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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2736

Yard Sleuths For Bhutto Assassination

By Allabaksh - Syndicate Features

Just how will the association of a small team of detectives from the Scotland Yard lend credibility to the findings of investigations into the assassination of the Pakistani leader, Benazir Bhutto, is not clear. But what is perhaps clear is that irrespective of the conclusions of that investigation by the Pak agencies, the needle of suspicion will not be removed from the shadowy intelligence agencies and their scheming masters.

That the family of Benazir Bhutto has refused her body to be exhumed for autopsy may have made the task of resolving the controversy over her death a little difficult. Yet, the government cannot use that as an excuse to justify its stand that Bhutto alone was responsible for her death.

The British team, according to media reports, will extend help in ‘technical’ matters in the investigations. Basically, the Bhutto assassination requires answer to only one question which is not really ‘technical’: if there was a conspiracy to kill her, as is alleged by the family and party of Benazir Bhutto, who was behind it?

It is the interim Pakistan government of President Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf which has added a rather irrelevant dimension to Bhutto’s assassination in the hope of escaping blame for a lapse in providing adequate security to the slain leader: how exactly did she die? Was she felled by a sniper’s bullet or did she die after she ducked and fell on the sunroof of the car in which she was being led away from that ill-fated park in Rawalpindi, the headquarters of Pakistan Army, on that December afternoon?

The Pakistan government’s poser looks irrelevant because (a) it cannot be denied that no guns were fired towards the car in which she was travelling; (b) the gun shots were followed by a bomb explosion that took 20 lives. Is it not a simple case of poor security when a man with a gun and another one with a bomb manage to get close to a person who is supposed to have been provided full security cover?

Though it will be absurd to assume that the bullets were not aimed at her there can be no doubt that she fell on the sunroof of the car and hurt herself fatally because of the impact of the gunfire and bomb explosion. What she did was a natural reflexive action in such circumstances. In no way that absolves the government of the accusation of inadequate security cover for Bhutto because the man with the gun (and another one with the bomb) was able to penetrate the security ring around her.

The security lapses cannot be covered by saying that Bhutto would have saved herself had she decided not to stick her neck out of the sunroof to wave at the crowds of admirers. Surely, she could not have known in advance about the presence of a sniper near her car?

In its anxiety to save itself from the blame, the Pakistani government ended up making clumsy attempts to suggest that the security cover it provides offers no scope for a vital breach of the kind witnessed during the Bhutto assassination. No government can make that tall claim. Had it been possible to devise fool proof security, political assassinations would have become a thing of the past?

The more worrying thing for the Pakistan government, especially for the controversial but recently retired General at the helm of affairs in the country, will be the deeply entrenched suspicion among many Pakistanis that certain elements in the government had hatched a conspiracy to kill Bhutto. After sending signals that she was ready to ‘cooperate’ with the General (now retired) she apparently discovered that the political exigencies required her to be seen as the General’s adversary, not an ally. The coterie around the country’s de facto single ruler would not have liked that change in her stance as it posed an unambiguous threat to the continuation of the retired General as President.

Pakistan has a history of leaving questions about important political assassinations unanswered---as well as mysterious disappearance of political opponents. Many previous ruling establishments, like the present one, were suspected of hatching diabolic conspiracies against their critics. The Scotland Yard itself cannot be said to have had a happy association with the Pak authorities in investigating some of the important political murders in the country.

The trail of the Yard’s disillusioned association with Pakistan began in 1951 when the country’s first prime minister, a ‘Mohajir’ (a Muslim immigrant from India), Liaqat Ali Khan, was gunned down in the very park where Benazir Bhutto met her end. As is the case now, the Opposition of the time did not have faith in domestic agencies as they said that some government officials were involved in a ‘conspiracy’ to kill Liaqat Ali Khan. They pressed for an outside agency to conduct a fair investigation. The government relented and an expert from Scotland Yard landed in to help the investigations. He had hardly begun his work when he was asked to leave and the investigations into Pakistan’s first important political murder have till date remained incomplete, though theories abound.

Theories and rumour mills were also hyper active when in 1988 the military dictator, Gen Zia-ul-Haq died in a plane crash in the company of, among others, the American ambassador in Pakistan. Many still think there was something intriguing about that plane crash.

In the context of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, perhaps the most baffling unnatural death that has gone without a proper investigation was that of the late leader’s brother, Murtaza Bhutto, in 1996. Benazir was the prime minister at the time. There were allegations that her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, the ‘co-chairman’ of Pakistan People’s Party, had a hand in the killing. Murtaza, the elder of the two sons of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, founder of Pakistan’s People Party, had political ambitions and it was said that he was not happy to see his sister, Benazir, style herself as the sole inheritor of the Bhutto legacy. In a conservative patriarchal society it is the son who has to be the sole inheritor of his father’s assets.

An outcry by Murtaza’s supporters forced Benazir government to seek British help in investigating his death. A forensic expert of Scotland Yard flew from London. But soon afterwards the President of the day, Farooq Laghari, reportedly on instructions from the powerful military, sacked the prime minister, Benazir Bhutto and the Yard specialist was sent back home.

- Syndicate Features -

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