Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Analysing Benazir’s Motives

Yesterday the Daily Times reported that Benazir Bhutto was persisting with her policy of keeping the PPP in the dark about her dealings with Musharraf.

Ignoring her party faithful, she apparently now relies on Rehman Malik - the policeman turned multimillionaire, currently absconding from the law in Pakistan – who, according to The News, has taken over the role as Benazir's top “adviser and broker” …on important matters ranging from politics to business…[because of his] "pragmatic and practical" approach.
In an attempt to comprehend her behaviour let me begin with reiterating some facts that seem to have fallen by the wayside.

In July 2003 a Swiss court convicted Benazir Bhutto and her husband Asif Zardari of Money Laundering - the charge of corruption was not included as the funds had been placed in Geneva banks prior to the recent enactment of Swiss anti-corruption legislation. The Court sentenced them to a six-month suspended jail term, fined them $50,000 each and ordered they pay more than $2m to the Pakistani Government.

Having appealed this decision Pakistan’s ‘illustrious’ political couple were then confronted, in 2005, with a enhanced charge of Aggravated Money Laundering as subsequent legal investigations had revealed that the money in question now involved a sum of 12 million dollars. Conviction under this charge meant a maximum sentence of five years in jail as well as a fine of about one million Swiss francs.

In September 2005 Benazir Bhutto appeared before a judge in Geneva’s Palais de Justice and underwent intensive questioning - during an eight hour period of hearing - about various deposits of millions of dollars, as well as that well-known necklace worth of £120,000 which was found in a Swiss deposit box.

Interestingly, after it had been legally established that the necklace had been purchased for Benazir by a company controlled by Asif Zardari, Benazir told the court that she refused to accept the gift of the necklace. Reportedly when she was asked why she had refused to accept the gift, Benazir said her mother had told her that the gift was “inappropriate”. She also said that it was her personal affair to accept or reject any gift. (Your Blogger’s comment: If such was the case, then why was the necklace not returned, instead of being kept concealed in a deposit box for all these years?)

Throughout the hearing Benazir Bhutto proclaimed her innocence - partly by pleading ignorance and partly by implicating other parties (notably her husband). However, there is nothing to suggest that the Court accepted her protestations.


For further details on the Swiss case see the following Glasshouse blogs:
A Damoclean Sword that continues to swing
The Timebomb Begins to Tick Louder
Benazir and the Swiss Chamber of Secrets


Not surprisingly, after the last court hearing Benazir Bhutto was scared out of her wits. A likely conviction by an impartial foreign judiciary would not only have finished her political career for good but it might also have involved a period of imprisonment for her.

Therefore it came as no surprise to your Blogger to learn that in early 2006 the PPP leader was prepared to publicly accept a President Musharraf-in-uniform providing the Swiss case was done away with it. But like all bullies, Musharraf preferred to control her rather than enter into any deal with her.

So, the military regime, rather than bringing the Swiss case to a logical conclusion, preferred instead to keep dangling it threateningly before Benazir Bhutto, to browbeat her with the hope of making her capitulate under pressure.

In view of these facts her foremost concern these days would be to get rid of all the corruption cases against her.

Her second probable concern, notoriously money-minded as she is alleged to be, would relate to all the millions of dollars that have been legally frozen in Switzerland, Spain and elsewhere. She would, of course, want these monies restored to her control.

While negotiating over these personal issues it is hardly likely that she wanted any of her party men around. Besides, unfortunately, her eleven years of self-exile has not resulted in a liberal metamorphosis, she remains as authoritarian as ever, particularly towards her party underlings.

Now your Blogger comes to her other concerns.

Try and imagine a future scenario where with the blessing of the establishment the PPP wins the next election (please note that Musharraf has already offered to ‘adjust’ the election in PPP’s favour). With the existing law preventing Benazir from becoming a third-time prime minister, the office would have to go to one of her party members. She would regard such a situation as a definite threat to her three decade long grip on the party.

Therefore, her third concern would be to have the law, barring two-term prime ministers from attaining the office again, cancelled.

Only once she has achieved these three goals, do the other demands come into play. These being the removal of Musharraf’s uniform, free and fair elections, date of her return to Pakistan, et al.


libertarian said...

Look suspiciously like one dictator handing the baton to another. The new one just doesn't head an army.

Hira said...

i didnt know she has done so much...for the i was too young that time...even now... to understand politics...though is kinda really interesting..

Ahsan said...

wait, so what is the problem here? so BB wants to get rid of the corruption cases against her. big effing deal. EVERYONE in pakistan is corrupt. just because a necklace captures the popular imagination more so than real estate and business dealing (NS) does not change the fact that BB is no different to any other powerful personality in pakistan.

i think your hatred of PM is clouding your judgment onlooker, with all due respect. just because BB is associating and negotiating with PM does not make her the devil. if NS was offered a deal 12-18 months ago (which is, according to reports, when these negotiations really took off) he would have done the exact same thing. they are both corrupt, power hungry and run their parties like fiefdoms. the only difference is that one is relatively intelligent, well spoken and aware of how the world works. the other is a friggin retard with an IQ in double figures.

i for one am happier with the state of pakistan today than say three, six or twelve months ago. think about it: we face the prospect of a genuine system of checks and balances between the offices of the president and premiership, a moderate and outward-looking executive, an independent judiciary, a watchful media and, most importantly, a head of state OUT OF UNIFORM. surely these are good things?

so what if these developments are coming at the cost of the chance to punish BB for her crimes? which other powerful person's crimes in pakistan have been punished?

i am very pleased that BB has insisted PM take his uniform off before the election. it now seems she will get her wish. surely you can rejoice at this onlooker?

Anonymous said...

What Pakistan needs is a political class, even if some of they are corrupt. Compared to military dictatorships and religious extremism even a corrupt leadership looks good, sad as it is. Several different politicians, even if each is corrupt, can keep a check on each other. The supposedly honest military inc. that has taken over managing the nation's assets is even worse. Only thing worse then the generals are the mullahs. Bhutto by herself would be just a pawn. Bhutto, Sheriff and others like Imran Khan need to co-operate and compete with each other to develop a political class from which a new generation of leaders might emerge. Happened in Turkey and the Philippines. Didn't happen in Algeria and things went backward in Thailand. Pakistan has a better chance now than a year ago, but many things have to go right. Meanwhile, just getting rid of a buffoon in uniform is worth celebrating. There are no good choices here.

AAS said...

What's the big deal???? Are you kidding me ahsan and Anonymous.

The Nazis were great at managing Germany...whats the big deal that they like to stuff people in ovens.

Yes i want a free and democratic Pakistan as much as the next guy but it won't be that if the same corrupt people are put into power. I would rather have Mush stay in power than have BB and NS back any day.

Still hoping that the SJ or AA would come to the nations rescue....once more.


Ahsan said...


the point of the current negotiations is that BB and PM's power are no longer mutually exclusive propositions. they share world views on both domestic and foreign policy. so if you are a fan of mush's policies in a very general sense (no pun intended) but not a fan of him keeping his uniform (incidentally, this is exactly my stance on him: generally good on policies, but bad b/c he's a military man), then you should be satisfied with what is going on.

as for government being "returned" to corrupt rulers, i can only reiterate that EVERYONE in pakistan is corrupt, including and some would say especially the khakis. just because their corruption doesnt make for front page news like diamond necklaces, doesnt mean they havent been corrupt. the khi stock exchange crash, fishy land dealings etc etc have all been done under this miliatry govt. plus as im sure you're aware, transparency intl actually said pakistan has become MORE corrupt under this govt.

i am wholeheartedly - WHOLEHEARTEDLY - behind this deal. if musharraf takes his uniform off before the elections, and those elections are even relatively free and fair, then in my estimation we would have a very favorable outcome. this is of course just my opinion, anyone is free to disagree.

one final point, aas: pls dont compare people to the nazis. its incredibly annoying when people do that, and it just makes any argument you make sound foolish. in your estimation, diamond necklace + surrey estate + mr. 10% = genocide of jews, gypsies, handicapped people + world war? any time anyone compares any contemporary regime to the nazis, i just find it difficult to take their point seriously. just a thought.

Anonymous said...

its more about throwing army's role in Pak affairs out, then Mushy uniform. If it means disbanding this terrorist army, or killing its high command, so be it.

Asshole Ahsan, why dont u all get it?

Ahsan said...

anonymous: if you're going to talk about killing the high command of the army or unnecessarily call people names, at least be man enough to leave your real name.

Anonymous said...

"anonymous: if you're going to talk about killing the high command of the army or unnecessarily call people names, at least be man enough to leave your real name."

I question ur categorisation "unnecessary call names"...I think u deserve it, for ur stupid views.

As for dropping the real name, I am not going to marry you, kid. What do u need it for? Id this ur "dare to drop ur name" pick up line for ladies in bar?

AAS said...

Ahsan please don't tell me about what i can and can not say. The holocaust is not some sacred cow. I may disagree with your opinion but i would never tell you to shut up! That is one of the fundamentals of a democracy for me to express my opinion as i choose to do so. You and Mush both believe in censorship...good job!

My attempt at using the Nazis as a point, you did not understand. Just because BB and NS are secular and not wearing uniforms does not mean they will some how be better than mush...i still hold they are worse for the nation. Just like the nazis did well in many areas does not mean overall they were good for Germany.

Yes our institutions and those who run them are corrupt but blanket statments do no good. There are many honest and good persons who the masses can not support because of the disparity in power and money. There is AA and the CJ who would be the best for our nation but too many fall for the old cult of personality that has been developed since our founding.

Anonymous said...

There are several different `anonymous' authors; please don't lump us all into one identity.

Politicians everywhere are corrupt to some extent. If not greed for money, greed for power. There is just no way around that. True of the US, UK, everywhere. But if there are several different power centers to watch over each other, even flawed human beings can deliver a tolerable government. Democracy may not be the best system, but it is the least bad system.

What Pakistan lacks is such a political class. Repeated interventions by the army has damaged but not completely destroyed the national polity. The problem is not Musharraf or BB or NS. They are individually no better or worse than politicians anywhere. What is missing is a system where these same people can check each others excesses.

The military looks above corruption only because it is illegal in Pakistan to criticize the institution of the military. You can criticize any politician, even Musharraf personally. But it is not acceptable to say that the military is destroying the country. The worst kind of greed is not for money but for power. If you have power why do you need money?

Elections alone do not make a democracy; but the other ingredients, like newspapers and political parties do exist in Pakistan. In the face of the mortal danger of religious extremism, military dictatorship sounds at first like a simple solution. The US initially supported it. But it only made the situation worse. Sharif alone will be just as bad, BB alone also. The answer involves all three and many more. In a way, all of us have to take an interest in the survival of democracy in Pakistan.

Emotions run high at a time like this. But there is room for hope. The situation is not as bad as it was in Europe in between the World wars. False historical analogies only confuse the thinking; the current situation is murky enough as it is.

The main aim for now should be to get through the current crisis withot permanent damage to the system, like an emergency or martial law. Then a constant struggle against the three evils of religious extremism, military adventurism and corruption will have to be waged. There is no white knight available; everyone is tainted in some way. Everyone has a role to play also.

Ahsan said...

first anonymous: there is no need for me to respond to you any further.

aas: what guarantee is there that the honest and upright people you speak of wont get corrupt once in power? even BB and NS started from a clean slate, yes? as for the censorship or nazi question, i wasnt asking you to shut up (pls read my comment again). i was asking you to not make analogies that weaken your point rather than strengthen it. anyway i see your point and i think you see mine.

second anonymous: i think we are seeing in front of our eyes the development of the very system of checks and balances of which you speak. the judiciary and the media obviously have a role to play, but what is also important is working out a viable and relatively equitable system of a balance of power between the offices of the presidency, premiership and parliament. for too long, these relationships have been lopsidedly unequal. but i agree with almost everything you say.

ZMA said...

Agree with Anonymous on point that election let alone is not democracy, have a look Singapore, dictatorship in the name of democracy. Surprise, no supper democracy nations challenge Singapore. For 'this period' democracy stamp can be obtained only with “US approval”. Now Pakistan, Pakistanis are ‘as one’ to fight outside world but disintegrate to fight internally, long learning curve to understand the unity-internally. Recent years, media has opened public eyes to some extent and now Pakistanis have stepped forward to reject culprits. Developed nations took centuries and I hope they will get there sooner. (inshaAllah). said...

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