Extremism and Terrorism in Pakistan 2007 and the USA in 1794

January 21, 2008

Violence has been part of the political process for the Bhutto family in Pakistan for decades. Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan's first female Prime Minister was the daughter of Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who was hung for conspiring to murder a political opponent in 1979. Six years later her brother Shahnawaz died of poisoning in France and in 1996 her brother Mir Murtaza, who was accused of being involved in terrorism, was shot dead in Karachi by the police.

The Bhutto family has been involved in Pakistan politics for nearly 40 years, yet managed somehow during that period of time to become billionaires. What exactly was their side business that brought them such wealth while being, apparently, full time politicians? That is not easy to trace. However, what led to Benazir Bhutto being removed as Prime Minister were charges of corruption - involving money. In fact, her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, spent eight years in prison on corruption charges and there are still pending French, Polish, Spanish and Swiss charges of corruption and money laundering through Swiss Banks charges against her.

In 1998, The New York Times reported that Bhutto's husband was given exclusive rights by a French aircraft manufacturer, Dassault, to replace the air force's fighter jets in exchange for a 5% commission to be paid to one of the family corporations. Benazir was, when assassinated, the head of the Pakistan People's Party which has been the family's political base throughout the past 40 years in Pakistan. While the "People's Party" is a nice name, there were actually never any elections to decide who would be its leader. It automatically went to the next available Bhutto family member. That is something to bear in mind as we try to determine exactly what is going on in Pakistan and who it is that wants more democracy in the country.

She came back from France after a self-imposed exile of 8 years to run against President Pervez Musharraf, after he had overwhelmingly won another term as President on October 6, 2007. That election was challenged by Bhutto's party by claiming he was not eligible to run for president as long as he was head of the army. Of course, the president of the United States is actually the head of the army, as Commander in Chief. In fact, during George Washington's term in office, as Commander in Chief he personally, on horseback, led the American Army into Western Pennsylvania to put down the insurrection of farmers who basically were rioting against the new federal tax on whiskey that they brewed. Constitutionally, as Commander in Chief, George W. Bush also could take an active role in leading the army.

Washington was not opposing freedom of speech. The farmers could complain all they wanted to. However, when they ignored the law of the land and the civil protestors tarred and feathered a tax collector, stole his horse and started shooting, Washington took action, not as president, but as Commander in Chief of America's armed forces. Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan appears, to me, to be facing a situation very similar to the Whiskey Rebellion in our history. And, he actually seems to be quite similar to George Washington in his thinking. Two years ago, in an almost totally unreported story, Musharraf, who heads a Muslim nuclear nation which has sided with American efforts to stop terrorism, gave a speech to the American Jewish Congress that everyone concerned about what is happening in Pakistan needs to read. Musharraf seems to have a better grasp of the difference between democratic principles and anarchy than perhaps those outside forces that have ignored the corruption and the violence perpetrated by the Bhuttos and others in Pakistan.

Insurrection was not approved in the USA under the new American Constitution in 1794 and the current Pakistani Constitution also does not permit insurrection, in the guise of "democracy." I pointed this out in an article published in November entitled "In Pakistan, Should we Choose Musharraf's Strong Hand or Bhutto's Anarchy?" In fact, Pakistan's Constitution states that "Every citizen shall have the right to assemble peacefully and without arms, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of public order." In his speech to the American Jewish Congress Musharraf said: "First of all, I feel we need to clearly understand that terrorism and extremism are two different phenomena. Each requires a different strategy. Lumping terrorism and extremism together, or behaving as if they are synonymous, is a fallacy. Terrorism has to be met head on with all the force required to suppress and eradicate it. In the case of extremism, the battle has to be won in the hearts and minds of people. It cannot be achieved through the use of force. We must adopt separate short term and long-term strategies to address terrorism and extremism. Such immediate and long-term strategies have to be implemented at three tiers: the global level, the Muslim world level and the national level in the concerned countries."

The Bhuttos and their Pakistan People's Party have not separated terrorism and extremism. They became billionaires while vying for or holding office. Yet, the Western nations, including our own government, have tried to ignore the difference in terrorist actions and extremist views. The difference is a fundamental difference in thinking. America has survived because it was founded on a principle of law rather than a king or other strong person, i.e., dictator. Musharraf's actions in Pakistan have been efforts to follow the Constitution and the law of the land. To a very large degree, the Bhuttos ignored the law of the land and used the politics of personal power. It was not a good idea for the Bush Administration to ignore the past behavior and even the laws of other nations to get Benazir Bhutto back into Pakistan. Musharraf was basically advised to adopt the "political correctness" of the West that seems to think all controversy, even good and evil, can be negotiated and compromised. That is a fallacy. George Washington didn't think that would work in the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794 and Pervez Musharraf doesn't think it will work in Pakistan in 2007.

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Copyright ©2008 Mary Mostert