27- December, marks the death anniversary of our former Prime minister and Pakistan’s first lady PM , Benazir Bhutto. It is unfortunate enough to say that it has been twelve years and we still have not found out who was behind her death? She returned to Pakistan after eight years of exile when Musharraf had signed an amnesty in which all her cases were pardoned and she was allowed to enter Pakistan. However , her arrival in Karachi on October , 18th , 2007 was followed by a deadly suicide bombing attack that she survived but it killed almost 140 supporters.
On November 9, 2007- The police forces had tried to put her under house arrest and placed a barbed wire around her house to restrict her from speaking at a public procession. Which was a protest against Musharraf’s imposed emergency rule. Shortly after that she was again placed under house arrest when she was urging Musharraf to resign as the Army Chief and following that she had initiated her election campaign. And almost a week later she was shot by a gunman ; who blew himself up shortly after her assassination. Looking at all of the possible scenarios it does draw more attention towards Musharraf. As he was the one who she was trying to out throw and was urging him to resign. So, there is a possibility that he must have seen her as a threat to his power. The interesting angle is that if Musharraf had signed her amnesty agreement and was willing to share power with her . Then why would he be interested in getting her killed?
The morning after her assassination , the government authorities claimed that they had seized a phone call of Baitullah Mehsud from Tehrik-i-Taliban in which it was clear that he is behind her murder. However , in a police trial in February 2009, Major Haroon had left the army and joined the Lashkara-e-Taiba , subsequently joined Al Qaeda’s networks in Pakistan. He confessed to all of his crimes that he was charged for but also caused an important development in Benazir’s murder case : he told that Al-Qaeda was not involved in her assassination. This development caused an uproar amongst the public and casted many doubts towards Musharraf and his regime. Also, another factor strengthening this argument was the uproar in the news that everything was evacuated from the crime scene and that the hospital failed to conduct an autopsy.
Furthermore , Pakistan official authorities asked the Scotland Yard team to aid this case . So, in the report conducted by the Uk Home Office pathologist : Dr Nathaniel Cary, it was clear that there was an absence of a post mortem examination and a CT scan which caused more confusion.
He clearly stated, “the only tenable cause for the rapidly fatal head injury in this case is that it occurred as the result of impact due to the effects of the bomb-blast.”
“…in my opinion Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto died as a result of a severe head injury sustained as a consequence of the bomb-blast and due to head impact somewhere in the escape hatch of the vehicle.” These two claims completely dismissed the old reports that were confirmed by the government authorities . The report further suggested that the gunman might also have survived the blast , but it also failed to bring into account that who was actually behind her murder?
In August 2009, Zaardaari shifted the case to Federal Investigation Agency from the Punjab Police. As the inquiry under Punjab Police IG, Chaudhary Abdul Majeed , was highly criticised by the UN inquiry commission for its incompetence and was handed over to the FIA ,DIG Khalid Qureshi and it was supposed to bring in a constructive conclusion. However, still no conclusive reports have come forth but the investigators have carved out a hierarchy . Which says that the assassination can be placed into five tiers; the top consisted of the masterminds , then the planners , the facilitators , the handlers and then the bombers.
The FIA official stated , ” You have to understand these people are the best in the world. He also said , ” Many of them have been trained in clandestine operations and know the protocols. There are natural ‘cut-outs’ built into the plan.” In other words, suggesting that there was a hierarchy in which the people at the rear end had absolutely no relation of who they were working for and suggested that there would be almost nine people involved in the murder.
After almost twelve years ,when Musharraf was asked in an interview that whether the establishment could have been involved with the Taliban in this case? He said , “Possibility. Yes indeed. Because the society is polarised on religious lines.” Musharraf was also charged . According to journalist ,Ron Suskind and a Bhutto confidante , Mark Seighal, Musharraf threatened her Benazir over a phone call. On 25th September, Washington, Seighal narrated to BBC , ” And he said that her safety, her security was a function of her relationship with him.”
Furthermore, in 2017 the five suspects of the Tehreek-i-Taliban were acquitted for non substantial evidence. Instead, two police officers, Saud Aziz and Khurram Aizaz were convicted and fined for their negligence by the Anti – terrorism court( Rawalpindi). However, there are also other rumours and findings that also point towards Asif Ali Zardari. As it was evident that Zardari will be the beneficiary of the Bhutto throne and will also cease to become the next president. As one thing was evident that the Pakistan People’s party will get a lot of sympathy votes; in 2017 in one of Musharraf’s interviews he clearly stated that Zardari had Benazir murdered and that he should be investigated. He further stated that Zardari used Baitullah Mehsud as his “executor” to get Benazir killed. Musharraf stated ,”There was just one person who had everything to gain from Benazir’s assassination, and that was Asif Zardari.”
It is still a murky ground and so far there has been no constructive development. Through out the start the case has been filled with an air of mist , from the lack of examination of the CT scan and the post mortem results. Both the targets had an equal number of influences to be gained by this murder . Zardari seems like the direct target but contextually speaking, Musharraf was also struggling to stay in power and Benazir seemed like the only tool of intimidation for him.