President Pervez Musharraf had warned slain Benazir Bhutto that her life would be in danger if she did not extend him political cooperation prior to her return to Pakistan, a new book has revealed.
Referring to a conversation between Bhutto and Musharraf in September 2007, which was recorded by United States intelligence agencies, Pulitzer Prize winning US journalist Ron Suskind's book The Way of the World, has disclosed the President's veiled threat to the former premier.
While Bhutto, 54, insisted on the repeal of the provision prohibiting a third term for the prime ministers, Musharraf refused to give in and ended the conversation on a threatening note.
"You should understand something," Musharraf said, "Your security is based on the state of our relationship."
The conversation took place during Bhutto's meeting with US lawmakers at Capitol Hill, including John Kerry, and State Department officials, Suskind says.
"The twice-elected provision is important to me," Bhutto told Musharraf. "If you're retreating from that, what can you give me? May be some real reform in the election commission?"
Bhutto also enquired whether some US officials had called the military ruler to make it clear that her safety is his responsibility.
"Yes, someone has called," Musharraf replied, adding, "The Americans can call all they want with their suggestions about you and me, let them call."
The author has also said the American intelligence agencies taped Bhutto's phone calls, before she arrived in Pakistan, in a bid to "play under-the-table, cut-throat games more effectively".
The PPP had demanded a probe into the matter and said it should become part of the United Nation's proposed investigation into Bhutto's assassination.
The US also intercepted the former premier's conversation with her son, Bilawal, in which she told him about the secret bank accounts holding the family's allegedly ill-gotten fortunes.
When Bhutto once floated the idea of freezing foreign accounts of 'key people around Musharraf,' a US official told her that the agencies were already in a loop about her own reserves and could press to 'constrain her assets'.
"This should help the US play its under the table, cut-throat games more effectively. The intercept will be used as part of a wider 'carrot and stick' programme in which the US let Bhutto know they were happy to work with her in setting up a marriage with Musharraf, but they could make her life difficult if she started to improvise and freelance," the book said.
The book also disclosed details of Bhutto's meeting with US Senator John Kerry, during which she requested for her security, even as Kerry replied. "United States is generally hesitant to ensure the protection of anyone who is not a designated leader".
The initiative to reinsert Bhutto into Pakistan politics, the book said, was launched and led by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her State Department.
Vice President Dick Cheney on the other hand did not believe in messing up with the then current state of affairs in Pakistan.
"Our feeling," a senior adviser to Cheney said summing up the view of the vice president, "was that arranging this marriage could only backfire on us. Bhutto is complicated and unpredictable. It's best to just support Musharraf, give him whatever he wants or needs to stay in power," the book said.