The assassination of Benazir Bhutto was probably a strategic attack by al Qaeda and its local allies—the Pakistani Taliban—aimed at achieving Osama bin Laden’s and Ayman al-Zawahiri’s most pressing political objective: destabilizing the government of Pakistan, the nuclear-armed country where al Qaeda has re-established the safe haven it lost in Afghanistan.The complete article is password protected for subscribers only.
Many in Pakistan nevertheless will blame their own military, which has failed to stop the suicide bombings over the past five years, including that of Bhutto’s motorcade in Karachi in October. Pakistani intelligence now claims to have intercepted a phone call from Baitullah Mahsud, leader of the Pakistani Taliban, offering congratulations for the operation. It may be true. But the skepticism with which this announcement was greeted in Pakistan shows that the Bush administration’s strategy of trying to shore up the power of President (former general) Pervez Musharraf cannot work. Even if it is innocent of involvement in this assassination, the Pakistan military under Mr. Musharraf has no intention of ceding power to civilians.
Scott Horton of Harpers interviews me on this article for his No Comment blog:
The assassination of Benazir Bhutto has quickly brought the chaotic situation in Pakistan back in the public’s eye. To help understand the developments out of Pakistan and to help put the whole situation in a better policy perspective from an American point of view, I interviewed Dr. Barnett Rubin, one of the nation’s premier experts on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Rubin, the author of eight books, is currently Director of Studies at the Center on International Cooperation at New York University. He recently live-blogged the military crackdown from Islamabad, providing some of the best insights available from the scene of the action.Read the rest here.