Taking the fall for a general?

Editorial April 30, 2010

The joint investigation team looking into the assassination of Benazir Bhutto has heard quite a different version of events than that told to the UN commission. The city police officer at the time of the murder has now denied he ever received a phone call from the then head of Military Intelligence General Nadeem Ijaz, that he was ever issued instructions to hose down the site of the crime or that he did so for any reason other than his own ‘negligence’.

This version of events from Saud Aziz means that the much-touted investigation against a serving general is effectively over even before it really began. A day earlier, Gen. Ijaz had denied all charges against him, calling them “fabricated”. The question of what is fact and what is fiction becomes even more convoluted than before. Those close to CPO Aziz imply he has little choice but to be Gen. Ijaz’s fall guy. The pressure that would make a senior civilian officer take the blame so that a senior military officer gets off easy is all too understandable and only to be expected in a nation where the military has tended to dominate just about everything.

The major casualty in all this is, of course, the truth. It now seems even less likely that we will ever get to the bottom of what happened that day at Liaquat Bagh, and during the days that preceded the killing. The UN report had thrown up some interesting facts and touched on other angles that needed to be explored. But all that is unlikely to happen now with a civilian apparently taking the fall for a general. Those standing on the sidelines and observing all this will wonder who is telling the truth — the UN or General Ijaz and CPO Aziz?