Washington Babylon — December 28, 2007, 2:34 pm

Who Killed Bhutto: Alternative theories

I’ve already said that I believe the most likely suspects in the killing of Benazir Bhutto are Islamic militants. The government in Pakistan is blaming an “an Al Qaeda linked militant.” Eli Lake, a friend from the New York Sun sent me a story saying, “American and Pakistani military leaders are seeking to account for what may be renegade commando units from the Pakistani military’s special forces in the wake of the assassination.”

I’m still sticking with my original guess, but the former U.S. intelligence official I spoke with earlier about Bhutto’s saintly status had some further, very interesting thoughts:

First, I would not be surprised if some pro-Musharraf elements within the Pakistani security services were involved in the assassination. Of course, it is convenient to blame the dastardly act on Islamic radicals, but in fact, the Musharraf camp would gain the most from her death. And I don’t trust any Pakistani government investigation of this crime.

Second, we need to watch what action or a series of actions the military, under General Kayani, would take in response to Bhutto’s murder. Will such action support Musharraf or undermine him and will it involve reinstating the state of emergency, suspending the constitution, and canceling the elections? Will the military conclude that the growing violence in the country is caused by Musharraf’s continued rule and therefore decide to remove him? Before they embark on this course of action, the military would have to ensure continued U.S. support after sacking Musharraf. Should the United States promise support, as we did in Iran on the eve of removing the Shah, what guarantees could the US extract from the military as a quid pro quo?

Third, if the above idea has merit, I can imagine Pakistan becoming more lawless and violent and its nuclear arsenal at risk. In this scenario, the U.S. military goes to Pakistan ostensibly to protect its nukes, but in fact to widen the so-called “war on terror,” which will conveniently take the American public’s eye off Iraq and Afghanistan. Benazir Bhutto’s assassination becomes a distant memory and irrelevant.

Fourth, I do not mean to imply that Islamic militants could not have been involved or could not carry out such an act. This is of course the prevalent view all over the media. But I do think we should take another look. Talking heads seem to be in agreement that Musharraf would not benefit from her death–groupthink at its best! If he blames her assassination on Islamic militants, as he has done, and if such a strategy is accepted on face value in the west, especially in Washington, he would be free to either cancel the elections or choreograph them as he likes. In either case, he would guarantee his continued control. By holding elections, well-orchestrated in advance and with anticipated results, he would project himself as pro-democracy while at the same time continue with his authoritarian rule. I didn’t think Bhutto posed a real threat to Islamic militants because they didn’t see her as a credible challenge to Musharraf. He has been a wily figure who has mastered the art of speaking to Washington and playing the administration like a yoyo.

Admittedly, the above ideas are out-of-the-box, but isn’t this what analysis is all about?

Share
Single Page

More from Ken Silverstein:

From the November 2013 issue

Dirty South

The foul legacy of Louisiana oil

Perspective October 23, 2013, 8:00 am

On Brining and Dining

How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy

Postcard October 16, 2013, 8:00 am

The Most Cajun Place on Earth

A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits 

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

February 2015

The War of the World

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Sharp Edge of Life

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Great Republican Land Heist

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Captive Market

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Day of the Sea

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The Great Republican Land Heist·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The wholesale transfer of public lands to state control may never be achieved. But the goal might be more subtle: to attack the value of public lands.”
Photograph by Chad Ress
Article
The Sharp Edge of Life·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The struggle of the novelist has been to establish a measure, a view of human nature, and usually, though not always, as large a view as belief and imagination can wring from observable facts.”
Photo by Eddie Adams/Associated Press
Article
Captive Market·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Fear of random violence lives on, but the reality is that violent-crime rates have dropped to levels not seen since the early Seventies."
Photograph by Richard Ross
Article
The Day of the Sea·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Fifteen judges will then sit together in a wood-paneled room, in a city thousands of miles from the Andes, and decide whether the ocean Bolivia claims as its right will at last be returned to it.”
Photo by Fabio Cuttica/Contrasto/Redux
Post
Introducing the February Issue·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Ruin of the West
Christopher Ketcham investigates Cliven Bundy’s years-long battle with the BLM, Annie Murphy reflects on Bolivia’s lost coast, and more
Painting by Richard Prince, whose work was on view in October at Gagosian Gallery in New York City © The artist. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

Percentage increase in the annual number of polio cases in Pakistan since 2005:

A bowl of 4,000-year-old noodles was found in northwestern China; and a spokesman for the Chinese Academy of Sciences said that “this is the earliest empirical evidence of noodles ever found.”

A federal judge sentenced the journalist Barrett Brown to 63 months in prison for sharing a link to information stolen from the private-intelligence firm Stratfor by a hacker in 2011. “Good news!” Brown said in a statement. “They’re now going to send me to investigate the prison-industrial complex.”

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

In Praise of Idleness

By

I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today