So Who Killed Benazir?
30 April, 2010
By Anwaar Hussain
The long awaited report of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry into the facts and circumstances of the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is finally out. Although much of what the report says was already known to informed Pakistanis, it has served two main purposes;
1. President Asif Ali Zardari is exonerated from the killing of his wife.
2. While most of Pakistan’s security agencies have been castigated for their ineptitude, the UN’s hallowed finger is pointed straight at the holiest of the cows in Pakistan, the so called “Establishment”, to have somehow been involved in either the act or its cover up.
Though this scribe had said as much just two days after Ms Bhutto’s assassination, along with many other writers, when it comes from the highest human forum on planet earth, its connotation is far different.
Let us see how.
The report defines the Pakistani “Establishment” as follows;
“The “Establishment” is the de facto power structure that has as its permanent core the military high command and intelligence agencies, in particular, the powerful, military-run the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) as well as Military Intelligence (MI) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB).”
It goes on to list a lot of lapses and deliberate acts of the “Establishment”. It then notes;
“The autonomy, pervasive reach and clandestine role of intelligence agencies in Pakistani life underlie many of the problems, omissions and commissions set out in this report.” The report proceeds to give a brief background introduction to the Establishment-Taliban/Jihadi love affair before stating;
“Some of the positions taken by Ms Bhutto that touched Establishment concerns included her publicly stated position on the need to eliminate all remnants of the military-militant nexus. Her proposal was to eliminate the military and intelligence ties to the Taliban and jihadis, although many in those institutions still publicly regarded these groups as important foreign policy tools to advance national interests against India in the sub-region.”
The testimony concludes by saying;
“The commission hopes that this report will shed light on the truth behind this heinous crime and support steps toward ending impunity. It is solely up to the competent authorities to make this happen.”
And herein lies the rub. While it is not difficult to see how and why the Commission reached the conclusion that it did, it is in its recommendation that it puts the competent authority, the ruling political party whose leader the departed Ms Bhutto was, in the mother of all quandaries. Who in ‘the land of the pure’ will now have the gall, guts or gumption to approach the holy cow with unholy intentions?
Perhaps a folk tale from Sierra Leone will make this situation clear.
A hunter went into the jungle to kill a monkey. Not very much later, he sighted one. The monkey was sitting comfortably on a high branch of a tree munching away at his food with a not a care in the world. The hunter raised his rifle and aimed. Just then the monkey spoke, “If you shoot me your mother will die, and if you don’t, your father will die.” The monkey then resumed chewing his food, every so often scratching his head or his belly.
The President started on the hunt with his request to the UN to inquire into his wife’s killing. As a result, the monkey is now in range and visible in site. We will wait to see whether the Prez himself takes the shot or hands over the gun to his son, who incidentally has already lost his mother. In the meanwhile, however, it will be worth everyone’s while to remember Yossarian’s golden words in that ever green book, ‘Catch-22’:
“The enemy is anybody who’s going to get you killed, no matter which side he’s on, and that includes Colonel Cathcart. And don’t you forget that, because the longer you remember it, the longer you might live.”
From Liaquat Ali Khan to Nawab Akbar Bugty, there is a rather long list of prominent people in this country who either did not know or forgot Yossarian’s historic words and are no more.