The Musharraf crowd is desperate to convince the world that Benazir Bhutto’s assassination — on the very day Bhutto planned to deliver to visiting Americans a detailed dossier charging Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence agency (ISI) with plotting to rig the forthcoming elections — was the work of the Taliban or its al Qaeda allies rather than the work of ISI (of which Bhutto was a hereditary enemy) or the Pakistani military.
But to a substantial extent the Taliban was the creature of the ISI. It was the ISI that insisted that American aid to the Afghani insurgents go to the most Islamist factions among them, and ISI continued to support the Taliban after it had taken over Afghanistan and give al-Qaeda a safe haven from which to plot the 9-11 attacks. (More here.) And both ISI and the Army still have strong Islamist factions.
Of course there are complexities. ISI doesn’t act as a unitary force; Musharraf is partly the captive of the Islamists, partly their willing collaborator, partly struggling with them for the upper hand. But the notion that Musharraf is “our SOB” is only half right. He and his playmates aren’t reliably “ours” in the struggle with the terrorists. And the fact that Pakistan (thanks to Musharraf and his buddies) is now a nuclear state shouldn’t mean that whoever currently runs it has carte blanche from the U.S.
Footnote And the U.S. State Department is dutifully blaming the victim to shore up its falling puppet regime, which continues to give refuge to A.Q. Khan, the man who did more to put American lives at risk of foreign attack than anyone since Sakharov helped Stalin get the H-bomb. Given how thoroughly the seasoned professionals have f*cked this one up, “rolling the dice” on someone not the captive of their Cold-War-era thinking seems pretty attractive to me.