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Just Who Shot Bhutto? (Part 1)

By Fram Dinshaw Something somewhere just has to give now in Pakistan, after Benazir Bhutto’s assassination last December in Rawalpindi,…

By Fram Dinshaw , in Asia's Weimar Republic Blogs , on January 22, 2008

By Fram Dinshaw

Something somewhere just has to give now in Pakistan, after Benazir Bhutto’s assassination last December in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Since her death, unanswered questions as to how she died and who killed her have swirled like jinns around her grave.

President Musharraf’s government have blamed al-Qaeda and Taliban militants based in Pakistan’s North West Frontier near Afghanistan for killing Bhuto. Indeed, the Islamists would have had much to gain from killing Bhutto and disrupting or possibly even forcing the cancellation of parliamentary elections originally scheduled for January 8 2008.

Had Bhutto been elected to rule Pakistan with Musharraf, she would have legitimized somewhat a regime that is thouroughly discredited in the eyes of many Pakistanis, along with sidelining the Islamist movement. America too could have benefited from Bhutto being in power, as she would have provided a democratic cover for a pro-American regime which has captured or killed more al-Qaeda agents than any other country, along with providing logistical support to the US Army’s fight against Afghan Taliban forces.

Let’s also remember that Pakistan’s Taliban belong to the Sunni sect of Islam – and a pretty austere brand of that too – while Bhutto was a Shia whose mother Nousrat was Iranian.

Obviously, this was a situation that Pakistani Islamists wanted to avoid, and they were only too ready to murder or bomb their rivals so they became the dominant force in Pakistan. Musharraf, on the surface at least, could lose a lot now that Bhutto is dead.

So why is it that Maclean’s Magazine says that 50% of Pakistanis believe Musharraf had a hand in Bhutto’s slaying? Why is it that thousands of Pakistanis took to the streets of cities like Rawalpindi and Karachi chanting “Musharraf is a dog!”, in the days after Bhutto died?

Musharraf was strangely silent while all this was going on, while his government couldn’t seem to make their minds up as to how Bhutto died. It could have been the bullet that killed her, it could have been shrapnel from the bomb blast that happened immediately after the gun was fired, or Bhutto could have been fatally injured as her head crashed through her car’s sunroof.

These then, are the jinns that continue to torment Pakistan’s people, possibly to the point of bringing the world they once knew crashing down around them.