Pakistani politics has always been volatile and every election is guaranteed to bring about the deaths of scores of people from political violence during election campaigns. Political assassinations also have always been a part of political life, not just in Pakistan but across the entire sub-continent, ever since the end of British rule. In the past, such political violence has always been home-grown and committed by domestic political players for purely domestic political reasons. However, the death of Benazir Bhutto has repercussions and consequences that extend far beyond Pakistani domestic politics and it is for this reason that one should be sceptical about who the finger of blame is being pointed at. More importantly, one should also look at the political gain that those who are doing the finger pointing could expect to receive as a result of making such accusations.
When blame is apportioned in the mainstream western media there is a tendency for it to stick. For many, that same mainstream western media is all they have to rely on to provide them with their information about events in the world, so when journalists and commentators write their ‘news’ and vent their opinions in the mainstream media it becomes difficult to refute or argue with and any attempts by those that have other ideas about what may really have happened are usually dismissed as conspiracy theorists. In order to ensure that the right ‘message’ gets across, therefore, it is imperative that when events – like the assassination of Benazir Bhutto – happens that the finger of blame gets pointed as quickly as possible and that such blame is made well-known via as much of the mainstream media as possible before any other options could be placed into the collective world mind.
The question then is; who indeed did murder Benazir Bhutto? In the absence of any direct evidence from any quarter, one can only start by asking who had the most to gain by her murder. According to President Bush the “cowardly” attack was carried out by “…by murderous extremists who are trying to undermine Pakistan’s democracy”. The first thing one feels compelled to ask is; what democracy? Pakistan is governed by a dictatorship headed by President Musharraf who came to power via a coup and has been supported by the US ever since 9/11. Elections that bore some semblance to ‘democracy’ and were likely to see the demise Musharraf as President are scheduled for 8 January 2008. These are now in doubt, so Musharraf, it would seem, would have much to gain from Benazir Bhutto’s murder. But what would ‘al Qaeda’ have to gain from her death? To be sure, to most fighters who are defending fundamentalist Islam from the onslaught of the West, she was just another western-inspired and educated politician intent on power in Pakistan but she was no more a threat to ‘al Qaeda’ than any other politician in Pakistan looking for power. They certainly would have no reason to kill her – at least not just yet – though no doubt they would be quite happy about the fact that she is gone.
For the US and her allies, particularly Israel, it is essential that Musharraf retains power. Both the US and Israel are very sensitive to the fact that Pakistan does have nuclear arms and that it is a predominately Muslim nation and that there is a large element of Islamic fundamentalists within the nations political ranks who it would be reasonable to assume have a very strong chance of gaining or seizing power in Pakistan and who would have the Taliban of Afghanistan and north-west Pakistan as an ally rather than as an enemy as they are now of Musharraf. Power passing to Benazir Bhutto via an election would have been much easier to seize by Islamic fundamentalists than from Musharraf if that is their intention – another reason why it would not be in their interests to assassinate her.
In early November of 2007, shortly after the earlier unsuccessful attempt on Benazir Bhutto’s life, British current affairs presenter David Frost interviewed her. She told Frost that she had suspicions that members of the Pakistan security services were behind the assassination attempt and had even written a letter to President Musharraf explaining her suspicions. In the same interview Benazir Bhutto also told Frost in a very matter of fact way that Osama bin Laden had been murdered by the same forces that wanted her dead; a man she named as none other than Omar Sheikh, the man convicted of the murder of American Daniel Pearl! It may well be that she was killed simply because she knew too much but much more likely because she was a threat to the current western international status quo who saw her gaining power as a massive risk that the US and their allies could not afford to take; though, most likely, she was killed for all of the these reasons.
Musharraf is the devil the US and the Israelis know. Benazir Bhutto has had power before and lost it; she was popular but she was not strong. Pakistani political power, as far as the US and the Israelis are concerned, should remain in the hands of the devil they have already paid for. The death of Benazir Bhutto may well ensure that power stays with Musharraf and pointing the finger of blame for her death at ‘al Qaeda’ merely strengthens the perception in the West for there to be a strong Pakistani leader and further demonises ‘al Qaeda’ generally into the bargain thus perpetuating the myth of its continued existence.