Bhaskar Roy, who retired recently as a senior government official with decades of national and international experience, is an expert on international relations and Indian strategic interests. In this exclusive column for Sify.com, he attempts to unwind the complicated tangle of facts, evidence and political history behind Benazir's assassination.
Who killed Benazir Bhutto on December 27 in Rawalpindi, the most garrisoned city in Pakistan?
This was the second meticulously planned attempt on her life within months. The first was on October 18 in Karachi, the day she returned to her country after eight years in self-imposed exile. Will the truth ever come out?
Pakistan can boast of at least two other VVIP murders in its short history of 60 years. The county's first Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, was assassinated at the same ground where Benazir was killed. His assassin was murdered on the spot by an "alert" police officer. Scotland Yard, which has been called in to assist with the Benazir assassination case, also investigated Liaquat Ali Khan's assassination, but no finding was ever published.
Pakistan's military ruler President (Gen.) Zia-ul-Haq died in an aircraft accident. The aircraft, ferrying several other VIPs, including the American ambassador, blew up mysteriously in mid-air. The case remains unresolved.
Scotland Yard also investigated the suspected murder of Pakistan's cricket coach, Bob Woolmer, in Jamaica, after the team was knocked out of the World Cup in 2006. No conclusive findings.
Scotland Yard, Britain's prime investigative agency, is a legendary outfit. Books have been written and films made on the exploits of the Yard in solving the most difficult of criminal challenges. So should the reputation of the historic agency be questioned, or is there something more than meets the eye? Interestingly, the unsolved cases mentioned are all connected to Pakistan.
The Benazir Bhutto assassination case is not only baffling, but bizarre, with gaping holes which the authorities are trying to cover with shameless impunity.
The evidence suggests that it could not have been be an act of the Taliban or the Al-Qaida. Neither had ever declared Benazir Bhutto a target. The Al-Qaida does not take credit in the manner it was supposed to have been done in this case. If they had taken out such a valuable target it would have claimed through its regular channels — its website, and Al Jazeera Television, which is its regular notice board.
In the earlier attempt on Benazir in Karachi in which about 140 of her supporters were killed, the circumstances raise questions about the administration. The streetlights were switched off. Does that mean that the Al-Qaida and the Taliban have their people manning the Pakistani power station controls? Immediately after the attack, Benazir tried to contact senior officers connected with security in Islamabad over telephone. Not one could be raised, suggesting they had made themselves incommunicado in case Pakistani or foreign journalists called for comments and views.
Pakistan People's Party leaders claimed that the Al-Qaida connected Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud had warned Benazir in advance that her life was in danger. Following the assassination, Mehsud denied any involvement with the crime and said that they do not kill women by design. The track record of the Al-Qaida and the Taliban support this claim.
The day after the assassination, the interior Ministry spokesman, Brig Javed Iqbal Cheema, came out with some astounding claims. One was that while ducking down the sunroof of the Toyata Land Cruiser, the rubber lever of the sunroof came off and hit Benazir on her right temple and she died of the impact. At that time, the uninformed Brig. Iqbal did not realize the wound was in the back of her head.
Then came the story of a splinter from the suicide bomber's explosion that killed Benazir. The ministerial authorities shut up Cheema. The Toyota manufacturers in no way connected with Pakistani politics, saw the adverse impact on their business, emphatically stated that the sunroof lever could not kill a person. Pakistani authorities, however, continued to insist that Benazir wasn’t killed by a bullet.
The comedy of obfuscation ended when Pakistani private television channels begun to air video footages clearly showing the assassin shooting Benazir and she falling, and the suicide bomber blowing himself after that.
Ms. Sherry Rehman, a close friend of Benazir's and Information Secretary of the PPP, declared that she and other women who bathed Benazir's body before burial, saw a clear bullet wound in the back of her head.
The regime's dependence on the report of the doctors, who examined Benazir after she was brought to the hospital, is now becoming somewhat wobbly. One of the doctors who told a journalist they had made no mention of the bullet would, in any manner, say neither "yes" nor "no".
In his first appearance over television, President Musharraf appeared disturbed and unsure. But days later, he bounced back like the proverbial "India Rubber Man". He was the original, nonchalant Pervez Musharraf who could twist the truth without batting an eyelid.