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Pak faces Talibanisation: Bhutto's last book
February 12, 2008 13:45 IST
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf [Images] had assured Benazir Bhutto [Images] that irrespective of the result of the upcoming general election, a strategic plan was in place to bring the moderate forces together, while conceding that corruption cases against her were politically motivated.
"General Musharraf and his emissaries kept assuring me that a strategic decision had been made for the moderate forces to work together irrespective of the election results," Bhutto said in her last book Benazir Bhutto - Reconciliation, Islam, Democracy & the West, published on Tuesday.
Bhutto also claimed that during their parleys for a power-sharing arrangement, Musharraf readily acknowledged that charges brought against her family had been politically motivated and designed to destroy her reputation.
Describing Pakistan as a 'tinderbox', the slain Pakistan People's Party leader said the nation faces the threat of 'Talibanisation and Balkanisation', with extremists making inroads into every structure of government.
"Since the overthrow of my government, the militants have made many inroads into the very structure of governance of Pakistan through their supporters and sympathisers," she said.
Bhutto was skeptical about Musharraf's pledge to hold free and fair polls, scheduled on February 18, even though he had retired as army chief and lifted the emergency.
"The Pakistan Peoples Party continued to get reports of widespread rigging preparations. These included bulk transfers and postings of the judicial officers who have custody of ballot papers," Bhutto wrote.
"We are worried about ghost polling stations as well as the use of government funds in aid of government-sponsored candidates," Bhutto wrote.
According to Simon & Schuster, the publisher, the former premier finished writing the book just days before her assassination on December 27.
Bhutto said Pakistan's record with democracy is a sad chronicle of 'steps forwards and huge steps backward', and revealed her fears on whether the country can survive the threat of disintegration.
"Pakistan today is the most dangerous place in the world. Pakistan faces the threat of both Talibanisation and Balkanisation, which are gaining in strength," she wrote in her 328-page book.
Talking about her power-sharing talks with Musharraf, Bhutto said that at first, she refused to meet with the president's emissaries because they insisted that as a precondition, she opt out of the general elections.
"Each offer was followed by a fresh bout of pressure in a ruthless abuse of the judicial system. Finally they dropped the precondition," she said.
Bhutto was in New York in August 2006 when Musharraf first spoke to her personally on the phone and asked for support for a bill related to women's rights.
"A step had been taken for confidence building between the two sides in August 2006. The passage of the women's bill gave momentum to the process of negotiations, although deep suspicions existed. To overcome this suspicion, I had suggested direct talks, believing that if General Musharraf met with me it would demonstrate concretely that he was willing to review his public posture that there was no place for me in national politics," Bhutto wrote.
According to the Pakistan People's Party chief, throughout her dialogue with Musharraf, she kept London [Images] and Washington and a small group of PPP leaders briefed on the progress. "As Musharraf's biggest international supporters and key donors to Pakistan, the voices of London and Washington in support of democracy were essential."
Bhutto said that much to her surprise, her first meeting with Musharraf was both long and cordial. "We had a one-to-one meeting for several hours. I brought up all the critical political issues, the contentious issues and General Musharraf's response to all of them was positive."
She told Musharraf that it was absolutely necessary for him to shed his military uniform and there had to be free and transparent elections that were internationally monitored and that a new, impartial Election Commission must be formed to supervise the elections.