Saturday, June 5, 2010

Benazir’s Murder: Back to Square One

May 28, 2010

By Saeed Qureshi

The Pakistan government’s much awaited inquiry report on Benazir Bhutto’s assassination is out and there are no surprises. Same individuals have been mentioned as murderers and conspirators in the latest report who were charged and arrested during President Musharraf’s presidency. This belies the claim of the incumbent president Zardari that he knew the names of the assassins but would divulge their identities at an appropriate time. His statement came much after these five young persons were nabbed and an FIR was registered against them. The statement of Mr. Zardari clearly indicated that the names that he has in his mind were different from those arrested for the crime.

If these five youngsters were the assassins then what was the rationale or reason for the United Nations’ investigation for a heavy price, augmented by the government’s oft-repeated claim that the real culprits would be exposed and brought to justice. It means that the PPP government and specifically the widowed spouse of the late Benazir Bhutto was merely bluffing and trying for the matter to cool down and then repeat the same names. However, the persons who were already known to the people of Pakistan cannot be those whom president Zardari promised to unravel.

Hamid Mir the well-known GEO TV anchor of the “Capital Talk” program has claimed many a time that the then military intelligence Chief Nadeem Ejaz is the mastermind of this very high profile murder that deprived Pakistan of an illustrious politician and a legatee of the Bhutto legacy. Mr. Mir has established Nadeem Ejaz’s connections with former president Musharraf, implying that the MI chief removed Benazir from the political stage of Pakistan under the tacit approval and connivance of the former president who was incensed over Benazir’s changed stances, and challenging postures to his government.

As such, the domestic inquiry that was initiated with lot of sound and fury is back to square one. Now where is a brave Person in Pakistan who should question President Asif Zardari that if these were the killers of her souse then why he claimed that he knew the real culprits but would reveal their names in the future? It is mind boggling that why is he so afraid to name the assassins despite being the most powerful person in Pakistan. The uncanny effort to conceal the names of murderers is tantamount to protecting the heinous killers who should have been exposed without loss of even a day.

There has been loud talk also about the involvement in Benazir’s murder of big wigs of the PPP including law minister Babar Awan, the interior minister Rehman Malik and even Asif Zardari himself. Even the will written by Benazir before her death became a subject of speculation and controversy. There is a common prevailing perception that while the will was a false document, it was forged to legitimize the ascension and succession of party leadership by Asif Ali Zardari. The whole episode is so confusingly shrouded in mystery that it has been difficult to make any head or tale of the murder case.

Therefore, there seems to be a deliberate attempt on the part of the sitting government to curb and conceal the real culprits of this most anguishing crime of this century. The dilly - dallying demonstrated by PPP government and patently lack of interest or dim exuberance in pursing the assassination of Benazir for almost three years now, shifts the blame also on the party leaders. More specifically president Zardari is accountable for remaining unconcerned about the timely and prompt investigation of BB’s murder.

Now who is this person Nadeem Ejaz known to be stronger than the state of Pakistan and more powerful than the president of Pakistan? Why is he so strident and overbearing as to be kept immune from the inquiry and to explain his position regarding the doubts cast on him for involvement in Benazir’s assassination? His propensity for intrigues and sadism in torturing many Pakistanis including members of parliament and political leaders is a public knowledge.

Why is he being treated as a sacred cow despite coming under a heavy burden of serious violations and inhuman activities and alleged conspiracies on behalf of his master: former President Pervez Musharraf? Is there any forum or court of law that has the courage and conviction to summon this dreaded individual and ask him to answer questions for his alleged dirty deeds and dubious conduct?

It might be difficult to presume that the Taliban had the vast resources, the abundant explosives, the well-marked diagrams of the routes and ample knowledge of the communication system to conduct mammoth explosions in Benazir’s procession in Karachi on 18 October 2007, when she returned from self-exile.
For the second time when she was killed at Liaquat Garden in Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007 after addressing a public rally, the explosions and bombing that took place seem to be very meticulously and professionally planned.

Even if the Taliban sneaked into the crowd, which is a slim possibility, why was the security apparatus and intelligence network so fragile, incoherent, and lax as to allow the saboteurs to execute their murderous plan? The interior minister who owns the paramount responsibility to protect Benazir fled from the scene. There was no security cordon to be placed around Benazir’s vehicle and take her to the hospital. Anyway, Taliban denied their involvement in the murder of Benazir Bhutto.

The PPP government and president Zardari have to come up with plausible explanations of all these questions about Benazir’s murder. Such questions would keep nagging the minds of the people of Pakistan until these provoke the rational and logical answers.

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