On December 27th 2007, former Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto was assassinated after departing from a PPP rally in the city of Rawalpindi, Punjab. The assassination triggered a series of events that saw the entire country burst into flames of violence. Her death, it seemed, had triggered a switch where everywhere we looked there was blood and mourning.
Soon after, a commission was set up on the request of the late Prime Minister’s husband the future President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, to find and try to piece up history that led to her assassination. After much deliberation, Asif Zardari asked the United Nations to form a Commission and conduct the inquiry. A three-man commission was then formed and a formal inquiry commenced from July 1st 2009.
The commission was headed by Chilean Ambassador Heraldo Munoz. An inquiry report was to be was to be released on 20th March 2010, but at the request of the Pakistani government it was delayed for another two weeks and finally released on April 15th 2010. Strangely enough, Report of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry into the facts and circumstances of the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto doesn’t really point to anything new. If anything the report lays the blame solely at the feet of the Pakistani police and the government of the time – the government of Army General Pervez Musharraf.
The commission’s findings are nothing new; in fact, all of what it culminated has already been heard from analysts all over Pakistan and the world. It blamed a flurry of non-state actors which could be held responsible for the assassination of Bhutto.
On the role of the failure of Pakistani Police the commission stated:
Ms Bhutto’s assassination could have been prevented if adequate security measures had been taken. The responsibility for Ms Bhutto’s security on the day of her assassination rested with the federal Government, the government of Punjab and the Rawalpindi District Police. None of these entities took the necessary measures to respond to the extraordinary, fresh and urgent security risks that they knew she faced.
On the fact that the crime scene was hosed down immediately, the commission had this to say
The Rawalpindi district police’s actions and omissions in the immediate aftermath of the assassination of Ms Bhutto, including the hosing down of the crime scene and failure to collect and preserve evidence, inflicted irreparable damage to the investigation.
It further placed the blame of conducting a botched inquiry solely at the helm of the Pakistani Police
The Commission believes that the failure of the police to investigate effectively Ms Bhutto’s assassination was deliberate. These officials, in part fearing intelligence agencies’ involvement, were unsure of how vigorously they ought to pursue actions, which they knew, as professionals, they should have taken.
In short, the Commission blamed the entire assassination and the aftermath of how an unsuccessful and haphazard inquiry was conducted and found the Pakistani Police guilty as charged.
The Commission also equally blamed the Government of the time which had failed to provide adequate security to a former Prime Minister. In that regard it stated:
The federal Government under General Musharraf, although fully aware of and tracking the serious threats to Ms. Bhutto, did little more than pass on those threats to her and to provincial authorities and were not proactive in neutralizing them or ensuring that the security provided was commensurate to the threats. This is especially grave given the attempt on her life in Karachi when she returned to Pakistan on 18 October 2007.
But those aren’t the only ones to be blamed for Bhutto’s assassination – her own security also came under scrutiny
The PPP provided additional security for Ms. Bhutto. The Commission recognizes the heroism of individual PPP supporters, many of whom sacrificed themselves to protect her; however, the additional security arrangements of the PPP lacked leadership and were inadequate and poorly executed.
To say that the Commission’s inquiry has revealed nothing new would not be wrong. It has just collected evidence provided to it by Pakistan and in turn aggregated a report. The assassination, as the report implied, lies solely on the hands of the officials – both governing and policing. It also asked for a criminal investigation to be conducted in the role of extremist elements and “elements in the Pakistani Establishment.”
So what exactly has this extravagant, $100 million report unearthed? In a word, nothing. Almost a year and a hundred million dollars poorer, the Pakistani nation is still asking ‘who killed Bhutto’ and the answer, as ever, still remains elusive. The perpetrators of the crime are still free; be it the Pakistani Police, the Pakistani Government of the time, or even, the Pakistani President – the simple fact is, we’re nowhere closer to finding out who killed Bhutto than we were a year before.