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No closure on Benazir’s murder

world Updated: Dec 26, 2010 23:19 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad

Three years after her death, the Pakistan government is still unable to make any headway into the killing of Benazir Bhutto, the country’s first woman prime minister.

So far no one has been caught or named and those whose names were mentioned by Bhutto, in a letter prior to her assasination, have not even been questioned. No police case has also been registered.

Public perception in Pakistan remains that the Asif Ali Zardari-led government is not interested in finding the truth.

“There are too many names involved, many of whom are in power even today,” said TV anchor Kashif Ansari, in a recent TV show on the subject.

Many debunk the theory that the Taliban were behind the killing.

A UN Commission set up to investigate the killing, which took place on December 27, 2007, highlighted the lack of proper security arrangements in place for the political rally in Nishtar Park, Rawalpindi, where the attack took place.

The UN hinted at official complicity in the killing, citing the example of poor security cover and the immediate washing of the murder site as two examples as well as the haste with which the then President Pervez Musharraf government blamed the Taliban.

After the October 2007 attack on her convoy in Karachi, a visible shaken Bhutto had named three people in a letter to Musharraf, saying that if anything happened to her, it would be these persons who would be responsible.

One of the persons was Pervez Ilahi, the then Punjab chief minister, another was Hamid Gul, a retired ISI chief who has close links with the Taliban and a third was Ejaz Shah, a retired brigadier who headed the Intelligence Bureau.

All three were close to the military high command. But the military denied any involvement. Ilahi lives in Lahore and is active in politics. Gul remains in Rawalpindi and frequently appears on TV talk shows. Ejaz Shah, who had earlier escaped to Australia, is now back in the country and tipped for a government appointment.

But all is not lost. Some headway has been made in court where this month local police officials said that they were directed by senior military officials not to interfere with the security arrangements of the Bhutto rally.

This elicited a strong response from the military which denied the allegations.