Benazir's assassination: 'Getting Away with Murder'

Published: December 5, 2013
"Getting Away with Murder: Benazir Bhutto's Assassination and the Politics of Pakistan." PHOTO: PUBLICITY

"Getting Away with Murder: Benazir Bhutto's Assassination and the Politics of Pakistan." PHOTO: PUBLICITY

NEW YORK: A new book brings to a wider audience a theory of cover-up, sweeping blame and staggering security failures behind the 2007 assassination of Pakistan’s ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

Author and Chilean diplomat Heraldo Munoz headed a damning UN report in 2010 that said Bhutto’s death could have been prevented and that Pakistan deliberately failed to investigate properly.

Now a UN assistant secretary general, his book Getting Away with Murder: Benazir Bhutto’s Assassination and the Politics of Pakistan, goes on sale in the United States next week.

Oxford-educated Bhutto served twice as prime minister and had returned from exile to stand in elections when she was killed in a gun and suicide attack on December 27, 2007.

Six years later, no one has been convicted of her murder.

The government at the time blamed the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP). Despite scant evidence, a court this August charged Pervez Musharraf, former president of Pakistan from 1999-2008, with her killing.

Munoz compares the assassination to a collective murder plot in a 17th century play and singles out Pakistan’s ex-interior minister in particular for refusing to give straight answers.

Asked at a New York launch event whether he feared for his life during his investigation, Munoz said “not really”, but revealed that in around January 2010 he was forced to step up security.

“I got a warning from a very trustworthy source that ‘these people’ are capable of anything and ‘these people’ don’t know the world,” he told the audience.

Although he never knew who “these people” referred to “I thought maybe we were stepping on some toes,” he said.

Munoz likened the best explanation for who killed Bhutto to the 17th century Spanish play “Fuenteovejuna” by Felix Arturo Lope de Vega, in which a village united together to kill a hated commander.

Al Qaeda wanted her dead, the TTP executed the attack – possibly with support of rogue intelligence agents – and local police did a cover-up, Munoz said.

Bhutto’s own security failed her and those who encouraged her to return to Pakistan did not provide her with protection, Munoz argues.

At one point the US suggested she hire the security contracting firm formerly known as Blackwater, Munoz said, but Musharraf refused to let foreign agents in.

“Political actors, even those close to her, would rather turn the page rather than find out who did it,” he said.

“She was clearly a target for the TTP and al Qaeda for sure,” said Munoz. “Sectors of the Pakistani establishment also wanted her dismissed or dead.”

He said police were “clearly responsible for a cover-up and I’m convinced that came from higher up”.

Federal investigators were delayed in accessing the scene, first by cups of tea until it got too dark and then by a big lunch.

In the end they collected only 23 pieces of evidence from the washed-down scene where Britain’s Scotland Yard said ordinarily thousands would have been expected.

Munoz said it was ridiculous to imagine that Bhutto’s widower, Pakistan’s desperately unpopular former president Asif Ali Zardari, had been involved in her death.

“He was helpful but I cannot say his whole government was helpful because we encountered all sorts of obstacles,” he said.

He said former interior minister Rehman Malik, Bhutto’s head of security, had been in a back-up bullet-proof Mercedes but was nowhere to be found immediately after the attack.

“They probably wanted to save their skin, to put it bluntly,” Munoz said. “Never could we get straight answers from him.”

The diplomat said guilt was for the courts to decide, but that Musharraf bore “political responsibility” by not providing adequate security to a former prime minister living under threat.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • Parvez
    Dec 5, 2013 - 1:40PM

    The timing of the is book is just right………and will definately be an interesting read.


  • usman786
    Dec 5, 2013 - 2:36PM

    come on, was it Mush who asked her to come out of bullet proof jeep? Had she remained inside nothing would have happened? atleast Mr AAZ should donate the insurance she being daughter of nation


  • Ian
    Dec 5, 2013 - 4:54PM

    The previous government (PPP) is it self to blame for not finding out the culprits. They buried this matter and for what reason, only PPP know.


  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Dec 5, 2013 - 6:57PM

    PPP remained in the Federal Government for five long years, but deliberately ignored to find out as who killed Benazir Bhutto?

    Had PPP found the killer(s) and brought to Justice, PPP would have left without any slogan for the next general election.

    On May 11, 2013 election, PPP lost the power of having its own Prime Minister and President but retained its power to nominate its Chief Minister in the Province of Sindh.

    But according to my calculation, PPP will even be wiped out from the Province of Sindh in the next general election.

    Slogans like Zinda Hai Bhutto Zinda Hai and Zinda Hai BB Zinda Hai are the only assests of PPP, but when it comes to serving the masses, PPP has completely failed to deliver.


  • tara
    Dec 5, 2013 - 7:21PM

    How did one of the high police officials, a friend of AAZ present at her speech and who knew how she was framed to stand up in the bullet proof vehicle got killed (murdered) in a road accident soon after the incident? His murder was not followed by the press. Also why was post mortem not allowed by AAZ?


  • just_someone
    Dec 5, 2013 - 8:25PM

    PPP didnt do anything during their tenure. If anything, they silenced everyone in their own party who was close to BB and were present around her at the time. What does that signal to you? To me, its obvious there were people in PPP who were part of the government who themselves were involved in her assassination.

    PS: BTW, BB wasnt anything good either. Shes no martyr which is somehow being talked about since her death. She allowed the plundering of the country during her time. Her only achievement was family planning IMO. She didnt really do anything itself. How could she? She had no clue about how regular Pakistanis live. This is why the dynastic politics has to stop and we have to allow party leaders to come from all backgrounds


  • naeem khan Manhattan,Ks
    Dec 5, 2013 - 8:37PM

    My advice to Bilawal Zardari, must read this book, the question arises why Rehman Malik remained as interior minister for years.


  • Muneer
    Dec 5, 2013 - 9:22PM

    The authenticity of the book could be gauged from the fact,that the author gives Zardari a highly controversial/ objectionable clean chit.In such murder cases, the one who gets the maximum benefit is considered the most responsible for the murder.In this case ‘Zardari’, was the best beneficiary,yet he consider it ridiculous to blame him.And at the same time accuse the former Interior minister,the man incharge of Benazir inner security and forgets that he is the most confidential man of Zardari.Like a true supporter of Zardari,he is trying to deflect the issue by focussing on minor issues, such as washing of the area,and citing a self created reason of ‘Political Responsiblity’.What a farce?.The author also fails to bring out that what is the framework of adequate security,and what aspects of that ‘adequte security ‘, were not provided.He also knows fully well that BB did not die of any bullet or sharepnal wound,yet he ignores the most important fact that why against all security instructions she came to the venue and kept standing in the vehicle for good about 20 minutes.The author has also not thrown light as to who asked her to stand in the vehicle which proved fatal,as she died because of some thing which formed part of  the portion fixed in the vehicle.


  • A. Khan
    Dec 5, 2013 - 9:52PM

    ““He was helpful but I cannot say his whole government was helpful because we encountered all sorts of obstacles,” he said.”

    This statement says it all. Read it carefully and understand its ramifications.


  • unbelievable
    Dec 5, 2013 - 10:16PM

    “Political actors, even those close to
    her, would rather turn the page rather
    than find out who did it,”

    Zardari never lifted a finger to pursue her assassins as President – not sure whether that complicity or cowardly – maybe both.


  • ghulam murtaza
    Apr 28, 2014 - 10:06AM

    it was very diffcult to say that who is the killer of Hon:Mohtarama Benazir bhutto, but Inshallah one day the killer will be on the mirror. Allah never forgive the killers of the Hon:Mohtarma benazir Bhutto.


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