Thursday, October 18, 2007
It is hard to imagine how this transparent manipulation of the Pakistani political system by the US, Musharraf and Bhutto is going to accomplish anything other than further empowering al-Qaeda and its allies within Inter-Services Intelligence.
AMY GOODMAN: And how did Benazir Bhutto, his daughter, rise to power?
TARIQ ALI: Benazir Bhutto was, in those days, not very political, but her father's martyrdom, so to speak, brought her into politics. I remember talking to her when her father was prime minister of Pakistan, and she would say to me, “Oh, you know, he’s putting me under pressure to come into politics. I don’t want to be a politician. I want to be a diplomat. I want to be in the foreign office.” But once her father was killed by the army, she and her mother were very courageous. They took the military on. They were locked up. They were in and out of prison. So her role at that time was very honorable.
The big problems began when she -- after General Zia was blown up in a plane with the US ambassador, there were elections again, and Benazir won. But she was unable to do anything the first time. And the second time she came to power, her government was incredibly corrupt, and the military then, when Musharraf came to power, charged her with corruption. The evidence is there; it’s irrefutable. And as part of the deal now, this corruption is being ignored, which is making people incredibly cynical. . . . . .
AMY GOODMAN: Right now, the situation in Pakistan, where does Bush's allegiance lie, and what could you see happening?
TARIQ ALI: Well, I think Bush’s allegiance lies to the military ruler of Pakistan. They’ve made that very clear. They’ve given him $10 billion. Every time the Pakistani military goes in and carries out actions on the Afghan border, they send an invoice directly to Centcom in Florida, which pays them directly. So all these actions are being paid for by the United States, which is well known in Pakistan and is well known here, as well. So the United States is totally tied into the military leader. And the cosmetic changes they're proposing by this arranged marriage, a marriage arranged by the State Department between Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto, a political marriage, I don’t think is going to work. It is creating mayhem within her own party. And there’s nothing she can do, because she’s quite a discredited politician.
AMY GOODMAN: In what way?
TARIQ ALI: In the way that she’s -- everyone knows that she and her husband went in power incredibly corrupt. The evidence is there. And in a country where the ordinary people are already alienated from the political process, to inflict this on them isn’t going to improve matters.