Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Death is always with us

The biggest news of late, of course, was the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Too much of that - including the consequences - is too unresolved for me to imagine I could cast any more light on it than others already have (or have tried to), but I do have one thought about the Musharraf government's patently bogus story about how she died: I don't know if they are directly responsible for her death either by being the killers or by deliberately letting it happen, but I do know they are trying damn hard to avoid being blamed for it - which only serves to make me more suspicious of Musharraf than I already would have been.

The ludicrousness of the official story - that she was killed by striking her head on a sunroof lever as a result of the bomb's concussion - was apparent to many from the start, especially since it was the third story they came up with. But now there is video of the shooting which clearly shows something happened to her before the blast, a something that damn well looks like an impact. (The video is a little grainy, but pausing it at the right moment clearly shows Bhutto starting to fall, her scarf and her hair lifted up as if having been struck with force from a low angle.)

And it also has emerged, according to the New York Times for Monday,
that her doctors felt pressured to conform to government accounts of her death....

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. ...

Mr. Minallah ... said the doctor who wrote the report, Mohammad Mussadiq Khan, the principal professor of surgery at the Rawalpindi General Hospital, told him on the night of Ms. Bhutto’s death that she had died of a bullet wound. ...

The medical report, prepared with six other doctors, does not specifically mention a bullet because the actual cause of the head wound was to be left to an autopsy,
one which, needless to say, will never be performed. The result is that, as others have already said, it's likely we will never know for certain the exact circumstances of her murder - especially since the site was hosed down rather than blocked off and protected for forensic investigation, which needless to say (but I will) should not increase anyone's confidence in the Pakistani government's intention to find out what really happened.

Footnote the first: Last week, William Arkin noted in the Washington Post that in the very near future
U.S. Special Forces are expected to vastly expand their presence in Pakistan, as part of an effort to train and support indigenous counter-insurgency forces and clandestine counterterrorism units, according to defense officials involved with the planning.
Arkin, who quotes US CentCom Commander Adm. William Fallon as saying Pakistan is showing "more of a willingness to use their regular army units" along the Afghan border, thinks that, plus the expanded US role, could make 2008 "a better year." Frankly, I very much doubt it.

Footnote the second: While Bhutto, not entirely without cause, became the symbol for democracy in Pakistan, it is well to keep in mind that neither she nor her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, could be classified as angels.

Footnote the third: McClatchy newspapers reported on Monday that an aide to Bhutto said that on the very day she was assassinated, Bhutto
had planned to reveal new evidence alleging the involvement of Pakistan's intelligence agencies in rigging the country's upcoming elections....

Bhutto had been due to meet U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., to hand over a report charging that the military Inter-Services Intelligence agency was planning to fix the polls in the favor of President Pervez Musharraf.
There has been some speculation that it was this report that got Bhutto killed, but I very much doubt that. First, because unless Bhutto was the only person who knew its contents, killing her would not prevent the report's release. Second, because while gaining nothing, such an assassination could well increase the report's impact: Now, instead of being "charges by the opposition," it becomes "the final act of a martyred hero of democracy!"

This is by no means to say that I think the Musharraf regime could not be behind Bhutto's murder, only that this would not have been the cause.

No comments:

// I Support The Occupy Movement : banner and script by @jeffcouturer / (v1.2) document.write('
I support the OCCUPY movement
');function occupySwap(whichState){if(whichState==1){document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}else{document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}} document.write('');