Zal is Asif’s Pal

“Zalmay Khalilzad, the American ambassador to the United Nations, is facing angry questions from other senior Bush administration officials over what they describe as unauthorized contacts with Asif Ali Zardari, a contender to succeed Pervez Musharraf as president of Pakistan…

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Tariq Azizuddin in Taliban Hands

The Dubai-based station al-Arabiya has broadcast video of Pakistan’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Tariq Azizuddin, who was kidnapped in the Khyber Agency in February. He says he is being held by Taliban forces and requested that their demands be met so he can be released.

The station translated Azizuddin’s comments from Urdu into Arabic. Later, GEO News also broadcasted the video in its original Urdu.

The ambassador says, “I am Tariq Azizuddin, the ambassador of Pakistan to Afghanistan.  On Februrary 11, we were on our way toward Afghanistan in our official car.  We were grabbed in the Khyber Agency after Ali mosque…by mujahideen of the Taliban…We are their guests…”

He asked the government of Pakistan to comply with the Taliban demands, which he did not specify. Interestingly, he asked that Pakistan’s ambassadors in Tehran and Beijing “to do all they can to protect their lives and to answer all the demands of the Mujahedeen of Taliban in order to secure their release.”

Rahimullah Yusufzai tells GEO that the Taliban requested the release of 10 Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, including Mullah Obaidullah. He also said that the Taliban let Azizuddin speak with his family twice. Previously the Taliban have been said to request the release of Mansoor Dadullah, captured by Pakistani security forces immediately before Azizuddin’s kidnapping.

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Anne Meets Altaf

U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson was out of Pakistan during the visit of John Negroponte and Richard Boucher, purportedly on a vacation.  On her way back to Pakistan, she stopped by London, to visit none other than Altaf Hussain, head of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).

During their visit, both Negroponte and Boucher also met the MQM in Karachi.  Washington would like to see the MQM play a role in the still emerging political setup. 

This is due to a number of reasons. 

One, the MQM is the only Musharraf-allied political party with a real base (aside from Pir Pagara’s band of Hurs).  The utility of Musharraf’s Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) has and will continue to decline. 

Two, the party is thoroughly secular.  Washington sees an ideological compatibility with the People’s Party (PPP) and Pervez Musharraf.  Nawaz’s nationalism and religious sentiments are troubling for some U.S. officials, though it should be noted he came back from exile with more hair on his head, not on his face.

Three, the MQM has strongly spoken in favor of the war on terror.  The party has often tried to leverage this anti-terror stance to gain foreign favor.  An example of such is in the video below in which Karachi mayor Mustafa Kemal tells former President Bill Clinton of his party’s support for the war on terror and Pervez Musharraf.  Kemal also derides Nawaz Sharif as supporter of mullahs.

There is nothing wrong with U.S. officials meeting the leader of Pakistan’s fourth largest political party, though its record of violence is deeply troubling.  Moreover, the timing of the visit makes Washington’s intentions questionable.  Patterson’s meeting occurs as the PPP and MQM are coming closer, which some suspect as a way for the PPP to ditch, or at least check, the PML-N.  Many will view the Patterson-Altaf meeting as yet another example of Washington’s attempts to determine the political setup in Pakistan.  And there’s little to indicate otherwise.

Pakistan desparately needs, and most Pakistanis desire, a healthy relationship between the PPP and PML-N.  If Washington helps terminate their infant coalition, then it will not only encourage Nawaz Sharif to pursue an agenda even less consistant with that of Washington’s, but also increase his popularity and public resentment of the United States.  Sharif could find himself back in the prime minister’s house.  Though Negroponte oft speaks of a desire for a long-term relationship with Pakistan, the prospects of such could be nill within a year’s time. 

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Question of the Day: Where is Tariq Azizuddin?

It’s been almost two months since the kidnapping of Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Tariq Azizuddin.  His disappearance has received scant coverage.  Granted his story has been drowned out by subsequent developments–namely, the elections and prolonged process of forming a government.  But his name curiously goes unmentioned in the Pakistani press.

Isn’t it time for Pakistanis to ask, where is Ambassador Azizuddin?  Who has him?  What do they want?

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Rich and John’s Unexcellent Adventure

The big story in Pakistan today was not the swearing in of the new prime minister, but the arrival of Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher. Their two day visit to Pakistan, coming in the midst of a political transition there and prior to the formation of a cabinet, reflects a sense of urgency in Washington and a desire to influence, if not determine, the makeup and policy positions of the incoming government. Their eagerness has been received in Pakistan as overaggressiveness and was widely criticized.

Today, Negroponte and Boucher met with President Pervez Musharraf, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, soon to be outgoing Inter-Services Intelligence Chief Lt. Gen. Nadeem Taj, and Foreign Secretary Riaz Mohammad Khan. They also met with National Assembly Speaker Fehmida Mirza, People’s Party Co-Chairman Asif Zardari and, seemingly for the first time, Muslim League-Nawaz leader Nawaz Sharif.

Accompanying Zardari was probable foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Hussain Haqqani, an adviser to the late Benazir Bhutto and fellow at the neoconservative Hudson Institute, who some speculate will be Pakistan’s next ambassador to the United States. [The PML-N's Ishaq Dar will likely have the unenviable post of finance minister.]

Haqqani met with Boucher a few weeks ago in Washington. He told the New York Times today, “It is clear that the United States recognizes that there is a substantive change of political actors on the Pakistani stage…there is a new sheriff in town…There is a new political order in Pakistan, and Americans have realized that they have perhaps talked with one man for too long and now there is a new political team.” Ahmed Mukhtar, a senior PPP legislator, seemed to emphasize the need for continuity in Pakistan’s foreign policy.

Neither Negroponte nor Boucher spoke to the media after their meetings, reflecting the former’s refrain that the U.S. seeks a long-term relationship with Pakistan.

Sharif, however, provided a mouthful to the Pakistani press. He said he told the senior American diplomats that the time for a one man show in Pakistan has come to an end, the nation’s foreign policy will be produced after parliamentary debate, and that Pakistan won’t become a “killing field” for a U.S. war. Indicating that Pakistan’s foreign policy will change, Sharif also stated that the Pakistani people rejected Musharraf’s policies. He, however, did not provide any specifics of how those policies would change.

Seated with Sharif in the Negroponte-Boucher meeting was his brother, Shahbaz, potential finance minister Ishaq Dar, Nisar Ali Khan, Ahsan Iqbal, Khawaja Asif, and retired Ambassador Tariq Fatemi. The latter is a senior foreign policy adviser to Sharif and helped draft the PML-N’s election manifesto.

Tomorrow, Negroponte and Boucher will meet with lawyers’ movement leaders Aitzaz Ahsan and Tariq Mehmood, other civil society actors, and defense analyst Talat Masood.

The Negroponte-Boucher visit has been roundly criticized by political commentators and retired diplomats. Former Foreign Secretary Riaz Khokar described the meetings, which took place prior to the formation of a government in Islamabad and hours after the new prime minister was sworn in, as “typical American crude diplomacy” and “heavy handed” interference. He said that Britain or France would not behave similarly.

Some have suggested that Washington asked the PPP not give the PML-N the foreign ministry. Others have also claimed that Washington seeks the inclusion of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) into the governing coalition at the center, presumably as a “secular” party to balance out the PML-N. But if these potential developments do materialize, the PPP also has its own reasons for their realization.

Senior Pakistani journalist Nusrat Javed said that multiple sources have informed him that Negroponte asked Sharif to work with Musharraf as president for five years. Mariana Baabar, another leading Pakistani diplomatic journalist, stated that the Foreign Office in Pakistan asked the State Department to delay the visit until after the government was formed, but their wishes were ignored. However, both Khokhar and another Pakistani commentator, Shafqat Mahmood, opined that the Negroponte-Boucher visit could have been also at the behest of Musharraf.

In the end, the Negroponte-Boucher visit is yet another move by Washington that has widened the gap between it and Pakistan’s opinion shapers and general public.

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Bush Appoints Pakistani American as Special Envoy to OIC

After an eight month search, President George W. Bush has appointed Sada Cumber, a Karachi-born Pakistani American, as special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference.  Cumber, who received his BA and MA from Karachi University, was chairman of an Austin, Texas-based technology firm till his appointment.  He has received a number of government appointments from Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, and is active in Ismaili Muslim and interfaith activities.

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Pakistani Taliban: We Won’t Interfere in Elections; We Didn’t Kidnap Pakistani Ambassador

Maulvi Omar, the spokesperson for the Baitullah Mehsud-led Tehreek-e Taliban-e Pakistan (Taliban Movement of Pakistan) tells BBC Urdu that his organization will abide by its pre-election ceasefire commitment and would not derail the process.

He told Reuters, “Neither do we support the process of the election nor do we have any opposition to it and if any attack takes place before or on election day, our mujahid won’t be involved in it.”

Omar also stated that his group has no links to or knowledge behind the kidnapping of Pakistan Ambassador to Afghanistan Tariq Azizuddin.

A report from al-Jazeera (apparently by Ahmad Zaidan), channeled through GEO TV and some Pakistani dailies, claims that local Taliban seized Azizuddin with the intent to exchange him for Mansoor Dadullah, an Afghan Taliban figure arrested by Pakistani security forces on the same day.

Since Mehsud has limited control over other Taliban factions, it is conceivable that Taliban local to the Khyber Agency (one of the seven tribal areas) are responsible. The area, however, is also proliferate with general bandits.

Aside from the major question of who kidnapped Azizuddin, it remains unclear why the Pakistani ambassador traveled to Kabul from Peshawar, his home city, by car when flights are regular. One report claims he was to stop by the Pakistani consulate in Jalalabad. Was his specific business could be related to his disappearance? Interestingly, while the Pakistani government has not yet confirmed that Azizuddin was kidnapped, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai seems to insist that he was, which begets the question of what does he know.

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The PML-Q’s Negative Campaigning

The back page of today’s Khabrain, a leading Pakistan daily, features an interesting political advertisement from Musharraf’s faction of the Muslim League party (PML-Q). [Topi tip: Ali]

The ad paints rival Nawaz Sharif as an agenda-less political opportunist who leans in the direction the political wind blows at the time.

Sharif, once a Zia ul-Haq protege, is shown on the right praying at his grave next to Zia’s son. Below, he’s quoted as saying, “I will complete General Zia ul-Haq’s mission.” On the left, he’s shown at the grave of Benazir Bhutto (an archenemy of Zia), praying alongside senior PML-N leader Javed Hashmi. Below, he’s quoted as saying, “I will complete Benazir Bhutto’s mission.”

Since Sharif’s return to Pakistan, the PML-Q has tried to paint him as a follower, first of Benazir Bhutto (with insinuations against his masculinity) and now the PPP in general. PML-Q President Shujaat Hussain descibed him as part of the PPP’s “B-team.

The bold red text on the bottom of the advertisement asks (presumably both Nawaz Sharif and the reader), “What is your mission?”

The PML-Q has turned to negative campaigning because it has little positive to run on.  Once emboldened by a huge, deficit-running election-year budget, the achievements variably associated with it are vanishing.  Pakistan is in the midst of one of its worst political and security crisis ever.  Additionally, the country faces serious energy and wheat shortages. Surprisingly, Pervaiz Elahi–likely the PML-Q’s prime ministerial candidate/leader in the National Assembly) has blamed all this on none other than former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, a party member.

The party has reportedly changed its strategy, focusing on winning Punjab and not the national elections.  Both the PPP and PML-N will siphon off votes from the PML-Q, which has most recently governed Punjab.  It has tried to play the ethnic/provincial card by casting the PPP as a Sindhi party and the post-Bhutto assassination violence as against non-Sindhis.  But Nawaz Sharif is its major threat in the province, Pakistan’s largest and source of over 50% of its National Assembly seats.  Hence the effort to cast him as a flake and Sindhi tool.

The Collected Sayings of Shujaat Hussain
The Chaudhry cousins have dished out quite a bit of negative sound bites. Below are some selected gems from Shujaat Hussain (more to come):

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Thursday Round-Up: National Reconciliation; Splitting the Taliban; Army Defends Atta; Aitzaz’s Back

Pakistan continues along a mixed, though largely negative trajectory as the spate of urban suicide bombing continues and insurgents make bold moves in South Waziristan, while the army strengthens its control over Swat and leaders flinch toward national reconciliation. The army’s immediate workload increases, but Gen. Ashfaq Kayani takes clear steps to depoliticize the institution. In both Pakistan and Afghanistan, efforts toward dividing and containing the Taliban continue. Election campaigning proceeds, though in a less spirited fashion prior to Benazir Bhutto’s assassination.

Terrorist Strikes Shi’a Gathering in Peshawar
A teenage suicide bomber clad in black struck an imambargah, a site for ritualistic mourning for Shi’a Muslims, in Peshawar today, the seventh day of the month of Muharram. This month is significant for all Muslims, but it holds a particular importance for the Shi’a. Their commemoration crescendos on the tenth day, Ash’ura, as they mourn the martyrdom of Imam Hussain. Ash’ura falls on Sunday; the army, local police, and private mosque security squads are under high alert. However, that will not preclude attacks such as today’s from occurring. The bomber that struck the imambargah today detonated his device after being stopped by police, killing ten individuals. Targeting the Shi’a is a major point of convergence for al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and various southern Punjabi Sunni militant groups.

Swat and Getting Swatted
Pakistan’s army continues to make gains in Swat, a settled, scenic valley in the North-West Frontier Province. According to Director General Military Operations Maj. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, Operation Rah-e Haq has been successfully completed. The army, he says, established its hold over the area in late December, killing or apprehending major militants associated with Maulana Fazlullah, who remains holed up in a mountainous area packed in by recent heavy snowfall. It is now making steps toward issuing a compensation and development package for the area and has replaced Fazlullah’s FM radio station with several of its own. The speed and effectiveness of the government’s resettlement of internally displaced people and restoring the civil administration and political parties remains significant. Half-hearted measures will only result in local discontent that Fazlullah or a subsequent variant can feed off of.

In a marked contrast to the government’s military success in Swat, it continues to struggle in South Waziristan. This week, two forts were taken over by insurgents, who had little trouble combating the undertrained and ill-equipped paramilitary Frontier Corps. Their Wednesday night attack on a fort, which they held and then withdrew from, was made by a group of 200-1,000 men, overwhelming the 40 FC troops stationed there.

This large scale attack by neo-Taliban affiliated with Baitullah Mehsud is the first of its kind as guerrilla tactics are normally used. If this marks a strategic shift for Mehsud, it is both an alarming development for Pakistan’s military as well as a potential source of opportunity. Its success in Swat was partially precipitated by the overstretching of Maulana Fazlullah’s forces, though Fazlullah’s group is vastly smaller and less sophisticated and armed than Mehsud’s. And so if Mehsud’s forces press toward Pakistani military installations in large numbers, they provide an opportunity to be eliminated in larger numbers of them in a short amount of time with an aerial assault. That is why Mehsud group did not hold on to the fort in Wednesday night’s attack.

U.S. Special Forces’ counterinsurgency training of Pakistan’s Frontier Corps accelerates this year, but there’s no indication that any substantive progress will be achieved before the spring. In the interim, Pakistan could benefit by goading Mehsud into adopting more conventional and exposing tactics.

Tea with the Taliban
As the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan sat and drank chai with former Taliban leader and now Musa Qala governor Abdul Salaam, the strategy of dividing and containing (or incorporating) the Taliban continues in Pakistan. The federal government is exploiting the traditional and on-going rivalries between the Ahmedzai Wazirs and the Mehsuds in Southern Waziristan. It could be imposing a blockade of sorts on the Mehsuds, to the advantage of the Ahmedzais. Curbing the flow of drugs and other illicit contrabands will weaken the Mehsuds, but it’s unclear as to whether the Pakistani military is effectively declaring war on the Mehsud tribe or whether it’s trying to make them see Baitullah Mehsud as a source of their problems.

Eurotrip: The National Reconciliation Tour
On Saturday, Muslim League-Nawaz President Shahbaz Sharif met in Islamabad with Niaz Ahmed, a retired military officer who serves as an intermediary between the Sharif brothers and Pervez Musharraf. The octogenarian retired brigadier was an army instructor to Pervez Musharraf and is well-respected by the Sharif brothers due to past favors. He reportedly presented Shahbaz, the younger Sharif, with an offer straight from Musharraf to take part in a national unity government before the elections and have a considerable role thereafter. The Sharifs were also requested to tone down their criticism of Musharraf.

Shahbaz reportedly replied that he’d have to have discuss any offer with his elder brother, Nawaz, who was nearby in the resort town of Murree. After being caught leaving Ahmed’s Islamabad home by spunky Pakistani journalists, Shahbaz described his meeting with Ahmed as a “courtesy call.” Coincidentally, he also met the Saudi ambassador to Pakistan, Ali Awadh Asseri. The Saudis have a keen interest in seeing the return of the Sharifs to power and have for years played a role in managing Sharif-Musharraf relations.

And in yet another coincidence, Shahbaz Sharif, Pervez Musharraf, and Niaz Ahmed will all be in London this Friday. Shahbaz claims he’s going to London for medical treatment, but there’s no sign his hair plugs need re-alignment.

As of now, Nawaz Sharif, who is seen by some as less compromising than his brother, has continued his call for a national unity government without Pervez Musharraf. But he has called for a re-scheduling of elections so that new election commission could be formed, headed by deposed Supreme Court Justice Rana Baghwandas, enabling the participation of Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e Insaaf and the Jamaat-e Islami. The PPP strongly rejected Sharif’s proposal.

The elections delay serves the interest of all parties save the PPP, which will lose the sympathy vote as we get further away from Benazir Bhutto’s death. This brings up some significant questions in regard to the national reconciliation talk.

Is it an attempt by Musharraf to divide and control the opposition? Until now, the PML-N has been following the lead of the PPP. Is that changing? Does the PML-N share an interest with Musharraf in checking the PPP, particularly in Punjab? We’ll probably get a good sense this weekend as to the status of the Sharif-Musharraf talks.

Where’s the PPP in all this? Earlier this week, there was a rumored meeting between Musharraf and Asif Zardari, which the PPP denied. But Amin Fahim, the PPP vice chairman, likely met Musharraf around a week ago. PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar said that “all options are open” in regard to cooperation with Musharraf after the elections.

And what about the PML-Q? Earlier this week, Pervaiz Elahi, always on the attack, said that “all those parties after smelling their defeat in the upcoming general elections are giving suggestions for formation of the national government which has no constitutional, ethical and democratic reasons.” But then Chaudhry Shujaat, his cousin, stated yesterday that his party will form a national unity government after the elections and will invite the PPP and PML-N.

Pakistan will likely see some form of a national unity government. But it remains to be seen as to whether it will be formed before or after the elections, with or without Pervez Musharraf, and all the parties, including the PML-Q.

Kayani’s De-Politicization of the Army
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ashfaq Kayani issued an order prohibiting army officers from meeting with politicians. When the directive was first reported, it was unclear as to whether Pervez Musharraf, now a civilian president, was included in the category of politicians. After all, he still lives in the military’s headquarters. Retired Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg, a former chief of army staff, tells the Daily Times that meeting with Musharraf is also prohibited, but there was no confirmation from government sources. New Inter-Services Public Relations spokesperson Athar Abbas also distanced the army from Musharraf’s claim that Benazir Bhutto was not popular with the Pakistani army.

But Army Has More Duties
While the army might be doing less politicking, its burden has now increased. It has now been tasked with defense of the country’s increasingly scarce wheat supplies. This is on top of its responsibilities in fighting insurgencies, defending Pakistan’s borders, and providing security for some of Pakistan’s major cities after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

Today, Gen. Kayani met with junior commissioned and non-commissioned army officers. He emphasized his two major themes of improving the army’s “professional excellence” as the standard of living for all of those in its ranks. But importantly, he emphasized that the army’s primary duty is to defend the country’s borders.

Aitzaz Ahsan’s Return to the PPP
The spirit of reconciliation is alive. Asif Zardari will reportedly promote Aitzaz Ahsan to People’s Party vice chairman. This is a move to push the PPP in Punjab. As I noted earlier, Zardari will be moving to Lahore to build up the party there. But this also marks a challenge to the PML-N and PML-Q, whose support base is almost exclusively in that province.  Aitzaz was paid a visit by Attorney General Malik Qayyum, who reportedly offered an end to his house arrest if he hushed up about the judges issue.

The Travails of Maulana Diesel
It hasn’t been a good week or so for Maulana Fazlur Rahman. He’s been staying indoors lately as a result of the reported assassination threats made against him. His party, the JUI-F, is facing some turbulence; it recently expelled 18 party members. Fazl tells BBC Urdu that a senior Punjab official replied to his request for security by stating, “No money, no security.”

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Things Fall Apart

Benazir Bhutto recently blamed Pakistan’s intelligence services for the fractures emerging in her party’s elite. The former prime minister is highly concerned with cohesiveness of the PPP, making party members take loyalty oaths on the Qur’an. Though the intelligence services have previously and will continue to cause defections from her party, Bhutto alone bears responsibility for the PPP’s current internal challenges.

In late November, Masood Sharif Khattak–head of the intelligence bureau under Bhutto and PPP member for over 20 years–resigned from the party, possibly due to objections over Bhutto’s hardline stance against the insurgents in northwest Pakistan (he is a Pathan) and her dealings with Pervez Musharraf.

Earlier this month, Naseerullah Babar–Bhutto’s long-time national security adviser–rejected offers for a PPP ticket in the upcoming elections, citing his opposition to her talks with Pervez Musharraf.

Last week, Aitzaz Ahsan withdrew his nomination papers after Bhutto rejected his proposal that election candidates take an oath that they will earnestly work for the restoration of the pre-November 3rd judiciary when the new parliament convenes. She said that Ahsan’s proposal– a reasonable compromise that permitted both electoral participation and commitment to the pro-judiciary cause–was his “personal point of view and the PPP has nothing to do with it.” After Ahsan’s withdrawal, Bhutto stated that he must decide whether he’s with the PPP or the chief justice. On Friday, she also stated that the pre-November 3rd judiciary was not independent. As I’ve written earlier, Bhutto never had much fondness for Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and his colleagues. In Dubai, prior to her return to Pakistan, Bhutto accused the court of a historic bias in favor of Punjabis. [Video]

This week, Naheed Khan–one of Bhutto’s closest friends and political allies–also withdrew her nomination papers, albeit for more personal reasons. Khan opposes Bhutto’s proximity to Husain Haqqani, the architect of her U.S. lobbying campaign, and offering of an election ticket to his current wife. Haqqani was previously married to Khan’s sister. While Haqqani is currently a professor at Boston University and a fellow at the neo-conservative Hudson Institute, there are reports Bhutto could offer him a Senate seat when one becomes available. Soap opera drama aside, Nahid Khan’s withdrawal is significant as she had previously been the medium by which people communicate to Bhutto. However, it should be noted that she remains as Bhutto’s political secretary.

What does this all mean? The PPP isn’t necessarily in a state of crisis, but it could be if Bhutto & Company fail to shape up. Rather than blaming the intelligence services for causing splits in her party, these particular developments are the product of Bhutto’s authoritarian hold over the PPP.

Bhutto needs to improve her capacity to channel differences of opinion and multiple dominant personalities within the party into a reasonable mean. Over the course of more than a decade, Bhutto has failed to demonstrate much of an ability to do so; recall how she pushed out her mother and late brother out of the party. The challenges the PPP faces today is the result of her overpersonalization of the party’s decision-making structure and an overaggressive lobbying campaign in the U.S.

Gone is the era in which one could make statements in Washington and not have them reach Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad. Bhutto’s statements in Washington regarding giving the IAEA access to A.Q. Khan, for example, made their way to Pakistan instantaneously. Farhatullah Babar, a senior PPP leader and Bhutto loyalist, was compelled to deny that Bhutto had made the comments attributed to her, despite the video recording. The discord between her discourse in the West and in Pakistan has been telling.

Rather than asking Aitzaz Ahsan whether he’s loyal to the PPP or Chief Justice Chaudhry, she should ask herself what is the People’s Party to begin with? Is she the chairperson of the People’s Party or, effectively, the Bhutto’s Party? And has she, in her quest for another premiership, pulled the party too far from its populist, anti-military rule roots?

Instead of pointing fingers elsewhere, now is the time for introspection for Bhutto, for by the time her son Bilawal finishes his studies at Oxford and learns a modicum of Urdu, Pakistan’s first mass political party might be in tatters.

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Arif Rafiq, a Washington, DC-based consultant on Middle East and South Asian political and security issues. [About]

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Arif Rafiq regularly appears on the John Batchelor Show Friday nights from 09:30-10:00pm Eastern Time. Tune your dial to 770AM in New York or 630AM in DC. The show appears on affiliates in other cities. Listen live online at WABCRadio.com.
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