Aijaz Ahmad: Musharraf and extremists had the most to gain from assassination
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR: In a nationally televised address on Wednesday, Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf announced that he had requested assistance from Scotland Yard in the investigation of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.
PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PAKISTANI PRESIDENT (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): We decided to request a team from Scotland Yard from the United Kingdom to come. I am grateful to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, that I made the request and he accepted it. And by the Grace of God, this team will soon arrive in Pakistan and assist our teams in our investigation.
The Pakistani government has blamed al-Qaeda for the assassination. But opposition officials rejected this and have called for an international investigation. According to The New York Times, United States intelligence analysts are themselves not convinced by evidence offered so far by Pakistani authorities, that a militant link to al-Qaeda was responsible for the assassination. Musharraf said he had wanted to hold parliamentary elections on January 8 as scheduled, but he deferred to the decision of the election commission to postpone them to February 18 due to the violence.
MUSHARRAF (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): My brothers and sisters, I want to say again that the sheer scale of destruction of the election offices, the railway systems, the transport system, logistic support system and law and order made the postponement, in my opinion, inevitable and the decision by the election commission is timely and correct.
All this is happening at a time when the Taliban and the tribal forces that support them are in virtual control of the Northwest Frontier Provinces bordering Afghanistan. And it’s reported that inside Afghanistan, the Taliban are planning a spring offensive against Kabul itself. President Musharraf is sitting on a powder keg. To better understand these developments, we’re joined by Senior News Analyst Aijaz Ahmad in New Delhi. What forces stood to gain from Bhutto’s death?
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AHMAD: First of all, I must say Musharraf himself stands to gain, in the sense that he was very unhappy with the power-sharing deal. If Benazir had become the prime minister, he would have been overshadowed in the sense that she would have had a very big mandate. She was no friend of Musharraf. With her removal, no major political figure is really left. The Pakistan People’s Party’s prime ministerial candidate, Makhdoom Amin Fahim, is politically actually a non-entity. Asif Zardari, the surviving husband of Benazir, is widely despised in Pakistan as a well-known criminal. So anybody who comes to dominate that new configuration that arises from the elections is not going to have the stature of Benazir, and Musharraf would be dominating that. Secondly, I think the Islamicist groups are beneficiaries. They have been able to create a sense throughout the country that they have the power to do what they wish to do through two assassination attempts, one in Karachi upon her arrival, and now this successful one. At whatever level these people were involved, and if these are people who are from inside the intelligence services or the military itself, then we can understand that when we speak of the extremist forces, we are not talking about people out there in northwestern Pakistan, but right there in the capital and in the primary institution of the state itself.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.