UN report blames Benazir Bhutto's assassination on Pakistan government lapses
A new UN report into the assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto blames the Musharraf government for failing to protect her. It also alleged that Pakistani intelligence services may have "hampered" the investigation.
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Bhutto was assassinated on Dec. 27, 2007 by a 15-year-old suicide bomber during a political rally in Rawalpindi. Just days before, she had returned to Pakistan from self-imposed exile to contest elections as the country prepared for a return to democracy after eight years of military rule.Skip to next paragraph
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Her death was followed by widespread rioting and a protracted period of national mourning. While Musharraf’s government named the mastermind of the attack as Baitullah Mehsud, the former Pakistani Taliban leader who was killed in a US drone attack last year, numerous conspiracy theories continue to circulate blaming Musharraf, the ISI, the United States, and President Zardari.
The allegation that Zardari was involved was denied by the Commision’s head, Chilean ambassador Heraldo Munoz, at a press conference at the United Nations Thursday night. He instead criticized former Pakistani officials for failing to conduct an autopsy and for evidence lost. The crime scene was hosed down within minutes of the assassination – a decision which the report indicates may have come from an authority higher than Rawalpindi’s chief of police.
The report alludes to the Pakistani intelligence agencies’ ties to militant groups as a possible reason for the impeded investigation. "Given the historical and possibly continuing relationships between intelligence agencies and some radical Islamist groups that engage in extremist violence, the agencies could be compromised in their investigations of crimes possibly carried out by such groups," stated the UN report.
More investigation needed
The report urges the current Pakistan government to investigate the killing more thoroughly and end impunity for political killings by setting up a “truth and reconciliation” commission to investigate political killings, disappearances, and terrorism.
Mr. Almeida, the Dawn columnist, says it is still unclear whether the PPP will be able to use the report to open investigations into key military and intelligence figures named in the report.
“What the report does not do is refer to the staggering reluctance on the part of the PPP to use to levers of the state to find the real killers,” he says. “Maybe there was a feeling that probing too aggressively could upset certain delicate balances that had been struck.”
For many ordinary Pakistanis, the mystery continues. Azhar Siddique, a lawyer and PPP activist based in Lahore, says, “This report is silent about who has murdered Benazir. We’re still no closer to holding anyone accountable.”