Benazir Bhutto’s assassination
Who killed Benazir?
Sunday, 30 December , 2007
Maloy Krishna Dhar started life off as a junior reporter for Amrita Bazaar Patrika in Calcutta and a part-time lecturer. He joined the Indian Police Service in 1964 and was permanently seconded to the Intelligence Bureau.
During his long stint in the Bureau, Dhar saw action in almost all Northeastern states, Sikkim, Punjab and Kashmir. He also handled delicate internal political and several counterintelligence assignments. After retiring in 1996 as joint director, he took to freelance journalism and writing books. Titles credited to him are Open Secrets-India's Intelligence Unveiled, Fulcrum of Evil-ISI,CIA Al Qaeda Nexus, and Mission to Pakistan. Maloy is considered a top security analyst and a social scientist who tries to portray Indian society through his writings.
Making a political forecast is more hazardous than astrological speculation. The loudest question now being asked after Benazir Bhutto’s assassination is about the future of Pakistan and political and security ambience in the region. The pundits make conflicting forecasts, according to their strategic interests and perceptions.
However, several days after the assassination of an excellent leader, the main riddle as to who killed her is yet to be solved.
The governing coterie in Pakistan promptly gave out that Baitullah Mehshud, described variously as leader of Tehrik-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan and Al Qaeda chief in Pakistan had organised the assassination. Agencies in Pakistan quoted Adnkronos International (AKI) news agency reporting.
“We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat (the) mujahadeen,” AKI quoted Al Qaeda commander and main representative Mustafa Abu Al Yazid as saying. According to AKI, Al Yazid is the main Al Qaeda commander in Afghanistan. “It is believed that the decision to kill Benazir...was made by Al Qaeda No 2, the Egyptian doctor, Ayman Al Zawahiri in October,” AKI said. “...one cell comprising a defunct Lashkar-e-Jhangvi’s Punjabi volunteer succeeded in killing Benazir,” it added.
Meanwhile, the FBI and US Homeland Security departments on Friday claimed that Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri masterminded the assassination of the PPP chairperson.
The same government sources hastened to reveal that at least three activists of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, the Sunni extremist group were deployed by the Al Qaeda to carry out the assassination.
The government sources and doctors of Rawalpindi General Hospital (government owned) had initially disclosed that Benazir was hit by bullets on her neck and chest. The entire world instantaneously reacted to the official version and accepted that Al Qaeda was the villain that wanted destabilisation of Pakistan and burial of the democratic process.
But amidst the global reaction, the truth behind the assassination was entangled in the webs of contradictory statements. As I watched the video footage of Benazir stepping down from the rostrum and walking down to her car parked at a distance of about fifty feet I did not notice the presence of any armed security barrier around her- what is known as the first ring of security. This glaring omission happened in spite of Pakistani claim that the authorities had made three rings of security arrangement for protecting the PPP leader. The official agencies refused to respond to allegations that the electronic jammer supplied to Benazir was faulty. The official video footage abruptly ended as Benazir was waiving at her supporters and the cameras stopped rolling as soon as the shots were fired and the explosion hit Benazir’s car within split seconds.
This incongruity was followed by the water-hosing the scene of crime within an hour of the ghastly incident, denying intensive forensic examination of the scene of crime. To any investigating agency, preservation of the scene of crime is of vital importance. Why was this cleaning operation done, and under whose orders?
The most incongruous developments started taking place a few hours after Benazir was declared dead. The doctors of the government hospital; changed their versions at least three times while describing the nature of injury and finally decided to record that Benazir was neither hit by any bullet or bomb splinter. She died because of an accidental head injury. A PPP spokesperson, Farhatullah Babar and Benazir’s close aide Sherry Rahman have claimed that the government was trying to cover up the facts. Mr Babar and Ms. Rahman claimed that Ms. Bhutto was hit by two bullet injuries and was pronounced dead by doctors 15 minutes after she was shifted to the hospital. “Doctors of the hospital confirmed that she had died of bullet wounds.”
A medical report issued on Thursday by a panel of doctors, headed by Prof Mussaddiq Khan, the principal of the Rawalpindi Medical College, had confirmed that Ms. Bhutto had sustained an injury on her neck.
However, the Interior Ministry representative provided another medical report, which said she had a wound measuring 5x3 centimetres above the pinna of her right ear and there was a big boggy swelling around the wound. He tried to prove that Ms. Bhutto had hit the handle of the sunroof and had injured herself accidentally and that was responsible for her death.
Doctors later revealed that they had carried out an external autopsy i.e. X-ray etc but no anatomical autopsy was carried out to ascertain the cause of death. They claimed and it was confirmed that Asif Ali Zrdari had not agreed to a detailed post-mortem examination.
Whenever a crime like murder or assassination takes place, the investigating agencies carry out a detailed autopsy of the dead body. This basic lesson of medical jurisprudence is taught to all investigating officers and agencies and the doctors are not required to seek permission of relatives. The causes that lead had to death are required to be established under the provisions of law. Pakistan like India follows the British framed Penal code, Penal procedure and Evidence Act. How is that the State of Pakistan and its investigating agencies allowed the body of a national leader to be buried without detailed autopsy? A detailed autopsy was carried out when Indira Gandhi was assassinated in front of a crowd. The law of the land was followed and no one in her family was asked if an autopsy should be carried out.
Brigadier Javed Iqbal Cheema, spokesman of Pakistan’s Interior Ministry, said, “As she was waving to her supporters and workers from the sunroof of the vehicle when the firing started followed by a suicide bombing which took place at the left side of the vehicle, but she received injury on the right side which confirms that she was not killed by the bullet injury.”
The spokesperson also produced photo of the head of one of the suicide bombers and claimed that it was yet to be identified. However, during the same briefing, Cheema said that a telephone intercept between Mehsud and another Qaeda leader had named three persons who had carried out the assassination. What was the difficulty in deploying the vast government machinery in identifying the men mentioned in the monitored telephone conversation?
On the other hand, Baitullah Mehsud claimed that his tanzeem was not involved in the assassination. “I strongly deny it. Tribal people have their own customs. We don't strike women," Mehsud's spokesperson Maulvi Omar said by telephone from an undisclosed location.
Benazir Bhutto has been buried by the grieving relatives and political colleagues. It is also suspected that the government agencies have also made unsuccessful attempts to bury the truth behind the assassination of the leader.
It would not be prudent to draw conclusions that official agencies and individuals whom Benazir had suspected were involved in the assassination and the massive cover up effort. It is possible that some Al Qaeda related tanzeem has carried out the dastardly assassination. But in the mysterious land of Pakistan infested by Salafi, Wahhabi and Deobandi jihadis the very transparent connectivity between the official agencies and the surviving ghosts of Zia-ul-Haq regime is proverbial. It is difficult to say with surety when the agencies act on behalf of the tanzeems and when the tanzeems carry out orders of their official masters.
The situation also conforms that the so-called government of Pakistan headed by Musharraf is not a united machine. There are factions within factions in the ISI, IB, Military Intelligence and several layers of the governing tools. Not every tool is controlled by Musharraf and his Army. Perhaps, even President Musharraf is also not in a position to say which elves of his governing tools are mixed up with the jihadis. That is a tragic situation for Pakistan.
Therefore, before making any political forecast about Pakistan, the truth seekers should pressurise Pakistan to come out with the truth behind Benazir’s assassination, if needed, by exhuming her body.
The Pakistani people have a right to know who killed Liaquat Ali Khan, General Zia-ul-Haq and now Benazir Bhutto. The army has no right to bludgeon the Truth to dust by using guns and mortars.