The Obama administration is depending on Pakistan’s President Zardari to keep the Taliban from tightening its grip on Pakistan. Now Zardari is being accused of murder by his own niece, Fatima Bhutto. She claims Zardari orchestrated the death of her father, Murtaza Bhutto, and she is fighting to reveal the truth. Fatima Bhutto is also the niece of slain Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
Bhutto spoke to Kiran Chetry about her allegations via phone from Karachi, Pakistan on CNN’s “American Morning” Thursday.
Kiran Chetry: You say Pakistani President Zardari conspired to kill your father. He was indicted for this, but in October of 2007 all of those charges were dropped by then President Pervez Musharraf. You still believe that your uncle did this. Why?
Fatima Bhutto: Well when you look at the evidence, my father was an elected member of parliament and he was known for speaking out against Asif Ali Zardari and his wife Benazir Bhutto’s immense corruption, which at the time was rumored to be somewhere in the realm of 2 to 3 billion dollars stolen from the state. And the trial was proceeding - the trial that Asif Zardari has tried continually to circumvent by not appearing before the judge, by doing this deal with the dictator General Musharraf, which cleared his name. In the middle of the proceeding… and it’s not just my father's case. At the time that this deal was made with General Pervez Musharraf, Asif Zardari was standing trial in four murder cases dealing with the deaths of 11 people, including a high-court judge, including known bureaucrats, and a philanthropist. This is a man with a record. His wife’s government at the time was known actually for empowering the state agencies and security agencies and the police force to attack dissidents, to attack opposition members. And they killed them in what we know here as police encounter killings and extra-judicial murders.
Chetry: These are very strong claims that you're making against your uncle and the sitting head of state in Pakistan. You're in Karachi right now. Do you fear for your own safety?
Bhutto: I think as I said in the piece that is up on the Daily Beast, I think that it's not just me that fears for their life as long as this man is president. A great number of Pakistanis are worried about their safety, about their ability to live peacefully with the advent of the Pakistani Taliban that has only been empowered by this government in name and in position of the sharia law and the sordid amount of money that this government is receiving, not only from Barack Obama's administration, essentially carrying on George Bush's policies in Pakistan, but from the EU, from 10 Downing Street, and from the IMF.
Chetry: You wrote that “In the year that Zardari has been president, Pakistan has become a third front on the war on terror. We are not safer, our neighbors are not safer and we have not made any strides towards fighting fundamentalism.” President Obama met with President Zardari in Washington this week and basically said we support you. Do you think that's a mistake?
Bhutto: It's an absolute mistake. You know, the time that Asif Zardari has been president, under a year, we've not only managed to grow an indigenous Taliban that didn't exist before, but the government essentially capitulated to this Taliban force, imposed sharia law in their region. We’ve seen YouTube videos coming out of the Swat Valley that include floggings of young girls, women being put to death in the same way that we saw happening in Afghanistan in the late '90s…
Chetry: What should the U.S. do if it's not to try to support this regime?
Bhutto: Well, the U.S. has an uncomfortable history of pumping up dubious leaders across the world. And this man - his record is not only one of financial graft in the billions, I think it would be positively foolish to entrust him with more money. When before he became president he was fighting corruption cases in England, Switzerland, and Spain as well as in Pakistan. To fund this government, essentially, the American administration is pumping up a pliant ruler, but not a democratic one. Asif Zardari is not elected. He did not stand for elections in 2008. He does not have a constituency. And the choice has to be made, if Pakistan is going to fight terrorism, which is absolutely in our interest, and if Pakistan is going to fight fundamentalism, it's got to do so empowered by the people. And the people of this country have not… chosen this government. They do not have a say in this government and they don't have any agents.