Conjectures about BB’s assassination

Benazir By     Mohammad Jamil

In his forthcoming book ‘Getting Away with Murder: Benazir Bhutto’s Assassination and the Politics of Pakistan’, the author Heraldo Munoz, who had led the UN investigation in Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, described that the Musharraf government facilitated the crime through its negligence. In the excerpts of the book he released last month to international media, he said that Tehreek-e-Taliban executed the attack, possibly backed or at least encouraged by elements of the establishment. Heraldo Muñoz also stated that “local senior policemen attempted a cover-up, whereas Bhutto’s lead security team failed to properly safeguard her. The author described that Bhutto’s assassination will be another unsolved case in the long history of impunity in Pakistan, and that the controversy surrounding her assassination will endure as much as her memory. The UN investigating commission led by Heraldo Munoz had commenced its activities in July 2009, and submitted its report to UN Secretary General in March 2010, pointing fingers at ISI for its possible involvement in BB’s murder.

He appears to have an anti-Pak Army/ISI agenda to malign the national institutions of Pakistan. He doubted attack by Taliban assisted by Al-Qaeda basing his opinion on assumptions, thereby conducting negative propaganda against the ISI. He provided no evidence which purportedly involved ISI in BB’s murder, yet went on to comment that ISI cannot be exonerated for its alleged involvement in BB’s assassination. His remarks against ISI in the shape of published extracts from his book suspecting involvement of intelligence (ISI) operatives in murder of BB and later covering up of evidence are based on conjectures, which is an effort to mislead the public opinion and world at large. He alleged that General (R) Pervez Musharraf facilitated killing of BB as his government ignored security needs of BB. Similarly, his comments “suspicion of ISI or at least of some retired officer or its rogue members’ involvement in the murder was not unfounded”, are reflective of his prejudices.

In this backdrop, his conclusions are not only biased but pre-meditated and well planned to malign ISI. The author had failed to interview some important PPP members who had taken upon themselves the responsibility for BB’s safety, but on occurrence of murder of BB they left the scene, and drove quickly to Islamabad. Naheed Khan and others accompanying BB inside the vehicle were not interviewed. Reportedly, somebody made a mobile contact telling BB to come out and stand in the ceiling-opening of vehicle to wave back at the people waiting outside to greet her. This was the most relevant aspect but neglected by Heraldo Munoz. His biased attitude towards COAS and DG (ISI) seems obvious, as he doubted the information given by the COAS and DG (ISI), and instead worked on assumptions, casting aspersions on the role of Army and ISI in BB’s murder. Munoz is creating misperceptions by projecting baseless information to malign Pakistan’s institutions. By giving a spin to the conversation he had with the COAS Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, he claimed that “COAS wondered if Baitullah Mehsud had organized the assassination, and mentioned that one cannot conclude culpability solely on a phone intercept”. Such revelations are made only to create doubts about internal security mechanism of Pakistan. He concluded that Police washed the crime scene on the instructions of top military leadership contradicting himself stating that Police did not use hosepipes to wash the crime scene as a practice and that the procedure was followed by Army. Anyhow, the entire focus now is on the hypothecation that the then president did no provide adequate security to former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. The question is when the sole super power with all the resources and sophisticated gadgetry could not stop terrorists from their attack on its symbols of economic and military strength terrorists can attack GHQ, Mehran Base and other installations, how it was possible to ward off possibility of attack by the terrorists on Benazir Bhutto.

In 2010, U.N. investigation team had raised suspicions about the roles of the Pakistani government and military in her death. It accused Musharraf’s government of “inexcusable” failures to provide Bhutto with sufficient security and documented what it said was a cover-up by the military and Inter-Services Intelligence agency. It stopped short, though, of implicating Musharraf himself. The case against Musharraf seemed to boil down, according to the New York Times to two pieces of information, both of which come from the same person, a Washington lobbyist named Mark Siegel who was friendly with Bhutto. Siegel had said that Musharraf threatened Bhutto in a phone call two months before her death. He also said that Bhutto once sent him an e-mail in which she said that if she were killed, it would probably be the work of Musharraf, along with another political rival and two military intelligence officials. First of all, mere doubt that Pervez Musharraf along with another political rival could ‘probably’ involved would not stand in the court of law.

Anyhow, Pervez Musharraf has been formally charged for the murder of Benazir Bhutto, who twice served as prime minister and was assassinated while campaigning to secure a third term. In the latest set-back to former dictator Pervez Musharraf, the one-time army chief was indicted on three counts over the murder of Ms Bhutto. The move to bring charges against a former army chief could be an attempt to create fissures between the institutions. The charges relate to one of a series of cases that Pervez Musharraf has faced since his returning from self-imposed exile earlier this year. He seized power in a coup in 1999 and resigned as president after Pakistan Peoples Party came into power after 2008 elections. “He was charged with murder, criminal conspiracy for murder and facilitation for murder,” public prosecutor Chaudhry Azhar told AFP at the anti-terrorism court hearing the case in Rawalpindi. One should not comment on the case which is sub judice, but it is hoped that the court would take all the aspects that have been conveniently ignored by UN team and other investigators.

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