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Musharraf was the main threat to Benazir’s safety – Toronto Star Editorial

Who killed Bhutto?

Who orchestrated the murder of Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan’s brave champion of rule by the people, during her campaign in 2007 to restore democracy after years of military rule? We may never know. Suspicion pointed to Pakistani jihadists, Al Qaeda or the Taliban.

But Bhutto believed that former president Gen. Pervez Musharraf ” was the main threat to her safety,” a United Nations probe has just reported. Some in the Musharraf-era elite “saw her return to an active political life in Pakistan as a threat to their power.” Whatever the truth, the regime hd much to answer for.

Musharraf gave Bhutto “fatally insufficient  and ineffective” security, but provided “strngent” protection for leaders who favoured him, the UN panel found. His intelligence agents and officials then “severely hampered” the probe of her death. Police feared “involvement by the intelligence agencies,” bungled the probe and ruled out the “possibility of involvement by elements of the Establishment.”

There was “little to no focus on investigating those further up the hierarchy in the planning, financing and execution” of the murder. This UN post-mortem invites Pakistani to reflect on how far they have come in three years, and on where they need to go. The panel urged President Asif Ali Zardari, Bhutto’s widower, to hold a “credible” probe to end impunity for political crimes. He agreed. But many Pakistanis are skeptical.

Certainly, it isn’t a task for the faint-hearted. And conditions. And conditions are not ideal. Pakistan is battling a domestic insurgecy and grinding poverty. Relations with India are still fraught. Terrorists have their eyes on the country’s nuclear arsenal. In a world of instability and woe, the military and security services’ stock is bound to be high.

But as the UN report makes clear, Bhutto believed that strengthening democracy, not the self-seleced military/ security elite, is best guarantor of better days. For her, it was an idea worth dying for.

Courtesy: Daily Toronto Star, Monday, April 19, 2010, page A-16.