Osama Bin Javaid's Blog

Is the west training Syria’s rebels in Jordan?

Posted in Uncategorized by osamabinjavaid on March 15, 2013

As we mark two years of fighting, here’s one aspect of the world’s response to Syria …

U.S.-trained Syrian rebels returning to fight: senior rebel source  – www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-syria-crisis-rebelsbre92d15e-20130314,0,3920651.story

UK and French instructors involved in US-led effort to strengthen secular elements in Syria’s opposition, say sources – www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/08/west-training-syrian-rebels-jordan

The American and Jordanian militaries are jointly developing plans to secure what is believed to be Syria’s vast stockpile of chemical and biological weapons, said U.S. and Arab officials briefed on the discussions. – http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203961204577269680793484776.html

The American troops have been stationed at a Jordanian military base north of Amman about 35 miles from the border since the end of a major joint exercise called Operation Eager Lion. –www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/9598851/US-troops-operating-in-Jordan-near-Syria-border.html

The American mission in Jordan quietly began last summer. In May, the United States organized a major training exercise, which was dubbed Eager Lion. About 12,000 troops from 19 countries, including Special Forces troops, participated in the exercise. After it ended, the small American contingent stayed on and the task force was established at a Jordanian training center north of Amman. It includes communications specialists, logistics experts, planners, trainers and headquarters staff members, American officials said. An official from the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugee Affairs and Migration is also assigned to the task force. –www.nytimes.com/2012/10/10/world/middleeast/us-military-sent-to-jordan-on-syria-crisis.html?_r=0

Here’s an untitled image from the archives http://www.globalresearch.ca/articlePictures/reaganandmujahideen1.jpg and the rest is history…

For the record; The infamous Benazir-Peter Letter

Here is the letter MQM’s Mustafa Kamal referred to and  an email I received from Peter Galbraith (Not Gabriel) when I came across this letter. Peter Galbraith calls it a forgery and a crude hoax. I had forgotten about this until today when Mr Kamal made a reference to this letter asking why the media doesnt pick on this and continues to play on Zulfiqar Mirza’s allegations that Altaf Hussain wrote a letter to Tony Blair offering him support of thousands of followers. I havent heard from Mr Blair’s office yet but will share it as soon as we can verify or deny the contents of the letter.

From: Peter Galbraith <>
To: Osama Javaid <>Dear Osama,

This letter was exposed as a crude hoax 20 years ago. I cannot imagine why this forgery is being recycled today. There are many obvious signs of forgery and I won’t go through all of them. But, here are a few:

1. The forger misspelled my name. It is “Galbraith” not “Gailbraith”. Benazir and I were very close friends. She was also very close to my family, including my father who was a well known personality at Harvard and in South Asia. It is impossible that she would misspell the Galbraith family name.

2. I worked for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1990, and have never worked for the National Democratic Institute. Benazir knew this very well since she had practically lived in my office at various times in the 1980s.

3. Benazir was a Pakistani patriot who never advocated cutting off aid to Pakistan and would never have wanted Indian troops on the Pakistani border.

I was amazed that there were journalists and editors in Pakistan who actually fell for this hoax. I am sure you and Dawn are sophisticated enough to spot this obvious fraud which leads me to wonder why you have written me about it.

All the best

Peter Galbraith

Benazir Bhutto: The dark side of the revered princess

Here is a compilation of posts in the past few years regarding Benazir Bhutto. My favourite line is …” Let us not speak ill of the dead, but can we please also stop exaggerated praise of them? Benazir Bhutto was not the saviour of Pakistan, if anyone is.  Can we please also learn to distinguish between ‘democracy’ and liberty, and -come to that – the rule of law.”

No disrespect intended but here are a few dark chapters which shouldn’t be left aside. But giving up your life for a cause you believe in, also deserves respect and acknowledgment.


Benazir’s tragic failure
Michael Fathers

The apotheosis of Benazir Bhutto the martyr has begun. Her grave in the arid soil of Sind Pro vince on her family’s feudal estate has become a shrine. Pilgrims visit it every day. Soon there will be reports of miracles. Her gender, her youthfulness, her sense of victimhood, her bravery and the violent manner of her death made this inevitable. Beyond Sind, in other provinces and the rest of the world, she has become a much easier figure to worship and adore in death than the deeply flawed politician she was in life.

Bhutto’s essays on Islam and democracy, published posthumously under the title Reconciliation, are seen as a last and “valuable” testament by American admirers of hers, the Democrats Edward Kennedy, Madeleine Albright and Peter Gal braith (son of J K) and Walter Isaacson, the former boss of Time magazine and CNN. For those less elevated persons, the book brings her back to earth with a bump. The real Benazir is among us again, bossing the reader about, dissembling or ignoring facts that don’t fit her image or record, such as being prime minister of Pakistan when the country enthusiastically swung its support behind the newly emergent Taliban in Afghan istan’s civil war. She talks about “my party”, even though the Pakistan People’s Party has never held an election for officers in its 40 years of existence. She writes poor and often factually incorrect political histories of other countries with the overconfidence of a clever teenager.

In many ways this disjointed book has the same feel as a university student’s end-of-degree dissertation. The editing is haphazard. There is even a map of Pakistan where Rawalpindi, the garrison-town headquarters of the Pakistan armed forces, is placed in the southern half of Punjab, when it should be 500 miles north, next door to Islamabad. It needs an index, especially of Arabic words and Quranic terms.

It would seem from the “acknowledgements” that a platoon of researchers, led by a former political enemy but now “loyal friend” – Hussain Haqqani, a student activist of Pakistan’s fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami party and later spokesman and propagandist for her rival Nawaz Sharif – dug through the archives and the Quran to find the facts and verses she needed for her central arguments. These are that democracy is integral to Islam and is not a modern import as fundamentalist interpreters argue; that dictators and extremism have no place in the Quran; and that moderation, dialogue and consensus, and a Benazir favourite, “religious pluralism”, are the word of God. Only by following this course will Muslim societies be revitalised and Muslim countries regain their self-confidence, their respect and their “competitive edge”, another Benazir favourite.

It is an interesting section of the book, but it has the feel of Benazir deciding an agenda and adding her notes to another person’s text. The problem with this kind of research is that her Islamic opponents can trawl through the Quran and the religious commentaries in the same way and come up with their own, equally valid counter-interpretations of God’s will.

The predictable message she has for the west, and for the United States in particular, is to back off from military rulers and other autocrats on the grounds that whenever people’s rights have been denied, instability has eventually taken over and extremists stepped into the gap. When it comes to her own country she blames everyone but herself and her prime minister father, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, for its decline. Not surprisingly, both father and daughter emerge as politicians with vision and integrity who were thwarted all the way by Pakistan’s armed forces and a coalition of foreign-financed political rivals. Her achievements, apart from being elected prime minister, are hard to find. They peaked apparently when she “modernised” the Karachi Stock Exchange – which probably meant she reduced the number of duplicates needed for a transaction – and sent students into the countryside, Mao-style, to ensure that children were immunised against polio.

It is the final section, the one from which the book takes its title, that sets out the way Muslims should end their divisions and how the rich of the world – the European Union, North America, China, Australia, Japan and the Muslim oil-producing states – can help and benefit, too. She wants to establish a Marshall Plan for the re generation of Muslim-majority countries that would focus on economic, social and political development. She expects this to destroy the “roots of terrorism”.

Visionary, or waffle? From the moment Benazir Bhutto entered politics, she sounded good, her speeches read well, and she was appealing. She could play the victim, the humble woman, the populist and the demagogue. Like her father, she held the crowd in her hands. In the end, however, it was simply power and international status that she sought and enjoyed.

She always made the right noises. She followed political fashion, skipping easily from socialism to Thatcherism. She enjoyed analysing, usually aloud. Yet solutions to difficult problems, even simple problems, escaped her. This book is pure Benazir, a grand display, intellectually and politically thin.

How the US got Benazir Bhutto back to Pakistan
Robin Wright and Glenn Kessler

FOR Benazir Bhutto, the decision to return to Pakistan was sealed during a telephone call from US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice just a week before Ms Bhutto flew home in October.

The call came after more than a year of secret diplomacy — and came only when it became clear that the heir to Pakistan’s most powerful political dynasty was the only one who could bail out Washington’s key ally in the battle against terrorism.

It was a stunning turnaround for Ms Bhutto, a former prime minister who was forced from power in 1996 amid corruption charges. She was suddenly visiting with top State Department officials, dining with UN ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and conferring with members of the National Security Council.

As President Pervez Musharraf’s political future began to unravel this year, Ms Bhutto became the only politician who might help keep him in power.

“The US came to understand that Bhutto was not a threat to stability, but was instead the only possible way that we could guarantee stability and keep the presidency of Musharraf intact,” said Mark Siegel, who lobbied for Ms Bhutto in Washington, and witnessed much of the behind-the-scenes diplomacy.

Ms Bhutto’s political comeback was a long time in the works — and uncertain for much of the past 18 months. In mid-2006, Ms Bhutto and Mr Musharraf started communicating through intermediaries about how they might co-operate. Assistant US Secretary of State Richard Boucher was often an intermediary, travelling to Islamabad to speak with Mr Musharraf and to meet Ms Bhutto at her homes in London and Dubai.

Under US urging, Ms Bhutto and Mr Musharraf met face to face in January and July in Dubai, according to US officials. It was not a warm exchange, with Mr Musharraf resisting a deal to drop corruption charges so she could return to Pakistan. He made no secret of his feelings.

In his 2006 autobiography, In the Line of Fire, Mr Musharraf wrote that Ms Bhutto had “twice been tried, been tested and failed, (and) had to be denied a third chance”. She had not allowed her own party to become democratic, he alleged. “Benazir became her party’s ‘chairperson for life’, in the tradition of the old African dictators!”

A turning point was Ms Bhutto’s three-week US visit in August, when she talked again to Mr Boucher and to Mr Khalilzad, an old friend. A former US ambassador in neighbouring Afghanistan, Mr Khalilzad had long been sceptical about Mr Musharraf, and while in Kabul he had disagreed with then secretary of state Colin Powell over whether the Pakistani leader was being helpful in the fight against the Taliban.

He also warned that Pakistani intelligence was allowing the Taliban to regroup in the border areas, US officials said.

When Ms Bhutto returned to the US in September, Mr Khalilzad asked for a lift on her plane from New York to Aspen, Colorado, where both were giving speeches. They spent much of the five-hour plane ride planning strategy, said sources familiar with the diplomacy.

Friends say Ms Bhutto asked for US help. “She pitched the idea to the Bush Administration,” said Peter Galbraith, a former US ambassador and friend of Ms Bhutto from their days at Harvard.

“She had been prime minister twice, and had not been able to accomplish very much because she did not have power over the most important institutions in Pakistan — the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence Agency), the military and the nuclear establishment,” he said. “Without controlling those, she couldn’t pursue peace with India, go after extremists or transfer funds from the military to social programs,” Mr Galbraith said. “Cohabitation with Musharraf made sense because he had control over the three institutions that she never did.”

The turning point to get Mr Musharraf on board was a September trip by Deputy US Secretary of State John Negroponte to Islamabad.

“He basically delivered a message to Musharraf that we would stand by him, but he needed a democratic facade on the Government, and we thought Benazir was the right choice for that face,” said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer and National Security Council staff member. “Musharraf still detested her, and he came around reluctantly as he began to recognise that his position was untenable,” Mr Riedel said.

The Pakistani leader had two choices: Ms Bhutto or former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, whom Mr Musharraf had overthrown in a 1999 military coup. “Musharraf took what he thought was the lesser of two evils,” Mr Riedel said.

“There were many inside the Administration, at the State and Defence departments and in intelligence, who thought this was a bad idea from the beginning because the prospects that the two could work together to run the country effectively were nil,” he said.

As part of the deal, Ms Bhutto’s party agreed not to protest against Mr Musharraf’s re-election in September to his third term. In return, Mr Musharraf agreed to lift the corruption charges against Ms Bhutto. But Ms Bhutto sought one particular guarantee — that Washington would ensure Mr Musharraf followed through on free and fair elections producing a civilian government.

Dr Rice, who became engaged in the final stages of brokering a deal, called Ms Bhutto in Dubai and pledged that Washington would see the process through, according to Mr Siegel. A week later, on October 18, Ms Bhutto returned. Ten weeks later, she was dead.

The Dismantling of Pakistani Democracy

We Pakistanis live in uncertain times. Emergency rule has been imposed for the 13th time in our short 60-year history. Thousands of lawyers have been arrested, some charged with sedition and treason; the chief justice has been deposed; and a draconian media law — shutting down all private news channels — has been drafted.

Perhaps the most bizarre part of this circus has been the hijacking of the democratic cause by my aunt, the twice-disgraced former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto. While she was hashing out a deal to share power with Gen. Pervez Musharraf last month, she repeatedly insisted that without her, democracy in Pakistan would be a lost cause. Now that the situation has changed, she’s saying that she wants Musharraf to step down and that she’d like to make a deal with his opponents — but still, she says, she’s the savior of democracy.

The reality, however, is that there is no one better placed to benefit from emergency rule than she is. Along with the leaders of prominent Islamic parties, she has been spared the violent retributions of emergency law. Yes, she now appears to be facing seven days of house arrest, but what does that really mean? While she was supposedly under house arrest at her Islamabad residence last week, 50 or so of her party members were comfortably allowed to join her. She addressed the media twice from her garden, protected by police given to her by the state, and was not reprimanded for holding a news conference. (By contrast, the very suggestion that they might hold a news conference has placed hundreds of other political activists under real arrest, in real jails.)

Ms. Bhutto’s political posturing is sheer pantomime. Her negotiations with the military and her unseemly willingness until just a few days ago to take part in Musharraf’s regime have signaled once and for all to the growing legions of fundamentalists across South Asia that democracy is just a guise for dictatorship.

It is widely believed that Ms. Bhutto lost both her governments on grounds of massive corruption. She and her husband, a man who came to be known in Pakistan as “Mr. 10%,” have been accused of stealing more than $1 billion from Pakistan’s treasury. She is appealing a money-laundering conviction by the Swiss courts involving about $11 million. Corruption cases in Britain and Spain are ongoing.

It was particularly unappealing of Ms. Bhutto to ask Musharraf to bypass the courts and drop the many corruption cases that still face her in Pakistan. He agreed, creating the odiously titled National Reconciliation Ordinance in order to do so. Her collaboration with him was so unsubtle that people on the streets are now calling her party, the Pakistan People’s Party, the Pervez People’s Party. Now she might like to distance herself, but it’s too late.

Why did Ms. Bhutto and her party cronies demand that her corruption cases be dropped, but not demand that the cases of activists jailed during the brutal regime of dictator Zia ul-Haq (from 1977 to 1988) not be quashed? What about the sanctity of the law? When her brother Mir Murtaza Bhutto — my father — returned to Pakistan in 1993, he faced 99 cases against him that had been brought by Zia’s military government. The cases all carried the death penalty. Yet even though his sister was serving as prime minister, he did not ask her to drop the cases. He returned, was arrested at the airport and spent the remaining years of his life clearing his name, legally and with confidence, in the courts of Pakistan.

Ms. Bhutto’s repeated promises to end fundamentalism and terrorism in Pakistan strain credulity because, after all, the Taliban government that ran Afghanistan was recognized by Pakistan under her last government — making Pakistan one of only three governments in the world to do so.

And I am suspicious of her talk of ensuring peace. My father was a member of Parliament and a vocal critic of his sister’s politics. He was killed outside our home in 1996 in a carefully planned police assassination while she was prime minister. There were 70 to 100 policemen at the scene, all the streetlights had been shut off and the roads were cordoned off. Six men were killed with my father. They were shot at point-blank range, suffered multiple bullet wounds and were left to bleed on the streets.

My father was Benazir’s younger brother. To this day, her role in his assassination has never been adequately answered, although the tribunal convened after his death under the leadership of three respected judges concluded that it could not have taken place without approval from a “much higher” political authority.

I have personal reasons to fear the danger that Ms. Bhutto’s presence in Pakistan brings, but I am not alone. The Islamists are waiting at the gate. They have been waiting for confirmation that the reforms for which the Pakistani people have been struggling have been a farce, propped up by the White House. Since Musharraf seized power in 1999, there has been an earnest grass-roots movement for democratic reform. The last thing we need is to be tied to a neocon agenda through a puppet “democrat” like Ms. Bhutto.

By supporting Ms. Bhutto, who talks of democracy while asking to be brought to power by a military dictator, the only thing that will be accomplished is the death of the nascent secular democratic movement in my country. Democratization will forever be de-legitimized, and our progress in enacting true reforms will be quashed. We Pakistanis are certain of this.

Fatima Bhutto is a Pakistani poet and writer. She is the daughter of Mir Murtaza Bhutto, who was killed in 1996 in Karachi when his sister, Benazir, was prime minister.

Born to rule, bred to lose
By Emily MacFarquhar

She may be a world-class crowd pleaser but Benazir Bhutto is no politician. She spent 20 months in power making enemies while her rivals were busy making political pacts. This is why, although she roused the biggest and most fervent rallies in a lackluster campaign, she was not just defeated but demolished at the polls last week.

Stunned by the loss of half her parliamentary seats, Pakistan’s ex-Prime Minister cried foul. In some precincts, 35 percent more votes were cast last week than in the last election two years ago, but a team of international observers said it had found no evidence of widespread electoral fraud.

In any event, what brought Bhutto crashing down was not ballot rigging. She lost because her opponents were cleverer at exploiting the flukes in the British-style electoral system and because even illiterate voters turned out to be savvy enough to switch their votes to the party with the best chance of beating Bhutto. When the National Assembly meets to choose a Prime Minister next month, Bhutto’s 45 People’s Party members will be overwhelmed by an Islamic Democratic Alliance that controls two thirds of the 217-seat house.

Many Pakistanis were put off by a one-sided drive to discredit Bhutto after she was dismissed by presidential order last August. The same “neutral” President Ghulam Ishaq Khan gave an election-eve speech that sounded like an anti-Bhutto commercial. But voters were even more outraged by the blundering and plundering of Bhutto’s rule. Her party’s 36 percent of the popular vote was its lowest share in the four elections since it was founded more than 20 years ago.

Pakistanis voted to throw the rascals out. But they may have succeeded only in bringing another lot of rascals in. Many of the rich businessmen and landlords who will replace the Bhutto team have less than spotless reputations. One of them piled up an implausibly high margin in last week’s vote. But because the new government will have such a big majority, party leaders will have less incentive than they did under Bhutto’s shaky regime to rely on big-time bribery to keep members in line.

Household names. In an issueless election, anti-American, anti-Indian and pro-nuclear rhetoric filled the vacuum. Pakistan may be the only country in the world where a populist like Bhutto can harangue 100,000 people for nearly an hour on the subject of nuclear power plants (good) and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (bad). Two days later on the same parade ground in Rawalpindi, a leading mullah invoked such household names as Representative Stephen Solarz (D-N.Y.), Senate aide Peter Galbraith and lobbyist Mark Siegel as evidence that Bhutto was dealing with the devil and marshaling a Zionist conspiracy against Pakistan.

The mood of fierce patriotism whipped up by irresponsible politicians on both sides augurs hard bargaining ahead over terms for freeing up U.S. aid, now barred because of advances this year in Pakistan’s nuclear-weapons program. Pakistan is ill-placed to make good on its threats to go it alone because its foreign-exchange reserves are down to a few weeks’ worth of imports, military spare parts are running short and the Gulf crisis is costing the country some $ 1 billion to $ 1.6 billion a year. Prices of key commodities will have to rise, perhaps by 40 percent.

But Pakistan has weathered worse crises. And Bhutto’s successors start with one enormous asset she never had: The blessing of the generals, who proved they are still the ultimate arbiters of power by dumping Benazir Bhutto last summer, just as they had ousted her father from the same office 13 years ago. Even under Bhutto, the generals were left to run Pakistan’s nuclear-weapons program and the guerrilla wars in Afghanistan and Kashmir. So the change in government is unlikely to have much effect on Pakistani policy in any of the three areas most important to America.

Nor is Bhutto herself likely to change. A never-say-die fighter, she is sure to carry on fighting now — to vindicate herself and her family on the opposition benches, in the courts and in the international media. The dogged pugnaciousness that sustained her during years of imprisonment and exile may do so again. The irony is that it was this same uncompromising quality that precipitated her downfall by alienating Pakistan’s power brokers and polarizing its voters.

“Benazir was loved by some and hated by more when she came to power two years ago,” says pollster Ijaz Gilani, the head of Gallup Pakistan. “Since then, she has deepened the lines of hatred even further.” It was the consolidating of this anti-Bhutto feeling in politically pivotal Punjab that cost her the election.

“She never made the transition from being leader of a crusade to being a governing Prime Minister,” a close friend explains. Her long crusade to defend and then avenge her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was executed by Mohammed Zia ul-Haq’s military regime in 1979, became a one-woman show as his old comrades progressively peeled off in anger. It imprinted a siege mentality, put a premium on loyalty and reinforced a belief that democracy in Pakistan is synonymous with Bhutto-family rule.

A family fief. This sense of entitlement also derived from the Bhuttos’ position as large landowners in rural Sind Province, where feudal lords still command the kind of fealty that went out of fashion in Europe centuries ago. Bhutto’s mother, Nusrat, for example, was re-elected from the family fief last week without even setting foot in the country, much less her constituency, during the campaign. She and her daughter will be the only two women in the newly elected assembly.

Being a Bhutto, which is Pakistan’s equivalent of being a Kennedy, is clearly central to Benazir’s identity. It weighs far more heavily than the seven years she spent getting educated and acclimatized in Western ways at Harvard and Oxford. It explains why she surrounded herself with courtiers rather than counselors. Along with a total lack of experience — her Prime Ministership was her first salaried job — it accounts for some of the staggering misjudgments that brought her down.

“She approached everything from a partisan view of the world,” notes a diplomatic Bhutto-watcher. “She became Prime Minister of the People’s Party, not of Pakistan.” This meant filling thousands of jobs with people whose only qualification was their “suffering” during the Zia years. The latest charges against her in the special courts set up after her dismissal are that she put 10,387 people into government jobs without going through the proper procedures. She also took on dozens of unelected advisers whose qualifications were dubious and whose advice may have been worse. But the most serious allegations are of corruption on a massive scale in her government.

A friend observes that “the Bhuttos always had a fascination for rich people and for money.” But while Bhutto wears fur coats on foreign journeys, she does not drape herself in the ostentatious jewels and glitter favored by Pakistan’s gilded lilies. Her lawyer actually complained in court about an opponent’s campaign ad that showed her with a bare head, in violation of Muslim custom.

Even anti-Bhutto voters were unready to condemn the Prime Minister as a thief. But it is hard to find anybody in Pakistan who is not convinced that her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, a former small-time developer she married three years ago, has not been using the family name to make megabucks.

The standard explanation for her failure to rein him in is that she’s madly in love with him and he knows how to manipulate her emotionally. The pop-psychological version is that she transferred to her dashing, roguish mate the blind adoration she once had for her dashing, roguish father. But the elder Bhutto also made money on the job, as did many generals and bureaucrats before and after. So it is less likely that Bhutto was blind to the transgressions of her family and ministers than that she considered payoffs and influence peddling by allies both a political necessity and a normal perquisite of office.

One of the most damaging charges against her in the courts is that she used millions of dollars in intelligence funds, as well as government aircraft, to deflect a no-confidence vote a year ago. At the time, the Prime Minister was heavily pregnant for the second time in a year, so the masterminding of “operation greasy palm” fell to her husband, a political neophyte but a skilled deal maker who already had an office in the Prime Minister’s secretariat. After the successful vote of confidence, Zardari’s personal network was enlarged to include elected politicians. But a Bhutto intimate notes that party allies considered the Zardari intervention “a hijacking of the party by an outsider.”

Pakistan’s press — newly liberated by Bhutto — began writing about her husband’s business career only a few months into her term. He already had become a kingpin in his hometown of Karachi, issuing orders to politicians and civil servants and placing cronies in key contract-dispensing jobs in public corporations.

Zardari and his father, Hakim Ali Zardari, who headed Parliament’s public-accounts committee, were said to be making money in at least three ways: By helping associates secure collateral-free loans from nationalized banks, by collecting cuts on government contracts and by doing land deals. Because the government controls so many economic levers in Pakistan, access to decision makers is a salable commodity, and nobody had better access in recent times than the Zardaris. Bhutto’s husband spent the last two weeks of the campaign under arrest. A sympathy vote may well have helped him win a Karachi seat in the National Assembly.

Bhutto and her husband have denied every allegation of personal misconduct. She also dismissed reports that some of her ministers were picking the public’s pockets. Bhutto did fire a few advisers in late 1989, after People’s Party legislators, fearing a political backlash, staged mock corruption trials of ministers allegedly on the take. But she never carried out a promised cabinet reshuffle and never showed public concern about the corruption issue. One friend who tried to alert her to trouble ahead was told, “But everybody does it.”

President Ghulam Ishaq’s charge that corruption reached unprecedented heights under Bhutto will never be provable. This is partly because there are no hard figures for comparison and partly because, as one government lawyer puts it, “there is always a missing link” — the unsigned document, the unrecorded phone call, the unwilling witness. The best estimate of bureaucratic looting in Pakistan, provided by an ex-finance minister five years ago, was $ 2 billion a year. Indexed for inflation and greed, this could have reached at least $ 3 billion, or 7 percent of the country’s GNP.

Even if Bhutto and her entourage did not steal more than their predecessors, freely elected leaders should be held to a higher standard. But in any case, corruption and ineffectiveness were only pretexts for the dismissal of the government last summer. The real reason Bhutto was booted out by the President and the Army is that she never understood the realities of Pakistani politics and never practiced the arts of consensus building or power sharing.

The story of Bhutto’s 20-month rule is a chronicle of ceaseless conflict with the very people and institutions she needed to help make government work. The President, the Army and the opposition all reciprocated her distrust, and it is not clear whether any of the three was prepared to accept the authority of this meddlesome woman. But it was Bhutto who was most often on the offensive, launching attacks on multiple fronts and pushing her enemies to make common cause against her.

Bad choices. She not only picked too many fights, she picked the wrong ones. She gave in with scarcely a murmur when the Army demanded a 50 percent increase in defense spending and sole control over policy toward Afghanistan. But she went to the wall over the promotion of her military secretary. She was right about the need to consolidate her power. But her political base was too weak and the democratic system too fragile for her to try to topple opposition governments in two provinces and at the same time challenge the President and the Army chief.

At one point, she and President Ghulam Ishaq stopped speaking for months. They resumed business not-quite-as-usual only after mediators negotiated a temporary truce. With an unerring sense of misjudgment and bad timing, Bhutto chose a moment when she and the military were at swords’ points over the handling of a near civil war in Sind Province to try to impose her own man as heir apparent to the Army chief. A few weeks later, Army commanders formally decided that Bhutto had to go. The President was putting the final touches on his dismissal speech when Iraq invaded Kuwait. Four days later, on August 6, with world attention conveniently riveted elsewhere, Bhutto was given her walking papers.

The new government, still adjusting to its unexpectedly big victory, has yet to weigh the pros and cons of seeing Bhutto disqualified from politics or even jailed. For now, its new leaders simply talk about the law taking its course. Bhutto, still digesting disaster, decided against boycotting provincial elections on October 27, but she has not yet ruled out taking her election-fraud charges to the streets. Facing an uncertain and even dangerous future, she told U.S. News, with the royal pronoun, “We’re young. We have time. But does Pakistan?”

Pakistan and Kenya

Let us not speak ill of the dead, but can we please also stop exaggerated praise of them? Benazir Bhutto was not the saviour of Pakistan, if anyone is.  Can we please also learn to distinguish between ‘democracy’ and liberty, and -come to that – the rule of law.

Voting is not a sacrament, conferring automatic goodness wherever it happens. The conditions under which it takes place, and the system of government in which it is to be found, are decisive. Elections can be rigged or improperly influenced by money or intimidation. And many votes are rigged or improperly influenced – yet still get approved by powerless, easily fooled international observers who see little and are powerless to intervene. Such votes prove nothing and help nobody. If only one party has any serious hope of victory, then the vote merely serves to confirm that party in power. If the votes are on purely clan, tribal or ethnic lines, then the election confirms that division and often worsens it. If you look carefully at the reservations above, you will find that they apply to some votes that take place within the British Isles or North America especially (in Britain) since the introduction of easy postal voting.Yet, if there is freedom of speech and of the press, if there is an independent judiciary with the power to defy the government, if law is respected and observed, a society which has no ‘democracy’ can be remarkably free and rulers remarkably accountable. Take the example of Hong Kong, which has never been particularly democratic. Despite the showy fuss made by Christopher Patten in his term as governor there, ‘democracy’ was never really the issue in the handover of Hong Kong to China. The things that needed to be preserved were freedom of speech and the press, and the rule of law. And it is these that will presumably disappear under slow pressure from Peking, long before Hong Kong is finally absorbed in the People’s Republic of China.

Democracy can often be – and often is – the enemy of freedom under the law. I have little doubt that the votes for Vladimir Putin and his puppet party in Russia are genuine.  But they are disastrous for any hopes that Russia could become a law-governed free country.  The Saarland plebiscite on return to the German Reich in 1935 (90% voted to be ruled by the Nazis when it was quite clear what they were, when they could have chosen to stay under League of Nations rule ) suggests that Hitler’s many successful referendums confirming his power and decisions were also largely genuine. I am baffled by the way so many commentators act as if democracy by itself offers much hope to any country. Britain was free long before it was democratic, and it can be argued that it has become less free since it became more democratic – and that it has survived democracy better than most because of the strength of its freedoms and its laws.

Benazir carried nuclear secrets in overcoat to North Korea: book
By Manish Chand

New Delhi, May 13 (IANS) Benazir Bhutto, then prime minister of Pakistan, carried critical nuclear data on CDs in her overcoat to Pyongyang in 1993 and brought back North Korea’s missile information on her return journey, says a new political biography of the late leader. The shocking revelation about Pakistan’s alleged role inNorth Korea’s illicit nuclear weapons programme is chronicled in detail in veteran journalist Shyam Bhatia’s “Goodbye Shahzadi”.

Bhatia, who says Bhutto acted as a “female James Bond”, has based his book on long personal conversations with the late prime minister.

“As she was due to visit North Korea at the end of 1993 she was asked and readily agreed to carry nuclear data on her person and hand it over on arrival in Pyongyang,” writes the London-based Bhatia while recalling a conversation with Bhutto in her villa in Dubai villa 2003.

“…before leaving Islamabad, she shopped for an overcoat with the ‘deepest possible pockets’ into which she transferred CDs containing the scientific data about uranium enrichment that the North Koreans wanted,” says Bhatia.

“She did not tell me how many CDs were given to her to carry, or who they were given to when she arrived in Pyongyang, but she implied with a glint in her eye that she acted as a two-way courier, bringing North Korea’s missile information on CDs back with her on the return journey,” Bhatia writes.

Bhutto’s interest in North Korean missile technology was triggered by India’s testing of the long-range Agni missile, capable of hitting all Pakistan’s population centres, in 1989, he says.

“When she came into power for the second time in 1993, there were agonized discussions underway about how Pakistan could augment and strengthen its existing missile capabilities.”

In 1993, says Bhatia, the central question was how the barter for enrichment of uranium (which Pakistan’s nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan had mastered) for missiles (North Korea) could be effected.

“Pakistan was under the spotlight as it had never been before, with India, Russia and the secret services of the West monitoring every nuance of the country’s military research.

“This was where Benazir came in useful,” the author states while trying to explain why Bhutto was chosen as a courier for this top-secret mission.

Bhatia’s candid biography of Bhutto, based on a 34-year-old friendship dating back to student days, evokes a multi-hued portrait of the Pakistani leader.

Bhutto was truly versatile, the author recalls: a sensitive human being who idolised her father and a fiery debater who became president of the Oxford Union Debating Society. He also delves into her friendship with Peter Galbraith, the son of former US ambassador to India John Kenneth Galbraith, and the charges of corruption that still shadows her husband Asif Ali Zardari, the leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) after Bhutto was brutally killed Dec 27 last year.

The author has more details on collusion between Pakistani and North Korean nuclear scientists, which seems to confirm what many in the West suspected: the Islamabad-Pyongyang axis in non-proliferation which was in turn allegedly aided by Beijing.

Faced with mounting international pressure to shut down their plutonium facilities, North Korean scientists looked to Pakistan for help to develop a parallel enrichment programme.

Says Bhatia, “Pakistan was ideally placed to help because of the enrichment secrets that A.Q. Khan, the Dutch-trained metallurgist, had stolen from European laboratories, and who so impressed Zulfikar (Ali Bhutto, the Pakistani prime minister and Benazir’s father who was hanged in 1979) with his boast that Pakistan could match and even surpass as South Asia’s leadingnuclear weapons state.”

“Later, Khan and colleagues from the Pakistani scientific community would become regular visitors to North Korea. By 1998, there were nine military flights a month ferrying military officers and scientists between Islamabad and Pyongyang.”

Pakistan’s flawed and feudal princess
William Dalrymple

It’s wrong for the West simply to mourn Benazir Bhutto as a martyred democrat, says this acclaimed south Asia expert. Her legacy is far murkier and more complex

One of Benazir Bhutto’s more dubious legacies to Pakistan is the Prime Minister’s house in the middle of Islamabad. The building is a giddy, pseudo-Mexican ranch house with white walls and a red tile roof. There is nothing remotely Islamic about the building which, as my minder said when I went there to interview the then Prime Minister Bhutto, was ‘PM’s own design’. Inside, it was the same story. Crystal chandeliers dangled sometimes two or three to a room; oils of sunflowers and tumbling kittens that would have looked at home on the Hyde Park railings hung below garishly gilt cornices.

The place felt as though it might be the weekend retreat of a particularly flamboyant Latin-American industrialist, but, in fact, it could have been anywhere. Had you been shown pictures of the place on one of those TV game-shows where you are taken around a house and then have to guess who lives there, you may have awarded this hacienda to virtually anyone except, perhaps, to the Prime Minister of an impoverished Islamic republic situated next door to Iran.

Which is, of course, exactly why the West always had a soft spot for Benazir Bhutto. Her neighbouring heads of state may have been figures as unpredictable and potentially alarming as President Ahmadinejad of Iran and a clutch of opium-trading Afghan warlords, but Bhutto has always seemed reassuringly familiar to Western governments – one of us. She spoke English fluently because it was her first language. She had an English governess, went to a convent run by Irish nuns and rounded off her education with degrees from Harvard and Oxford.

‘London is like a second home for me,’ she once told me. ‘I know London well. I know where the theatres are, I know where the shops are, I know where the hairdressers are. I love to browse through Harrods and WH Smith in Sloane Square. I know all my favourite ice cream parlours. I used to particularly love going to the one at Marble Arch: Baskin Robbins. Sometimes, I used to drive all the way up from Oxford just for an ice cream and then drive back again. That was my idea of sin.’

It was difficult to imagine any of her neighbouring heads of state, even India’s earnest Sikh economist, Manmohan Singh, talking like this.

For the Americans, what Benazir Bhutto wasn’t was possibly more attractive even than what she was. She wasn’t a religious fundamentalist, she didn’t have a beard, she didn’t organise rallies where everyone shouts: ‘Death to America’ and she didn’t issue fatwas against Booker-winning authors, even though Salman Rushdie ridiculed her as the Virgin Ironpants in his novel Shame.

However, the very reasons that made the West love Benazir Bhutto are the same that gave many Pakistanis second thoughts. Her English might have been fluent, but you couldn’t say the same about her Urdu which she spoke like a well-groomed foreigner: fluently, but ungrammatically. Her Sindhi was even worse; apart from a few imperatives, she was completely at sea.

English friends who knew Benazir at Oxford remember a bubbly babe who drove to lectures in a yellow MG, wintered in Gstaad and who to used to talk of the thrill of walking through Cannes with her hunky younger brother and being ‘the centre of envy; wherever Shahnawaz went, women would be bowled over’.

This Benazir, known to her friends as Bibi or Pinky, adored royal biographies and slushy romances: in her old Karachi bedroom, I found stacks of well-thumbed Mills and Boons including An Affair to Forget, Sweet Imposter and two copies of The Butterfly and the Baron. This same Benazir also had a weakness for dodgy Seventies easy listening – ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree’ was apparently at the top of her playlist. This is also the Benazir who had an enviable line in red-rimmed fashion specs and who went weak at the sight of marrons glace.

But there was something much more majestic, even imperial, about the Benazir I met when she was Prime Minister. She walked and talked in a deliberately measured and regal manner and frequently used the royal ‘we’. At my interview, she took a full three minutes to float down the 100 yards of lawns separating the Prime Minister’s house from the chairs where I had been told to wait for her. There followed an interlude when Benazir found the sun was not shining in quite the way she wanted it to. ‘The sun is in the wrong direction,’ she announced. Her hair was arranged in a sort of baroque beehive topped by a white gauze dupatta. The whole painted vision reminded me of one of those aristocratic Roman princesses in Caligula

This Benazir was a very different figure from that remembered by her Oxford contemporaries. This one was renowned throughout Islamabad for chairing 12-hour cabinet meetings and for surviving on four hours’ sleep. This was the Benazir who continued campaigning after the suicide bomber attacked her convoy the very day of her return to Pakistan in October, and who blithely disregarded the mortal threat to her life in order to continue fighting. This other Benazir Bhutto, in other words, was fearless, sometimes heroically so, and as hard as nails.

More than anything, perhaps, Benazir was a feudal princess with the aristocratic sense of entitlement that came with owning great tracts of the country and the Western-leaning tastes that such a background tends to give. It was this that gave her the sophisticated gloss and the feudal grit that distinguished her political style. In this, she was typical of many Pakistani politicians. Real democracy has never thrived in Pakistan, in part because landowning remains the principle social base from which politicians emerge.

The educated middle class is in Pakistan still largely excluded from the political process. As a result, in many of the more backward parts of Pakistan, the feudal landowner expects his people to vote for his chosen candidate. As writer Ahmed Rashid put it: ‘In some constituencies, if the feudals put up their dog as a candidate, that dog would get elected with 99 per cent of the vote.’

Today, Benazir is being hailed as a martyr for freedom and democracy, but far from being a natural democrat, in many ways, Benazir was the person who brought Pakistan’s strange variety of democracy, really a form of ‘elective feudalism’, into disrepute and who helped fuel the current, apparently unstoppable, growth of the Islamists. For Bhutto was no Aung San Suu Kyi. During her first 20-month premiership, astonishingly, she failed to pass a single piece of major legislation. Amnesty International accused her government of having one of the world’s worst records of custodial deaths, killings and torture.

Within her party, she declared herself the lifetime president of the PPP and refused to let her brother Murtaza challenge her. When he persisted in doing so, he ended up shot dead in highly suspicious circumstances outside the family home. Murtaza’s wife Ghinwa and his daughter Fatima, as well as Benazir’s mother, all firmly believed that Benazir gave the order to have him killed.

As recently as the autumn, Benazir did and said nothing to stop President Musharraf ordering the US and UK-brokered ‘rendition’ of her rival, Nawaz Sharif, to Saudi Arabia and so remove from the election her most formidable rival. Many of her supporters regarded her deal with Musharraf as a betrayal of all her party stood for.

Behind Pakistan’s endless swings between military government and democracy lies a surprising continuity of elitist interests: to some extent, Pakistan’s industrial, military and landowning classes are all interrelated and they look after each other. They do not, however, do much to look after the poor. The government education system barely functions in Pakistan and for the poor, justice is almost impossible to come by. According to political scientist Ayesha Siddiqa: ‘Both the military and the political parties have all failed to create an environment where the poor can get what they need from the state. So the poor have begun to look to alternatives for justice. In the long term, flaws in the system will create more room for the fundamentalists.’

In the West, many right-wing commentators on the Islamic world tend to see the march of political Islam as the triumph of an anti-liberal and irrational ‘Islamo-fascism’. Yet much of the success of the Islamists in countries such as Pakistan comes from the Islamists’ ability to portray themselves as champions of social justice, fighting people such as Benazir Bhutto from the Islamic elite that rules most of the Muslim world from Karachi to Beirut, Ramallah and Cairo.

This elite the Islamists successfully depict as rich, corrupt, decadent and Westernised. Benazir had a reputation for massive corruption. During her government, the anti-corruption organisation Transparency International named Pakistan one of the three most corrupt countries in the world.

Bhutto and her husband, Asif Zardari, widely known as ‘Mr 10 Per Cent’, faced allegations of plundering the country. Charges were filed in Pakistan, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States to investigate their various bank accounts.

When I interviewed Abdul Rashid Ghazi in the Islamabad Red Mosque shortly before his death in the storming of the complex in July, he kept returning to the issue of social justice: ‘We want our rulers to be honest people,’ he said. ‘But now the rulers are living a life of luxury while thousands of innocent children have empty stomachs and can’t even get basic necessities.’ This is the reason for the rise of the Islamists in Pakistan and why so many people support them: they are the only force capable of taking on the country’s landowners and their military cousins.

This is why in all recent elections, the Islamist parties have hugely increased their share of the vote, why they now already control both the North West Frontier Province and Baluchistan and why it is they who are most likely to gain from the current crisis.

Benazir Bhutto was a courageous, secular and liberal woman. But sadness at the demise of this courageous fighter should not mask the fact that as a pro-Western feudal leader who did little for the poor, she was as much a central part of Pakistan’s problems as the solution to them.

To the Editor:

Re ”Bhutto’s Deadly Legacy” (Op-Ed, Jan. 4):

I agree with William Dalrymple’s assessment of Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan. In July 1990, I accompanied Alan Cranston, the California Democrat who at the time was the Senate majority whip, to India and Pakistan. He wanted to show bipartisan support for confidence-building measures offered by Robert M. Gates, the deputy national security adviser, to avert the possibility of a war between the de facto nuclear powers over common claims of territory in Indian-held Kashmir.

Prime Minister Bhutto played a dangerous double game of inflaming popular passions over Kashmir while portraying herself to the world, and to us over lunch, as a voice of moderation.

Peter Galbraith, a friend of Ms. Bhutto and a fellow staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, gamely tried to interpret one of Ms. Bhutto’s more inflammatory speeches urging direct action against India as merely a rhetorical flourish — something neither Senator Cranston nor I bought at the time.

Martin Edwin Andersen

Churchton, Md., Jan. 4, 2008

To the Editor:

William Dalrymple’s Op-Ed article reminded me, again, how the truth is so refreshing, especially when it highlights what so many pundits, armchair historians and diplomats who kneel at the altar of realpolitik fail to appreciate: that blowback is the most likely consequence when Machiavellian politicians unleash the power of fear, hatred and greed even when, theoretically, it is in the pursuit of national interests deemed ”vital.” James P. Cornelio

New York, Jan. 4, 2008

To the Editor:

William Dalrymple makes some excellent points about Benazir Bhutto’s legacy. Her assassination was a devastating event, but it does require an objective look back.

Both of Ms. Bhutto’s tenures as prime minister were marked by rampant corruption and, as Mr. Dalrymple points out, the encouragement of fundamentalist elements.

It is blatant revisionism for those in the United States to ignore her shortcomings.

From this Pakistani observer’s perspective, President Pervez Musharraf was coerced by the United States into dropping all charges against Ms. Bhutto and putting together a coalition.

Ms. Bhutto, perhaps in a bid for further American approval, was far too vocal about eradicating fundamentalism and then ignored sensible advice regarding her security (a necessity, given her statements).

On the day she died, it seems the adrenaline from her recent rally made her forget about safety and put her head out of the vehicle. It is thus that she met her destiny, and a unique personality was lost. Malik Arshed Gilani

Karachi, Pakistan, Jan. 6, 2008

The writer is a former officer of the Pakistani Navy and an independent businessman.

A year of Zardari – Sardar Mumtaz Ali Bhutto

The present dispensation is the direct result of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto’s murder. It is believed that the deal sponsored by the Americans between Musharraf and her, was “Plan A.” She deviated from this on her return to Pakistan and had to be eliminated. This is a view recently supported by Gen (Retd.) Aslam Baig, former chief of army staff. Thus, the standby “Plan B” came into operation and her long-estranged husband came on the scene. A controversial and often-questioned will emerged, according to which Asif Ali Zardari was made co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party.

It is not astonishing or surprising that Plan B has worked. The rot that set in with Zia’s success in corrupting not just politics but the very mindset of people, and is a practice advanced by all his successors to facilitate a shortcut to power. Thus even the most sceptical elements in the PPP found it expedient to climb onto the Zardari bandwagon. High offices, membership of assemblies, advisory positions and access to the corridors of power was just around the corner, and it became imperative to pretend that the emperor was fully clothed. “Democracy is the best revenge” was the absurd slogan coined to bury the murder of Benazir, while referring the matter to a UN tribunal was done to seek a permanent closure of this sordid chapter.

Thus began the journey to Olympus at the foot of Margalla Hills fuelled by the endless use of the “Jiay Bhutto” slogan and crocodile tears for Benazir. Meanwhile, people continued to be fed the stale promise of not only their supremacy but the forty-year-old clichés of roti, kapra aur makan and that democracy was gospel and Parliament sovereign. To this was added the concept of reconciliation and change of the system. So at the end of a year of Zardari’s presidency, let us see where we stand:

The negation of the promise of the supremacy of the people is the unkindest cut of all. They have been abandoned to murderers, thieves, kidnappers and highly corrupt jiyalas and bureaucrats who are on the rampage. Instead of making policies and initiating reforms that bring progress and prosperity, addiction to begging is being spread through the Benazir Income Support Programme. For a paltry one thousand rupees a month, men and women are made to prostrate themselves in the heat and dust, most of them returning empty-handed. As for provision of cheap flour this is nothing short of an insult to the people since the majority get nothing even if they are lucky enough to escape a beating by the police. Moreover, this is not enough: when they get home there is no electricity and water while education and medical treatment remains only for the fortunate. Other basic amenities are also scarce and the whole administrative edifice has collapsed. Yes, there is plenty of roti, kapra aur makan, but only for the rulers and their sycophants.

As for democracy, there is none. What we have is only a change of faces from the Musharraf days. Almost two years have passed but both the 17th Amendment and Article 58 (2)(b) of the Constitution are still there. The repeated promise to restore the superior judges was fulfilled only after the pressure of the long march was too much to bear. As for the powers of the president and the prime minister, currently they are being exercised all by the president. The president undertakes trips to sign commercial deals, which is normally the job of federal secretaries. He has taken trips to China where he received no presidential protocol. He went to France to sign an agreement to purchase submarines, even though it was reported in the newspapers that cheaper subs were being offered by Germany, and that such a deal was reportedly in its final stages. And then there are the frequent mysterious trips to Dubai and London. All this raises serious question since on many trips the president is accompanied by individuals who in the past had been accused of corruption, and some were even convicted – but then exonerated thanks to the immoral and unconstitutional NRO.

As regards the supremacy of Parliament this has become a cruel joke. Laws are continuously being made not by legislation but by presidential ordinances – and this is being done even when Parliament is in session. Another issue is the prosecution of Musharraf under Article 6 which, for some reason, has been made contingent upon a unanimous resolution in Parliament despite the fact that the consent of the institution’s members is not at all need for such action.

Vital problems, issues and questions of policy, relating to the dismal and rapidly deteriorating state of affairs in the country, are not brought on the floor of the House, which is also debilitated by the doctrine of reconciliation. This has all but put to rest the safeguards and checks provided by a valid and effective opposition, and the result is that the government has a free run to do whatever it likes. At the same time, another consequence is that Parliament is reduced to just being a heavy burden on the exchequer with each member enjoying pay and perks amounting to around half a million rupees a month. Ninety ministers and advisers in the centre alone, where only twenty have been enough, with each costing a hundred thousand rupees per day, is also an aspect of this “reconciliation.”

As for the change of system, it seems that for the president this means to replace all of the Musharraf era’s favourite officers with his own. The country is still caught in a highly centralised and dictatorial mode of governance – something which has led to its break-up in the past and which is generating dangerous fissures now as well. Pakistan is no longer free. It is sinking deeper into foreign control and into a war in its northwest which is not of our own choice and can never be won. The writ of the central government does not operate in Pakhtoonkhwa, Balochistan and Punjab, while Sindh is in the grip of criminals as personified by the late Rehman Dakait. The government is totally helpless – and there is no better example of this than its abject failure in controlling the price of sugar and advice by ministers to eat less sugar (on the apparent grounds that it is bad for health).

Some other shocking facts are: The country is barely surviving on earnings of Pakistanis abroad and internal and external loans. No aid is available despite the president’s overseas visits (with a begging bowl, of course). The Friends of Pakistan Forum, set up to bail out Pakistan, has not been forthcoming in its help and is also said to be having doubts on how Pakistan will spend the funds given to it. As for aid from America, it is now being promised in small instalments, and only after each instalment has been checked with regard to its utilisation. Transparency International has disclosed that in 2004 around 45 billion rupees were lost as a result of corruption and that by 2009 the figure will have risen to 195 billion rupees. The Fund for Peace located in Washington has placed Pakistan at number ten on the list of failed states while previously it stood at number 12, reason for this being lack of leadership and dubious measures such as NRO.

This epitomises one year of Zardari’s rule as president – quite possibly the worst this unfortunate nation has endured in its sixty-two years of existence.

The writer is chairman of the Sindh National Front.