslem country. Ms. Bhutto was also responsible during her rule , for the promotion of TALIBAN, AL QAEDA. We fully expected and predicted that BHUTTO will be killed soon. This was stated in one of the comments made on this forum .Anybody can verify that. There is hardly any difference - between the savage TALIBAN/ ALQAEDA or MUSHARRAF or Ms. Bhutto or ZIA UO HAQ or NAWAZ SHARIFF- They all are ISLAMISTS - only slightly differing in degree in their expression. Musharraf /Bhutto/SHARIFF were all responsible for the growth of ISLAMISTS monsters , as well as Britishers in 1947- becoz it was they who promoted this monster PAKISATAN . Do you know the history how ISLAM came from outside as marauding,murderous,destructive,killing force to INDIA? Do you know how INDIA was partitioned in 1947 ?

Name: vbv
Date: Friday December 28, 2007
Time: 00:55:38 -0700


Adrian Morgan's forefathers are responsible for the creation of Pakistan and truly enough the Pakistanis are gratefully exporting true 'islam' to Britain with the hope of making Britain a Pakistani colony! So what's great about Benazir Bhutto? She was just a pawn in the Pakistan military's hand . After all when was Pakistan really 'democratic'? Even the sham 'democracy' under Bhutto,Nawaz Sharief,Benazir etc. were all under the strict gaze of the Pakistani army. The army carries its will to impose democracy when it likes and these so-called leaders of 'political parties' are just men/women of straw depending on the crumbs thrown to them by the generals! War on terrorism , Bah! It is only the army in Pakistan that call the shots and they are sufficintly 'talibanised' and well stocked with dollars to export the idealogy of Al Queda/ Taliban /Deobandi islam/Wahabi islam et al to the generous and PC west.I don't think it is worth shedding any tear for Bhutto or any Pakistani/Saudi Arab!

Name: antimod
Date: Friday December 28, 2007
Time: 06:19:20 -0700


The British conned India to divide, Mr. Nehru who never believed the hindus and banked upon the votes of muslims to counter hindu organisations like the janasangh etc.,fell into the trap and the country was divided. USA which infact hate hindus for no plausible reasons patronised Pakistan and is steadfast in its support to the pakis, doesnot seem to recognise the hidden danger that country poses to the world. Possibly it is the Abrahamic ancestry of Christianity and the Islam make them feel more nearer to Islam and the pakis. Both the religions are a hoax, being dogmatic both resort to treachery and violence. I am sure USA which talks high of nonproliferation of nuclear arms wil not hesitate even once to drop a nuclear bomb when it is cornered, so are the Britons. Now that Islam is spreading its hood in the UK the Britons will have good taste of nurturing the Islamic population. Thy shall reap what thy shall sow- goes their own scripture. The Karma philosophy is very clear about this. Other than individual karma there is collective karma performed by a population, just as the American settlers and the British did during the last 300 years. They will reap ,so also the muslims who have been mindlessly following the Quran and killed millions of innocents over the past 1400 years. Sooner or later they will enjoy the fruits of their past karma.

Name: balam
Date: Friday December 28, 2007
Time: 22:23:07 -0700



Name: agnostic
Date: Saturday December 29, 2007
Time: 20:01:03 -0700


This article sucks! Benazir used her elite western education to persuade cynical Western politicians and journalists that she was fighting a brave battle of "democracy" in the islamic tyrannical wilderness. During her tenure as PM she allowed the already feeble education system to rot when she opened the doors to Islamists and their madrassas. Steve Coll noted in "GHOST WARS" his detailed account of the rise of Islamic fanaticism in Afghanistan, when it came to supporting the Taliban, “Bhutto had decided that it was more important to appease the Pakistani army and intelligence services than to level with her American friends.” Pakistan went backward not forward during her rule. She was very much the feudal landlord amid back breaking poverty. She was always more concerned with protecting her thieving political dynasty , power, than with the wellbeing or upliftment of the average Pakistani. Her husband looted shamelessly and ended up fleeing the country, pursued by the courts. The Islamist threat - which she artfully played both ways - spread like cancer, and now of course deeply rooted by Mushie and the ISI. She used her elite education and suckered the West. Pakistan is well rid of this hypocretin. And Britain can always open its shores for more muslims - after all hasn't Britain made itself the safe haven for terrorists? Omar Bakri and Abu Hamza not to mention Anjum Choudary, for starters?

Name: ira krulik
Date: Friday January 04, 2008
Time: 12:06:24 -0700


Correction: General Zia died in 1988, not 1998, as author claims

Hit Counter