Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bhutto's Assassination Needs a Real Investigation

As this blogger - who is the author of "Profiles in Terror:A Guide to Middle East Terrorist Organizations" points out (, a true investigation to determine who was behind the assassination is important for many reasons. Not least is that depending on who the responsible parties are, it has significant foreign policy implications. Here are some highlights for the post:

Facts about Benazir Bhutto’s assassination are in short supply. Unfortunately that is unlikely to change. There is a long tradition of failure to investigate political murders in Pakistan. This cannot continue if Pakistan is to become a stable democratic state that serves its people and exists at peace with the world. The first step is that Musharraf invite the international community to advise in the investigation into Bhutto’s death. The investigation will be politically expensive – it may not reach Musharraf himself but it will reach deep into the civilian and military elites running Pakistan. Broad, tough international engagement is essential to seeing this forward – the stakes are very high.

While the Islamists are the most likely suspects, they certainly hated Bhutto as a secular female politician – Bhutto had many other enemies. As I noted after the October attempt on Bhutto’s life:

"In courting Western support for her return to Pakistan, Bhutto promised that the International Atomic Energy Agency would receive access to A. Q. Khan, father of the Pakistani nuclear program and head of an international clandestine nuclear proliferation ring, who is currently under house arrest. It is inconceivable that Khan carried out his operations without substantial assistance from figures in Pakistan’s military and intelligence services."

A thorough investigation might be a first step to countering the rot pervading Pakistani politics. But if the murderers and their backers can get away with this murder Pakistan’s downward spiral will only continue.

Bhutto was a grand historical figure, talented but flawed. She died in the cause of a secular, moderate Pakistan. If a thorough investigation into her murder helps move Pakistan towards becoming a moderate Muslim democracy her death will not have been in vain.

If Islamists within the military or ISI did this, then we have the possibility that this is the beginning of something more ominous than the surface event. The collapse of Pakistan into a Jihadist nuclear power is the great nightmare. Here's hoping that however grim this news, the worst isn't yet to come.

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