Benazir Bhutto, former prime minister of Pakistan, discusses terrorism, foreign aid, democratic reforms, and the military situation in Pakistan with Richard Haass at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Benazir Bhutto was the first woman to lead a post-colonial Muslim state. The charismatic Bhutto was elected Prime Minister of Pakistan in 1988, only to be deposed 20 months later by the country's military-supported president Ghulam Ishaq Khan who controversially used the Eighth Amendment to dissolve parliament and force an election. She was re-elected in 1993 but was dismissed three years later amid various corruption scandals by then president Farooq Leghari, who also used the Eighth Amendment discretionary powers.
Richard N. Haass
Richard Haass is president of the Council on Foreign Relations, the preeminent independent, nonpartisan organization in the United States dedicated to the study of American foreign policy. Until June 2003, Haass was director of policy planning for the Department of State as well as US coordinator for policy toward the future of Afghanistan and US envoy to the Northern Ireland peace process. He was also special assistant to President George H.W. Bush and senior director for Near East and South Asian affairs on the staff of the National Security Council from 1989 to 1993. Haass is the author or editor of eleven books on American foreign policy, including War of Necessity, War of Choice: A Memoir of Two Iraq Wars and one book on management. He is a Rhodes Scholar.
(born June 21, 1953, Karachi, Pak.died Dec. 27, 2007, Rawalpindi) Pakistani politician, the first woman leader of a Muslim nation in modern history. After receiving an education at Harvard and Oxford, she led the political opposition to Pres. Zia-ul-Haq after the execution of her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, in 1979. She subsequently endured frequent house arrest (197984) and was exiled (198486). When Zia died in a plane crash in 1988, she became prime minister of a coalition government. She was unable to do much to combat Pakistan's widespread poverty, governmental corruption, and increasing crime, and her government was dismissed in 1990 on charges of corruption and other malfeasance. A second stint as prime minister (199396) ended similarly. In 1999 she was convicted of taking kickbacks from a Swiss company and sentenced in absentia to five years in prison. In October 2007 Bhutto was granted a long-sought amnesty and returned to Pakistan. In December she was killed while campaigning for upcoming elections.
Does anyone care to discuss both sides of the issue? On one hand, we have a world figure who was assassinated trying to reform Pakistan. On the other hand we have a former ousted prime minister, who's legacy also included documented allegations of corruption and money laundering, and who some say was a corrupt politician. No matter what side you are on, there is sadness, over the instability and deaths of protesters in the region.
Good afternoon and welcome to a special meeting of the Councilon Foreign Relations. It's special because it's August -- (laughter) -- and we try not to dotoo many meetings in August. It's also special because of the subject and our speaker heretoday, the former prime minister of Pakistan.Our timing is good. This week marks the 60th anniversary of Pakistan. And our timing isgood for another reason, which is, Pakistan has been, is and, I would predict, will bemuch in the news for days, weeks, months and longer to come.It's hard to imagine someone better placed to speak about the current situation in Pakistanthan Benazir Bhutto. She was born into one of Pakistan's leading political families. Shewas educated at both Harvard and Oxford. And -- full confession -- let me say that sheand I met some -- at the risk of being less than gallant -- 30 years ago or so at Oxford. Wewould have met even earlier than that, at Harvard, except she got accepted and I did not.(Laughter.) And of such things history is made. (Laughter.) I'm almost over it, by the way. (Laughter.)And Benazir Bhutto has twice been prime minister of her country, from 1988 to 1990, aswell as from 1993 to 1996. And now and before, her fans and her critics alike, I believe,would agree that she has been an important -- indeed, critical -- voice in that country'strajectory, regardless of her physical location. It's been a number of years -- a year or so? -- since she has --eight years since she's been able to be in her country. And I expect one of thethings we will talk about is when that situation is likely to change.The way we are going to do it today is, Ms. Bhutto will speak for about 10 minutes. Youwill hear her voice. Then you will hear for a few minutes our voices, and then we willreserve the bulk of the time this afternoon to hear your voice, any comments or, morelikely, questions you have.We've also already begun collecting questions from our national members who are wiredinto this event by the wonders of modern technology.As you no doubt notice, because you are here, we started approximately 30 minutesearlier than we normally start. And in the political or institutional equivalent of the theoryof the conservation of time, we will end 30 minutes earlier than usual, so those of youcatching the Jitney to the Hamptons will not be delayed. (Laughter.)It is, for me, a personal pleasure to welcome back to the Council on Foreign Relations anold friend of mine and someone who is familiar to many of you in this room and knowswell this organization, the former prime minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto. (Applause.)Ladies and gentlemen, it's a privilege for me to be here this afternoon as the guest of theCouncil on Foreign Relations. Thank you for inviting me.And as I come here to have a conversation with you, I find that my country, Pakistan, isonce again in a crisis, and it's a crisis that threatens not only my nation and region, butpossible could have repercussions on the entire world.It's a crisis that has its roots almost half a century ago, when the military in my countryfirst seized power, in 1958. Four military dictatorships -- and most recently those ofGeneral Zia ul-Haq in the '80s and now General Musharraf -- have ruled my nation forthe last 30 years, except for a few years of civilian government. And so I believe thatdemocracy has never really been given a chance to grow or nurture in my homeland.As an example, I was only allowed to govern for five of the 10 years that my peopleelected me to govern. And now Pakistan has changed dramatically from the days when Ileft office, in 1996, for now, from areas previously controlled by my government, pro-Taliban forces linked to al Qaeda launch regular attacks on NATO troops across the border in Afghanistan.In the view of my party, military dictatorship, first in the '80s and now again, underGeneral Musharraf, has fueled the forces of extremism, and military dictatorship puts intoplace a government that is unaccountable, that is unrepresentative, undemocratic, anddisconnected from the ordinary people in the country, disconnected from the aspirationsof the people who make up Pakistan. Moreover, military dictatorship is born from thepower of the gun, and so it undermines the concept of the rule of law and gives birth to aculture of might, a culture of weapons, violence and intolerance.The suppression of democracy in my homeland has had profound institutionalconsequences. The major infrastructure building blocks of democracy have beenweakened, political parties have been marginalized, NGOs are dismantled, judges sackedand civil society undermined. And by undermining the infrastructure of democracy, theregime that is in place to date was a regime put into place by the intelligence agenciesafter the flawed elections of 2002. This regime has not allowed the freedom ofassociation, the freedom of movement, the freedom of speech for moderate politicalforces, and so by default, the mosques and the madrassas have become the only outlet ofpermitted political expression in the country.And so just as the -- we've seen the emergence of the religious parties, we've seen theemergence of the extremist groups, and just as the military dictatorship of the '80s usedthe so-called Islamic card to promote a military dictatorship while demonizing politicalparties, so too the present military establishment of this century has used the so-calledIslamist card to pressurize the international community into supporting militarydictatorship once again.But I am here this afternoon to tell you that as far as we, the Pakistan People's Party, isconcerned, the choice in Pakistan is not really between military dictatorship and religiousparties; the choice for Pakistan is indeed between dictatorship and democracy. And I feelthat the real choice that the world also faces today is the choice between dictatorship anddemocracy, and in the choice that we make between dictatorship and democracy lies theoutcome of the battle between extremism and moderation in Pakistan.The U.S. intelligence recent threat assessment stated that, and I quote, "Al Qaeda and theTaliban seem to be fairly well-settled into the safe haven spaces of Pakistan. We see moretraining, we see more money, we see more communications, we see that activity rising."That's the most recent U.S. national intelligence threat assessment. And so it's oftensurprising to those of us in Pakistan who see the international community back thepresent regime. But this backing continues, despite the regime's failure to stop theTaliban and al Qaeda reorganizing after they were defeated, demoralized and dispersedfollowing the events of 9/11.This is a regime under which the religious parties have risen, for the first time, to power,and they run two of Pakistan's four federating units -- two most critical states of Pakistan,those that border Afghanistan. And even while the military dictatorship has allowed thereligious parties to govern two of Pakistan's most critical four provinces, it has exiled themoderate leadership of the country, it has weakened internal law enforcement andallowed for a very bloody suppression of people's human rights.The military operation in Baluchistan is an example of the brutality of the suppression.The killings that took place in Karachi on May 12th, where 48 peaceful political activistswere gunned down in the streets of Karachi, and not one person has been arrested forthose murders that were actually televised, shows the level to which the regime permitsthe suppression of the political opposition. And most recently, 17 members of my partywere killed in Islamabad on July 17 at the hands of a suicide bomber.The weakness of law enforcement has led to a series of suicide bombings, roadsidebombings. To give you an example, since last July, 300 people have fallen victim tosuicide bombers within Pakistan. Disappearances, too, which were unheard of in ourcountry's history, have become the order of the day. And even as I speak to you, a Pak-origin American, Dr. Sarki, has disappeared, not because he supports extremists, butbecause he's a nationalist, and the level of intolerance for differing views is so high thatpeople can disappear simply for supporting nationalism.The West's close association with a military dictatorship, in my humble view, isalienating Pakistan's people and is playing into the hands of those hardliners who blamethe West for the ills of the region. And it need not be this way. A people inspired bydemocracy, human rights and economic opportunity will turn their back decisively against extremism.There is a silver lining on the clouds. The recent restoration of the chief justice ofPakistan to the Supreme Court has given hope to people of Pakistan that the uncheckedpower of the military will now finally come under a degree of scrutiny by the highestjudicial institutions in the country. We in the PPP have kept the doors of dialogue openwith the military regime to facilitate the transfer of democracy. This hasn't been a popularmove, but we've done it because we think the stability of Pakistan is important to our ownsecurity as well as to regional security.However, without progress on the issue of fair elections, this dialogue could founder.And now, as we approach the autumn, time is running out.Ladies and gentlemen, I plan to return later this year to Pakistan to lead a democraticmovement for the restoration of democracy. I seek to lead a democratic Pakistan which isfree from the yoke of military dictatorship and that will cease to be a haven, the very petridish of international terrorism. A democratic Pakistan that would help stabilizeAfghanistan, relieving pressure on NATO troops. A democratic Pakistan that wouldpursue the drug barons and bust up the drug cartel that today is funding terrorism. APakistan where the rule of law is established so that no one has the permission toestablish, recruit, train and run private armies and private militias. A democratic Pakistanthat puts the welfare of its people as the centerpiece of its national policy.And as I plan to return to Pakistan, I put my faith in the people of my country who havestood by my party and by myself through this long decade -- more than a decade, 11years since the PPP government was ousted -- because they believe that the PPP caneliminate terrorism and give them security, and security will bring in the economicinvestment that can help us reverse the tide of rising poverty in the country, and by sodoing, it will certainly undermine the forces of militancy and extremism.I thank you all for listening to me so patiently. (Applause.)And before I ask a few questions, just to remind people, if they haven't shut off their cellphones or their BlackBerrys, please do. And this is obviously on the record. And as Isaid, there are people listening in around the country and around the world who are our national members.Let me begin with a -- in some ways it's a question that to me was implicit in everythingyou said. You talk about the history of your country over the last 60 years. What is itabout Pakistan or Pakistanis that accounts for the fact that, probably a majority of itshistory, democracy has not prevailed. What's wrong?Well, we feel that the founder of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed AliJinnah, died very quickly, a year after Pakistan was founded, and so we didn't have anational leader with the authority, the respect to help us develop our democratic politicalinstitutions, whereas Nehru, in nearby India, provided the leadership that could help anew nation strengthen its democratic institutions.Secondly, we also feel that Pakistan's geostrategic position as a country -- you know, we -- Afghanistan was the buffer state during the Cold War, and Pakistan was one side of thebuffer state -- so our geostrategic position as the bastion for the free world also led to theinternational community dealing with whoever was in power. So in a sense, the militarydictatorships were able to milk international support for suppressing democratic rights forshort-term strategic goals. But I am concerned that that policy is now backfiring.Do you therefore actually wish that the United States and others were puttingmore pressure on your government to reinstall democracy?Yes, I would very much like to see the United States link its support, itsfinancial and military assistance to Pakistan, to the restoration of democracy, to theholding of elections that are free, fair and impartial and open to all political parties. Butfor me, the restoration of democracy is only the first step. I would like to see theinternational community make a long-term commitment to a country as critical asPakistan and indeed our nearby neighbor, Afghanistan, in helping us to build our institutions.In 1988, when democracy was restored, the military establishment was still verypowerful. The extremist groups were still there. And when the aid and assistance toPakistan was cut, we had to adopt harsh economic policies. So in a way, it showed thatdemocracy doesn't pay, and the military was able to reassert itself.So I'd like to see a much longer-term commitment. Europe made a long-termcommitment. When Europe was driven by war, the international community put NATOtroops in Europe, and it made a long-term commitment through the Marshall Plan todevelop the institutions. So I know it's unpopular, but I don't see quick fixes. I thinkwhat's needed is the restoration of democracy but also a commitment to help theinstitutions of a nation be built to sustain that democracy.If this is going to happen, two, if you will, constituencies in Pakistan are goingto have to agree. One is the army. Do you think there is a consensus in the army toessentially return to the barracks?I doubt that there's a consensus. I don't get that sense. But I do get the sensethat the army right now is itself uncomfortable with its role. The public has turned againstthe uniform -- General Musharraf as the uniform -- and there are reports that the militarypersonnel have been told not to wear their uniforms when they go into the streets. So inthat sense, the rank and file does not like being unpopular. It's used to being respected bythe people at large. And so to make the army noncontroversial, it's important to get them out of the politics.But there are a group within the armed forces who are the top leadership who have avested interest in dictatorship, because dictatorship brings power not only to them, but itbrings power to their relatives, who then start doing well in parliamentary elections whichare rigged, or then start doing well economically because business contracts go that way.So that I feel that as far as the rank and file of the Pakistani army is concerned, they'd liketo get out and they'd like to let the civilians do the job, but I'm not sure that's what the leadership feels.The other key constituency, if you will, is a rather fundamental one, which isthe Pakistani people. And I suppose the question that comes to mind is whether you nowhave in Pakistan a significant chunk of the population -- how would I put it? -- that ismore committed to its ideology than it is to institutions and democracy, that the processof radicalization and the rise of extremism in your country has now created a significantobstacle or hurdle to the restoration of democracy.I know that that's an argument that some of the supporters of the militaryregime say, that elections in Pakistan could give up a Hamas-type solution, but that's notwhat the polls show, that's not what the elections have shown. Since the inception ofPakistan, all the elections have shown that the religious parties never do well when it comes to elections.And secondly, the most recent poll by the IRI, the International Republican Institute, alsoshowed that the religious parties would not do well. So they cannot gain through a fair,free and impartial election. However, if the military establishment decides rig theelections, that's another issue, which is why we in the PPP have asked General Musharrafto implement certain reforms to ensure that the elections will be fair, and we have alsorequested the international community to fund a robust monitoring team to ensure that those elections are fair.When you talk about your commitment to going back later this year, are thereany preconditions that either you have set or have been set for you that you are at liberty to discuss?Well, General Musharraf would not like me to come. He has publicly statedthat he would not like me and Mr. Nawaz Sharif to return before the end of the year. Hesays it will be destabilizing if Mr. Nawaz Sharif and I return to lead our parties in theelection campaign. Both of us don't agree because we feel our return will be destabilizingto the ruling party known as the Muslim League-Q, but it won't be destabilizing to thenation, it won't be destabilizing necessarily to the presidency. And we feel that electionscannot be free and fair unless the leaders of all parties are allowed to contest and contest freely.I mean what sort of an election would we have, for example, in America if, for example,in a presidential contest Rudy Giuliani was allowed to campaign and Hillary Clintonwasn't? It would give an unfair advantage to one side. (Laughter.)But implicit in the -- we won't go there. (Laughter.)Implicit in what I hear you saying is General or President Musharraf's desire toessentially get this round of elections out of the way before you and Mr. Sharif or both ofyou were to return, and I don't know whether implicit in that is that he's essentiallysaying, okay, next time to participate, but not this time.That's what he said the last time -- (laughter) -- but the issue is that what arethe choices before General Musharraf? Last time he had a choice to keep the two of usout, and he had the choice to put together a political party that he said would address thesocial needs of the people and contain terrorism. Neither happened.Secondly, the choice before him today is not between allowing us back afterwards, thechoice is either facilitating a transfer to democracy to keep Pakistan stable and to try andbroker an arrangement where he will also be continuing; or alternatively, to have all thepolitical parties gang up against him where he could risk a movement in the streets that isstronger than the recent one which the lawyers waged.So I don't think the options he has before him are the same as the last one, and I wouldrather seek to persuade him to permit an election, which will enhance his own reputation,that people could respect him for holding fair elections. But if there's a perception that theelections have been stolen, it could be like Ukraine and the Orange Revolution, where thecivil groups and the political parties get together and force him out.Could you imagine yourself -- to use the French concept -- entering intocohabitacion with somebody such as President Musharraf?Well, it would depend on how the event unfolded. At the moment, thesituation is this, but we have been having a negotiation for almost a year. And whilethere's been agreement on several issues and where General Musharraf has committed totaking certain confidence-building measures, those haven't been taken. So my party'sasking that -- you know, is it just the talk or is it going to turn into a walk? So that wouldvery much depend on what happens up front and whether we have an understanding.We have tried to have it, and it's not easy because, you know, the IRI polls showed thattwo-thirds of Pakistanis feel he's very unpopular and should go. But we are risking ourpopularity by even having this dialogue, but we understand Pakistan is a critical country.We understand that instability in Pakistan could threaten our own security as well as thatof the region, so we've taken the risk, but we really need General Musharraf also to comeup with the measures that he has already promised, to implement the measures that he hasalready promised by the end of this month, preferably.Let me turn to -- we'll obviously have more questions on that, but let me turn, ifI may, for a moment to some questions about Pakistan's relationship with its neighbors and with others.It's almost a year now since the so-called Miranshah -- am I pronouncing it right? --agreement, which essentially was a special arrangement, we'll call it, between the centralgovernment and North Waziristan.And quite honestly in this country and elsewhere, it's been widely criticized asconstituting a form of appeasement, where the central government essentially allowedpeople far too much discretion, autonomy -- what have you -- to do what they would,including getting involved in ways, across the border with Afghanistan, includingconceivably ways of supporting al Qaeda. What is your stance about what should be donein terms of dealing with North Waziristan and more generally with that part of the country?Well, People's Party and I rejected that ceasefire of September 2006 -- thepeace treaty -- and we rejected the ceasefires before that. In fact, we were appalled thatthe tribal region of our country was handed over to foreigners, because Afghan Taliban,Afghans and al Qaeda are added to the Chechens and the Uzbeks. And this is Pakistaniterritory, and Pakistan has to protect its own territory.So we've been absolutely appalled by that. And we think the first thing the government ofPakistan has to do is to take the territory back. We've ceded authority of our ownterritory, and it's not enough to satisfy the agenda of the Afghan Taliban or the Arab alQaeda or the Central Asian Uzbek-Chechen. They're now knocking on the doors of our frontier province.There's been an attempt to take over the city of Darra Adam Khel. They've tried to takeover Tank; they've tried to take over Malakand. The more you give them; the more they want.What about the argument the other way? When people make your point often inWashington, one hears the argument that if one pushed General Musharraf or PresidentMusharraf to do just that, his own security forces -- be it elements of the army orelements of the ISI, the Intelligence Directorate -- would not prove loyal, that essentiallyif he pushed things that far, he himself would be challenged. What do you say when youhear that kind of an argument?When I hear that argument, I hear two kinds of arguments. One of thearguments that I hear is that he's not going to push them too far, because then he'll bedeposed. But the issue is that when you are the chief of army staff and you controlbasically all the bombs in Pakistan, then you've got to put together a team that willsupport you and give you the base that will corner the people who are the extremists sothat you'll not topple. You've got to take them on. Because if you don't take them on, thenthey win the battle anyway. Whereas if you take them on, well, either you win and if youdon't win, well, you've tried, and somebody is going to come in and try harder.The second argument that I hear is that you've got to placate the hardliners. You've got tobring them into the mainstream and envigor the religious parties. You know, people tellme that People's Party is so moderate that the people who are the militants and theextremists will get against it, and they won't let you work. But the issue is we won't let them work either.Now what's happening is that we brought them into -- we've said, let's bring them into themainstream. We've given them two provinces; we've given them the leader of opposition.And has it quenched their thirst? No, they want more and more. They want to take overthe whole state of Pakistan, not on the basis of having the popular support but on thebasis of having the support of the militants and the militias.So this is a battle to save Pakistan. We have to save Pakistan from within. And by savingPakistan from within, I think that it will be having a profound effect on our region. It willhave an effect on Afghanistan, on India and also the larger world community.Let's not forget that the Tube bomber in London happened to have visited my country, orthat Abu Zubaydah or the CEO of al Qaeda -- they were arrested from Pakistani cities. Sothe terrorists must know that Pakistan's not going to provide them an environment thatthey can visit safely. And I just need to understand why we have such a large intelligenceif the intelligence is not able to intercept them. So my goal would be to put together ateam that would give the support to the government to go after them relentlessly.You may have covered that, what I was going to ask you next, but let me try it anyhow.We had quite an interesting, and indeed still are, mini-debate here politically between two-- initially two of the Democratic aspirants for presidents, and it spread now across partylines. And Barack Obama kicked it off by saying, "If we have actionable intelligenceabout high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will." That's adirect quote from a recent speech of his. What is your reaction to that?Well, I wouldn't like the United States to violate Pakistan's sovereignty withunauthorized military operations. But the issue that I would like to stress is that BarackObama also said, if Pakistan won't act. And that's the critical issue, that the governmenthas to act. And the government has to act to protect Pakistan's own serenity and integrity,its own respect, and to understand that if it creates a vacuum, then others aren't going tojust twiddle their thumbs while militants freely move across the border.I think General Musharraf did the right thing recently in admitting that militants are usingour soil, but he said the army has nothing to do with it. But nonetheless, the issue for meis that we cannot cede parts of Pakistani territory to anybody; not just the Taliban, toanybody. That in Pakistan we have one army, one police, one constitution, onegovernment. We cannot allow parallel armies, parallel militias, parallel laws and parallelcommand structures. Today it's not just the intelligence services, who were previouslycalled a state within a state. Today it's the militants who are becoming yet another littlestate within the state, and this is leading some people to say that Pakistan is on theslippery slope of being called a failed state. But this is a crisis for Pakistan, that unless wedeal with the extremists and the terrorists, our entire state could founder.