Demand for UN probe

Just three days after Benazir Bhutto's assassination on December 27, 2007 her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, called for a United Nations investigation into the gory incident. "We demand a Hariri commission-style investigation," Zardari told reporters, referring to the UN inquiry into the February 2005 killing of the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. "We are writing to the United Nations for an international probe into her martyrdom." This was an unexpected, extraordinary demand. Was it a natural thought or an inspired one Sober Pakistanis were puzzled. Equating Pakistan with Lebanon in such a case was unrealistic, indeed insulting. Perhaps the demand was a rash wave of thought produced by the emotional shock felt by Benazir Bhutto's kith and kin and dear friends in her party, and added to it was their apparent distrust of the government of the day. It was thought that as the shock effects recede and saner thinking in the PPP leaders prevails the demand would die down. But the demand, becoming something like a slogan, kept ringing, although people still saw it as a political ploy. After the general election when the assemblies met, with the Pakistan People's Party having an influential position in all quarters, each one of them by a resolution reiterated the demand. It was an amazing orchestration, and made it obvious that this demand had all along been a calculated move. It was necessary to look at this bizarre issue seriously. Federal Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Farooq H Naek moved the resolution in the National Assembly on April 14, 2008. "The resolution was adopted unanimously wherein the government was urged to approach the UN for forming an international investigation commission to be known as Mohtarama Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Commission. The commission the resolution said should seek to probe and identify the culprits, perpetrators, organisers and financiers behind this heinous crime and bring them to justice." Mercifully, the resolution's drafters did not bring in the "Hariri model." But, obviously, that model was their inspiration; although it seemed they had not studied the details of the "model" or the UNSC's conditions in the matter. It is not known if any other sovereign country has ever asked the UN to investigate a case of murder of one of its citizens committed on its own soil. Why would a country that respects its law and abilities of its experts and guards its sovereignty and sensitive national information even entertain such an undesirable idea? With due respect to the Lebanese people, the fact is Lebanon, devastated for decades by battles launched or ignited by Israel, which also occupied its southern part for 18 years, is a shattered state. Its ruling parties, aligned separately with external powers - US, Israel and Syria - are mutually irreconcilably divided. Soliciting the UN to investigate the Hariri murder marked another failure of the state of Lebanon. Thus, in adopting its Resolution 1595 on April 7, 2005, the Security Council "noted with concern that the Lebanese investigation process suffers from serious flaws and has neither the capacity nor the commitment to reach a satisfactory and credible conclusion." The implications of this (or a similar) clause alone should ring alarm bells in the minds of the politicians who are pursuing the Hariri model for Pakistan. There was no discussion on the issue even in the National Assembly. The resolution was moved and passed - as if it was a settled issue backed by the whole nation, and no one could dispute it And we complain of dictators, imposing policies not open to discussion We do not doubt that the members of the legislature are committed to upholding Pakistan's sovereignty and international status and that they place the country's interests above their own political interests or those of their parties. But, not evaluating this potentially very damaging issue reflected poorly on them and on the nation's top decision-making body as a whole. Where were the PPP's brains trust and the brainy analysts in the administration? A story giving hints of what was expected from a UN probe appeared in The Nation on April 20. Quoting government sources, it said, "The coalition which is busy in drafting a letter to the UN Secretary General....does not seek any fresh inquiry into causes of BB 's death. Cause of death of the former prime minister had been established. The government wants the UN to investigate about the potential mastermind, financiers and facilitators involved in plotting the act." The cause of death that the Scotland Yard inquiry report indicated was " a severe head injury sustained as a consequence of the bomb-blast and due to head impact somewhere in the escape hatch" had been rejected by the PPP leaders, especially Benazir's close companions who were with her at the time of the incident and who had maintained all along that she had been killed by gunshot. What had made them retreat from that position? In all likelihood the invisible hands pushing for a UN Inquiry were also the planners of its scope and direction. Any inquiry that did not study and analyse the circumstances in which Benazir died and the techniques and instruments by which she was killed would be neither comprehensive nor credible. Besides, the mystery as to what actually killed Benazir needs to be fully explored and uncovered. She was the object of a target killing; the killers could not have left it to chance. Elaborate advance planning had been done not only with regard to the precise date, time and place of the murder but also for the organised outburst of defiant anarchy, rioting, looting, killing, burning and destruction - that did break out and caused colossal damage, as programmed. The profound planning aspect of the whole operation comes out when one analyses the design behind the dramatic events that appeared on the political stage in Pakistan, beginning with Benazir Bhutto's return on October 18, 2007 and ending with the general election on February 18, 2008. Removing her from the scene was part one of the larger design; what we are witnessing now on the political stage is its part two. Benazir was killed most probably with a laser weapon. Even the physical evidence as per the doctors report: "Bleeding from both ears, nose, mouth and from an oval 5x3 cm wound above the right ear, and whitish material that looked like brain matter visible in the wound," pointed to a laser shot wound and not to an injury caused by accidental "head impact somewhere in the escape hatch." This brief insight shows that it is essential to identify the exact cause of the injury from which Benazir died. It would also lead to identifying the real master killers. A UN inquiry, however, would never uncover the masterminds; only a competent commission of inquiry in Pakistan can do that. As for finding out the front men, facilitators, etc that is no big deal. It is pointless and illogical to call in UN investigators for that purpose. A systematic investigation by our own police would bring to light all the local participants, abettors and tools involved in BB's murder. And we know a joint investigation team is already on the job. Would it be rational to wind up this investigation and hand over the task to the UN or to superimpose on it an inquiry by a UN team? It does not make sense to think that UN investigators would have more knowledge of the local conditions and more access to sensitive information than the Pakistani investigators have Soliciting the UN to hold an inquiry and then meeting its demands and complying with the directions of the Security Council would be like pushing Pakistan into a dark bottomless pit of unimaginable problems. The Hariri investigation, begun in April 2005, is still continuing, with no end in sight The idea of a UN inquiry should be discarded. The PPP leaders are heading the government now. They have all the authority, resources and opportunity to order a full inquiry to give the best results. And there is just the right example for them - in the Shafiur Rahman Commission of Inquiry into the 1988 C-130 Crash, established in August 1992. In spite of its flaws and self-imposed handicaps, the commission uncovered the plot and the main local organisers and facilitators and, what is more, identified the crime's foreign masterminds - the reason its report was not publicised. The government should quickly set up a similar commission and entrust it with the required task.

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