Key moment for Pakistan

UN commission of inquiry into Bhutto's death could make or break the country.

Gulf News

With its work having only just begun, questions are already being raised as to whether the UN commission of inquiry into the assassination of former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto will be able to reveal who was behind her murder.

In fact, many people are highly sceptical and wonder why the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) government insists that the UN investigation must take place, at a cost of at least $5 million (Dh18.3 million) - $1.5 million of which was already paid to the UN in March.

The people of Pakistan and even the majority of PPP supporters cannot understand why the government is not capable of conducting an investigation by itself.

But the fact is that the UN investigation could represent a turning point in the history of the country, which is facing its worst ever crisis as a result of the war against terrorism and other internal conflicts.

The probe could make or break the country and will be a real test for the PPP government, as revelations about who was responsible for Bhutto's murder could be potentially damaging.

Simply put, the participation of the UN is required because it is an independent international body whose findings should be acceptable to all parties. The hope is that whatever the outcome of the investigation, there will be no allegations of political victimisation.

However, it would be wrong to assume that the UN will arrest the culprits and put them behind bars. Once the commission of inquiry has concluded its work, it will be up to Pakistan to deal with the culprits.

Pakistan's Ambassador to the UAE Khursheed Ahmad Juneejo, who was named in Bhutto's will - which she wrote just two days before her historic return to Pakistan on October 18, 2007, after spending eight years in self-imposed exile - believes that there is a vast conspiracy behind Bhutto's assassination.

"There are some 'big powers' involved and, through the UN probe, we will manage to expose them - which would not be possible otherwise," he said.

However, it remains to be seen whether these 'big powers' will allow the UN to complete its investigation within the six-month period it has been granted.

The UN's track record in this regard is not particularly good: the commission that was set up to probe the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri on February 14, 2005, has yet to conclude its work despite the passage of more than four years.

Close associates of the PPP also do not buy the theory propagated by the then president Pervez Musharraf and the Western media that Tahrik-e-Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud is behind Bhutto's assassination.

It is worth remembering that Bhutto herself sent a letter to Musharraf mentioning the names of high-profile officials in the government and intelligence agencies whom she suspected of wanting to kill her.

Pakistan has a long history of mysterious political assassinations. Bhutto's brother Mir Murtaza Bhutto was killed in a shootout with police during her second term as prime minister. This case has also not been solved.

In fact, nobody knows who was behind the assassination of the first prime minister of Pakistan Liaqat Ali Khan, who was shot dead in 1951 during a public meeting at the same location where Bhutto made her last election address. While Liaqat's assassin was killed by police, the mystery behind the murder was never solved.

Bhutto was killed on December 27, 2007, in a gun and suicide bomb attack after addressing an election rally in 'Liaqat Park' in Rawalpindi, a garrison city near the capital Islamabad.

The UN commission of inquiry into her death is led by Chilean Ambassador to the United Nations Heraldo Munoz and comprises two other members: Indonesia's former attorney general Marzuki Darusman and Peter Fitzgerald, a veteran police officer from the Irish National Police. The panel is expected to arrive in Pakistan later this month.

There is some doubt as to whether the UN team will be able to freely conduct its investigation if the culprits behind the killing continue to wield power and influence in Pakistan. However, they are likely to be exposed if they try to interfere.

The Scotland Yard police team that was hired by Musharraf to investigate Bhutto's murder left the country without reaching any conclusion, but that probe was conducted for the sake of appearances. For the sake of Pakistan, it is hoped that the UN inquiry will get to the bottom of the matter.

Your comments

i really dont understand why they need to call united nation for the inquiry and pay them hudge amount insted they should conduct in house investigation honestly and bring the culprit to face we know pakistan is a poor country and cant afford to spend such a huge amount on this case particularly at current situation since we have lots of displaced people from swat and sorrunding areas. my request to authority is please be faithfull to the country not the one person.
Jamshed Iqbal Maher
Posted: July 07, 2009, 12:51