Friday, April 16, 2010

And Now What?

Just finished watching the media presentation by the UN Commission investigating Benazir Bhutto's assassination. While we will have to wait to hear the details of the full report and assess them, my overwhelming feeling about the summary presented by the head of the commission was:

This is what we paid US$20 million for???

Basically, what the Chilean ambassador who headed the commission said was that the commission was "disturbed" by things all of us already knew and were disturbed by - the ineffective security provided to Benazir in the face of credible threats to her life, and the farcical investigation into the causes and the masterminds behind her death.

It basically details all those things people have been talking about for the last two years - why was there no proper security plan, why was a crowd allowed to gather around her vehicle as she exited Liaquat Bagh, why was she allowed to stand up out of her bulletproof car, why was her backup vehicle not where it should have been to rush her to hospital, why was no autopsy performed on her, why was the crime site hosed down within two hours resulting in a loss of forensic evidence etc - without giving any conclusions about them. The only thing that seems new is that the report, apparently, dismisses the rumours that Benazir died from gunshot wounds or that Zardari was somehow involved.

Meanwhile, Geo took it upon itself to ascribe blame, which the report apparently has not, and continued to run with a Breaking News Alert that the report had held the Musharraf government responsible for Benazir's death. "Benazir Bhutto Ki Maut Ki Zimmedaar Musharraf Hakoomat Hai - UN Report" (Musharraf Government Responsible for Benazir Bhutto's Death - UN Report). This it began doing even before the presentation, basing its claims on a misunderstanding of what its own correspondent at the UN was reading out in English - within a minute of receiving a copy of the report - from the rather substantial report.

From what I was able to gather from the presentation, the report actually blames the Musharraf government (as well as the PPP - which in this case means Rehman Malik who was in charge of Benazir's security from the PPP side) for not ensuring the security of Benazir and for not conducting a proper investigation afterwards. It leaves all inferences about these things up to the readers.

That is vastly different from Geo's claims that the Musharraf government directly caused her death, which is what most people reading the alert will understand from it. Grossly irresponsible.

More later.


Ali said...

On filing a report with the police about a robbery at our house in lahore, a police officer came by and started investigating ie talking to the various witnesses, to the helpers at home, the neighbours etc. Very definitive in his approach, he seemed to know what he is doing and/or looking for.

much to our amusement, at the end of his 'tafteesh' he reported to us (in punjabi).

"ikk gal tay pakki ay sir, huee tay ithay chori hee si" (one thing's for sure, this was definitely a robbery)

this UN commission report is no different - and to expect for it to divulge anything more than it did would be wishful thinking, especially given the chaotic events of the day.

Anonymous said...

the next step would be to read the report

Ahsan said...

^^ Haha. The Punjabi cop story is priceless.

Anonymous said...

Why PPP government is not having a Pakistani investigation (not the punjabi style)?

WHS said...

We need no investigation because

Zinda hain BIBI Zinda Hain :)

Anonymous said...

UN Commission was no different than Punjabi police inspector. Their findings:

UN commission confirms Bhutto's Death; Someone definitely responsible.

Anonymous said...

Granted, it states pretty much what we already knew.

But if you consider how the nitty-gritty of BB's death was stuck in a sort of political miasma - no one believing anyone as to what happened, I think it's welcome.

At the end of the day, an independent, impartial commission was there to establish the facts and circumstances leading up and in the aftermath of BB's death- which it is quite clear with at the beginning.

Great joke btw.

Anonymous said...

$20 million loss is no joke.

Ali K. said...

Yes we knew before the report that there were security lapses and that the Musharraf government (not the PPP mind you) was responsible for BB's security. What is new and important is the extent to which the CPO and the agencies went to make sure the investigation into BB's assassination would not be effective.

If you read the UN report,(Selected excepts can be found here: )you will come across specific information from different sources who were obviously party to the investigation and felt comfortable talking (though anonymously) to the UN team.

Would we have know without the UN investigation that the DG MI Nadeem Khan(named in the report) called CPO Saud to tell him to hose down the crime scene, the fact that this is not usually done except when the military is in direct control of the crime scene, the fact that the UN concluded that the establishment hindering investigation,the fact that the ISI had sole control over the evidence and 'selectively' shared it with JIT, the fact that Brig Cheema's pre-mature press conference ordered by Musharaff himself was conducted even before the Forensic team had inspected the car let alone been to the crime scene, the fact that the Forensic team visited the crime scene 2 full days after the BB's death AND even then only because they insisted that the CPO take them who was hesitant to do so, the fact that the CPO was legally obligated to have the autopsy performed;did not need Zardari's permission and that it was SOP to do so, that the JIT's head Abdul Majeed sidelined other(the original) members from conducting investigation and last but not least that the UN investigators believed that CPO Saud Aziz was not acting independently while hindering the investigation.

This is certainly not trivial information.

Mighty said...

If I may contribute, a fine piece appeared in the PPP mouthpiece everyone knows as Daily Times.\04\17\story_17-4-2010_pg7_19

UN report fulfills government’s wishes

By Shafiq Awan

LAHORE: The government’s purpose for requesting the UN to delay its commission’s report over Benazir Bhutto’s assassination was to make certain amendments in the report, reliable sources told Daily Times.

Foreign Ministry sources said the UN accommodated only a few proposals in its final report released on Friday, as they did not hurt its actual purpose. President Zardari had approached the UN secretary general on March 31 to delay the report until April 15, to which the latter agreed.

One of the amendments was to clear Zardari’s name from Benazir’s murder, even though the UN commission did not consider Zardari for the incident, nor did it mention him as a suspect or was questioned over involvement. The commission questioned how they could issue a clearance report to someone who they had not even considered for the murder.

But, the government insisted Zardari be given a clean chit, especially when the commission considered him not guilty. The government demanded a favour to document the fact that Zardari or his family members were not involved in the assassination. They argued that this would clear several misunderstandings in the country as well as in the Zardari family. After hectic diplomatic efforts, the request was granted.

The sources said the Foreign Ministry and Pakistani envoy to the UN Hussain Haroon strongly opposed the proposal, as it would trigger further controversies, but Hussain Haqqani vetoed their proposals.

Another amendment was regarding softening the language against Interior Minister Rahman Malik, as an initial report had directly held him responsible for security lapses. The government apprehended such remarks may trigger a controversy and the opposition could hold Malik responsible for the murder.

The government argued that the UN commission’s mandate was fact-finding, and the language used against Malik in the report would give an impression that the incident occurred as he had not taken appropriate security measures, and him going missing from the scene was considered mysterious.

The government had expressed reservations over the report in March, after it managed to get hold of some of its parts through ambassador Hussain Haqqani. However, their apprehensions were ignored and they were asked to wait until the report was finalised.

The government had also asked the UN team to avoid commenting on the role of any “state organs” in Benazir’s assassination, as they were a little apprehensive. However, after the assurance, the “state organs” were engaged in the investigation. The US’ role in providing security to Benazir was also avoided on the government’s request.

natasha said...

I dont understand why the commission was hired in the first place when Zardari's been all along saying he knows who the killers are.

Baasi report.