Who killed Benazir Bhutto? Was this another case of exploding mangoes?

By Fareeha Qayoom


e live in interesting times.

For example, today was a full action thriller, a fairly average day when I look back – we lived through two bomb explosions in Peshawar as a nation, I personally dealt with work-frustrations like a CEO of a vendor yelling at me for his company’s short-comings, (not replying to his emails or text messages, delivery delays, general irresponsibility and uncooperative behavior) or his complaints that his customer does not understand he is better than China and it would have been quite fun if his client had to actually deal with a Chinese vendor, that  she does not appreciate his hard work despite challenging circumstances or his genius, and emailing USA with updates, breaking the news to his customer that her nightmare is not over,  that there is still more to come, chasing elusive staff members and colleagues who refused to pick up the phone or take my calls, and calling a friend and a colleague who is in hospital with a broken leg because of a road accident, the doctors had to operate on his leg and left him without a supporting plaster cast for his broken bones since the latest technology in medicine has not reached Pakistan yet (automatically dissolving stitches – old hat in the west!), long hours of load-shedding in the day-light hours, driving around this hot afternoon in fairly mad traffic to visit  PTCL customer service to pick up copies of our delayed bills that they forgot to mail before the due date which is just a day away, the bank to pay a few utility bills like telephone and gas, (thank God, they are open in the afternoons now!), witnessing the aftermath of an accident on the road, wondering what happened from the state of the banged up cars, stopping by at Readings and not finding anything decent or fun to read, drinking health and happiness over a cup of tea for a friend for her birthday at Readings, the best gift she asked me to deliver on her birthday wherever I happened to be at 5:00 pm, picking up my brother from work around 5:30 pm, calling ahead to inform our cook to have the tea ready for the whole family by 6:00 pm, stopping by at neighborhood store to buy a phone card and on reaching home around 6:00 pm, finding out we are out of milk so we can’t have tea immediately, then finding out we are out of cookies after the tea was served and having to send him out again to get some cookies, (talk about staff disorganization even with considerable planning on your part!),  watching my mom watch an Indian soap opera, sandwiching the activity of reading the various news reports on the net in between, replying to my emails, having dinner before the scheduled load-shedding, watching my younger brother watch the various talk shows where the hot topic of discussion continued to be the latest UN report on Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, blogging and now writing – yes, it was fairly an average day in Pakistan. The report by the way was eclipsed by the two explosions in Peshawar for a bit but what the heck; the whole town is still talking about the UN report.

Tribute to Benazir 8
Photo by Ammar Abd Rabbo

The mysterious deaths of our popular leaders are not all that strange in our part of the world. Some say, Jinnah was also murdered by slow poison and many straight forward assassination attempts were made on his life at various points in his life. Our first Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan was also assassinated. Prior to that, many unsuccessful attempts had been made on his life already. Apparently, a hired gun finally killed him who happened to be an Afghan national by origins and he also happened to work for the British Government for quite some time. Though, he was not on the payroll at the time. It’s not clear why he was killed. However, the murderer was also killed immediately by the angry mob after he successfully completed his mission so the real truth can never be known now – it died with the assassin’s death. However, CIA’s declassified documents; fifty years after the event, do display a lot of unseemly interest in the political developments of that time in Pakistan. Furthermore, a conspiracy theory published in a ‘Commie’ daily or a weekly is mentioned in the secret dispatches that points to CIA’s involvement and the decision that US government will not officially comment on this as it will give this news report credibility by their denial (or is it analysis?) undue importance, besides, the news report had already slipped through the cracks, since no one had been paying any attention to it anyway so the secret dispatches mention the feeling of satisfaction and self congratulation for passing through this difficult time fairly quickly, even if the guy (Nadeem somebody or the other) who wrote it should be discreetly investigated! Hmm.

Some say Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was also killed by an international conspiracy and Zia-ul-Haq was their chosen instrument. The stuff of conspiracy theorists; General Zia-ul-Haq was also a victim of various assassination attempts – I remember as a kid thinking why are they going on and on (on PTV) about the fact that the assassins had hidden the bomb in the Muslim holy book – the Quran and it was a sacrilege but they didn’t find the assassination attempt itself shocking? Finally Zia was also booted out by an act of God or was it the case of exploding mangoes on C130? I remember (still as a kid), Azhar Lodhi, PTV news anchor crying on TV and finding that shocking instead of the actual death of so many people including Zia-ul-Haq. (Maybe I was comfortably numb even then? I know now we don’t find sudden, unnatural and untimely death shocking anymore.) Now, I don’t have a problem believing that particular conspiracy theory because I can see for myself that (a dark and militant face of) ‘Islam’ created by western spin doctors was used as a weapon by USA to fight Russia with full cooperation of General Zia-ul-Haq and now the same weapon is being used to fight Pakistan and the entire Muslim world.  (May be the ‘right-wing Islamist’ conspiracy theorists are right after all? Or maybe Professor Huntington is right. After all, he wrote the book ‘Clash of Civilizations’ where he cited current events – 80s and 90s – to support his theory that the next two natural enemies of the western civilization would be the Muslim and then the Chinese civilizations in that order. The facts make a strange kind of sense!  🙂 )

Benazir Bhutto was the latest popular leader who died in recent history of Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif is another one who is supposed to be on the hit-list, since he is considerably more popular than PPP right now, hence, high security measures. He might die in mysterious circumstances too in Pakistan’s future if he becomes a ‘loose cannon’ again. He was contained by General Musharraf, (another western instrument if you believe the same conspiracy theorists!)  Who was in turn contained by President Zardari (another western instrument) who in turn was contained by the judiciary! (Who just happened to be Nawaz Sharif’s or is it the establishment’s instrument? I am quite confused which particular set of conspiracy theorists to believe on this point so I leave it all up to you.) No, it’s not my theory, just popular conspiracy theories that strangely enough fit the facts and current events!

Cover of Time Magazine
Photo by Ammar Abd Rabbo

I actually don’t care who killed Ms Bhutto. (Sorry to sound unpatriotic!) As far as I am concerned, she’s dead now. She was a great leader. But you can’t bring her back. Yes, she was a great loss to our nation but it’s over. We need to move on. Instead of wasting considerable time and money and suspending front line executive security staff who probably were only following someone’s orders, we should concentrate on bigger issues facing our country right now. Like innocent citizens dying daily on the streets and bazaars of Pakistan or the rampant unemployment and bankruptcies because of government policies including bad management of essential utility companies like WAPDA, PEPCO and LESCO or Sui Gas, or the considerable public burden of debt on each citizen because of the IMF loan with punitive measures due in 2011 or high inflation rates or the state of the economy or the state of security.

The case of the mysterious death of Benazir Bhutto – we should leave it for the future generations to figure out. No new facts have been discovered by the UN report. Yes, Ms Bhutto died on Musharraf’s watch so ultimately the buck stops with him, however, it doesn’t mean he ordered her killing. (No, I am not defending him. I just find it strange that the government has taken this fact as stated by the report and made it out that Musharraf ordered her killing! Do they have a problem understanding English or the media has it wrong? I know I personally didn’t read the 65 page report nor do I want to, I only have the media reports to base my opinion on but it’s fairly clear to me that all the report meant was that since it happened on his watch, ultimately he is responsible.). However, the fact remains that by the same token our current government is quite unmoved when her innocent citizens die under her watch- for example, five or is it six children who died today in Peshawar due to the first bomb explosion – April 19th 2010. Every innocent loss of life should be equally important to our government and yet doesn’t merit the same zeal, time or money! Yes, the security was slack; (Well obviously, if they succeeded in killing her!) Yes, they were too quick to jump to conclusions – (well, only an enemy of state could have been interested in killing her and the obvious public enemy number one was Baitullah Mahsud, heading the TTP at the time; so what, if he denied killing her? He was a criminal and therefore was not a credible witness). They could hardly officially blame the semi-hostile to outright hostile to semi friendly to out-right friendly to totally indifferent neighboring countries like India or Afghanistan or USA or NATO or USSR or Iran or China or Saudi Arabia or Bangladesh or Nepal or Sri Lanka for her death. I mean, get real!

So what if the evidence was covered up quickly? There was the Scotland Yard investigation as well. They failed to find anything sinister either. The whole thing is inconclusive anyway.

The only bizarre item I find in the whole UN report as reported by media is that President Zardari was not responsible for her murder. (Why would they even mention that in the UN report when there was never any official finger pointing at him or any evidence to support that theory?!)

I find it equally strange that criminal investigation by the government is going to only start now after the filing of UN report, two years (or is it nearly three years?) after her death when the trail has already gone cold. What was preventing them from conducting their home-brewed investigations? Please move on. We are not interested in finding out who killed her. The former president and the current president both have claimed that they already know who killed her and since they don’t want to tell us, let’s not waste public time or money on futile exercises. Let’s move on. We will find out the truth from CIA dispatches fifty years from now anyway describing what might have happened…why spend so much more to figure out what we or rather our government knows already? Sigh. Forget it.

It’s time to take care of the living; the dead are already dead and in God’s hands. ■

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Classic Whodunit murder mystery Pakistani-style, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating