Saturday, January 5, 2008

Scotland Yard in Pakistan: Hoping against hope

New Delhi, 5 January 2008

President Musharraf was forced to call the British detectives “Scotland Yard” to investigate the killing of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto as a face saving formula because the findings of his government’s investigation would not be accepted by the people. President Musharraf also did well not to invite the FBI as majority Pakistanis would not welcome America’s another involvement. But it is unlikely that the Scotland Yard team, in spite of all the expertise it has, will be able to come up with any definite conclusions given that the local police destroyed all the forensic evidence by washing the assassination site immediately after the incident without collecting the evidence first. The doctors at the Rawalpindi hospital where Benazir Bhutto was taken after the attack have been allegedly under pressure from the government to remain silent.

Mr Mush has admitted that the washing of the assassination site was a “mistake”. Was it only a mistake? It was a blunder, Mr President. And the act was a clear sign of huge inefficiency of the Pakistani investigators unless the act was done with a motivated design.

The Scotland Yard may be a renowned intelligence agency but they do not have a good track record in Pakistan, primarily due to the non-cooperation from the Pakistani establishment.

Back in 1951, an expert from the Scotland Yard was entrusted to investigate the killing of the first Prime Minister of Pakistan Liaqat Ali Khan in Rawalpindi after the opposition leaders alleged the involvement of some government officials in the murder. But in the middle of his job, the British investigator was asked to leave Pakistan. The reasons were never disclosed.

This time also, the British team is only assisting the Pakistani police team which has already begun the probe. Because of the lack of evidence, it is necessary to exhume the body of Ms Bhutto for post mortem examination which is unlikely as her family members will not allow this.

Benazir’s husband Asif Ali Zardari has claimed that she was eliminated as she was about to expose a plot hatched by the ISI to rig the polls in favor of President Musharraf. But unfortunately, the Scotland Yard team will not be probing the conspiracy angle into Benazir’s killing.

It seems that the investigation is only trying to identify as to how the Pakistani opposition leader was actually killed: i.e. whether she was shot or not? Is the investigation worth it and how does it matter how Bhutto died? The fact remains that she died in an terrorist attack and that there was huge security lapse. But the government has deliberately floated the “lever-hit-her-head” theory in order to detract the investigators as well as the people from the conspiracy theory. A recent video released by the Britain’s Channel 4 clearly shows that Ms. Bhutto was shot by a gunman before the suicide bomber exploded his device.

But the government still firmly stands by its own theory as it knows that this investigation will lead to nowhere. The forensic evidence from the crime spot have been destroyed, the doctors are being threatened, and post mortem is unlikely due to opposition from Ms Bhutto’s family.

The PPP has been demanding an investigation by a United Nations-backed investigation team. The team must also probe into the allegations of ISI’s involvement in the killing of the Daughter of the East.

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