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'Pakistan is a dangerous and messy place'
Monika Joshi in New York | December 28, 2007 12:33 IST
Addressing a media conference organised by the Council in New York on Thursday, Markey said, "Despite all her flaws, corruption and failed prime ministerships, Benazir was a legitimate civilian leader who could have played a significant part in taking the country forward, even if haltingly, towards a more manageable civilian-military partnership."
The Council is an independent organisation and think tank, dedicated to being a resource to help people better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the United States and other countries.
Many Pakistanis hold Musharraf and his government "accountable, or at least negligent for allowing this to happen," Markey said.
There are other parts of the US government -- particularly those who have seen the Pakistani influence in Afghanistan and others who are sceptical of Musharraf's intentions -- that will continue to do so, Markey said.
The January election is important because it would allow the US to engage with a civilian government and not just Musharraf, who remains deeply unpopular in his country.
Bhutto being prime minister in the new government was often seen as a foregone conclusion, but if her party had won 30 or 40 per cent of the national vote, she would have been tremendously powerful -- the power behind the scenes if not the prime minister, Markey said.
A question that remains to be answered is who would be Bhutto's successor. The Pakistan People's Party leader has not anointed a successor, and that leaves the party vulnerable to jockeying or, in the worst case, disintegration.
Markey said it is tragic that Bhutto sidelined the most charismatic and effective among her party leaders because she considered them a threat. Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, head of the PPP-S, the faction that split from the party, and Aitzaz Ahsan, PPP leader who represented Pakistan chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry in court, are among those to watch in the days to come.