ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistan's U.S.-allied president must resign before next month's elections or the country could risk slipping into civil war, opposition leaders and a leading independent research institute said Thursday.
Of course, what might happen if we suddenly lose our "ally" in the War on Terror? Pakistan might slip into civil war?
This is perfect. It's civil war if "President" Mushy doesn't step down, and it's civil war if he does.
What do you think Pakistan, and the region, might look like after a civil war in Pakistan? Please keep in mind the instability in Iraq and Afghanistan as you ponder that question.
The calls came after the government pushed back polls to Feb. 18 from the planned Jan. 8 date due to unrest following the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.
Bhutto's death in a suicide bomb and gun attack plunged already volatile Pakistan deeper into crisis and stoked fears of political meltdown as the nation struggled to contain an explosion of Islamic militant violence.
The government — which had initially ruled out the need for foreign involvement in the assassination probe — has been criticized over its security arrangements for Bhutto, who had claimed elements in the ruling party were trying to kill her. The party vehemently denies such a plot.
She was shot right where Mushy hangs out, near -- what was it? -- Army Headquarters? Or, was it ISI Headquarters?
(In all the excitement, I sort of lost track myself.)
If that area can't be secured....
And, hadn't Bhutto commented about a lack of security from the government, and that she had reasons to suspect certain elements in the government?
The question is this: were they rogue elements, or were they actually implementing policy from the top?
Bhutto supporters have insisted that a U.N. probe would be the only way to reveal the truth behind her Dec. 27 slaying. They dismissed President Pervez Musharraf's announcement late Wednesday that Britain's Scotland Yard will soon join the investigation.
The UN may look to Pakistanis like a breath of fresh air (?), but it is hardly an authoritative source.
Maybe the EU would be better? (ROFL)
I know -- Let's get the 9/11 Commission to investigate! (ROFLMAO!)
(**embarassed** Sorry, it's not funny. I was cleaning my keyboard, and it just kind of went off.)
Scotland Yard may not be a bad choice.
I know our FBI has many agents who are most excellent, and honest.
But FBI Headquarters is both riddled with corruption and politicized -- would they send those excellent agents, and allow them to do their work?
By analogy, I raise a question because I don't know: how is Scotland Yard?
I suspect that, at a minimum, there will be pressure on them due to the UK's relationship with Pakistan and due to the large number of Pakistani immigrants in the UK.
"The mist of confusion will be cleared only if the regime accepts the party's demand for holding a U.N. inquiry into the assassination as was done in the case of Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri's murder," said Farhatullah Babar, a spokesman for Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party.
"The regime has lost all credibility. Neither a domestic inquiry nor vague foreign involvement ... would lay to rest the lingering doubts and suspicions," Babar said.
"The regime has lost all credibility."
A senior police investigator, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation, said Thursday that police in Pakistan already had secured key evidence, including the suspected bomber's remains, two pistols and mobile phones.
And I'm sure it would be far beyond rogue elements of Pakistan's ISI to tamper with any of the evidence.
I'm also sure it would be far beyond their capabilities to plant appropriate evidence.
Even farther beyond their abilities would it be to arrange the hit so that the evidence that naturally resulted would lead where they wanted it to.
(Caution: Screen slippery due to dripping sarcasm.)
Scotland Yard investigators, with their superior forensic techniques, could help determine whether either pistol was fired in the attack and also could examine video, he said.
I don't doubt that Scotland Yard is good.
The election delay also drew condemnation from Bhutto's party and the other main opposition group, led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. They said, however, that they would run in the polls anyway — seemingly a boost to Musharraf's hopes to engineer a democratic transition.
Is that "a boost to Musharraf's hopes to engineer a democratic transition", or "a boost to Musharraf's hopes to engineer a democratic facade"?
The opposition urged Musharraf to resign.
"Free and fair polls are impossible under his leadership," said Javed Hashmi, a senior member of Sharif's party. "Such a thing is unthinkable if he is there."
In a report on Bhutto's assassination, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group research institute called on the United States — which continues to support Musharraf — to recognize him as "a serious liability, seen as complicit in the death of the popular politician" Bhutto.
But, Mushy is our ally in the War on Terror!
"It is time to recognize that democracy, not an artificially propped-up, defrocked, widely despised general has the best chance to provide stability," the group's Asia director, Robert Templer, said in a statement accompanying the report.
"Unless Musharraf steps down, tensions will worsen and the international community could face the nightmare of a nuclear-armed, Muslim country descending into civil war," Templer said.
It may not be just one nuclear-armed, Muslim country.
From Congressional testimony quoted in The Islamic Bomb, Part 1:
Khan claims to have acted without Pakistani Government support, yet former Pakistani President Zia spoke about acquiring and sharing nuclear technology, in his words, with the entire Islamic world. Khan advanced Zia's mission well. Some of Khan's exports were transported by Pakistani military aircraft. Many ask how can the network aggressively market its nuclear products, including the glossy brochures, without Pakistan's Government taking notice?
And, from a news article in quoted The Islamic Bomb, Part 1:
A number of US officials and lawmakers have voiced concern that President Pervez Musharraf's government could lose control over its nuclear arsenal amid the crisis triggered by his imposition of a state of emergency.
And then, some of my comments from The Islamic Bomb, Part 1:
Given the ongoing crisis in Pakistan, which, since the publishing of the article being quoted has heightened with the Bhutto assassination, Pakistan's position should be one of cooperating with the international community to ensure the security of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal.
Instead, the concern is about Pakistan's sovereignty, and protecting that sovereignty from possible US infringement.
Returning now to Opposition urges Musharraf to step down:
Musharraf, who took power in a 1999 coup, said in a television address Wednesday that he supported election authorities' decision to delay the vote due to riots that followed Bhutto's death. The violence killed nearly 60 people and caused tens of millions of dollars in damage.
Bhutto — who the United States had hoped would enter into a power-sharing agreement with Musharraf after the elections — spent about eight years in self-exile, mostly in London, before returning to Pakistan in October to campaign.
In his address, Musharraf announced that Scotland Yard detectives had been invited to join the probe into her slaying.
He blamed Islamic militants for the death of Bhutto, a two-time prime minister, and appealed for public unity to combat them. "This is a time for reconciliation and not for confrontation," he said.
A great many people do not see it that way.
And that fact plays into the hands of a great many more people.
Scotland Yard said it was sending a small team of officers from the Metropolitan Police's Counterterrorism Command.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said the team would leave Britain by the end of the week.
The White House said that it supported Scotland Yard's involvement, and that a U.N. investigation was not necessary now.
"Scotland Yard being in the lead in this investigation is appropriate and necessary and I don't see — we don't see a need for an investigation beyond that at this time," said presidential spokeswoman Dana Perino.
Why do we need an investigation?
We all saw what happened, didn't we?
And we all know who did it, don't we?
Won't an investigation merely distract us from our known enemy, Al Qaeda?
With this post I'm starting a new label: Pakistan.
For my readers in Pakistan, I wish you the best -- I really, really do.