Juan Cole compares Hilary Clinton and Obama on Benazir's assassination

Juan Cole has posted his comments comparing the reactions to Benazir Bhutto’s assassination by two American Democratic candidates for President, Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama, on his blog, Informed Comment, today — starting with Hillary Clinton’s comments in her interview Friday with Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s Situation Room:
“I don’t think the Pakistani government at this time under President Musharraf has any credibility at all. They have disbanded an independent judiciary, they have oppressed a free press. Therefore, I’m calling for a full, independent, international investigation, perhaps along the lines of what the United Nations has been doing with respect to the assassination of Prime Minister Hariri in Lebanon. I think it is critically important that we get answers and really those are due first and foremost to the people of Pakistan, not only those who were supportive of Benazir Bhutto and her party, but every Pakistani because we cannot expect to move toward stability without some reckoning as to who was responsible for this assassination.

Therefore, I call on President Musharraf and the Pakistani government to realize that this is in the interests of Pakistan to understand whether or not it was al Qaeda or some other offshoot extremist group that is attempting to further destabilize and even overthrow the Pakistani government, or whether it came from within, either explicitly or implicitly, the security forces or the military in Pakistan. The thing I’ve not been able to understand, Wolf – I have met with President Musharraf, I obviously knew Benazir Bhutto and admired her leadership – is that President Musharraf, in every meeting I have had with him, the elites in Pakistan who still wield tremendous power plus the leadership of the military act as though they can destabilize Pakistan and retain their positions; their positions of privilege, their positions of authority. That is not the way it will work. I am really calling on them to recognize that the world deserves the answer; the Bhutto family deserves the answer, but this is in the best interest of the Pakistani people and the state of Pakistan …

Blitzer: Senator, just to be precise; you want a United Nations international tribunal, or commission of inquiry, whatever you want to call it, along the lines of the investigation into the assassination of Rafik Hariri?

HRC: There are other institutions that are international that have credibility, like INTERPOL and others. It doesn’t have to be the exact model of the Hariri investigation but it needs to be international, it needs to be independent, it needs to have credibility and nothing that would happen inside of Pakistan would. I’m reluctant to say it should be an American investigation where we send our law enforcement personnel, because I’m not sure that would have credibility for a different reason. So that’s why I’m calling for an independent international investigation”...

Juan Cole adds: “Barack Obama objected to Clinton’s call for a UN special inquiry, saying that ‘It is important to us to not give the idea that Pakistan is unable to handle its own affairs’. While Obama’s concern for Pakistani sovereignty is admirable, Clinton’s suggestion of a United Nations commission would, I think, be quite popular in Pakistan except in military circles … And it is certainly the case that the Pakistani public would be more likely to believe a UN commission than it would to believe Pervez Musharraf on this issue”.  Juan Cole’s comments on Clinton’s and Obama’s response to Benazir Bhutto’s assassination are posted here.

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