Who Murdered Benazir Bhutto?
by Eric Margolis: France's
By the time
her season's greeting card and a handwritten note arrived in my
office, my old friend Benazir Bhutto was already dead. The card
mailed in Pakistan days before her murder, remains on my desk to
this today, a touching last link from this remarkable lady. So,
too, the names of the men who may have murdered her.
ago last Thursday, Benazir Bhutto, twice prime minister of Pakistan,
was murdered in Rawalpindi during a campaign rally. This charismatic
lady was adored, even venerated by her supporters, who called her
the savior of Pakistan. She was equally hated by her foes who accused
her and husband, Asif Ali Zardari, of robbing Pakistan and acting
as agents of the United States.
five years after her death, we still don't know who was behind it
even though her family political fief, the Pakistan People's Party
(PPP), has held power ever since. We are not even sure what killed
her: a suicide bomber next to the vehicle from which she was waving
to crowds, a sniper, or a fractured skull caused by hitting her
head on a roof latch as a result of the explosion.
reported she had been denied proper security by the regime of then
president, Pervez Musharraf whose grip on power was faltering. Washington's
plan was to replace him with US ally Benazir.
and I had been at scimitar's drawn since the 1980's, when I exposed
a major corruption scandal involving her father-in-law. In my columns,
published in North America and Pakistan, I hammered away at charges
of embezzlement and kickbacks that dogged Benazir and her husband,
Asif Zardari. I was repeatedly threatened by acid attacks by Bhutto
I met in Washington during the early 1990's at a mutual friend's
home. She was exiled from Pakistan and quite alone in Washington,
low on both money and hope. I offered to help her. Perhaps it was
her beauty and charm, or my weakness for underdogs. Some Pakistani
readers wrote in claiming I had been "bewitched" by Benazir.
I confess she was indeed quite bewitching.
I brainstormed in London about what to do for long-suffering Pakistan.
We spent some days in Toronto. I drove her to visit awe-struck Pakistani
supporters who looked as if a goddess had descended from heaven
to their homes. To Americans, Harvard graduate Benazir showed her
liberal, westernized side; but to Pakistanis, she was as imperious
and commanding as a Mogul empress. I sat next to her one night as
she went into sugar shock (I suspect she was diabetic), and began
muttering hair-raising curses against her enemies, wishing their
children to die and their arms rot off.
The last time
I was with Benazir was in London, just before she returned on her
ill-fated trip to Pakistan. We met in a tony West End hotel, along
with her security advisor and today Pakistan's strongman, Rehman
Malik, and her teenage son, Bilawal. Malik told me how he had almost
captured Osama bin Laden. Young Bilawal was shy and tactiturn. Today,
he is being groomed to run for office when he reaches the minimum
age of 25.
said to me, "powerful Punjabi allies of President Pervez Musharraf
are planning to kill me." She reeled off five names. "If
I am killed, you will know where to look." For the record,
they deny any guilt.
whom I had interviewed in 1999, denied any connection to the murder.
He and the US blamed Islamic militants of Lashkar Jangvi and al-Qaida.
late one night when we were alone, I asked Benazir, "who really
murdered President Zia ul-Haq," Pakistan's late leader I knew
and admired for standing up to Soviet imperialism. "It's not
important who killed him," snapped Benazir, annoyed "Who
cares," she sneered. Benazir's government shut down Pakistani
and US investigations of Zia's murder in a sabotaged C-130 transport.
Zia had hanged her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and that was that.
beautiful, charming, and highly intelligent. Her tragedy was being
leader of a nation with murderous politics, wed to a husband who
was rarely an asset. The unsolved mystery of her death confirms
that Pakistan remains a country without justice or law.
him mail] is the author of War
at the Top of the World and the new book, American
Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the
West and the Muslim World. See his
© 2012 Eric Margolis
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