Benazir's assassination in the limelight

Reuters April 16, 2010

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani government may be reluctant to act on a call by a UN commission to investigate thoroughly the assassination of Benazir Bhutto because of fear of its own powerful security establishment, analysts said on Friday.

"There is no will to really delve into all kinds of linkages which implicate people who are still in the know, who are still in the country," said Simbal Khan of the Institute of Strategic Studies.

A report by a UN commission of inquiry released in New York on Thursday said any credible investigation should not rule out the possibility that members of Pakistan's military and security establishment were involved.

The charismatic Bhutto spoke out forcefully against the Taliban and Islamist militant groups that had been patronized in the past by parts of Pakistan's military and she was deeply distrusted by the security establishment.

Trial Stopped

Zardari and the PPP had called on the United Nations to investigate Bhutto's death since they did not trust the findings of an inquiry carried out during Musharraf's tenure, and stopped a trial of five Islamist militant suspects.

The initial investigation blamed a Pakistani Taliban leader and al Qaeda ally, Baitullah Mehsud, for Bhutto's murder.

Last year, Mehsud was killed in a missile attack launched by a U.S. drone aircraft and Musharraf went into self-imposed exile.

The UN report said no-one believed the 15-year-old suicide bomber who killed her acted alone, and the failure to examine her death effectively appeared to be deliberate, but the commission did not say who it believed was guilty.

The UN team said its investigation had been severely hampered and it was mystified by the efforts of some high-ranking Pakistani government officials to obstruct access to military and intelligence sources.

The PPP welcomed the UN findings and said persons "named in the report for negligence or complicity in the conspiracy will be investigated".

"The blame has been fixed on the previous administration, especially for those who were responsible for her security," said Hasan Askari Rizvi, a political and security analyst. "Now the challenge for the government is to carry out its own investigations."

Speculation has lingered that she was the victim of a plot by allies of Musharraf, which the former president has denied.

Bhutto wrote to Musharraf before she returned to Pakistan in October 2008 naming enemies she believed might try to kill her. On the day she returned a suicide bomber attacked her homecoming parade, killing 149 people.


Nadir El Edroos | 13 years ago | Reply Unsurprisingly the UN report on the assassination of Benazir Bhutto has questioned the role of the military, security agencies and government officials. The call for there to be a through investigation of the intelligence agencies and prominent civil and military personalities is likely to go unheard. I dare say that imminently ardent defenders of the military are going to step forward that this report is another attempt in the international conspiracy to defame the Army and the ISI. I am not nor was a fan of Benazir Bhutto. Given her stature, the way she was assassinated, having had an inquiry by the UN, we are still unlikely, as citizens of Pakistan, to learn who is actually to blame. This goes back to the depressing state in which we are in where the military-security agencies can literally get away with murder. If a personality of international notoriety can be assassinated and questions unanswered, what hope for the common man to seek due process and justice? Given that the UN report has been released days after the passing of the 18th Amendment in the upper and lower houses of parliament, politicians across the nation are claiming the supremacy of parliament and how “democracy is the best revenge”. Really? Given the impunity with which certain state actors can act suggests that changing and removing certain laws is unlikely to empower the citizens of Pakistan. Sadly, this is just one more example of the duality in which we live in. One set of rules for the majority and one set of rules for a very tiny minority who tower above us all. The worst part is that we as a society allow them to freely wield such power knowing very well their excesses. As long as we equate supporting the military with being patriotic and the reverse as treachery how can we hope to hold undemocratic and unelected leaders accountable? Its ironic that the inquiry into a PPP leaders assassination, undertaken during the rule of a PPP majority parliament is leading into a black hole of inaction and delays. For the most pessimistic amongst us the Zardari led government may actually wish to prolong any new investigation or fact finding process to keep the memory of the slain leader alive. That is as opportunistic and heartless as it sounds. I hope we don’t stoop that low.
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