Thursday, January 03, 2008

Just who killed BB?

It is the question haunting many. From the dark alleys of Rawalpindi to the drawing rooms of Delhi, everyone is speculating. My American pals are equally baffled. No wonder, conspiracy theorists are amused. It is godsend grist to their mills. Already a couple of confusing theories have surfaced. The Pakistan government first said something utterly stupid, correctly dismissed as ‘dangerous nonsense’ by Benazir’s aide Sherry Rehman. Soon after Cheema, the brigadier with a swagger, changed tack.

The doctors who declared her dead have now started making strange noises. One doc was reported in today’s dailies, saying that BB’s death was the first such case he had seen in his entire medical profession. Bhutto's wounds were caused not by bullets [that is what the doctors report said – no bullet wound] but by some sort of laser beam, The Nation, Pakistan, quoted the doctor was saying. Already we have a bullet theory and the now discredited bomb theory. So the moot point remains: Who the heck killed BB?

Why was there no forensic pathologist present when the doctors signed her death certificate? Bhutto was no ordinary person, after all? What was the tearing hurry? Prez Mush said last night that Scotland Yard [one of the world’s best investigating agencies] will assist Pakistani sleuths in the high profile probe. I don’t think the Pakistani government will allow an independent UN style, foreign investigation. That will show them in poor light and not in control of Pakistan, a fact they don’t like.

I don’t know whether the investigation agencies will be able to put the pieces together again. And quick. Already the crime scene has been hosed down and BB is long buried. No autopsy was conducted and the exact cause of death remains a mystery. How is the Scotland Yard going to go about it, remains to be seen?

My premise is that the attack on BB, in the garrison town of Rawalpindi, cannot be carried out without the knowledge of atleast some stealth elements of Pakistan intelligence. Prima facie, it was a daring attack, carried out in broad daylight. The suicide bomb that went off, just after the fatal shots were fired, was either an attempt to create confusion or simply to make it appear like an Al-Qaeda attack.

Anyways, it looked like a perfectly coordinated operation, carried out with pin-point accuracy. Questions continue to creep though. Why did the second guy blow himself up when he saw the original guy [in jacket and sunglasses] hit her? Their masterminds knew that BB traveled in a bomb-proof SUV and there was no apparent reason for the blast after they got their target. Did the hit-man know that a suicide bomber stood besides him or was it a double-cross game?

Why was the security so lax that a hit man could come close to the car and unperturbed raise his pistol and took aim? Terrorists are often known to panic. Was he a hitman hired by some agency? Even if he wasn't, where was the second ring of security? Where was the third ring of commandoes? How could the idiot come so frighteningly close? What was the Rawalpindi constabulary doing? Who was overseeing the security arrangements of the most important political figure in the country?

Was it the handiwork of Islamists and the military intelligence together? May be and may be not. Did the intelligence alone finish her off because she would have exposed some of them and allowed Dr Khan to be interrogated by IAEA if she came to power [which was likely]? Did they conspire to wipe out BB because of the Pak army’s visceral hatred for the democracy loving Bhutto’s? How much do the spy masters know?

Did the Islamic anarchists do it? Were they fearful that an American backed BB was a potential threat? Is Al-Qaeda involved in this? After all their brainless cadres attacked Prez Musharraf many times in the past. What does one make of that transcript between Mashud and his Taliban counterpart? Is that true or like the lever theory, another cover-up?

Who is answerable? A discredited Pakistan govt? Even if they come up with the best investigation possible, everyone will rubbish their account. Scotland Yard, who are flying in this weekend, are coming a tad too late -- a good ten days after the incident. Much of the muck has already been swept under the carpet. Their best hope would be exhuming BB’s body. I don’t think the PPP will ever let them. The mystery shall remain.

There are too many questions and confusions but no credible answers. Methinks only an independent UN enquiry – a La Rafiq Hariri, the ex-Lebanese PM – will throw some light on the most sensation, diabolical, scheming political assassination of the 21st century.

Sameer

Post Script: Newsweek US, adds [Jan 5, 2008]: The Pakistanis know very well how to protect people," U.S. official(s) said. Not only were the assassin and a suicide bomber able to penetrate an official Pakistani security detail, said the official, but Bhutto was attacked at the precise moment when her security guards should have been most on alert. "She's attacked at the moment she was most vulnerable...Every security person knows you're most vulnerable when you're getting into and out of a car. This was negligence."