Benazir Bhutto Case: Access Denied is Justice Denied – by Anas Muhammad

This year began with a blow to the UN investigation into Benazir Bhutto’s murder, as the commission was denied access to the top brass military and intelligence officials. The three member commission, which was investigating the facts and circumstances that lead to former Prime Minister Ms Benazir Bhutto’s murder, was not allowed to interview the Army chief along with several other officials.

Dawn News reported that the government had denied the commission access to:

the Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, former ISI Chief Lt.Gen Nadeem Taj and former Military Intelligence Chief Lt.Gen Nadeem Ejaz Mian among other top officials of the intelligence agencies.

Now the commission that was supposed to present the final report at the end of 2009, has extended its investigation for another three months.

These recent developments seem to raise many questions, some of which might suggest the role of radical establishment into the murder of Benazir Bhutto. In the light of what has already been presented, along with some historic facts, we can begin to derive certain conclusions.

Benazir, returning Pakistan after a long period of self exile, knew of the dangers she faces upon her return. She had been warned by many friends outside and in Pakistan of the dangers and threats to her life. Her life as a politician has always been at risk, as she had inherited enemies and dangers along with her party after her dad was executed by a very extremist dictator Gen. Zia-ul-Haq. She had known of the threats and the people who have vowed to kill her. By the time she started politics, Gen. Zia-ul-Haq had managed to infect the establishment of Pakistan with an extremist mind-set and jihadi agenda. He had filled the intelligence agencies and the army with the people who had jihadi ideology and agendas for Afghanistan, and very close ties to terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and Taliban.

The powerful intelligence agency ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence), not only had its links with jihadi militants, but also with politicians. The agency managed to create a coalition of powerful right-wing (Islami Jamhoori Ittehad) that would challenge Benazir’s popularity and undermine her control over the government. The then ISI chief Hamid Gul was in-charge of this whole operation. He used all his resources and money to manipulate the politics of Pakistan. He along with Al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden, committed failed attempts to assassinate Ms. Bhutto.

It is no surprise that Ms. Bhutto listed Hamid Gul as one of the conspirators, who might attempt to kill her. She did this in a letter to then President Pervez Musharraf, after a failed attempt to assassinate her in Karachi upon her arrival to Pakistan. She also identified Ejaz Shah (IB Cheif), an intelligence official who was put in-charge of her security in Karachi.

Ejaz Shah (Nadeem Ejaz) is also one of the people to whom UN probe was denied access to. He is a friend of Musharraf and Muhammad Aziz, the man who orchestrated the overthrow of Nawaz Sharif as Prime Minister in the October, 1999. He was the creator of Musharraf’s party PML-Q and a special friend of the Chaudhries, the rightist political rivals of Benazir Bhutto. He was also a key figure in breaking more than 20 members of the National Assembly from the PPP after the 2002 elections. He was the ISI’s handling officer of Osama Bin Laden and Mulla Omar. And also had ties with extremist leader Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, with whom he kidnapped and killed American journalist Danial Pearl. And it was on his and, a close friend of Musharraf’s, Maj. Gen. Nadeem Taj’s advice Chief Justice Chaudhry Iftikhar was sacked. Gen. Taj was the director ISI when Benazir Bhutto was assassinated. He is also one of the official to whom UN probe access has been denied.

It is widely believed that the Intelligence agencies of Pakistan are fully capable of removing any political opponent they deem not fit for their pro-taliban and proxy war agendas. The view that has also been expressed in a report on the Henry Jackson Society’s – an independent foreign policy organization – website.

President General (retired) Pervez Musharraf’s military and intelligence colleagues were, for example, responsible for the killing of two democratic, secular and anti-Taliba’an leaders from the rebel Pakistani province of Baluchistan. The former Governor and Chief Minister, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, was assassinated in 2006,[1] Mir Balaa’ch Marri was bumped off last November.[2] These murders are evidence that Musharaaf’s men are capable of the assassination of political opponents

As we know that Benazir has always been the target of these extremist segments of Pakistani establishment, it was only under the shadow of Musharraf’s dictatorship they succeeded in eliminating her. She posed greatest threat to extremism, as she wanted to change the direction of Pakistani society, away from the agendas of these extremists, and towards progress and democracy.

They knew that Benazir has an agenda to clip off the wings of the powerful establishment and its terrorist proxies. One example of it comes from the American Congress’s Kerry-Lugar Act, which was her idea of bringing America on the side of democracy rather than military dictatorships. She knew that the only legitimacy and the source of power for dictators and its agencies is the west and its aid. If she manages to get the Americans to aid democracy and condition the aid to the promotion of democracy, only then will the establishment weaken and democracy will strengthen. Farahnaz Ispahani described the then Biden-Lugar Bill as:

This Biden-Lugar bill reflects the shift in the way Americans look towards Pakistan as an ally, this time focusing on the people of Pakistan rather than its military alone. The role of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and the decades- long struggle by the Pakistan People’s Party to put Pakistan’s people first must get credit for persuading American leaders to broaden their outlook towards Pakistan. The Biden-Lugar bill is actually the result of the vision of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. She often espoused her vision of a different kind of relationship between Pakistan and the United States. Mohtarma Shaheed always advocated and lobbied for greater support by the US government for non-military projects in Pakistan, terming it the only way that the Pakistani masses would be able to trust the United States and to see it as a friend not a master.

Recently, with the dissatisfaction of Kerry-Lugar Act by the establishment, it has become very evident that whenever pushed the establishment will use its full muscle. It was very apparent how the establishment manipulated the politicians and the media coverage to direct the debate to favor its views.

Benazir came to Pakistan with the clear agenda of democracy and reconciliation with all her opponents. She managed to strip Musharraf off of his uniform and made him drop all charges against all politicians that were not proven under his term. She made sure that democracy returns to Pakistan and the establishment loses its biggest strength, the political players and politically motivated cases, that can be used to manipulate the government to their liking as they have before.

Benazir Bhutto’s party came to power, knowing  of the involvement of establishment and its powerful high ranking officials in Benazir’s murder, they decided to have the United Nations investigate the case. UN has also hit the wall and it is very unlikely that the military will let one of its own get punished, at-least knowing their history we cannot expect that to happen anytime soon. Pakistan is a very unpredictable country, what happens next, only time will tell. For now the justice seems to be denied.

Related articles:

Benazir Bhutto murder case takes new turn as officials hunt for retired and serving army men

UN team grills close aide of Musharraf in Bhutto murder



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