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THE H-BOMB: THE DECISION

September 10, 2017

After 10 years, 8 judges, 68 witnesses and 420 hearings, an Anti Terrorism Court (ATC) in Rawalpindi has failed to convict the actual murderers in the Benazir Bhutto murder case. Instead, they have convicted two police officials because well, they had to convict someone. The judge noted that this could have been a landmark judgment — had the court been bombed and reduced to a landmark — but it was a stellar judgment instead, in fact an interstellar judgment. They had kept the court standing, sentenced a couple of people and avoided any bad blood with the Taliban, because it’s not an ATC’s place to tangle with terrorists.

The judge also noted that the prosecution’s case was weak; it had not been working out and suffered from iron deficiency. A primary witness, who produced the alleged tape of the alleged conversation between the alleged terrorists and an alleged Mehsud, had decided not to testify and keep living instead. Allegedly. So the prosecution’s case fell apart, because the terrorists had cleared away all forensic evidence, washed away the blood and cleaned out the inside of the vehicle, and hid the gun in the last place anyone would look for it — the courtroom.

To put this in perspective, in 10 years they couldn’t figure out who fired a shot in broad daylight, in public, right next to a cavalcade, on camera. If we were to draw an analogy, that would be like missing a chair in an unfurnished apartment, in the middle of the room, with no one sitting on it and a sign next to it saying ‘chair’.

I suppose that’s why they say justice is blind.

It took almost 10 years for an ambiguous verdict to come, in Benazir Bhutto’s murder case. Why?

It also seems to have arthritis. In the time that it took for this decision to come out, Misbah retired from cricket. Afridi retired, came back, retired, came back, retired, came back, retired and is threatening to come back. Pakistan won the Champions Trophy. Malala won the Nobel Peace Prize. Malala recovered from being shot in the face. Malala was shot in the face.

A Rangers’ operation was started in Karachi. Well okay, there’s nothing new there.

Trump became the American president. I graduated from university. They were both equally unlikely events. Seven iterations of the iPhone came out, one used to bend out of shape while placed in pockets. I’m just saying that because I don’t like iPhones. Raybans went out of fashion. Christopher Nolan went from being a good director directing bad scripts to a bad director directing good scripts. Shahrukh Khan stopped making movies. Got your hopes up with that one, didn’t I?

In short, the world has changed. The one thing that hasn’t changed though is Imran Khan. He was shouting about corruption and changing the system 10 years ago, and he’s still shouting about corruption and changing the system. Even the Taliban have changed their slogan in 10 years; they are now open to dialogue with the government, but Khan is not.

To put this in perspective, in 10 years they couldn’t figure out who fired a shot in broad daylight, in public, right next to a cavalcade, on camera. If we were to draw an analogy, that would be like missing a chair in an unfurnished apartment, in the middle of the room, with no one sitting on it and a sign next to it saying ‘chair’.

It all makes you think, what took so long? Did one of the judges go on vacation without telling anyone? Did one of the judges die without telling anyone? Was the prosecution speaking in Swahili? Could they not find enough ink for the stenograph? Were their halls booked for weddings in winter?

Were the witnesses made to speak backwards, very slowly? Did they have to play charades to guess the alibis? Did they forget that they had the most high profile murder case in the country on their desks? Did they even have desks?

World War II took less time to start and finish than the duration of this case.

These 10 years, when the perpetrators should have been behind bars, they’ve been living their life to the fullest, preparing for a likely death penalty, probably taking vacation after vacation to Naran and Kaghan. They must get a discount at Arcadian Resort by now. A former military dictator declared absconder in this case is also living the high life in Dubai, or England, or any of the dozen countries he’s found giving interviews and speeches in. His excuse is that he isn’t tall enough to be prosecuted.

In 10 years, people have claimed thousands of prize bonds. Nawaz Sharif has been deposed as prime minister a record third time. Coke Studio has ruined more classics than a guy in charge of PTV archives. Another beverage company has started producing an energy drink that doesn’t energise and nobody drinks. In 10 years, Bahria Town as swallowed half the country. In 10 years, I’ve gone from a strange looking, socially awkward man with long hair to a strange looking, socially awkward man with short hair. In 10 years, anything can happen.

Other than a decision it seems. When the media asked the son of late Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto what the case was missing after last week’s disappointing decision he said: “Conviction”.

Published in Dawn, EOS, September 10th, 2017