Single-faith nation is an open invitation to Taliban

24 02 2009

Source: TOI

22 Feb 2009, 0000 hrs IST, M J Akbar

Breast-beating has its dangers. You could lacerate yourself while the assassin laughs all the way to the graveyard. The international lamentation
over the negotiated surrender of Swat in Pakistan to what might broadly be called the Taliban is high on moaning and low on illumination.

There is a symmetrical irony. Benazir Bhutto handed over Afghanistan to the Taliban. Her husband Asif Zardari might have laid the foundation stone of Talibanistan inside Pakistan by accepting Sufi Mohammad’s Tehrik-e-Nifz-e-Shariat Mohammadi as the law for the former princely state of Swat. This demand was first heard in November 1994, the month in which Kandahar fell to the Taliban.

Many questions demand answers. The Pakistani army has an estimated strength of 12,000 in the region of Swat. Why was it unable, or unwilling, to subdue an insurgent force of some 3,000? The Pakistani army is not a pushover. Why was it pushed over in Swat? Is the Pakistani soldier increasingly unwilling to confront an ideology it implicitly sympathises with? How much of such sympathy is shared by the middle-ranking officer, who entered the force during the seminal leadership of General Zia ul Haq? To what extent has Ziaism become the secret doctrine of sections of the Pakistani forces?

What price will Pakistan’s polity pay as the last civilian hope degenerates into a national heartbreak? The legacy of Benazir, the charismatic romantic, has been usurped by a semi-literate authoritarian who has seized executive power through a virtual coup against his own government. Zardari was elected to a ceremonial office, not an executive one. His principal achievement so far has been to make the era of Pervez Musharraf seem like a golden age. If she had been in charge, Benazir may have been able to mobilise her country’s youth by lifting the economy and offering a liberal horizon. Zardari’s ineffectual rule, wafting along compromise and mismanagement, can only create the space for a theocratic impulse that has been waiting to find its moment ever since Pakistan was born. Musharraf doubled the GDP of an insecure economy. Under Zardari, Pakistan is dwindling into a “basket case”, a term Henry Kissinger coined for the eastern half of united Pakistan. While Bangladesh is leaving that stigma behind, Pakistan is entering the vortex of the begging bowl.

Military chaos opened the door for the Taliban in Kabul. Could economic chaos open the door in Islamabad? Has Pakistan begun to realise that faith-based nationalism is not synonymous with peace?

The Frontier and North Punjab, the principal catchment areas of the Taliban, have had a Muslim majority for perhaps a thousand years. It is not widely known that Mahmud of Ghazni’s territories extended to what is roughly the line of the Indo-Pak border today. (This fact is not lost on terrorists who want to use Pakistan as a base from which to launch assaults on the heart of India.) But this area was never a single-faith entity. Hindus and later Sikhs created, along with Muslims, a dynamic shared culture that blossomed through partnership. The presence of the other also became an antidote to puritanism of any hue. The region was ruled successively by Muslims, Sikhs and Christians. No ruler, not even Ghazni, drove Hindus and Sikhs out. It was only after 1947 that the region became a single-faith hegemony, and from that point a breeding ground for theocratic militancy.

The power of a minority is rarely acknowledged by those who seek to turn it into an enemy. A minority is the yeast that enables the national flour to rise. Hindus and Sikhs were the yeast of the North West Frontier and Pakistani Punjab just as much as Indian Muslims are the yeast of Hindu-majority India. Their existence was a daily lesson in co-existence. Their absence has shifted the gears of social evolution and driven the people into rancid and arid territory.

Will the answers be more optimistic than the questions? That too remains a question.





बेनजीर और भारत : सांच को आंच क्या

1 01 2008

http://www.epaper.jagran.com/main.aspx?edate=12/31/2007&editioncode=2&pageno=11#

बेनजीर की हत्या के बाद भारतीय प्रधानमंत्री मनमोहन सिंह ने कहा कि वह हमारे उपमहाद्वीप की प्रमुख नेता थीं, जिन्होंने भारत-पाक संबंधों को सुधारने का प्रयास किया। यह दुखद है कि तीन बच्चों की मां की निर्मम हत्या हुई। हम सभी दुखी हैं। इसके बावजूद सत्य सामने लाना होगा। प्रेस द्वारा कही गई बात हमेशा सच नहीं होती। कश्मीर में भारत विरोधी आतंकवाद भुट्टो के संरक्षण में ही पनपा। वहां हिंदुओं का सफाया करवाने में उनका हाथ था। ध्यान देने की बात है कि जिस जिस ने आतंकवाद को बढ़ावा दिया, वही उसका शिकार भी हुआ। नई दिल्ली स्थित इंस्टीट्यूट फार कांफ्लिक्ट मैनेजमेंट के इक्जिक्यूटिव डायरेक्टर अजय साहनी कहते हैं कि वह जिहाद को बढ़ावा देने की कड़ी थीं। उन्होंने खुलेआम उग्रवादियों को उकसाया। भारत से उनके संबंधों के बाबत एक भी सकारात्मक पहलू नहीं मिला है। वह कश्मीरी जनता को जगमोहन और फिर वहां के गवर्नर को टुकड़े-टुकड़े करने की राय दे रही थीं। बेनजीर की देखरेख में तालिबान बना और पाकिस्तान की इंटेलिजेंस सर्विस की मदद से अफगानिस्तान में फैला। बाद में लादेन को संरक्षण मिला। जिन्हें बेनजीर ने शह दी संभवत: उन्हीं लोगों ने उन्हें मार डाला। उन्होंने आणविक शक्ति का प्रयोग करने की धमकी देकर जानबूझ कर भारत-पाक के बीच तनाव बढ़ाया। यह माहौल तब जरूरत से ज्यादा बिगड़ गया जब उन्होंने अपने पिता जुल्फिकार भुट्टो की एक हजार वर्ष लंबी लड़ाई की बात को दुहराया। जवाब में तत्कालीन प्रधानमंत्री राजीव गांधी ने लोकसभा में उनकी बात का मजाक बनाया और कहा, जो लोग कुछ घंटे भी नहीं लड़ पाएंगे वे हजारों वर्ष की लड़ाई का दावा कर रहे हैं। अपनी मौत से ठीक पहले के भाषण में उन्होंने भारत को पाकिस्तान के लिए एक बड़ा खतरा बताया और कहा कि यदि वे सत्ता में आईं तो इस बाबत कड़ाई से निपटेंगी। मैंने बेनजीर भुट्टो का दो बार इंटरव्यू लिया। पिछली बार, जब वह दुबारा सत्ता में आने के लिए चुनाव प्रचार कर रही थी, मैंने पहला प्रश्न कश्मीर के बारे में किया। उन्होंने कहा कि आपको कश्मीर पर पाकिस्तानी नजरिया समझना पड़ेगा। यदि बंटवारे के आधार से हम देखें तो कश्मीर घाटी का जो मुस्लिम बाहुल्य क्षेत्र है वहां हिंदू पंडितों ने मुसलमानों का शोषण किया। उन्हें डराया,धमकाया और आज उन्हें हम उनका हक दिला रहे हैं। इस तरह कश्मीर पाकिस्तान के साथ होना चाहिए। क्या सिर्फ यही कारण है? बेनजीर ने कहा- नहीं, पाकिस्तान आज तक भारत के हाथों बांग्लादेश की शर्मनाक हार नहीं भुला पाया है। जिया का सत्ता में आना इस शर्मनाक पराजय का परिणाम था। मैंने पूछा, लेकिन जिया ने आपके पिता को फांसी दी। बेनजीर ने उत्तर दिया, हां मैं उनसे नफरत करती हूं और अल्लाह ने उसके लिए सजा दे दी है (जिया की हवाई दुर्घटना में मौत) लेकिन जिया ने एक काम सही किया। उन्होंने अलगाववादी ताकतों को कश्मीर और पंजाब में समर्थन देकर एक तरह का युद्ध शुरू कर दिया। इसका मुख्य उद्देश्य था भारत से बदला चुकाना। मैंने पूछा, पाकिस्तान के परमाणु बम का क्या हुआ? वह मेरे पिता का किया गया कार्य है, उन्होंने गर्व से कहा। उन्हें (पिता को) यह समझ 1965 और 1971 के युद्ध में हार के बाद आई कि हम रणनीति के तहत भारत को हरा नहीं सकते। इसलिए आणविक शक्ति की योजना शुरू हुई। लेकिन क्या यह खतरनाक हथियार नहीं है। यदि यह आपके देश के ही गलत ताकतों के हाथ चला गया तो? बेनजीर ने कहा- कोई खतरा नहीं। यह भारत को डराने के लिए ही नहीं बल्कि उसके आणविक शक्ति का मुंहतोड़ जवाब है और इस्लाम धर्म की रक्षा के लिए है। -फ्रांस्वां गाटियर

(लेखक फ्रांसीसी पत्रिका ला रेव्यू डे एल इंडे के प्रधान संपादक हैं)





BENAZIR AND INDIA: Francois Gautier

29 12 2007

She resorted to anti-Indianism to please voters (rediff.com) http://www.rediff.com/news/2007/dec/31gautier.htm

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday described her as “one of the outstanding leaders of our sub-continent, who always looked for reconciliation between India and Pakistan.”

It is a sad that a mother of three children was so brutally killed and we all mourn her terrible death. Nevertheless, truth must be told. For, as usual, what the press says is not exactly what happened. Firstly, under Bhutto, anti-Indian terrorism in the Kashmir region was fostered and increased. Benazir was also directly responsible for the ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Kashmir. “She was instrumental in sponsoring jihad, openly inciting militants to intensify terrorism in India,” says Ajai Sahni, the executive director of the New Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management. “I find it very difficult to discover a single element with her relationship to India that is positive and for the betterment of her country or the region”, he adds. Remember how she was shouting her slogans of azaadi, and exhorting the people of Kashmir to cut Jagmohan, then governor of the state, into pieces, as in “jag-jag, mo-mo, han-han”. She would say this while making chopping motions with her right hand as it moved from her left wrist to the elbow, leaving nobody in any doubt as to what she meant.

Secondly, under Benazir Bhutto, the Taliban formed and, helped by Pakistan’s intelligence service, swept across Afghanistan and later hosted Osama bin Laden. It is a bit of an irony that she may have been killed by the very people she helped foster if at all she was murdered.
Thirdly, she deliberately increased tension levels and then threatened India with a pre-emptive nuclear strike. The tension peaked when Benazir repeated her late father’s immortal boast of waging a thousand-year war against India and even Rajiv Gandhi was forced to mock her in Parliament, asking if those who talked of a thousand-year war could last even a thousand hours.
And fourthly, in her last speech before she died, she alluded to India as one of the threats Pakistan had to face, implying that if she was elected she would deal firmly with it. Then why is it that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh calls her a friend of India and that Indians mount candle light vigils in India Gate for her ?

I interviewed Benazir Bhutto twice, the last one as she was campaigning to be re-elected for a second term.

The first question I asked, was about Kashmir, as she was the one who had called for ‘Azad Kashmir’, a Kashmir free from India, which had triggered the ethnic cleansing of most Hindus of the Valley of Kashmir, 400.000 of them having to flee their ancestral land.

– You know, she answered, you have to understand the Pakistani point of view on Kashmir. If one goes by the logic of Partition, then at least the Kashmir valley, which is in great majority Muslim – and it should be emphasised that for long the Hindus Pandits in Kashmir exploited and dominated the Muslims, who are getting back at them today – should have reverted to Pakistan. But let us say that officially we want to help grant Kashmiris their right to self-determination

– That’s the only reason, I continued ?

– No, answered Benazir, it should be clear also that Pakistan never forgot the humiliating loss of Bangladesh at the hands of India, although India claims it only helped Bangladesh to gain its freedom in the face of what the Bangladeshis say was Pakistani genocide. Zia’s emergence was a result of that humiliation.

– But Zia hanged your father, I interrupted…

– Yes and I hate him, and God the Almighty already punished him for that, said Benazir (alluding to Zia’s death in a plane crash). But Zia did one thing right, he started the whole policy of proxy war by supporting the separatist movements in Punjab and Kashmir, as a way of getting back at India.

– What about Pakistan’ nuclear bomb, I asked?
-That’s my father’s work she said proudly. He realized, after having lost the 1965 and 1971wars with India, that both numerically and strategically, we can never beat India in a conventional conflict. Thus he initiated the programme by saying that “we will get the nuclear bomb, even if we have to eat grass”.

– But is it not a dangerous weapon if it falls in the hands of the fundamentalists of your country, I asked?
No such danger, Benazir answered. Anyway, it is not only a deterrent against India’s military conventional superiority and an answer to India’s own nuclear capability, but also the ultimate weapon to reassert Islam’s moral superiority.

– We in Europe are going to unite in a Common Market, why don’t Pakistan and India forget their differences and form some kind of confederation with other South Asia countries, instead of killing each other?
– Pakistan and India were never one country, answered the imperious lady. They were only kept together by force, whether by Mauryan, Moghul or British rule. Hindus have recognised the reality of Islam, and we needed our own country to feel free.

I was flabbergasted:
here was a lady educated in Oxford and Harvard, who mouthed such irrational statements. She spoke good English, was pretty, articulate and pleased the Press. But when in power, she had to resort to anti -Indianism to please her voters, her husband was known as Mr 10% and she was hounded out of power twice for incompetence and corruption. What then, Mr Manmohan Singh ? History will tell.

FranÁois Gautier





The Legacy of Benazir Bhutto: Pakistan’s Proxy Wars, Islamic Jihad and the Taliban

28 12 2007

The most horrific acts of terror in recent times has just been in the neighbouring pakistan. Benazir Bhutto the former PM of Pakistan has been killed in an allegged Alqaida attack. FACT prays for peace to her soul.

Another high profile victim for the fundamentalism and another round of applause for the fundamentalism from the stupidity.

The Legacy of Benazir Bhutto: Pakistan’s Proxy Wars, Islamic Jihad and the Taliban
by Dr. Subhash Kapila

Benazir Bhutto twice ousted as Prime Minister of Pakistan, prompted by fears of arrest is presently in self-imposed exile in Dubai for the last two years. Sensing that elections may be held by the Pakistan Army next year and with a political vacuum existing due to banishment of the last Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, she has been active in running around Western countries subtly projecting that she is the only viable civilian alternative to head Pakistan. With the inauguration of President Bush in Washington, she has already visited Washington in February and embarking soon on a second outing. Her campaign on Capitol Hill is aimed at impressing the American law makers and the think-tanks in Washington that she is a moderate Pakistani leader having nothing to do with Islamic fundamentalism, proxy war in Kashmir or with Taliban. Such a line carries conviction to the Americans when coupled with her personal charm and western education eloquence.

In India too, there are many advocates of Ms. Bhutto amongst retired diplomats of Nehru-Gandhi vintage, Track II participants and Generals/Admirals turned peaceniks. The Indian media glitterrati as is their wont, do not take pains to delve deep in to the political background of such leaders.

In the current security environment obtaining in South Asia in the India-Pakistan context, Indians are led to believe by opinion makers that Islamic fundamentalism, proxy war and Jehadi terrorism and the Taliban were and are the creations of Pakistan military rulers beginning with General Zia and now General Musharraf. This is only partly true.

The significant fact that has not been brought out by the Indian media and opinion makers is that Benazir played a significant role in drawing Pakistan deep into the Islamic fundamentalism morass, in escalating the Pak proxy war in Kashmir and giving active encouragement to the formation of the Taliban.

The aim of this paper is to highlight the active involvement of Ms. Benazir Bhutto in these activities as Prime Minister of Pakistan. Revelations in a recent book authored by the Director of the United States Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare eloquently highlight Ms. Bhutto’s complicity. (1)

Other published works stand referred to in order to substantiate Ms. Bhutto’s involvement in setting up the Taliban.For the record and also to enable readers to correlate contemporary events in South Asia, the two tenures of Benazir Bhutto as Prime Minister of Pakistan were1.

1 December 1988 to August 1990.

2. October 1993 to November 1996.

Benazir Bhutto’s Islamic Fundamentalisation of PakistanBenazir Bhutto’s first advent as Prime Minister coincided roughly with the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan where Pakistan was spearheading the American effort. Since strategic aims had been met, it would have been logical for the self-proclaimed Pakistani democrat Prime Minister to wind up the Islamic fundamentalist Mujahideen bases in Pakistan and their nurseries. No such thing happened.

On the contrary “Benazir Bhutto, who became the Prime Minister in 1989 had a profoundly different perception of the role and utility of Islamist terrorism. Convinced that Pakistan’s destiny lay in strategic alliances with such countries as Syria, Iran, China (PRC) and North Korea, Benazir Bhutto’s Islamabad re-examined all aspects of Pakistan’s involvement in Afghanistan and the world of State-sponsored terrorism became an instrument of crucial significance for Pakistani policy. Islamabad now committed to furthering Islamism in the heart of Asia . . . Islamabad recognized the growing specter of confrontation with the United States over strategic posture in the region. Still Islamabad shifted to active support for militant Islamism.”(2)

As a follow-up of Benazir Bhutto’s policy of exploiting Islamic fundamentalist terrorism as a state-sponsored tool, Pakistan was flooded with about 16000-20000 Islamist militants from over 20 countries all freely given visas for Pakistan. The Soviets had withdrawn from Afghanistan and surely they had not come for Afghanistan’s liberation. They had come for training in Pakistan and to fight for Pakistani state-sponsored Jehads from Kashmir to Central Asia.

General Zia as military ruler of Pakistan for eleven years preceding Prime Minister Bhutto could not achieve what she achieved in terms of Islamic fundamentalisation of Pakistan: ” In the quest for Islamic violence the camps of the Islamist Afghan resistance in Pakistan became to Sunni Islamist terrorism what Lebanon had been for radical leftist terrorism. Pakistan became a place of pilgrimage for aspiring Islamist radicals.” (3)

Benazir Bhutto on return to power in 1993 had not lost her zeal for Islamic fundamentalisation : “By the end of 1993, after her round of visits to Beijing, Pyongyang and Tehran, Bhutto clearly demonstrated her determination to implement these policies (Islamic terrorism as state-sponsored foreign policy tool) and realise this strategic posture as soon as possible. Markedly increasing Pakistan’s participation in the Islamist international terrorist system was an integral part of Bhutto’s new strategy.” (4)

Benazir’s active linkages with Pan-Islamic fundamentalist terrorist organisations stands adequately exposed in the book referred: “In mid-December 1993, Turabi (Sudanese Islamic fundamentalist leader) organised another “Popular Arab and Islamic Conference (PAIC) in Khartoum to discuss the next phase of the Islamist struggle . . . The PAIC conference focussed on the role of Pakistan . . . in particular Pakistan’s future active support for Islamist armed struggles and international terrorism. The official Pakistan delegation was led by two other Bhutto confidants (the other was a close Bhutto adviser from her party PPP) General Mirza Aslam Beg, the former Chief of Staff of Pakistani Armed Forces and Lt. General Hamid Gul, the former chief of ISI (Pakistani intelligence) . . . Their participation in the Khartoum conference and leading role in the formulation of Pakistan’s relations with the PAIC and the Islamist (read Islamic fundamentalist) world was proof that Bhutto’s Islamabad would continue to pursue Islamist policies.” (5)

Benazir Bhutto’s Duplicity with the United States: Forming a Trans- Asian anti-USA Alliance

Since Benazir Bhutto’s current visits to USA are related to garner US support for her installation as Prime Minister on return to civil rule, it is pertinent to highlight her duplicity with the United States and formation of a Trans-Asian and anti-US Alliance.

Washington should note that: ” The Islamist surge coincided with Benazir Bhutto’s return to power in Islamabad. Behind a facade of pro-Western and pro-democracy rhetoric she initiated a program designed to make Pakistan a central member of both the Islamic bloc and the Trans-Asian axis, an anti-US radical alliance stretching from the Mediterranean to North East Asia . . . Islamabad emerged from these alliances with distinct roles.” (6)

The roles assigned to Pakistan, can be summarised as follows:

*Pakistan would serve as centre for defence production for the Islamic bloc. This would also incorporate nuclear weapon technologies.

* Pakistan would be the financial centre for laundering Islamist drug money.

* Pakistan would acquire legally or illegally sophisticated western technology for its Islamic and other allies.

“Islamabad and its allies were convinced that Bhutto’s rise to power, especially in view of her pro-democracy rhetoric, would relax the western guard” and that “Pakistan would be able to acquire the necessary items . . . ” (7)

It seems that USA and the West were taken in by this approach.Bezazir Bhutto’s apologists may argue that all this was done under Pakistan Army’s pressure. It does not seem so as Bodansky clarifies that: “Pakistan’s growing role in the anti-US build up was one of Bhutto’s personal priorities (note ‘personal priorities’). Immediately after return to power in fall 1993, she embarked on a series of political moves that would formulate the new grand strategy for a post-Cold War and post- Gulf crisis Pakistan.” (8)

Benazir Bhutto’s Intensification of Pak Proxy War in KashmirIt needs to be noted that: “From 1972 to December 1989, Kashmir was not an issue of high crisis in Indo- Pakistan relations, though Pakistan continued to harp on it during this period.”(9)

It would be obvious from this that both in her father’s tenure as Prime Minister and that of eleven years of President Zia no major escalation took place on the Kashmir issue.

Kashmir was whipped up as an emotive and frenzied issue only by Benazir Bhutto when she came into power in 1989 and thereafter in1993. Never before had Kashmir been made such a provocative issue in Pakistani elections as done by Benazir Bhutto. She outdid what Islamic fundamentalists uttered on Kashmir. “Indo-Pak relations were to go off into a spin from the end of 1989” and that “The tenuous hopes of a new beginning (friendly Indo- Pak relations) came to a somewhat abrupt end in December 1989” (10).

This was mid-way in Benazir Bhutto’s first tenure as Prime Minister of Pakistan.The following need to be noted in relation to Benazir’s escalation of proxy war in Kashmir:* “Violence in Kashmir increased between December 1989 and February 1990. India had firm information about a quantum increase in the flow of arms and infiltration by trained terrorists.”(11)

* Benazir Bhutto visited POK for the first time as Prime Minister on 13 March 1990. She gave a historical speech at a public meeting in Muzzafarabad declaring the struggle in Kashmir to be a ‘holy jehad’.”(12)

The increased jehadi infiltration in Kashmir and acts of terrorism during Benazir’s tenures as Prime Minister was the manifestation of what has been discussed earlier, i.e., the adoption by PM Benazir Bhutto of state- sponsored Islamic fundamentalist terrorism as a foreign policy tool. Retrospectively, it can also be analysed that Benazir Bhutto was carrying a chip on her shoulder from the Simla Agreement 1972 days when she was a witness to her father Z.A. Bhutto giving in to Indian demands that Kashmir was to be a bi-lateral issue between the two countries.

The Taliban’s Creation During Premiership of Bhutto

Pakistan figures prominently in any discussions related to the Taliban in terms of creating this medieval monster in Afghanistan and the subsequent inhuman repression that the Taliban has imposed on the Afghans themselves. ISI also figures prominently in relation to provision of Pak Army cadres, military advisers and military hardware. However what does not figure is Benazir Bhutto’s role in its creation. The Taliban emerged forcefully on the Afghan scene in the period 1993-94 and captured the whole of Afghanistan, less the Northern Provinces by September 1996. It requires to be noted that all these developments took place during Benazir Bhutto’s second tenure as Prime Minister, i.e., 1993- 1996. As one author puts it: “Furthermore, there was considerable evidence to suggest that the Taliban were being strongly supported by the Pakistani government led by Benazir Bhutto, ironically a woman educated at Oxford and Harvard.”(13)

Initially, more than the ISI, it was the Bhutto party machine both at Islamabad and in the provincial capitals at Peshawar(NWFP) and Quetta (Baluchistan) which were active in the reinforcement and furtherance of Taliban operations. It is indicated that: “When the Taliban captured Kandahar, the ISI was initially more sceptical than the Government about the chances of further success. While General Babar( Bhutto’s Interior Minister) and the Jamiat-e Ulema-i Islam pushed for support to the Taliban, the ISI took a back seat. Thus Babar had a free hand in “civilianising” the initial support to the Taliban.” (14)

Benazir’s newly created Taliban ensured that they had the right connections in Pakistan to enable continued support as this would suggest: “And the Taliban soon developed close relations with several businessmen close to Asaf Ali Zardari- the husband of Benazir Bhutto, who in turn were given the highly lucrative permits to export fuel to Afghanistan. As the Taliban’s war machine expanded, permits for fuel supplies from Pakistan became a major money earner for Pakistani politicians” . . . (15) The linkages and implications are self evident.

ConclusionBenazir’s pretentious pronouncements are avidly lapped up in Washington and New Delhi as emanating from a committed democrat, a Pakistani politician of moderate hues and above all a Muslim with western educated secular values, in short someone New Delhi could trust in political dealings. The above record of Benazir Bhutto however does not match up with what she would like us to believe about her.Bodansky states that: ” Pakistan’s ascent in the Islamist terrorist system is particularly important in a strategic context. Pakistan’s growing involvement resulted in both escalation of the war by proxy in Kashmir and the rise of Taliban in Afghanistan, two movements that still provide shelter and closely cooperate with Osama bin Laden.” (16)

What Bodansky has not added to complete this summation is that in terms of contextual time-spans both these developments emerged during the two tenures of Benazir Bhutto as Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Benazir’s duplicity against the United States of America of forming a Trans-Asian anti- US alliance while mouthing platitudes on democracy during Washington visits indicates a fatal flaw in her political credibility. Comparatively speaking, former PM Nawaz Sharif appears far superior to Benazir’s Bhutto. He had at least the courage to fight an election in Pakistan on the agenda of improvement of Indo-Pak relations and won on this issue with an overwhelming majority.

Regrettably, Benazir Bhutto’s record on Islamic fundamentalism of Pakistan, escalation of the proxy war in Kashmir and the creation of the Taliban leads one to the conclusion that Washington’s assessments of Pakistani politicians and Pakistan’s political scene tend to be faulty and unreliable as inputs for any Track II diplomacy. Both these conclusions are pertinent presently for those advising and espousing the continuation of India’s cease fire in Kashmir.