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Bush-Rice “Diplomacy” Led to Bhutto’s Death

“This is the height of brutality. They have hanged her father. They have killed her brothers. The government has killed all the good people of Pakistan,” said Sarfraz Khan, a doctor. “Please pray for us. Pray for our poor country.”

Bush’s motive in sending Bhutto into Pakistan was simply to prop up the military dictator Musharraf.

For Benazir Bhutto, the decision to return to Pakistan was sealed during a telephone call from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice just a week before Bhutto flew home in October. The call culminated more than a year of secret diplomacy — and came only when it became clear that the heir to Pakistan’s most powerful political dynasty was the only one who could bail out Washington’s key ally in the battle against terrorism. . . .

As President Pervez Musharraf’s political future began to unravel this year, Bhutto became the only politician who might help keep him in power.

“The U.S. came to understand that Bhutto was not a threat to stability but was instead the only possible way that we could guarantee stability and keep the presidency of Musharraf intact,” said Mark Siegel, who lobbied for Bhutto in Washington and witnessed much of the behind-the-scenes diplomacy. . . .

“U.S. policy is in tatters. The administration was relying on Benazir Bhutto’s participation in elections to legitimate Musharraf’s continued power as president,” said Barnett R. Rubin of New York University. “Now Musharraf is finished.”

But that’s not all. The police in Rawalpindi, headquarters of the Pakistani Army, abandoned their posts before Bhutto was killed yesterday.

The assassination occurred in this garrison city housing the headquarters of the Pakistan army, an institution that has always seemed opposed to Bhutto. A couple of miles away across Rawalpindi, a previous military regime had executed her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan’s first democratically elected prime minister, in 1979, when she was 26.

Police officers had frisked the 3,000 to 4,000 people attending Thursday’s rally when they entered the park, but as the speakers from Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party droned on, the police abandoned many of their posts. As she drove out through the gate, her main protection appeared to be her own bodyguards, who wore their usual white T-shirts inscribed: “Willing to die for Benazir.”

Ghulam Mustafa, a witness at the scene, said he saw bodies with missing heads and limbs.

“This happens only in Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan. Why not America?” he said.

Bhutto’s party had complained repeatedly that the government provided her with inadequate security. She’d narrowly escaped another assassination attempt, at her homecoming parade Oct. 18 in Karachi, which left 140 dead.

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