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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

PAKISTAN’S 10% SOLUTION - Eric Margolis

Meanwhile, Benazir’s bereaved People’s Party just elected her 19-year old son, Bilawal, and husband, Asif Ali Zardari, as co-chairman - using a fake will, charge disgruntled family members. I met Bilawal in London in October. He is a highly intelligent young man who shows lots of the Bhutto fire. But he’s far too young to sit in parliament, and 16 years too young to become prime minister.

In the interim, papa Zardari will rule the party as regent. Whether he will run for prime minister is uncertain. Known to all as `Mr 10%’ from his time as a government minister in charge of contracts ad procurement, Zardari is dogged by grave corruption charges and three ongoing investigations in Europe. His even more venal father was called `Mr 15%.’ The Bhuttos are believed to have amassed a large fortune stashed away in Europe. This great feudal landowning family of southern Pakistan considers the People’s Party as their own family business, a legacy to be passed from one generation to the next.

And now, just when things could not seem to get worse, Washington is abuzz with rumors that the US is planning attacks into Pakistan. Sheer madness. More about this soon.

This is what perhaps Eric hinted at:

U.S. Considers New Covert Push Within Pakistan


WASHINGTON — President Bush’s senior national security advisers are debating whether to expand the authority of the Central Intelligence Agency and the military to conduct far more aggressive covert operations in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

The debate is a response to intelligence reports that Al Qaeda and the Taliban are intensifying efforts there to destabilize the Pakistani government, several senior administration officials said.

Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and a number of President Bush’s top national security advisers met Friday at the White House to discuss the proposal, which is part of a broad reassessment of American strategy after the assassination 10 days ago of the Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. There was also talk of how to handle the period from now to the Feb. 18 elections, and the aftermath of those elections.

Several of the participants in the meeting argued that the threat to the government of President Pervez Musharraf was now so grave that both Mr. Musharraf and Pakistan’s new military leadership were likely to give the United States more latitude, officials said. But no decisions were made, said the officials, who declined to speak for attribution because of the highly delicate nature of the discussions.


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