Almost six years ago, Pakistan’s former prime minister and the country’s leading voice on democracy was assassinated as she greeted her supporters during an election campaign. Courageous, determined and populist, Benazir Bhutto was a woman who fought valiantly against a dictator, remade her father’s party in her own image and voiced open criticism of our society’s growing intolerance and extremism. Despite a chequered history, replete with allegations of graft and misgovernance, even her detractors grudgingly concede her grim determination for and resolute belief in a democratic Pakistan.
As her party, and the country, remembers this leading politician on the anniversary of her death, we are once again reminded of the abject failure of our justice system in bringing the perpetrators of her murder to task.
Notwithstanding a probe by Scotland Yard and an in-depth investigation by the United Nations on the circumstances leading up to the death of the former prime minister, no concrete evidence has been unearthed on those responsible for planning and carrying out Benazir Bhutto’s assassination.
As a result, a separate case, against General Musharraf has been brought forth on the basis of investigative reports on the lack of security cover provided by the government. Yet the chairman of the UN panel which investigated the Benazir Bhutto murder has publicly said that there is lack of ‘proof of culpability’ of the former president in Bhutto’s death.
Mired by legal wrangling and devoid of concrete evidence, it seems that once again, a mysterious and high-profile murder in Pakistan will soon fade into oblivion. Like Liaquat Ali Khan and Ziaul Haq, we may never really know who murdered the Muslim world’s first female head of government. Nor are we likely to see those responsible for this heinous crime brought to justice.
Benazir Bhutto’s death and the lack of progress in bringing her murderers to task should be a clarion call for supporters of the rule of law. We must realise that till such time that our state is able to provide security to its citizens and prosecute those responsible for heinous crimes, our country will never be able to divest itself of criminal and terrorist elements.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 28th, 2013.