Posted by: uss017 | December 29, 2017

Musharraf did not suggest “state complicity” in Jihadist attacks and neither did he suggest that “people in the establishment” were involved in Benazir’s Murder

Musharraf did not suggest “state complicity” in Jihadist attacks and neither did he suggest that “people in the establishment” were involved in Benazir’s Murder

Over the past 48 or so hours, another report is circulating regarding Musharraf pertaining to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. (henceforth, BB). The Express Tribune has this headline: “Establishment’s ‘rogue elements’ may have been involved in Benazir’s murder: Musharraf.” Dawn has a similar headline. The Samaa Web Desk in their report even write, “A decade after the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto … Musharraf has suggested that people in the establishment could have been involved in her murder.” From comments in social media, it appears that many believe that Musharraf has asserted as a matter of fact, or at the very least, presented a very real possibility, that “rogue elements” within the “establishment” were involved in BB’s killing.

The original report by BBC’s Owen Bennett Jones may be blamed for conveying such an impression as it states, “It’s a startling statement from a former Pakistani head of state. Normally military leaders in Pakistan deny any suggestion of state complicity in violent jihadist attacks.” Jones also writes, “… the general in charge of Pakistan at the time has suggested people in the establishment could have been involved in her murder.”

Musharraf’s words cited by Jones, however, by no stretch of the imagination, convey such an impression. In fact, Musharraf does not assert, let alone imply, “state complicity” in BB’s assassination and the statement “people in the establishment could have been involved in her murder” can be misleading due to the absence of the key term “rogue” therein (i.e. rogue elements).

In fact, Jones’ statement about “state complicity” stands in tension with his mention of “rogue elements within the establishment” in the subsequent paragraph. This is because the deeds of “rogue elements within the establishment,” by definition, cannot be tantamount to “state complicity” because “rogue elements” operate in opposition to the state, against its directives, in its defiance. Simply put: the state would be complicit only if its members operated under its behest, adhering to its directives. Such a scenario has been consistently denied by Musharraf.

So why are such rumours spreading around? My own hunch is that some people suffer from a genuine reading comprehension problem and seem unable to grasp the worthlessness of mere “possibility.” Others, unfortunately, have an axe to grind and wish to interpret Musharraf’s words in the worst possible manner.

A simple reading exercise clears up the air:

1. Jones presented a hypothetical scenario to Musharraf, requesting the latter’s response. Jones asked if it “could” be that “rogue elements within the establishment” were “in touch with the Taliban about the killing…” Thus, it is not being said that this did happen, but simply if this scenario “could” have transpired.

2. Musharraf replied to the above hypothetical scenario: “Possibility. Yes indeed. Because the society is polarised on religious lines.” Here we must note that mere “possibility” does not mean that it did happen. Almost every proposed scenario on virtually any issue is possible. It is possible that the Americans have an army of dolphins which have been trained to disable all Russian nuclear submarines.

Mere possibility by itself does not matter at all since possibilities are almost endless. Only probability matters. The submarine disabling dolphin army scenario is possible, though it is highly improbable and unlikely. It is possible that the North Korean regime is technologically vastly superior to the US and have successfully kept this a secret for reasons best known only to them. However, this seems highly unlikely (or, improbable). Likewise, it is possible that rogue elements within the establishment were in touch with the Taliban, but this does not mean that this possibility was also probable or that it was indeed the case.

Musharraf is subsequently cited as saying: “I don’t have any facts available.” This should make it crystal clear that Musharraf is speaking hypothetically, regarding a possibility. He is not presenting the possible scenario of “rogue elements within the establishment in touch with the Taliban” as a fact, or something that did occur. That is why he says, “I don’t have any facts available.”

Continuing with his comments on this hypothetical scenario, a possibility, Musharraf is also quoted as saying, “But my assessment is very accurate I think… A lady who is in known to be inclined towards the West is seen suspiciously by those elements.” Thus, if the “rogue elements” did indeed exist – and this is a possibility – then they would consider BB with suspicion due to her closeness to the West. Musharraf is reasonably confident about this part: certain elements viewing a woman with suspicion because she is inclined towards the West. Let us remind ourselves that this entire discussion is taking place under the rubric of “possibility. Musharraf says, “I don’t have any facts available” – he is continuing to comment on a hypothetical scenario.

3. Notice also that Musharraf is speaking about the possibility of “rogue elements.” A “rogue” element in the Government or in the Army usually refers to an individual who is secretly working against the mission of the institution which employs them. Therefore, if a rogue element or elements within, say, the Army and the Government collaborated with the Taliban, that does not mean that the institution of the Army or the Pakistani Government were in cahoots with the Taliban. It only means that an unknown number of individuals in the Army and the Government secretly worked towards sabotaging the goals, aims and missions of the Army and the Government, assisting forces standing in opposition to the Army and the Government.

In light of the above and given Musharraf’s own cited words, it is factually erroneous to assert that Musharraf proposed “state complicity in violent jihadist attacks.” Further, he did not assert as a matter of fact that “people in the establishment could have been involved in her murder” but only commented upon the “possibility” of “rogue elements” having communicated with the Taliban – a hypothetical scenario.

People need to understand the differences between hypothetical scenarios, facts, possibilities and probabilities. Once these concepts are clear, Musharraf’s statements do not come across as startling at all.

© Musharraf Supporters 2017 All rights reserved

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