Thursday, December 27, 2007

Pakistan-US Relations (Lead And Background Info: CRS)

In the wake of the Bhutto Assassination, I thought this recent CRS document (download full text here, hosted by the FAS) might prove interesting. Written in October 2007, it gives some detailed background information that might be of use. Beyond the background, there are some leads here as to who might be the perpetrators (Italics, bold and hyperlinks are mine):

  • "On October 18 (2007), former Prime Minister Bhutto made good on her promise to return to Pakistan after more than eight years of self imposed exile and was welcomed in Karachi by up to one million supporters. (Hours later, two bomb blasts near her motorcade — likely perpetrated by suicide attackers — left at least 115 people dead, but Bhutto was unharmed.) While Bhutto continues to enjoy significant public support in the country, especially in her home region of rural Sindh, there are signs that many PPP members are ambivalent about her return and worry that her credibility as an opponent of military rule has been damaged through deal-making with Musharraf."
  • "Bhutto has alleged that some pro-jihadist retired Pakistani military officers have plotted her assassination, and Baitullah Mehsud (plus more here and here), a pro-Taliban militant commander in South Waziristan, vowed to launch suicide attacks against her. The government deployed thousands of security troops to safeguard her Karachi arrival (Zahid Hussain, “Triumph or Tumult for Bhutto?,” Wall Street Journal Asia, October 18, 2007)"
  • "The leadership of the country’s leading moderate, secular, and arguably most popular party — the Pakistan People’s Party — seek greater U.S. support for Pakistani democratization and warn that the space in which they are allowed to operate is so narrow as to bring into question their continued viability as political forces. They also identify a direct causal link between nondemocratic governance and the persistence of religious militancy in Pakistan. According to former Prime Minister Bhutto, “Political dictatorship and social hopelessness create the desperation that fuels religious extremism .... Civil unrest is what the extremists want. Anarchy and chaos suit them.” She asserts that elements of Pakistan’s security apparatus are sympathetic to religious extremists and that these elements can only be neutralized by being made answerable to an elected government."
  • "Many analysts consider a potential accommodation between President Musharraf and former Prime Minister Bhutto to be the best option both for stabilizing Islamabad’s political circumstances and for more effectively creating a moderate and prosperous Pakistan (some reports have the U.S. government quietly encouraging Musharraf to pursue this option). Such accommodation might include Musharraf retiring from the military following his reelection as President and allowing Bhutto to return to Pakistan and run for national office. Even as this arrangement may be in process, it is highly unlikely to alter the army’s role as ultimate arbiter of the country’s foreign and national security policies, but might create a transitional alliance that would empower Pakistan’s more liberal and secular elements."

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