Will Benazir succeed in distancing herself from Musharraf?

November 19th, 2007 - 4:46 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Nov 19 (ANI): Speculations are rife that former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto may distance herself from President General Pervez Musharraf, but the larger question is that will she or can she succeed in doing so?

Even though it seems that Benazir is throwing herself into a unified opposition movement against Musharraf, her prolonged negotiations to reach a power sharing agreement with him have earned her the distrust and scepticism of many other leaders in the opposition ranks, the Christian Science Monitor said in its analysis.

The deal between Musharraf and Benazir is redundant, says Hassan Askari Rizvi, a political consultant, adding, Any politician who sits with Musharraf spoils his or her political career.

Shafqat Mahmood, a political analyst says that as far as public opinion goes, she would lose enormous popular support, by joining ranks with General Musharraf.

US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte has suggested that “reconciliation between political moderates” would be “the most constructive way forward” to maintain Musharraf as an ally in the war on terror.

But, Benazir has conveyed to Negroponte that there was little space for negotiations left.

The substance of Negroponte’s visit seems to be that, even though the US disagrees with the imposition of emergency [rule], they are still willing to work with him,” says Rizvi.

Negroponte’s attempts to revive Benazir-Musharraf talks, he says is totally out of step with the ground reality in the country.

During last week, Benazir has done networking with all elements of Musharraf’s opposition political parties of all ideological stripes, civil society groups, lawyers, and students in the hope of leading a strong alternative bloc.

Such a unified political force could be presented to her sympathizers in the West, who are now being forced to consider a post-Musharraf Pakistan as an alternative to the military ruler.

Benazir also used her time under house arrest to reach out to estranged opposition leaders, including her sometime rival former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who lives in exile in Saudi Arabia, and also begun working with Jamat-e-Islami leader Qazi Hussain Ahmad.

In her bid to win back her estranged secular liberal vote bank, Benazir also met chairwoman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Asma Jehangir.

According to analysts, Benazirs decision to start a campaign against Musharraf, could be the result of some hard calculations.

She may also be banking on support from Washington if the US is presented with a choice between the military leader and her.

According to political analyst, Mahmood, If Benazir puts her foot down now, the US might just decide that their plans to keep Musharraf in place are scuttled,” says Mahmood. (ANI)

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