Contrary to what I say in this morningâ€™s column, it looks increasingly likely that the assassination of Benazir Bhutto is the work, not of Al Qaeda, but of elements within the Pakistani government itself. Not necessarily Gen. Pervez Musharraf, but of a faction within the military that is, perhaps, getting ready to dump Musharraf and assume power directly.
To begin with, forbidding an autopsy is just a bit suspicious, wouldnâ€™t you say? Not to mention the offer by the CIA to provide Bhutto with electronic jammers that stop belt bombs from going off and guard against car bombs â€“ which the government refused. Hmmmm â€¦.
As one friend with CIA connections said: â€œIt is suspected that the security detail itself and possibly the intelligence service ISI were somehow involved. No one believes that Musharraf would have been dumb enough to be involved directly, but ISI might be playing a more complex game, and have a candidate in mind for taking over if Musharraf fails to stay in power.â€
I was wrong about this: Pakistan is in a lot worse shape than I imagined. However, I was not wrong about the proper US policy: This is just more evidence that US intervention, in this instance, is hopeless: when the folks we are backing (with a $10 billion aid package) are knocking off the opposition so blatantly â€“ I mean, just look that that video! â€“ without regard either for international opinion or the interests of their American sponsors, itâ€™s time to cut bait and shove off. (Of course, you can bet that our Special Forces are poised to seize Pakistanâ€™s nukes if and when the government falls in the face of a popular uprising: in which case, things will get very messy â€¦)