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Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. — File photo
Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: Heraldo Munoz, the lead United Nations (UN) investigator in a probe into former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, doubts the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) independently carried out the attack, but does not discount suspicions about involvement of intelligence operatives in her murder and later covering up of evidence.

An adaptation from Mr Munoz’s upcoming book, ‘Getting away with the murder — Behind the Investigation of Benazir Bhutto’s Assassination’, published on Foreign Affairs magazine’s website, expresses fears that the murder would remain unsolved because of absence of both capacity and willingness of the government and courts to solve the case.

Mr Munoz, currently UN Assistant Secretary General, had headed the UN Commission of Inquiry into the assassination appointed by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the government’s request in July 2009. The commission submitted its report to the secretary general in March 2010.

The publishing of the article coincided with the indictment of former military ruler retired Gen Pervez Musharraf by an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi in the Benazir assassination case.

Mr Munoz believes Gen Musharraf may have facilitated the killing by ignoring Ms Bhutto’s security needs after their political deal went sour and does not absolve him of moral and political responsibility.

“Suspicions of the ISI’s — or at least of some retired officers or rogue members of the agency — involvement in the assassination were not unfounded,” he observed in the article after narrating his meetings with army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and then ISI director general Lt Gen Shuja Pasha.

The UN investigator has recounted that army chief Kayani had doubts about Pakistani Taliban’s involvement in the murder of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

Kayani suspected whether the slain chief of TTP, Baitullah Mehsud had organised the assassination, as was claimed by an interior ministry spokesman at a news conference a day after Bhutto’s death on December 27, 2007.

Musharraf’s government based its claim on Mehsud’s telephonic conversation intercepted by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

Kayani had called the press conference “premature” and that “It should not have been done,” Heraldo Munoz wrote in his book.

“One cannot conclude culpability solely on a phone intercept,” the army chief was quoted as saying by Munoz, who headed a UN panel that investigated Benazir Bhutto’s assassination.

Referring to hosing down of the crime scene within 24 hours, General Kayani also criticised local policemen in Rawalpindi, calling them “amateur”.

“If in 24 hours you don’t completely secure the scene, then you lose the threads to solve a case,” he said.

Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in a gun-and-bomb attack outside Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh on December 27, 2007 while Musharraf was president. She was killed after addressing an election campaign rally in the city.

“In Bhutto’s case, it would seem that the village assassinated her: Al-Qaeda gave the order; the Pakistani Taliban executed the attack, possibly backed or at least encouraged by elements of the establishment; the Musharraf government facilitated the crime through its negligence; local senior policemen attempted a cover-up; Bhutto’s lead security team failed to properly safeguard her; and most Pakistani political actors would rather turn the page than continue investigating who was behind her assassination,” the UN investigator observed in the concluding paragraphs.

Comments (37) Closed

Imran Ahsan Mirza Aug 21, 2013 02:27am

I don't get it. What Musharraf has to do with it? Not providing security cannot make him murderer considering the current killing environment of Pakistan. Catch the real assassins and stop continued political vendetta.

Sheetal Aug 21, 2013 03:09am

This claim carries no value. Why investigators plant these stories in media, instead of making it part of the final official report ?

Khalid Aug 21, 2013 04:24am

Not sure who has done it but what is interesting is that when Benazir's husband (and son) were ruling the country for 5 years, they never actually made any efforts to catch the criminals(s). Why is the ruling party and the Chief Justice. God forbid, I can see revenge as the motive in all this?.

Raja Aug 21, 2013 04:25am

Who killed Gen. Zia?

AbbasToronto Aug 21, 2013 04:32am

Is hammam mein sab nungay - best summarized U.N.'s Munoz.

Fazal Aug 21, 2013 05:12am

Benazir was killed because of her fault, she should not have come out from the roof opening of the bullet proof car. More over she died by injury caused by hitting her head against window lever, not bullet or bomb.

Nadir Aug 21, 2013 06:56am

The guy who blew up did not look like Musharraf to me. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

anwar khushab Aug 21, 2013 07:21am

Interesting, but irrelevant. I am very anti Musharraf for the harm that he did to the country. However, one must be just and look at the facts. Nothing happened to Benazir until she stuck her head out of the bullet-proof car. There were three other persons in the car with her, and they remained unhurt. it is a pity that Benazir got so carried away by the emotion of the crowd that she put her head out of the car, but that is not Musharraf's fault.. Does an Oxford and Harvard educated person not understand that a bullet-proof vehicle will not protect you if you put your head outside it? We can, and should,hold Musharraf accountable for many serious things, but not for murdering Benazir. This is just a Nawaz Sharif and Chief Justice vendetta.

sali Aug 21, 2013 07:37am

If Musharraf's govt is called negligent for BB's murder then what do you call Zardari'd government for watching thousands of people getting killed in Taliban's hand. Why can't they be tried? All citizens and their lives are just as important as BB and let's bring the negligent govts to trial than the actual culprit.

Ashok R.Prabhu Aug 21, 2013 08:29am

For their own safety,it would be better if the younger generation of Bhuttos keep away from politics and pursue other professions that are available to them,including business.

Jiyala Aug 21, 2013 09:38am

In this whole article, I have not seen name of Mr. Zardari who is the main producer and director of this movie ?

Iqbal Aug 21, 2013 09:56am

This "timely" article says that except Asif Zardari, every one in the country facilitated the murder.

Usman Hassan Aug 21, 2013 11:00am

General Ashfaq's tenure has been that of many failures of the Pakistan army. He only knows how to make himself appear "different" by uttering periodic statements (both public and private as he knows very well that the private ones will also come out) criticizing previous set-ups of which he himself a part. Only one phone interception doesn't indict Baitullah Mehsood, okay. How then after the event some wagging tongues indict General Pervez Musharraf?

And the so-called UN investigation was a big hogwash. The team bagged millions of dollars and then wrote an essay based on hearsay as their report.

Azam Khan Aug 21, 2013 11:07am

She was the last of the greatest leaders of Pakistan. The rest are just poloticians and hypocrites

Guest63 Aug 21, 2013 11:35am

A cheap way to get publicity for his book on the intl level . He may not be a PPP Jiyala BUT his tactics " the selling of corpse's story" resonates with the PPP's " politics of Corpses " . Why on earth write 6 years later from the incident or 3 years later than his investigation report ? UNLESS he wants to spice his writing efforts to earn few more $ for his coming book . SHAME has No Limits , either territorial or gender or National boundaries . It would have Served the purpose and Given the Wanted urge " which he points out to be lacking among the political leaders and courts of Pakistan to solve this murder case than rather move on " , If he had categorically Pin Pointed these sort of Facts in his UN Report . He did not do his job there and now he wants to make more money out of his useless investigative report for which UN and Pakistan paid a hefty price . SHAME SHAME SHAME ON YOU Dear UN Under Secretory General , You do not deserve to head this post now .

Mr.T Aug 21, 2013 12:15pm

It's might not only mushraf ignore the threat to be sucessful, we have to check is there anyone behind mushraf / agencies. There ca be third or forth person who might be using mushraf or those who must ignore the threat. If mushrat found guilty he must say why he ignore, was he told to do so by some higher authority them him ?

saint Aug 21, 2013 12:19pm

Who cares how the rich little girl died

Shabir Ahmed Aug 21, 2013 12:27pm

Ms. Bhutto was on TV and said several times her life was at risk going home because Musharraf would have her killed. The set up was done with lack of security and those who did the murder were killed. Now no need to blame talibans for that. Agreed with Gen Kayani doubts.

shahzad Aug 21, 2013 02:16pm

Its part of bigger conspiracy to apprehend musharraf for their own party PPP wrong doing as well. What about the security being neglected by their own people who were assigned for the task. Who were they, why there vehicle was not with BB's vehicle at time of bombing.

Masood Khan Aug 21, 2013 02:27pm

Concluding paragraph shall include those who hammered the last nail --- advised her to come out of vehicle to wave to the crowd (or at least didn't stop her doing so).

Parvez Aug 21, 2013 02:43pm

A credible person saying something aloud that most people news worthy.

Ahmed Khan Aug 21, 2013 03:00pm

What sort of an image of Pakistan are we portraying Gen Kiyani by putting a such statement and indicting ex army chief Musharraf.

Shahid Aug 21, 2013 03:27pm

The concluding paragraph does not make sense to me. Why would local senior policemen attempt to cover-up the attack that was ordered by Al-Qaida and executed by Taliban.

ebad Aug 21, 2013 03:43pm

I believe PPP is more responsible than former president musharraf, as they turned a blind eye to their leaders murder during the whole 5 years of their government. If their ruling party is insincere on the issue then what should one expect from others...

Masood Aug 21, 2013 04:00pm

Mr. Heraldo Munoz of UN failed on every count. Now he is knitting yarn with rumours. He had no evidence about anything, beside naming innocent officers of Pakistan in his yarn. Benazir was provided full security. But she was a flooish lady to expose herself in public despite the threats she claimed. She was not fit for Pakistan as a reckless prime minister.

Masood Aug 21, 2013 04:19pm

Then why did Kayani spent his life fighting Taliban to save Pakistan? Wasted countries resources.

Karachi Wala Aug 21, 2013 04:34pm

samir Aug 21, 2013 06:51pm

Benazir was a citizen of Pakistan. Her death is similar to thousands others that have died. I want Zardari and Nawaz Sharif also be tried for not protecting Pakistanis. You cant treat Benazir special.

Luqman Aug 21, 2013 07:20pm

Sensationalist book by someone trying to make a quick buck after he no longer has any relevance. Reminds of the book deal Robert Bales is trying to get.

Khan Aug 21, 2013 08:37pm

Just one simple question - Her husband had complete power for four years, why did he not order the investigation just like Benazir did not order investigation into the killing of her own brother? Is it a case of what goes around comes around?

umer Aug 22, 2013 02:27pm

S. A. M. Aug 23, 2013 05:28am

nawaz you don't get it. try your best but you will see nothing bad will ever happen to musharraf. why I am so confident because he has with him the sincerest prayers with him of countless people and these people are not his relatives they are those that want to take sides with the truth.

SMN Aug 23, 2013 11:00am

Perhaps some body is interested in getting another three years extension/ smelling a deal.

SMN Aug 23, 2013 11:09am

Government and its institutions are suffering from Musharraf phobia. Musharraf can not be convicted in any case. He is being harassed and mentally tortured so that he is crippled to challenge present incompetent and timid politicians. He is a man of steel, he will ultimately come out with glory that will prove once again his ability to lead nation.

Reader Aug 23, 2013 05:04pm

If I'm not mistaken, the sole piece of evidence against Musharraf re. the assassination is the allegation that he "didn't provide adequate security", which implies that he had done so on purpose in order to allow the assassination to go through. Now let's look at this methodically: The assassination occurred with her being shot by a man in the crowd after coming up through the sunroof. There are two inadequacies here re. security: One, that there was a crowd of people - of the nature which would be impossible to screen for weapons - who were able to gain proximity to her vehicle, therefore allowing the possibility of someone sneaking into the crowd with a gun (or bomb); two, that she exposed herself from the bulletproof vehicle via the sunroof, easily exposed her to the possibility of getting shot by someone in the crowd. It was these and only these two inadequacies in security that facilitated Bhutto's death. Both these things were Bhutto's own preferences (i.e., having the crowd of random anonymous unscreened-for-weapons 'jiyalas' around her, and coming out of the sunroof), and therefore nullifies the allegation that Musharraf purposefully provided "inadequate security" in order to facilitate the assassination. Even even if the security was inadequate in other respects - and Musharraf was somehow responsible for those inadequacies - none of those other inadequacies contributed to the assassination. Only two did: The crowd of unscreened people, and Bhutto exposing herself thru the sunroof, and of course Bhutto herself was responsible for both of these inadequacies.

Mustafa Aug 23, 2013 08:59pm

Why did Zardari not allow the postmortem ? Why did Zardari, in an address to UN General Assembly claim that Benazeer was assassinated by Taliban? Why did Zardari ask the UN commission to delay it's report? Why did the commission accept Zardari's request for the delay?

Khurram Malik Aug 23, 2013 09:46pm

Just as the JFK assassination still remains a mystery, so will this. There are so many deceptions and cover ups in these politically motivated murders that no human commission can find the straight answer or they probably won't be allowed to. One thing that needs to be pondered upon is, who benefited the most out of this assassination? I think you already know the answer :-)