Over the next few days I will be updating this post. The first part is the opinion of individuals as related to the press. The second part is the various theories surrounding her murder and where each person named fits in. The third part is matching the various groups/individuals to the theories they will support in the following days.
From Jawab Deh show with Iftikhar Ahmed, April 18.
1. April 18: Raja Riaz Ahmed Khan (PPP): a JIT (joint investigation team) of the FIA has conducted a parallel investigation and is ready to be released. The reason it wasn’t released sooner was because the PPP was waiting for the UN report to be released so that the claim would not be made that the PPP was taking political revenge on the individuals that it accused. Therefore it was necessary to wait for the conclusion of the UN probe.
2. Shafqat Mehmood: The lack of investigation into Benazir Bhutto’s murder is the second tragedy after the original tragedy. PPP does not have much credibility left.
3. Shakeel Anjum (journalist who has just released a book “Who Killed Benazir Bhutto”): the UN probe should not have been a fact-finding mission because “we are already aware of the facts”. He doesn’t trust the present government to conduct this investigation and thinks that it should be conducted by a bench of the supreme court. (similar to the Warren Commission)
4. Chaudhry Muhammad Aslam (Benazir’s protocol officer): He has already filed a petition which accusees 12 people (who, according to him, were the plans “executors” in Pakistan – suggesting that the plan was part of a larger global conspiracy). These people include Pervez Musharraf, Ijaz Shah, Brigadier Cheema, Saud Aziz, SP Khurram, Hamid Nawaz, Parvez Ilahi, Irfan Ilahi, Babar Awan and Rehman Malik. According to him, Baitullah Mehsud is not involved.
5. Hamid Gul: thinks that this is a “Save Zardari” report and that it contains no mention of the real perpetrators such as the US and Blackwater. Neither the Taliban, nor Al Qaeda are involved.
April 19, Islamabad tonight
6. Masood Sharif Khattak (former director IB and member of PPP): Incompetence of Kamal Shah and Rehman Malik. Very angry at Rehman Malik for not “visiting Naseerullah Babar” when he is ill (after building his career on Naseerullah Babar’s coattails). Zardari doesn’t ever meet me. However does not see any conspiracy beyond security lapse and incompetence
7. Senator Tariq Azeem (PML-Q): This report is like the Hariri report (i.e. it’s set up to frame the Pakistani establishment)
8. Gen. Asad Durrani: Conspiracy of Musharraf and Rehman Malik and hints at larger global conspiracy.
April 16 Meray Mutabiq
Mumtaz Malik (Former director FIA): Incompetence of Rehman Malik. Rehman Malik was praised as “a useful man” by General Musharraf.
9. Ayesha Siddiqua: This was done in line with the larger geo-strategic goals of the entire establishment
10. Talal Bugti (now allied with PML-N): Musharraf + Rehman Malik + Zardari.
11. ISPR (Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas): Silent so far! Says he needs to do more research
12. Shaheen Sehbai: report gives “clean chit” to Zardari and gives official sanction to some of the wild conspiracy theories that have been floating around for the last 2 years. By that, he’s referring to the fingers pointed at the establishment’s role in BB’s murder. The release of the UN report will go down as a “non-event”
13 (MQM). Babar Ghauri: nothing new in report.
14. Director General Rescue 1122 Dr Rizwan Naseer: CPO Rawalpindi Saud Aziz ordered crime scene to be washed
Theory 1 – Independently carried out Baitullah Mehsud and the Pakistani Taliban with possible connections to Al Qaeda
The biggest proponent of this theory was the Musharraf administration. The theory was put forward the day following the death of Benazir in the press conference by Brigadier Cheema. According to this theory, an audio tape of Baitullah Mehsud and his associate was made available to the government in which the two implicate themselves by discussing the successful execution of Benazir Bhutto’s murder. The ‘evidence’ for this theory is quite possibly also it’s greatest weakness. How was an audio tape so readily available? How was the government so confidently able to claim that Baitullah Mehsud was the culprit within one day of the attack?
Theory 2 – The attack was part of a global conspiracy headed by elements within the United States government (Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice), assisted by Blackwater, President Musharraf and insider PPP collaborators such as Rehman Malik, Babar Awan and Zardari
The main proponents of this theory are Gen. Hamid Gul, Chaudhry Muhammad Aslam and Shakeel Anjum. The main evidence pointed to by proponents of this theory is the departure of the bullet-proof Mercedes from the scene of the crime, containing Rehman Malik, Babar Awan and Farhatullah Babar. According to supporters of this theory it will be impossible for the present government to investigate the murder because major players in this government are themselves deeply involved in the murder.
Theory 3 – The attack was engineered by the rogue Islamist elements within the military establishment with ties to militantsbut not by President Musharraf as such
This theory was advanced by BB herself after the first attack on her in Karachi in her letter following the Karachi attack in which she named Hamid Gul, Ijaz Shah and Pervaiz Ilahi as the individuals who were trying to kill her.
Theory 4 – The attack was engineered by the entire military establishment including President Musharraf, the Punjab government and the so-called rogue Islamist elements within the establishment
The main proponent of this theory are the PPP and the UN Commission which clearly points out “The Establishment” as one of the possible suspects in the murder and which underplays the possibility that Baitullah Mehsud could have been acting alone. According to this theory, the military establishment as a whole is behind Benazir Bhutto’s murder.
Theory 5 – Benazir Staged the attack on herself
This theory maintains that Benazir planned the Karachi attack on herself for attention and also engineered the Liaquat Bagh attack, but ended up going too far and killing herself. This theory does not seem very popular.
Who is likely to support which theory
Musharraf is, for obvious reasons, in favour of Theory 1.
The army’s first choice would be Theory 1. Under this theory the army and the Musharraf government would hold no responsibility for the death of Benazir Bhutto. At worst, the Musharraf government would be guilty of negligence.
The army’s second choice (if, for whatever reason, theory #1 was shown to be utterly impossible) would be Theory 2. Under theory 2, it could be argued (in line with the Army’s distancing itself from Musharraf’s pro-US policies) that Musharraf was acting independently from the Army as an institution and was taking dictation from his masters in the US in order to save his own office. This theory could come into play for the Army to – if necessary – escape scrutiny as an institution by using Musharraf as a scapegoat. It is extremely unlikely that the Army would allow the situation to get this far.
PML-N, in keeping with its anti-Western and anti-Musharraf line is likely to support Theory 2. Theory 2 will allow it to blame Musharraf and to call for his trial without necessarily scrutinizing the army as an institution.
The Judiciary’s viewpoint is likely to be the same as the PML-N’s.
The Right-Wing Media
Theory 2 for the same reasons as PML-N and the Judiciary
First choice: Theory 4
Second (compromise) choice: a modified version of theory 3 in which Musharraf would also be implicated. The PPP will most likely not attempt to implicate serving military officers in the ensuing criminal investigation and as a compromise only go after retired ISI/military officers, police officers and Musharraf himself.
Public opinion has been a mish-mash of the various theories. Theory 2 is likely to hold the most currency since Theory 1 is a little too simplistic for most people to believe in light of what we know about the post-murder coverup as well as the new information revealed by the UN report. Theory 4 is too extreme and as Khaled Ahmed said, blaming the army institutionally is – for most people – like blaming themselves. Within Theory 2 there are different shades as pertains to the involvement of sitting government officials.