Friday, December 28, 2007

Bhutto Details Dribble Out

Remember yesterday when it was thought that former Pakistani Prime Minister Benizir Bhutto was "simply" blow to smithereens by a suicide bomber at a public rally? It's turning out that the story is more complicated - and more harrowing for its implications to that country's immediate future:
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 of Pakistan's opposition leader and former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto.

The attack yesterday at Rawalpindi bore the hallmarks of a sophisticated military operation. At first, Bhutto's rally was hit by a suicide bomb that turned out to be a decoy. According to press reports and a situation report of the incident relayed to the New York Sun by an American intelligence officer, Bhutto's armored limousine was shot by multiple snipers whose armor-piercing bullets penetrated the vehicle, hitting the former premier five times in the head, chest, and neck. Two of the snipers then detonated themselves shortly after the shooting, according to the situation report, while being pursued by local police. ...

A working theory, according to this American source, is that Al Qaeda or affiliated jihadist groups had effectively suborned at least one unit of Pakistan's Special Services Group, the country's equivalent of Britain's elite SAS commandos. This official, however, stressed this was just a theory at this point. Other theories include that the assassins were trained by Qaeda or were from other military services, or the possibility that the assassins were retired Pakistani special forces.

"They just killed the most protected politician in the whole country," this source said. "We really don't know a lot at this point, but the first thing that is happening is we are asking the Pakistani military to account for every black team with special operations capabilities."

Well, if the notion of bulldozing ahead with parliamentary elections in under two weeks that can only hand effective political control of Pakistan (and its nuclear weapons) over to Osama bin Laden wasn't rendered moot before, it is now. If al Qaeda has penetrated Pakistani Intelligence (the ISI), there's nobody in that country that they can't kill, and they don't even have to use their own jihadis to do it.

Moreover, as Admiral Ed points out, this infiltration and its disastrous result finishes whatever figurative castration of Pervez Musharraf that he hadn't already been compelled to do to himself. If he can't trust his intel service, his military will be correspondingly hampered in its efforts to eradicate al Qaeda and the Taliban from Waziristan. And that leaves aside the question of the degree to which the Islamists have penetrated the Pakistani military as well.

Let's add this up: Musharraf can't fight the jihadis, and he dare not go through with the aforementioned elections. Mrs. Bhutto's successor as opposition leader, Nawaz Sharif, is demanding the election's cancellation as well, but against the pre-condition that Musharraf resign first, which would, of course, also play right into al Qaeda's hands. And, closing the vicious circle, many in the American Beltway are backing Sharif's demand upon threat of cutting off US aid to Pakistan.

So, then, Musharraf can't go through with the elections if the opposition boycotts them; if he cancels the elections, he alienates his American patron; if he tries to go ahead anyway, the Islamists will sweep to power.

It seems that there is no alternative that doesn't result in Osama bin Laden conquering Pakistan and its nuclear arsenal. Except, of course, Pervez Musharraf and George W. Bush saying, "[Screw] it!", and restoring martial law for as long as it takes to crush the terrorists. It may split the Pakistani army, which would be the country's death knell, but it's appears to be the only alternative to sitting helplessly back and watching the cancerous, inexorable rise of al Qaedastan.

UPDATE: Could Mrs. Bhutto have really died not via the suicide bomb blast, or the ISI snipers, but by hitting her head when ducking back down through her armored vehicle's sunroof and fatally fracturing her own skull? Why on Earth would she be sticking any part of herself into the open in the first place? Hell, how can an armored vehicle expressly designed to protect VIPs possibly have a frakking sunroof at all?

Is it any wonder that bin Laden and his followers think that "God" is on their side?