Foreign Interference in Pakistan's
Sovereign Affairs Must Stop

Foreign Interference in Pakistan's Sovereign Affairs Must Stop - Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist)
Pakistan -- A Nation without Direction - Sandra L. Smith
Pakistan's Bhutto Killed in Attack
Anglo-American Ambitions behind the Assassination of Benazir Bhutto and the Destabilization of Pakistan - Larry Chin, Global Research
Musharraf Must Be Supported - Conrad Black, National Post
U.S. Steps up Plans for Military Intervention in Pakistan - Bill Van Auken, Global Research
U.S. Prepares to Increase Occupation Forces in Afghanistan - Joe Kay, Global Research

Foreign Interference in Pakistan's Sovereign Affairs Must Stop

The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) condemns the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and the U.S. interference in Pakistan's internal affairs. Politics of assassination are carried out by those who oppose the political solution of the problems facing the polity and the people's movement for empowerment. The ensuing anarchy and violence are symptoms of a society in which the rulers have become an impediment to the advance of the society. It is they who refuse to permit the people to deal with the problems they face politically and who in the name of democracy and other high ideals criminalize all economic, political, social and cultural issues by treating them as law and order questions.

All the global powers and their annexed mercenaries are telling the people of Pakistan how to manage their internal sovereign affairs. U.S. imperialism in particular has no shame in openly championing this or that Pakistani political leader as "its" man or woman to lead the country. Aside from the public declarations of support for "its" Pakistani politician, U.S. imperialism funds the Pakistan military and secret service with billions of dollars annually.

This crude very imperial foreign interference through support and funding for particular political personalities, parties and armed forces can only result in repression of the genuine leaders who emerge from popular struggles to resolve the country's many social, economic and political problems. This foreign interference also results in violent clashes among those within the ruling elite who are favoured or disfavoured by U.S. imperialism or other foreign powers.

Imperialist interference in Pakistan is evidenced in a society that does not guarantee the social, economic and political rights of the people or solve any of its outstanding problems. Social and political paralysis strangles the polity and denies the emergence of modern political and social leaders and institutions to serve the people. Everything is geared to favour the foreign imperialists and a fawning local privileged elite. No social, economic or political problem is resolved in a modern way.

During the recent struggle of the Pakistan judiciary, the world witnessed the unilateral manipulation and changing of the constitution, which is a country's basic law, in a most expedient manner to serve the interests of the elite in command of the military at this time and to oppose those voices demanding fundamental change and sovereign development.

U.S. imperialism's direct funding and promotion of certain Pakistani military leaders and others in official opposition has led to assassinations and violent clashes among rivals. Political leaders in the province of Balochistan and now Benazir Bhutto from Sindh have been murdered. The country is driven to wage a reactionary civil war or at least continuing violent clashes and repression. Some commentators speak of a break-up of the country into four competing regions: Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Pakhtunkhwa (North-West Frontier Province). Is this not what U.S. imperialism led by George W. Bush and its annexed mercenary Canada led by Prime Minister Harper want? The break up of Pakistan would provide justification for the CBC's howls of a "failed" state and the "necessity to protect" the people and Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. The colonial invasion and occupation of Afghanistan by the U.S.-led murderers could then move south directly into South Asia to seize in bloody conquest and destruction the biggest prize to date, Pakistan and its Port of Karachi. This would mark the retaking by the colonialists of the famed city first seized by British colonial gangsters in 1843. The invasion, destruction and occupation of Pakistan would be the crown jewel in U.S. imperialism's march of conquest through West and Central Asia and south to the Indian subcontinent. U.S. imperialism and their annexed mercenaries such as Canada would now surround China and be positioned to confront Russia. The European empire-builders would mostly be blocked from Asia, at least militarily. The foundation would be set for a World War to conquer the globe and establish the U.S. as the thousand-year Empire that Adolf Hitler dreamed about but failed to achieve because the peoples' of the world united in a popular front of resistance to retrogression and war.

And so it is today. The social responsibility of people everywhere is to confront the U.S. imperialists and their annexed mercenaries and stay their murderous hand of war, retrogression and interference. The people united in resistance to war and retrogression must block the empire-building of the big powers, especially the U.S. imperialists. This demands the immediate removal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan. This demands the dismantling of all U.S. military bases throughout the world and the repatriation of all U.S. troops. This demands the dismantling of all the aggressive military alliances such as NATO, NORAD and the U.S. Northern Command. This demands a renewed commitment to the defence of national sovereignty by establishing anti-war governments and the solving of problems among nations through peaceful means and enlightened diplomacy.

U.S. imperialism and its annexed mercenaries such as Canada should stop interfering in the political affairs of sovereign Pakistan and stop funding Pakistani political parties and personalities and its armed forces. The ancient peoples of south and central Asia, if left to express and modernize their own thought material, traditions and experience, are quite capable of building a bright future for themselves based on modern definitions.

CPC(M-L) calls for the unity of all political forces that want the renewal of society, in other words all those who wish to see an end to the prevalence of anarchy and violence and the use of state terrorism and foreign interference must rise to the occasion and provide the solutions society is calling forth at this time.

Stop foreign interference in Pakistan's sovereign affairs! U.S. imperialism and its Canadian and other mercenaries, get out of Central Asia!

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Pakistan -- A Nation without Direction

Torrents of blood have been shed by the people of Pakistan in their struggles for national and social liberation against foreign and native exploiters, against their agencies and collaborators. Yet, in spite of all these sacrifices, Pakistan stands today without direction. Which way to go forward is the question uppermost on peoples' minds. How to advance? What does the future hold for the people of Pakistan? How can they achieve their cherished desire to end the anarchy and violence, end the grinding poverty and suffering which are becoming worse the more the big powers strive for domination over all of Asia? How can the people end the uncertainty?

Following the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the representatives of the U.S., Canada and other NATO powers and their monopoly-owned media are full of talk about democracy. They suggest that by finding who benefits from  the assassination of Benazir Bhutto the culprit can be brought to justice and the cause of democracy will be served. It is impossible to wrap one's mind around discussion of who will benefit from anarchy and violence but it is certainly not the peoples of Pakistan, South Asia, Central Asia, Western Asia or the world. It is distressing indeed to hear the U.S., Canada and other NATO powers try to justify anarchy and violence and dictate the course of events by raising the banner of high ideals. Their talk about democracy is accompanied by the demand from the U.S. and other NATO powers that elections be conducted on schedule irrespective of the developments. No doubt the "return of democracy" is the greatest desire of the U.S., Canada and other NATO powers so that their interference in the region has the veneer of legitimacy. But it defies the imagination of just what kind of an election and democracy they have in mind given the disarray of the electoral parties at this time. To even speak of Pakistan and democratic institutions in the same sentence is irrational. Pakistan is the product of the bloody division of India engineered by the British Raj sixty years ago when the Punjabi nation was divided on a communal basis. It was the so-called reasonable accommodation of the day to achieve what in democratic parlance is called responsible government so as to preserve British interests in the region and block the people from going for socialism. Since then, torrents of blood have been shed as one corrupt government after the other has preserved the self-serving rule of the feudal landlords and established the stranglehold of the international financial oligarchy over the people of Pakistan.

Furthermore, the imperialists' rhetoric that the killing of Bhutto "has further undermined the internal security of Pakistan" begs the question as to what institutions the imperialists are referring to that provide "internal security." In Pakistan since 1956 (initially the Dominion of Pakistan after partition in 1947, later becoming the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in 1956) the only developed institutions have been the armed forces and police agencies. To reduce the issue of democracy in Pakistan to one of eliminating military rule for civilian rule reveals the sorry state of the democracy and democratic institutions the imperialists seek to impose.

The preoccupations of the CBC, a mouthpiece of Canada's policy in Afghanistan, are revealing in this regard. The CBC has turned the tragic developments in Pakistan into talk about the need to stay the course in Afghanistan because allegedly 50 per cent of new Taliban recruits that come in to Afghanistan are from Pakistan. In this way, the events in Pakistan are cynically manipulated to persuade NATO members to step up to the plate by putting more of their troops on the front lines in Afghanistan.

The polls show 67 per cent of Canadians say the results of Canada's alleged reconstruction in Afghanistan do not warrant the losses in terms of dead and injured Canadian soldiers. This has led Prime Minister Stephen Harper to use year-end interviews to patronize the polity and marginalize public discourse on the matter by wondering whether Canadians understand the importance of remaining in Afghanistan. He said the soldiers and diplomats understand the importance of staying despite the heavy price they are paying and he hopes the allegedly non-partisan "blue ribbon" panel he established to review what comes next, headed by former Liberal cabinet member John Manley, will serve the purpose of convincing Canadians to stay the course.

"All we can only hope from the Manley exercise is that it causes Parliamentarians, particularly in our Official Opposition -- which as you know commenced this mission -- to sit back and think about what is in the best interest of the country before a vote is actually held," he said.

"We really have got to avoid -- on this one -- taking a decision for reasons of short term politics. We must take a decision that is in the long-run interest of the country, its international reputation and the respect we should all show for the sacrifice our men and women have made to secure it," he added.

The CBC has also used the tragic events in Pakistan to declare there is a need to avert the danger of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal falling into the hands of the Taliban should the central government fall apart. The CBC even raises the spectre of a pre-emptive strike from India to seize the weapons and therefore ensure the security of the region! These are not scenarios acceptable to the people.

The quality of being human presupposes that the public feels revulsion towards the killing of Benazir Bhutto, as they do for the poverty of the majority workers, peasants and tribal peoples, the suffering of children, mothers and the elderly. If this is the case, why do such things continue? How is it that the majority of the human voice and feeling is unable to assert itself at the time it is so sorely needed? What is blocking the solution of the problems?

To divert the people from taking up the renewal of the democracy by establishing their own institutions based on their own thought material and reality, deafening propaganda is carried out that the problems are due to the rise of religious extremism in Pakistan. This is intended to force a "solution" based on the "civilized values" of the big powers. But it is not enough to say it is the old system or foreign interference and internal reaction and their disinformation that are blocking the solution to the problems in Pakistan and the world. What is it about the old system that is blocking if not its ability to eliminate the human factor/social consciousness from taking up the call of the times?

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto is another warning to people to come forward and provide solutions through the democratic renewal of the society. Only those who have no other interest but to create a society fit for human beings can end this dangerous state of affairs which is bound to lead to a world war. There is a chance for such forces to emerge at this time.

* Sandra L. Smith is national leader of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist).

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Pakistan's Bhutto Killed in Attack

On Thursday, December 27, Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in a suicide attack that also killed or injured at least 20 others at a campaign rally, news agencies report.

A security adviser for Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party said Bhutto was shot in the neck and chest as she got into her vehicle to leave the rally in Rawalpindi near the capital Islamabad where she was campaigning for the January 8 parliamentary election. The gunman then blew himself up.

"At 6:16 pm she expired," said Wasif Ali Khan, a member of Bhutto's party who was at Rawalpindi General Hospital where she was taken after the attack, the Associated Press reports.

"The attack came just hours after four supporters of former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif died when members of another political party opened fire on them at a rally near the Islamabad airport Thursday, Pakistan police said.

"The BBC's Barbara Plett says the killing is likely to provoke an agonized response from her followers, especially from her loyal following in Sindh Province.

"Analysts note that Rawalpindi, a garrison city, is seen as one of the country's most secure cities, making the attack even more embarrassing for the military authorities," AP writes.

"The attack shows that there are still those in Pakistan trying to undermine reconciliation and democratic development in Pakistan," a U.S. state department official said.

Russia's foreign ministry condemned the attack, offered condolences to Ms Bhutto's family and said it hoped the Pakistani leadership would "manage to take necessary steps to ensure stability in the country," Pravda reported.

France spoke of an "odious" act and said it was deeply concerned, Agence France Presse said.

The Reuters news agency reported:"Gold and Bonds Rise after Bhutto Death."

"Gold and government bonds rose while U.S. stock futures fell on Thursday after news Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was killed in a gun and bomb attack after a rally in the city of Rawalpindi. [...]

"Analysts say the shock of the Bhutto news triggered a classic capital flight to assets which are considered as safe havens in times of geopolitical stress.

"'(Bhutto) is just a concern. The move to gold is the flight to safety and quality on the headlines on a quiet illiquid day,' said Camilla Sutton, currency strategist at Scotia Capital in Toronto.

"U.S. government bond prices were up 78 ticks for a yield of 4.1872 percent. Euro zone government bond prices also rose after the Bhutto news and U.S. data, paring earlier losses to standing slightly down on the day."

According to Pravda, "Bhutto was the first woman elected to lead a post-colonial Muslim state. She was twice elected Prime Minister of Pakistan. She was sworn in for the first time in 1988 but removed from office 20 months later under orders of then-president Ghulam Ishaq Khan on grounds of alleged corruption. In 1993 Bhutto was re-elected but was again removed in 1996 on similar charges, this time by President Farooq Leghari.

"Bhutto went into self-imposed exile in Dubai in 1998, where she remained until she returned to Pakistan on October 18, 2007, after reaching an understanding with General Musharraf by which she was granted amnesty and all corruption charges were withdrawn.

"She was the eldest child of former premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a Pakistani of Sindhi extraction, and Begum ("Lady") Nusrat Bhutto, a Pakistani of Iranian-Kurdish extraction. Her paternal grandfather was Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto who came to Larkana Sindh before partition from his native town of Bhatto Kalan which was situated in the Indian state of Haryana."

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Anglo-American Ambitions behind the Assassination of Benazir Bhutto and the Destabilization of Pakistan

It has been known for months that the Bush-Cheney administration and its allies have been manuevering to strengthen their political control of Pakistan, paving the way for the expansion and deepening of the "war on terrorism" across the region. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto does not change this agenda. In fact, it simplifies Bush-Cheney's options.

Seeding Chaos with a Pretext

"Delivering democracy to the Muslim world" has been the Orwellian rhetoric used to mask Bush-Cheney's application of pressure and force, its dramatic attempt at reshaping of the Pakistani government (into a joint Bhutto/Sharif-Musharraf) coalition, and backdoor plans for a military intervention. Various American destabilization plans, known for months by officials and analysts, proposed the toppling of Pakistan's military.

The assassination of Bhutto appears to have been anticipated. There were even reports of "chatter" among U.S. officials about the possible assassinations of either Pervez Musharraf or Benazir Bhutto, well before the actual attempts took place.

As succinctly summarized in Jeremy Page's article, "Who Killed Benazir Bhutto? The Main Suspects," the main suspects are 1) "Pakistani and foreign Islamist militants who saw her as a heretic and an American stooge," and 2) the Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, a virtual branch of the CIA. Bhutto's husband Asif Ali Zardari directly accused the ISI of being involved in the October attack.

The assassination of Bhutto has predictably been blamed on "Al-Qaeda," without mention of fact that Al-Qaeda itself is an Anglo-American military-intelligence operation.

Page's piece was one of the first to name the man who has now been tagged as the main suspect: Baitullah Mehsud, a purported Taliban militant fighting the Pakistani army out of Waziristan. Conflicting reports link Mehsud to "Al-Qaeda," the Afghan Taliban, and Mullah Omar (also see here). Other analysis links him to the terrorist A.Q. Khan.

Mehsud's profile, and the reporting of it, echoes the propaganda treatment of all post-9/11 "terrorists." This in turn raises familiar questions about Anglo-American intelligence agency propaganda involvement. Is Mehsud connected to the ISI or the CIA? What did the ISI and the CIA know about Mehsud? More importantly, does Mehsud, or the manipulation of the propaganda surrounding him provide Bush-Cheney with a pretext for future aggression in the region?

Classic "War on Terrorism" Propaganda

While details on the Bhutto assassination continue to unfold, what is clear is that it was a political hit, along the lines of U.S. agent Rafik Harriri in Lebanon. Like the highly suspicious Harriri hit, the Bhutto assassination has been depicted by corporate media as the martyring of a great messenger of western-style "democracy." Meanwhile, the U.S. government's ruthless actions behind the scenes have received scant attention.

The December 28, 2007 New York Times coverage of the Bhutto assassination offers the perfect example of mainstream Orwellian media distortion that hides the truth about Bush-Cheney agenda behind blatant propaganda smoke. This piece echoes White House rhetoric proclaiming that Bush's main objectives are to "bring democracy to the Muslim world" and "force out Islamist militants."

In fact, the openly criminal Bush-Cheney administration has only supported and promoted the antithesis of democracy: chaos, fascism, and the installation of Anglo-American-friendly puppet regimes.

In fact, the central and consistent geostrategy of Bush-Cheney, and their elite counterparts around the world, is the continued imposition and expansion of the manufactured "war on terrorism"; the continuation of war across the Eurasian subcontinent, with events triggered by false flag operations and manufactured pretexts.

In fact, the main tools used in the "war on terrorism" remain Islamist militants, working on behalf of Anglo-American military intelligence agencies -- among them, "Al-Qaeda," and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, the ISI. Mehsud fits the same profile.

Saving Bush-Cheney's Pakistan

In an amusing quote from the same New York Times piece, Wendy Chamberlain, former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan (and a central figure behind multinational efforts to build a trans-Afghan pipeline, connected to 9/11), proudly states: "We are a player in the Pakistani political system."

Not only has the U.S. continued to be a "player," but one of its top managers for decades.

Each successive Pakistani leader since the early 1990s -- Bhutto, Sharif and Musharraf -- have bowed to Western interests. The ISI is a virtual branch of the CIA.

While Musharraf has been, and remains, a strongman for Bush-Cheney, questions about his "reliability," and control -- both his regime's control over the populace and growing popular unrest, and elite control over his regime -- have driven Bush-Cheney attempts to force a clumsy (pro-U.S., Iraq-style) power-sharing government. As noted by Robert Scheer, Bush-Cheney have been playing "Russian roulette" with Musharraf, Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif -- each of whom have been deeply corrupt, willing fronts for the U.S.

The return of both Bhutto and the other former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has merely been an attempt by the U.S. to hedge its regional power bets.

What exactly were John Negroponte and Condoleeza Rice really setting up the past few months?

Who Benefits from Bhutto's Murder?

The "war on terrorism" geostrategy and propaganda milieu, the blueprint that has been used by elite interests since 9/11 to impose a continuing world war, is the clear beneficiary of the Bhutto assassination. Bush-Cheney and their equally complicit pro-war/pro-occupation counterparts in the Democratic Party enthusiastically support the routine use of "terror" pretexts to impose continued war policies.

True to form, fear, "terrorism," "security" and military force, are once again, the focuses of Washington political rhetoric, and the around-the-clock media barrage.

The 2008 U.S. presidential candidates and their elite campaign advisers, all but a few of whom enthusiastically support the "war on terrorism," have taken turns pushing their respective versions of "we must stop the terrorists" rhetoric for brain-addled supporters. The candidates whose polls have slipped, led by 9/11 participant and opportunist Rudy Guiliani, and hawkish neoliberal Hillary Clinton, have already benefited from a new round of mass fear.

Musharraf benefits from the removal of a bitter rival, but now must find a way to re-establish order. Musharraf now has an ideal justification to crack down on "terrorists" and impose full martial law, with Bush-Cheney working from the shadows behind Musharraf -- and continuing to manipulate or remove his apparatus, if Musharraf proves too unreliable or broken to suit Anglo-American plans.

The likely involvement of the ISI behind the Bhutto hit cannot be overstated. ISI's role behind every major act of "terrorism" since 9/11 remains the central unspoken truth behind current geopolitical realities. Bhutto, but not Sharif or Musharraf would have threatened the ISI's agendas.

Bhutto, Militant Islam, and the Pipelines

Now that she has been martyred, many unflattering historical facts about Benazir Bhutto will be hidden or forgotten.

Bhutto herself was intimately involved in the creation of the very "terror" milieu purportedly responsible for her assassination. Across her political career, she supported militant Islamists, the Taliban, the ISI, and the ambitions of Western governments.

As noted by Michel Chossudovsky in America's "War on Terrorism," it was during Bhutto's second term that Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) and the Taliban rose to prominence, welcomed into Bhutto's coalition government. It was at that point that ties between the JUI, the Army and the ISI were established.

While Bhutto's relationship with both the ISI and the Taliban were marked by turmoil, it is clear that Bhutto, when in power, supported both -- and enthusiastically supported Anglo-American interventions.

In his two landmark books, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia and Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia, Ahmed Rashid richly details the Bhutto regime's connections to the ISI, the Taliban, "militant Islam," multinational oil interests, and Anglo-American officials and intelligence proxies.

In Jihad, Rashid wrote:

"Ironically it was not the ISI but Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the most liberal, secular leader in Pakistan's recent history, who delivered the coup de grace to a new relationship with Central Asia. Rather than support a wider peace process in Afghanistan that would have opened up a wider peace process in Afghanistan, Bhutto backed the Taliban, in a rash and presumptuous policy to create a new western-oriented trade and pipeline route from Turkmenistan through southern Afghanistan to Pakistan, from which the Taliban would provide security. The ISI soon supported this policy because its Afghan protégé Gulbuddin Hekmatyar had made no headway in capturing Kabul, and the Taliban appeared to be strong enough to do so."

In Taliban, Rashid provided even more historical detail:

"When Bhutto was elected as Prime Minister in 1993, she was keen to open a route to Central Asia. A new proposal emerged backed strongly by the frustrated Pakistani transport and smuggling mafia, the JUI and Pashtun military and political officials."

"The Bhutto government fully backed the Taliban, but the ISI remained skeptical of their abilities, convinced that they would remain a useful but peripheral force in the south."

"The U.S. congress had authorized a covert $20 million budget for the CIA to destabilize Iran, and Tehran accused Washington of funneling some of these funds to the Taliban -- a charge that was always denied by Washington. Bhutto sent several emissaries to Washington to urge the U.S. to intervene more publicly on the side of Pakistan and the Taliban."

Bhutto's one mistake: she vehemently supported the pipeline proposed by Argentinian oil company Bridas, and opposed the pipeline by Unocal (favored by the U.S.). This contributed to her ouster in 1996, and the return of Nawaz Sharif to power. As noted by Rashid:

"After the dismissal of the Bhutto government in 1996, the newly elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his oil minister Chaudry Nisar Ali Khan, the army and the ISI fully backed Unocal. Pakistan wanted more direct U.S. support for the Taliban and urged Unocal to start construction quickly in order to legitimize the Taliban. Basically the USA and Unocal accepted the ISI's analysis and aims -- that a Taliban victory in Afghanistan would make Unocal's job much easier and quicken U.S. recognition."

Her appealing and glamorous pro-Western image notwithstanding, Bhutto's true record is one of corruption and accommodation.

The "War on Terrorism" Resparked

Every major Anglo-American geostrategic crime has been preceded by a convenient pretext, orchestrated and carried out by "terror" proxies directly or indirectly connected to U.S. military-intelligence, or manipulated into performing as intelligence assets. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto is simply one more brutal example.

This was Pakistan's 9/11; Pakistan's JFK assassination, and its impact will resonate for years.

Contrary to mainstream corporate news reporting, chaos benefits Bush-Cheney's "war on terrorism." Calls for "increased worldwide security" will pave the way for a muscular U.S. reaction, U.S.-led force and other forms of "crack down" from Bush-Cheney across the region. In other words, the assassination helps ensure that the U.S. will not only never leave, but also increase its presence.

The Pakistani election, if it takes place at all, is a simpler two-way choice: pro-U.S. Musharraf or pro-U.S. Sharif.

While the success of Bush-Cheney's 9/11 agenda has met with mixed results, and it has met with a wide array of resistance ("terroristic" as well as political), there is no doubt that the propaganda foundation of the "war on terrorism" has remained firm, unshaken and routinely reinforced.

As for Nawaz Sharif, who now emerges as the sole competitor for Musharraf, he, like Musharraf and Bhutto, is legendary for his accommodation to Anglo-American interests -- pipelines, trade, and the continued U.S. military presence. As Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie noted in the book Forbidden Truth, the October 1999 military coup led by Musharraf that originally toppled Sharif's regime was sparked by animosity between the two camps, as well as "Sharif's personal corruption and political megalomania," and "concerns that Sharif was dancing too eagerly to Washington's tune on Kashmir and Afghanistan."

In other words, Bush-Cheney wins, no matter which asset winds up on the throne.

* Larry Chin is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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Musharraf Must Be Supported

The murder of Benazir Bhutto is tragic and dreadful, but is far from unprecedented in Pakistan. After the independence of India and Pakistan was proclaimed in 1947, 17 million people fled between Hindu and Muslim areas, and 500,000 people were killed. The first prime minister of Pakistan, Liaquat Ali Khan, was assassinated in 1951. His three successors were pitched out of office each within two years with an abruptness unfamiliar to constitutional monarchies. Pakistan was set up as a republic in 1956. The first president, Iskander Mirza, yielded power to General Mohammed Ayub Khan, in 1958.

As East, (Bangladesh), and West Pakistan started to break up, separated as they were by a thousand miles of a hostile India, Ayub was driven from office in 1969, and replaced by General Yahya Khan. He blundered into war with India in 1971; Bangladesh seceded, taking more than half the population of Pakistan with it, and Yahya was replaced by Benazir Bhutto's father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

General Mohammed Zia ul-Haq sent Bhutto packing in 1977, and hanged Bhutto on trumped up charges at a drumhead trial in 1979. Zia was assassinated when his airplane (PAK 1), was blown up in 1988. Benazir Bhutto governed for a year and was then dismissed. Nawaz Sharif, now the leading surviving opposition leader, was installed after elections in 1991, and was dismissed two years later. Benazir was back from 1995 to 1996, and then driven out of the country again. Sharif was back in 1997, forced out the president and the chief justice, and was himself overthrown and expelled by the present president, General Musharraf, in 1999.

The region is dodgy to holders of great offices. Mahatma Gandhi, the supreme pacifist, and father of an independent India, and, with Mohammed Ali Jinnah, of Pakistan, was assassinated, as was India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru's daughter, Indira Ghandi, and her son, both prime ministers of India, which, unlike Pakistan, is a more or less genuine democracy. The George Washington and Mahatma of the new country of Bangladesh, (immortalized by Henry Kissinger as "a basket case, but not our basket case" in 1971), Mujibar Rahman, was murdered, with his family and even household pets, in 1975.

It is a chronically unstable area, and since both India and Pakistan tested nuclear weapons in 1998, and Pakistan now has at least 100 nuclear weapons, the question of Pakistan's political security is more important, as well as more unsettled, than ever. It was a fairly academic question whether Pakistan was governed by generals or ostensibly democratic leaders, for most of the country's history. But it is not now.

Musharraf is no Jeffersonian democrat, but in this horse race, he is the only entry the U.S. and the West has. As so often in the past, from Diem in South Vietnam and Somoza in Nicaragua, to the Shah of Iran, to Maliki in Iraq and Kharzai in Afghanistan, the U.S. has celebrated its alliance with Musharraf, and then, as the pressure came up, the Democrats have raised the issue of whether this particular ally is worthy of alliance with the U.S. The time for such considerations is when the alliance is forged, not when it is tested.

The problem is compounded in this case by the current administration's brief promotion of the panacea of democracy. We saw in Iran in 1979, as in Palestine in the last two years, that democracy can bring in democracy's greatest enemies. In Algeria, the constitution gives the army the ultimate authority and duty to preserve democracy, an obligation it has discharged by interrupting elections about to produce an anti-democratic and fundamentalist Islamic majority, and conducting a civil war of almost a decade in which 300,000 people died violently, to keep the Islamic fundamentalists out of power.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt said, of the elder Somoza, in Nicaragua, "He may be a son-of-a-bitch, but he's our son-of-a-bitch." President Richard Nixon warned that, "If we don't support our allies, we won't have any allies." There certainly comes a point where an ally is too disreputable to support, as even the Chinese found with the infamous Pol Pot in Cambodia. But Musharraf is not in that category.

It was a blunder of mindless moralistic naivete for the Clinton administration to have boycotted both India and Pakistan in 1998, when both became nuclear powers. This replicated Carter's equally fatuous blunder in engineering a Persian Gulf in which both major powers, Iran and Iraq, were anti-Western.

One of the comparatively scarce foreign policy successes of the present Bush administration is the rapprochement with India. Obviously, Musharraf must be supported. Bush and Condoleezza Rice must stop badgering him about democracy, which has never produced a satisfactory result in Pakistan, and give enough assistance to make a concerted attack in the Waziristan sanctuary of bin Laden, al-Qaeda and the Taliban, militarily and politically practical.

Musharraf does not now convey the impression of being a strongman, and already the U.S. television networks are profiling the new army commander as a potential replacement, as they did the now-forgotten General Lebedev as a replacement as Russian president for Boris Yeltsin. If the U.S. does not reinforce Musharraf in the most unambiguous and tangible terms, Pakistan could deliver a sizeable nuclear arsenal to a fanatic Islamic, replacement government, many years ahead of the Iranian nuclear timetable.

The status quo is intolerable. The U.S. has done nothing serious to reduce oil imports from those who bankroll terrorism and promote the overthrow of friendly Middle Eastern or southern Asian governments. American suburbia gambols about in its gas-guzzling SUVs, fattening the wallets of the promoters of terrorism. The Saudis and others complain about Israel being a Jewish state, which is what the United Nations, including Stalin's U.S.S.R., set it up as, but do not allow a Christian or a Jew to visit Mecca.

Almost the entire conventional military capacity of the United States is tied up in Iraq, a war the country vaguely wishes to abandon, despite a general awareness that this could bring terrorism back to New York and Washington. The current president has not received the credit he deserves for the fact that not so much as a firecracker has gone off in the Americas since 9/11. Having removed the ghastly and internationally lawless regime in Iraq, the U.S. must produce an improvement; feckless meddling won't do. And Bush or his successor must be the first president since Nixon to take energy policy seriously.

The Democratic nominee for president will probably be Senator Clinton. The country could do worse, and better. If the Republicans have a brokered convention, they should consider returning to the estimable tradition of nominating successful generals, from Washington to Eisenhower, including a majority of elections in the first century of the United States. General David Petraeus has infused hope into the Iraq operation, and would be a refreshing new face. Dr. Rice would be an admirable candidate for vice-president. If the primaries decide the Republican nominee, as they have in both parties since 1956, the best they have is John McCain. He is a war hero and has a sense of the nation's strategic interest. He is not unblemished, but neither were former congressman Lincoln, or the handicapped governor Roosevelt, and they were the greatest leaders any country has produced in the last two centuries.

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U.S. Steps up Plans for Military Intervention in Pakistan

In the midst of public statements of support for "democracy" in Pakistan and the recent visit to Islamabad by the American envoy John Negroponte, Washington is quietly preparing for a stepped-up military intervention in the crisis-ridden country.

According to the New York Times Monday, plans have been drawn up by the U.S. military's Special Operations Command for deploying Special Forces troops in Pakistan's frontier regions for the purpose of training indigenous militias to combat forces aligned with the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Citing unnamed military officials, the newspaper reports that the proposal would "expand the presence of military trainers in Pakistan, directly finance a separate tribal paramilitary force that until now has proved largely ineffective and pay militias that agreed to fight Al Qaeda and foreign extremists."

American military officials familiar with the proposal said that it was modeled on the initiative by American occupation forces in Iraq to arm and support Sunni militias in Anbar province in a campaign against the Al Qaeda in Iraq group there.

According to the Times report, skepticism that the same strategy can be adapted to the deteriorating situation in Pakistan centers on "the question of whether such partnerships can be forged without a significant American military presence in Pakistan." The newspaper adds that "it is unclear whether enough support can be found among the tribes."

While the Pentagon admits to only about 50 U.S. troops currently stationed in Pakistan as "advisors" to the Pakistani armed forces, that number would swell substantially under the proposed escalation. The Times cites a briefing prepared by the Special Operations Command that claims the beefed-up U.S. forces would not be engaged in "conventional combat" in Pakistan. It quotes unnamed military officials as acknowledging, however, that they "might be involved in strikes against senior militant leaders, under specific conditions."

In other words, American Special Forces units would be used to carry out targeted assassinations and attacks on strongholds of Islamist forces.

In addition to the plan to recruit and train new paramilitary militias in the frontier region, Washington has developed a $350 million program to train and equip the existing 85,000-member Frontier Corps, a uniformed force recruited from among tribes in the Pakistan border region.

There is also considerable skepticism about the prospects for this program. "The training of the Frontier Corps remains a concern for some," the Times reports: "NATO and American soldiers in Afghanistan have often blamed the Frontier Corps for aiding and abetting Taliban insurgents mounting cross-border attacks. 'It's going to take years to turn them into a professional force,' said one Western military official. 'Is it worth it now?'"

There are growing concerns in Washington that the martial law regime imposed by the Pakistani president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, at the beginning of this month might unleash revolutionary convulsions that could topple the military regime, which has served as a lynchpin for American interests in the region.

The Bush administration has repeatedly demanded that Musharraf take action against Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in the areas bordering Afghanistan. Residents on both sides of the border are ethnic Pashtuns. The latest U.S. National Intelligence Estimate released last July charged that Al Qaeda had reestablished "safe havens" in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

Taliban-aligned forces have been able to extend their influence from the Waziristan region along the Afghan border further into Pakistan, establishing control to the north over a large portion of the Swat valley in the North West Frontier Province.

According to press reports, over 1,000 civilians, members of the security forces and Islamist fighters have been killed in fighting in the region over the past five months.

Senior Pakistani military officials announced over the weekend that the army had massed nearly 20,000 troops backed by tanks and artillery for a major offensive in the Swat district aimed at wresting control from militias loyal to Mullah Maulana Fazlullah, a pro-Taliban cleric.

Such offensives have proven ineffectual in the past, however, in no small part due to the support that the Islamists enjoy within influential sections of the Pakistani military and intelligence apparatus, a relationship that was solidified during the CIA-backed war against the Soviet-supported regime in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

These forces have also gained strength as a result of popular hostility to the slaughter unleashed by the U.S. occupation in neighboring Afghanistan, combined with resentment over the poverty and social inequality produced by the economic policies of the Pakistani regime.

A clear indication of the depths of concern in Washington over the unraveling of its client regime in Pakistan came Sunday in the form of an op-ed piece published by the New York Times under the bylines of Fred Kagan and Michael O'Hanlon. Kagan, a member of the right-wing American Enterprise Institute, is a longstanding supporter of the U.S. war in Iraq and was a signatory of the Project for a New American Century letter in 2001 demanding that the Bush administration invade the country in response to 9/11. He drafted a document that served as a blueprint for the recent "surge" that sent 35,000 more U.S. troops into Iraq.

O'Hanlon, a member of the supposedly more liberal and Democratic-oriented Brookings Institute, has also emerged as a prominent supporter of the "surge" in Iraq and last April co-authored a paper with Kagan setting out a "grand strategy" for U.S. imperialism. This envisioned a war against Iran as well as interventions in North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. The document urged "finding the resources to field a large-enough standing Army and Marine Corps to handle personnel-intensive missions."

The Times piece, entitled "Pakistan's Collapse, Our Problem," advocates the immediate consideration of "feasible military options in Pakistan."

It states: "The most likely possible dangers are these: a complete collapse of Pakistani government rule that allows an extreme Islamist movement to fill the vacuum; a total loss of federal control over the outlying provinces, which splinter along ethnic and tribal lines; or a struggle within the Pakistani military in which the minority sympathetic to the Taliban and Al Qaeda try to establish Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism."

The article cautions against complacency that the Pakistani military command and the country's ruling elite will manage to maintain stability. "Americans felt similarly about the shah's regime in Iran until it was too late," it warns.

The two military analysts lay out alternate "scenarios" for U.S. interventions. The first, consisting of a full-scale intervention and occupation, would, they say, require more than a million troops, making it politically and militarily unfeasible.

Instead, they suggest a possible Special Forces operation aimed at seizing control of Pakistani warheads and nuclear materials.

They put forward an additional "broader option" that would involve the deployment of "a sizable combat force" with the mission of propping up the Pakistani military and waging war on the pro-Taliban forces in the border regions.

"So, if we got a large number of troops into the country, what would they do?" the article asks. "The most likely directive would be to help Pakistan's military and security forces hold the country's center -- primarily the region around the capital, Islamabad, and the populous areas like Punjab Province to its south."

It adds: "If a holding operation in the nation's center was successful, we would probably then seek to establish order in the parts of Pakistan where extremists operate. Beyond propping up the state, this would benefit American efforts in Afghanistan by depriving terrorists of the sanctuaries they have enjoyed in Pakistan's tribal and frontier regions."

Whatever limited lip service the U.S. State Department gives to the call for ending the martial law regime imposed by Musharraf in Pakistan, the real aims and methods of the American ruling establishment -- Democratic and Republican alike -- emerge clearly in the Kagan-O'Hanlon article.

What is now being seriously contemplated is yet another colonial-style war in a region that stretches across the Middle East and Central and South Asia, from Iraq to Pakistan, with the objective of salvaging, with or without Musharraf, the Pakistani military -- the corrupt and repressive instrument with which Washington has been aligned for decades.

The crisis in Pakistan is symptomatic of the ever-widening instability created by the two wars -- in Afghanistan and Iraq -- which Washington has waged to tighten the U.S. grip over the region's energy resources.

Now, with open and simultaneous discussions of possible military interventions in Iran and Pakistan, what is emerging is the growing threat of a global military conflagration.

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U.S. Prepares to Increase Occupation Forces
in Afghanistan

The Bush administration is preparing to significantly increase U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan in an attempt to quell growing popular hostility to the U.S. and NATO occupying forces. It is doing so with full confidence that it will face no significant opposition from the Democratic-controlled Congress.

On the contrary, much of the criticism from leading Democrats of the administration's conduct of the war in Iraq has been based on the charge that the U.S. preoccupation with Iraq has diverted troops and resources from what they claim is the real center of the "war on terror" -- namely, Afghanistan. Leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination such as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have pledged, if elected, to increase U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan.

The entire American political establishment supports an indefinite U.S. presence in the country, which occupies a critical geo-strategic position bordering Iran and Pakistan.

These preparations were underscored at a press conference held December 21 by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff General James Cartwright. Gates insisted, "NATO's efforts to rebuild and secure [Afghanistan] must be sustained and expanded into next year and beyond." He indicated that about 7,500 more troops were needed to bolster the occupation.

There are currently about 26,000 U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, 12,000 of whom operate independently and 14,000 of whom are part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The NATO force, which consists of 40,000 personnel, includes soldiers from Canada, Australia, Britain, Germany, France, and other European countries.

In its report on the news conference, the Wall Street Journal noted, "A senior Pentagon official said sending additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan was 'clearly something that is being strongly considered.' He said it likely would be several months before any new forces were deployed, given the military's manpower strains because of the Iraq war."

There have been growing concerns within the U.S. military and the ruling elite as a whole that the situation in Afghanistan is spiraling out of control. Any partial drawdown of U.S. troops from Iraq in the coming months, as the tours of duty of troops sent there as part of Bush's "surge" come to an end, will likely be accompanied by an escalation of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan.

The U.S. is also looking for ways to increase the size of its military to confront a severe shortage of soldiers resulting from the simultaneous colonial-style operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. At the same time, the Bush administration has by no means ruled out military action against Iran.

According to a New York Times article on December 16, the Bush administration is "deeply concerned about the prospect of failure in Afghanistan" and has initiated three separate reviews to develop a new strategy. If these reviews do not lead to a "surge" on the same level as the increase in U.S. forces in Iraq earlier this year, the Times noted, this is "mostly because there are no American troops readily available."

A United Nations report published earlier this year found that 2007 was the most violent year in Afghanistan since the invasion in 2001. The violent incidents tabulated by the UN did not include casualties of U.S. and NATO military operations.

Though there is no official calculation of this latter figure, air strikes against towns and presumed Taliban targets were up sharply this year. Earlier this month, NATO troops recaptured the city of Musa Qala in the south after a protracted operation. The town was controlled by Taliban forces for 10 months.

Gates said at his press conference that the increase in violence in Afghanistan was due in part to "much more aggressive actions on the part of the NATO alliance and the U.S. forces that are there."

The growth of opposition to the U.S.-led occupation of Afghanistan has been brought on by an escalating social crisis in the country. A December 17 article in the Washington Post noted, "Administration officials say the White House has become more concerned in recent months about the situation in Afghanistan, where grinding poverty, rampant corruption, poor infrastructure and the growing challenge from the Taliban are hindering U.S. stabilization efforts. Senior administration officials now believe Afghanistan may pose a greater longer-term challenge than Iraq."

Gates alluded to Democratic support for increased U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan in his press conference. Asked if he thought sending troops returning from Iraq to Afghanistan would cause political problems for the administration, he replied, "I don't think there's a political constraint."

In addition to increasing its own presence in Afghanistan, the U.S. is also pressing other members of the NATO coalition to increase the size of their forces and remove restrictions on the type of operations these forces are allowed to engage in. At a NATO meeting earlier this month, Gates criticized European powers for not doing enough to aid the occupation in Afghanistan.

At his press conference, Gates's tone was less confrontational, and he acknowledged that many of the governments participating in the ISAF confront a hostile population at home. Gates said that the U.S. must find ways to "help the European governments perhaps persuade their people of the value and importance of the mission in Afghanistan." He suggested that it was necessary to "look for more creative ways in which the allies can be helpful."

Other comments have been more critical. Democratic Representative Joe Sestak, a retired admiral and former staff member of the National Security Council, complained earlier this month, "The Germans, the Spanish, the Italians don't send any troops to the south except for 250 troops by Germany." He said that some of the countries "refuse to do combat ops at night and some don't fly when the first snowflake falls."

In an apparent response to this pressure, French President Nicolas Sarkozy made a surprise trip to Afghanistan on Saturday, where he announced that France might increase the number of its soldiers in the country. There are currently some 1,100 French troops in Afghanistan. Sarkozy has sought to align French foreign policy closer to that of Washington, and has backed the Bush administration's threats and provocations against Iran.

The British Labour government of Gordon Brown is widely expected to increase its forces as well, which are currently at 7,800. Australia's new prime minister, Kevin Rudd of the Labor Party, was in Afghanistan over the weekend, pledging continued support for the U.S.-backed government of Hamid Karzai.

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