One did not need to wait four hundred and twenty three days and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars from the cash starved national exchequer to reach this conclusion, since the TTP had laid claim to the assassination on day one. What is preposterous is the vow by the Interior Minister to bring back former president Pervez Musharraf to Pakistan through Interpol over his alleged negligence in not providing proper security to Benazir Bhutto.
By S. M. Hali
Four years one month and twenty five days after her assassination and inquiries by Scotland Yard, Interpol, the UN and local agencies, the ruling government has announced vowed to bring former president Pervez Musharraf back to the country through Interpol over his alleged negligence in not providing proper security to Benazir Bhutto. Unveiling the report of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed by the federal government in the Sind Assembly, the Interior Minister reveals that according to the report, the assassination was planned and implemented by the Taliban, while at least 27 terrorist groups associated with Al-Qaeda and Tahreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had been planning to eliminate Benazir because of her firm belief in democracy and strong stance against the extremists.
One did not need to wait four hundred and twenty three days and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars from the cash starved national exchequer to reach this conclusion, since the TTP had laid claim to the assassination on day one. What is preposterous is the vow by the Interior Minister to bring back former president Pervez Musharraf to Pakistan through Interpol over his alleged negligence in not providing proper security to Benazir Bhutto. If culpable evidence is there that the former President indulged in deliberate negligence to providing adequate security, then charity brings from home. Benazir Bhutto’s personal security team, comprising the current Minister for Interior and a number of other stalwarts from the Pakistan People’s Party are guilty of the same crime. These trusted lieutenants of the former Prime Minister, had not only declared allegiance to Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto but vowed to defend her with their own blood. Unfortunately, they were the first ones to disappear from the scene of the crime when the assassination took place, leaving their beloved leader to meet her Maker in a pool of blood.
It is ironic that the ruling junta gave a fond farewell to the erstwhile military dictator on 18 August 2008, when he decided to render his resignation rather than face impeachment. The ruling Pakistan People’s Party even went to the extent of providing a formal Guard of Honour and a safe exit when he decided to leave the country. Now it’s having the temerity to ask Interpol to bring him back.
The popular and charismatic former Prime Minister had gone into a self imposed exile but on her triumphant return, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto survived an assassination attempt at Karachi during this homecoming. En route to a rally in Karachi on 18 October 2007, two explosions occurred shortly after she had landed and left Jinnah International Airport returning from her exile. The Mohtarma was not injured, but the explosions, later found to be a suicide-bomb attack, killed 139 people and injured at least 450.The dead included at least 50 of the security guards from her Pakistan People’s Party, who had formed a human chain around her truck to keep potential bombers away, as well as six police officers. A number of senior officials were injured.
After the bombing Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto had asked President Musharraf for greater security, including tinted windows, jammers for bombs, private guards, and four police vehicles. These calls were echoed by three US Senators, who wrote to Musharraf. Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto's supporters and the Pakistani government have now concluded that she was not provided adequate protection. The Israeli newspaper “Maariv” reported that Ms. Bhutto further asked the United States' Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Britain's Scotland Yard, and Israel's Mossad several weeks before the assassination to help provide for her protection. Israel had not yet decided whether or not to provide aid because it did not want to upset relations with Pakistan and India. The claim by “Maariv” regarding upsetting relations with Pakistan is equally ludicrous since Israel has no relations with Pakistan, in fact Pakistan does not even recognize Israel. Ms. Bhutto also tried to obtain private security personnel, approaching both the U.S.-based Blackwater and UK-based ArmorGroup. However, the Pakistani government refused to give visas to the foreign security contractors. Despite this, American diplomats provided Bhutto with confidential U.S. intelligence on threats against her. After the assassination, President Musharraf denied that Bhutto should have received more security, saying that her death was primarily her own fault because she took "unnecessary risks" and should have exited the rally more quickly.
The Interior Minister however, quotes renowned journalist Mark Siegel, who in his statement said President Musharraf, in his presence, threatened Benazir in a telephonic conversation not to return home before the 2007 polls. Mr. Rehman Malik said he tried to get a confirmation of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s statement, who had advised Benazir not to return to Pakistan as terrorists were planning to kill her, but Karzai refused to do so. Similarly, former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, who in her book claimed that she arranged a reconciliation between Benazir and Musharraf, but she was also not ready to record her version.
The fact is that the ruling Pakistan People’s Party owes its current rule to the sad and violent assassination of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. It rode on a crest of public sympathy for the slain leader and has ever since exploited her shahadat to political advantage. The ruling of the Supreme Court directing the government to communicate with the Swiss authorities regarding the unauthorized siphoning of public money to the Swiss Banks in pursuance of the case challenging the National Reconciliation Order (NRO) has been declined that it will be “desecration of the Shaheed Bibi’s grave.” The NRO was a controversial ordinance issued by the former President General Pervez Musharraf, on October 5, 2007, granting amnesty to politicians, political workers and bureaucrats who were accused of corruption, embezzlement, money laundering, murder and terrorism between January 1, 1986, and October 12, 1999, the time between two states of martial law in Pakistan. It was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on December 16, 2009, throwing the country into a political crisis. Current Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani faces contempt of court charges in not abiding by the Supreme Court’s ruling. Using the name of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto to hide its sins is tantamount to flogging a dead horse.