KARACHI, Dec 29: The controversy over the manner in which former prime minister Benazir Bhutto died in a Dec 27 attack in Rawalpindi deepened on Saturday night when DawnNews TV aired chilling images of an armed assassin taking a shot at her as she acknowledged the cheers of jubilant party activists from the sunroof of her bullet-proof vehicle.

The government has insisted that Ms Bhutto died when her head slammed against her vehicle by the blast from a bomb. But the Pakistan People’s Party has held that she died from bullet wounds.

Shot by an amateur photographer, the images telecast by DawnNews TV make it abundantly clear that there was no security cordon around Ms Bhutto’s vehicle.

They show a young clean-shaven man, wearing a waistcoat and dark glasses, inch inconspicuously towards the slow-moving vehicle of Ms Bhutto. Standing closely behind is a man believed to be the suicide bomber with a piece of cloth draped around his face. The first image catches the duo looking straight into the camera.

Another image shows the sharpshooter open fire on the unsuspecting political leader with remarkable aplomb. He is just a couple of metres away from his target. One of the party activists clinging to the vehicle seems to have spotted the assassin, whose upraised hand carries a gun.

The third image shows activists around the vehicle ducking their heads in reflex, suggesting that the gun has been fired. Unfazed, the assassin is still in their midst.

Crucially, Ms Bhutto has disappeared from the sunroof. And, equally crucially, the suicide bomber has yet to blow himself up.

The unsettling images raise significant questions about the quality of security arrangements made for the former prime minister who narrowly escaped a suicide attack on her homecoming procession on Oct 18.

The fact that an armed assassin managed to get just a couple of metres away from Ms Bhutto clearly gives the lie to the government claim that she had received a VIP security cover.

Also, the new images seem to lend credence to the assertion made by a close aide of Ms Bhutto who insisted that the opposition leader was shot in the head and neck.

According to the Reuters news agency, Sherry Rehman, a PPP spokesperson, said: “She has a bullet wound at the back of her head on the left side. It came out the other (side). That was a very large wound, and she bled profusely through that.”

Ms Rehman prepared the slain leader’s body for burial.

“She was even bleeding while we were bathing her for the burial. The government is now trying to say she concussed herself, which is ludicrous. It is really dangerous nonsense.”

However, the government stuck to its version, saying Ms Bhutto’s party was welcome to exhume her corpse to check.

Opinion

Sialkot speaks
31 Jul 2021

Sialkot speaks

The PML-N leadership is shell-shocked. A drubbing by the PTI in Sialkot? In the heart of Sharif territory?
Who messed up Afghanistan?
Updated 31 Jul 2021

Who messed up Afghanistan?

Russia and USA are squarely responsible for Afghanistan’s tragedy but Pakistan is certainly not innocent.

Editorial

China-Taliban meeting
Updated 31 Jul 2021

China-Taliban meeting

WITH the government in Kabul appearing to stand on very fragile foundations, and as the clock ticks down to the ...
31 Jul 2021

Outages in Makran

IT is no surprise that people in Balochistan’s Makran Division have of late taken to the streets to protest in the...
31 Jul 2021

Reduction in polio cases

AFTER the long and tedious efforts of those running the national polio programme, there are signs that Pakistan ...
30 Jul 2021

Judge’s elevation

A CONTROVERSY roiling the legal fraternity for a few weeks has come to a head. It was precipitated by the Judicial...
PTI’s Sialkot win
30 Jul 2021

PTI’s Sialkot win

The PML-N’s internal duality is a particularly acute factor that is dragging down the party in electoral contests.
30 Jul 2021

Attack on Chinese

AN attack targeting two Chinese nationals in Karachi on Wednesday should put the security apparatus on alert in ...