Monday, October 22, 2007

Pakistani Government Promises Objective Investigation of its Involvement in Bhutto Assassination Attempt

Last week, Benazir Bhutto survived an assassination attempt that killed over 130 people in Karachi, a major port city in Pakistan. She was in a convoy, celebrating her return from exile. One reason for the high death toll was Bhutto's popularity. She and her convoy were surrounded by a crowd of supporters. And, at least one suicide bomber.

The Pakistani government has to investigate the attack: over ten dozen deaths in a major city, of a returning popular leader, with international news coverage, can't be ignored. My guess is that at least some in Pakistan's government would just as soon close their eyes and pretend the attack never happened. The October 18, 2007, assassination attempt involves some debatable judgment and odd coincidences.
  • Bhutto refused government plea to take helicopter to Pakistan founder's tomb
  • Bhutto's convoy took 10 hours to get through Karachi
  • Street lights went out at sunset, giving attackers cover
  • Phone service went out, preventing Bhutto's convoy from asking for help
  • Bhutto went inside her armored vehicle shortly before the blasts
  • Bhutto wants American and British experts to help Pakistan's government investigate the attack
  • Pakistan's government
    • Refuses foreign help
    • Made an odd choice for chief investigator of the attack:
      a police officer who had been present when Bhutto's father was "allegedly" tortured in 1999
      (Bhutto's father was accused of corruption: presumably, that's why he was "allegedly" tortured)
Pakistan's Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao said that the investigation will come to correct conclusions without foreign help. Or interference? "I would categorically reject this," he said. "We are conducting the investigation in a very objective manner."

Pakistan's government has evidence to work with:
  • Photographs
  • Pieces of vehicles
  • Pieces of people
    including what presumably is a suicide bomber's head - somewhat the worse for wear, but recognizable
I don't blame Bhutto for wanting American or British experts to be involved in the investigation. First, they might have more experience and training that the local specialists. Second, they'd be good witnesses of the investigation: a sort of guarantee that facts get considered.

Pakistani politicos and others already have their own explanations for who's to blame for the bombing:
  • Bhutto, who should have followed government advice, and taken a helicopter instead of driving through Karachi
  • Bhutto's husband, who tried to blow up his wife in order to boost her popularity
  • Elements in the Pakistani government, who don't want Bhutto to win upcoming elections
The idea of Pakistani government people being involved isn't as bizarre as it might seem. Mujahedeen groups, formed in part by General Zia-ul Haq to fight the former Soviet Union in Afghanistan, later helped form Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Pakistan leader Musharraf's religious affairs minister is Haq's son. The young Haq is one of the people that Bhutto is responsible for the assassination attempt.

It's a complicated situation, to put it mildly.

I think it's also a case in point for how we can't assume that countries in the Middle East and elsewhere are equivalent to America and other countries that enjoy the rule of law.

One of the most obvious differences is that here in America, politicos throw metaphorical mud at each other. Elsewhere, they throw bombs. Or, send young nitwits with grenades and suicide vests.

Related posts, on Individuals and the War on Terror.

Posts about Benazir Bhutto.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.