Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Our Man In Islamabad

From the "no shit, Sherlock" file comes the revelation that Pervez Musharraf's government might be fudging or concealing crucial facts about Benzair Bhutto's assassination. I know, we're all shocked by this.

LAHORE, Pakistan — New details of Benazir Bhutto’s final moments, including indications that her doctors felt pressured to conform to government accounts of her death, fueled the arguments over her assassination on Sunday and added to the pressure on Pakistan’s leaders to accept an international inquiry.

Athar Minallah, a board member of the hospital where Ms. Bhutto was treated, released her medical report along with an open letter showing that her doctors wanted to distance themselves from the government theory that Ms. Bhutto had died by hitting her head on a lever of her car’s sunroof during the attack.

In his letter, Mr. Minallah, who is also a prominent lawyer, said the doctors believed that an autopsy was needed to provide the answers to how she actually died. Their request for one last Thursday was denied by the local police chief.

A political assassination and no autopsy? Why would anyone think something's a bit hinky?

What's really confusing here is the cui bono aspect of it; just because Musharraf and the military and intel services are all rushing to sweep this under in a series of ham-fisted maneuvers doesn't mean they did it, oddly. This is as good an assessment of the situation as I have read yet. But the fact that the U.S. media is openly questioning the official Pakistani government line here tells me that Musharraf is done. Will we settle on Nawaz Sharif, or do what we can to prop Bhutto Junior in place? Most likely the second option, but this is going to be very ugly for some time to come.


Marius said...

Here is Tariq Ali's post-script to that article in the LRB in late November:

Six hours before she was executed, Mary, Queen of Scots wrote to her brother-in-law, Henry III of France: ‘. . . As for my son, I commend him to you in so far as he deserves, for I cannot answer for him.’ The year was 1587.

On 30 December 2007, a conclave of feudal potentates gathered in the home of the slain Benazir Bhutto to hear her last will and testament being read out and its contents subsequently announced to the world media. Where Mary was tentative, her modern-day equivalent left no room for doubt. She could certainly answer for her son.

A triumvirate consisting of her husband, Asif Zardari (one of the most venal and discredited politicians in the country and still facing corruption charges in three European courts) and two ciphers will run the party till Benazir’s 19-year-old son, Bilawal, comes of age. He will then become chairperson-for-life and, no doubt, pass it on to his children. The fact that this is now official does not make it any less grotesque. The Pakistan People’s Party is being treated as a family heirloom, a property to be disposed of at the will of its leader.

Nothing more, nothing less. Poor Pakistan. Poor People’s Party supporters. Both deserve better than this disgusting, medieval charade.

Benazir’s last decision was in the same autocratic mode as its predecessors, an approach that would cost her – tragically – her own life. Had she heeded the advice of some party leaders and not agreed to the Washington-brokered deal with Pervez Musharraf or, even later, decided to boycott his parliamentary election she might still have been alive. Her last gift to the country does not augur well for its future.

Is this the kind of "stability" that the Bushies were hoping to bring to Pakistan by forcing Pervez to share things with the Bhuttos?

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