Posted by: uss017 | December 13, 2007

Scotland Yard report into B. Bhutto’s assassination and the PPP melodrama

A couple of days ago the Scotland Yard team submitted its findings to the Pakistani government on the assassination of Benazir Bhutto (henceforth, ‘BB’). The report basically confirmed what the Pakistan authorities had said initially, that BB died when her head impacted somewhere in the escape hatch of the vehicle when the blast occurred.

The following excerpts are extracted from the executive summary of the report (all emphasis added).

The available evidence is sufficient to reach reliable conclusions:

The task of establishing exactly what happened was complicated by the lack of an extended and detailed search of the crime scene, the absence of an autopsy, and the absence of recognised body recovery and victim identification processes. Nevertheless, the evidence that is available is sufficient for reliable conclusions to be drawn.

The cause of death:

In his report Dr Cary states:

• “the only tenable cause for the rapidly fatal head injury in this case is that it occurred as the result of impact due to the effects of the bomb-blast.”

• “in my opinion Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto died as a result of a severe head injury sustained as a consequence of the bomb-blast and due to head impact somewhere in the escape hatch of the vehicle.”

The construction of the vehicle:

It is also important to comment upon the construction of the vehicle. It was fitted with B6 grade armour and designed to withstand gunfire and bomb-blast. It is an unfortunate and misleading aspect of this case that the roof escape hatch has frequently been referred to as a sunroof. It is not. It is designed and intended to be used solely as a means of escape. It has a solid lip with a depth of 9cm.

The above is particularly noteworthy as a few PPP activists have been going on and on about the inappropriateness of there being a “sunroof” in the vehicle.

The conclusion:

In essence, all the evidence indicates that one suspect has fired the shots before detonating an improvised explosive device. At the time of the attack this person was standing close to the rear of Ms Bhutto’s vehicle. The blast caused a violent collision between her head and the escape hatch area of the vehicle, causing a severe and fatal head injury.

Well then, should this not put an end to all the conspiracy theories? At the very least, should this not settle the question of precisely what caused BB to die? Not quite…conspiracy theories will likely persist till the end of time. Once people have already made up their mind about what “really” occurred or ought to have happened, it is then no longer possible to convince them otherwise no matter what evidence is submitted. There is no cure for this sickness.

Quite expectedly, the PPP have already dismissed the findings of the Scotland Yard team. Sherry Rahman, exhibiting signs of the aforementioned fatal sickness, said:

    “We disagree with the finding on the cause of the death,” said Sherry Rehman, spokeswoman for the Pakistan Peoples Party, who escorted Bhutto to hospital after the Dec. 27 attack. “She died from a bullet injury. This was and is our position.”

First, does it really matter how BB died? Say the Pakistan authorities are wrong and the Scotland Yard detectives are also wrong and BB really did die from a bullet injury. SO WHAT? What darn difference does it make? This is precisely what Wajid Shamsul Hasan, the spokesperson of the PPP, recently said on CNN.

Sherry Rahman’s claim that “This was and is our position” becomes doubtful in light of Wajid Shamsul Hasan’s above argument and, more importantly, in light of what BB’s family members said to the Scotland Yard team. Perhaps Wajid needs to have a heat-to-heart chat with Sherry to make her think straight? (more on Wajid below).

Secondly, it is more probable that Sherry Rahman is either lying or is belligerently insisting upon repeating a mistake. Notice that Sherry Rahman not only insists that BB was shot, she even pin points the exact location of the shot:

    “I was actually part of the party which bathed her body before the funeral,” she said, adding that her car was used to transport Benazir to hospital. “There was a bullet wound I saw that went in from the back of her head and came out the other side. We could not even wash her properly because the wound was still seeping. She lost a huge amount of blood,” Sherry explained.

According to Sherry, BB had an exit wound on her head and she (Sherry) clearly saw it. But notice how BB’s own family members deny this assertion as is made clear by the Scotland Yard team. To begin with, we can be reasonably sure that BB was NOT shot in the head: the Scotland Yard team relied upon X-rays taken at Rawalpindi General Hospital which were independently verified as being of BB’s by comparison with her dental x-rays. Moreover, they (Scotland Yard) state that: “valuable insight was gained from the accounts given by the medical staff involved in her treatment, and from those members of Ms Bhutto’s family who washed her body before burial.” This leads them to conclude that there was no bullet wound on BB’s head. To quote:

“Ms Bhutto’s only apparent injury was a major trauma to the right side of the head. The UK experts all exclude this injury being an entry or exit wound as a result of gunshot. The only X-ray records, taken after her death, were of Ms Bhutto’s head.”

So then, the possibility of BB having a bullet injury specifically in the head can be rather safely excluded.

Yet Sherry insists that there was a bullet wound on BB’s head and she maintains she saw it! Whom should we trust? Is it reasonable to suppose that the medical staff, who took the head x-ray and examined BB’s head, and members of BB’s family, who washed her body and who co-operated with the Scotland Yard team, were all wrong and only Sherry Rahman is right? May be they all missed the “bullet wound” and only Sherry Rahman spotted it, perhaps for having better eyesight than the rest? Or does it make more sense to conclude that Sherry Rahman is wrong, possibly lying? Surely, the later is the more reasonable and sensible conclusion.

Perhaps Sherry Rahman in anger and, perhaps, out of embarrassment, is unwilling to admit she was wrong. May be she has entered the denial stage and is unable to ponder upon the possibility that she could be wrong. Or perhaps she is deliberately lying. You decide. Whatever you choose, we can, at the very least, safely conclude that Sherry Rahman is almost certainly wrong about there being a bullet wound on BB’s head.

Moving on, if we may safely exclude the possibility of there being a bullet wound on BB’s head, what about the possibility of a bullet wound on the rest of her body? That BB was shot in the mid or lower trunk is quite improbable:

“However, the possibility of a bullet wound to her mid or lower trunk can reasonably be excluded. This is based upon the protection afforded by the armoured vehicle in which she was travelling at the time of the attack, and the accounts of her family and hospital staff who examined her.”

As a confirmation, BB’s family members who washed her body and the medical staff informed the Scotland Yard team that BB had no bullet wounds in her mid or lower trunk region.

But what about the upper trunk or the neck? While the possibility of a bullet wound in this region cannot be fully excluded, it does remain unlikely. Yet even if BB was shot in his region, this possible wound did not cause her death:

“The limited X-ray material, the absence of a full post mortem examination and CT scan, have meant that the UK Home Office pathologist, Dr Nathaniel Cary, who has been consulted in this case, is unable categorically to exclude the possibility of there being a gunshot wound to the upper trunk or neck. However when his findings are put alongside the accounts of those who had close contact with Ms Bhutto’s body, the available evidence suggests that there was no gunshot injury. Importantly, Dr Cary excludes the possibility of a bullet to the neck or upper trunk as being a relevant factor in the actual cause of death, when set against the nature and extent of her head injury.”

It should be noted that no one who washed BB’s body, including Sherry, and the medical staff has claimed the presence of a bullet wound in BB’s body. Sherry has insisted that BB had a bullet wound on her head; she has not claimed, as far as I can tell, that BB had bullet wound(s) elsewhere.

In conclusion, even if we suppose and, for arguments sake, grant the possibility of BB receiving a bullet wound in the upper trunk or neck, it remains that Sherry Rahman is almost certainly wrong in asserting that BB had a bullet wound on her head. It appears that only Sherry somehow managed to“see” the bullet wound in BB’s head.

More importantly, to reiterate, it does not make a heck of a difference how BB died, be it through a blast or through a bullet. The point is she died. That she was shot – which as explained above is very unlikely (particularly in the head) – does not in anyway caste suspicions upon the government or justify any type of a conspiracy theory.

If you thought that Sherry Rahman had created enough mischief, you’re wrong. Desperate to outdo her is Wajid Shamsul Hasan, PPP spokesperson and former ambassador to the UK, whom I briefly mentioned above. On the day when the Scotland Yard team submitted its report to the Pakistan government, Wajid Shamsul Hasan appeared on CNN and answered a few questions posed by Ralitsa Vassileva. Mr. Hasan was all hyped up, speaking hurriedly without catching a breath, making a series of unsubstantiated assertions and allegations.

He alleged that there was “enough circumstantial evidence” to show that the government was somehow “involved” in BB’s assassination. But what is this “circumstantial evidence” supposed to be? No answer from Hasan. Hasan then mentioned BB’s letter sent to President Musharraf in which she had claimed that certain individuals were plotting to kill her. The four individuals she named were Pervaiz Elahi (former Chief Minister of Punjab and BB’s main opponent), Arbab Ghulam Rahim (former Sindh Chief Miniter), Ijaz Shah (Intelligence Bureau chief) and Hameed Gul (former ISI chief and a staunch opponent of Musharraf!). But what is the evidence against them? Nothing. Hasan was angry that Musharraf had not immediately ordered an investigation of these individuals upon receiving BB’s letter. But surely, the one making an accusation also needs to submit evidence. Otherwise we can all blame anyone we dislike, expecting the authorities to go on a wild goose chase, and thereby create mayhem. What is the “circumstantial” evidence against these individuals? So far nothing has been submitted by the PPP. Yet this simple notion – of submitting evidence when making allegations – has pretty much gone over the heads of almost all PPP members. They find this simple requirement/notion to be exceedingly confusing and problematic. They ask “evidence…why? I made an allegation; why should I now submit ‘evidence’? Don’t make no sense…me so confused!

They are still angry and emotional about the fact that the names mentioned by BB, without a shred of evidence, were not investigated. This is a good reflection of PPP’s real mindset and traditional attitude: just make an allegation and it becomes true; proof and evidence means zilch. No wonder the PPP government was heavily involved in extra-judicial killings in Pakistan, particularly in Karachi, and, before that, in supporting massive human rights violations in Bangladesh which eventually resulted in the breaking up of Pakistan.

Moving on, Wajid Shamsul Hasan also repeated the constant PPP demand for a UN enquiry into the assassination of BB. But why is such an enquiry required? Some raise the example of the UN’s involvement in the investigation of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Rafique Hariri. However, in the Hariri assassination a foreign government was being blamed (Syria), hence the need for a UN investigation. A similar situation does not exist in Pakistan since no foreign government is being blamed or being suspected of involvement. Furthermore, even if the UN carries out an investigation and reaches the same conclusion as that acquired by Scotland Yard, would that satisfy the PPP? Very unlikely. The only thing which will really satisfy the PPP is if the evidence is twisted in such a manner so as to support the PPP’s presupposed scenario: government involvement (direct or indirect) and conspiracy in the killing of BB. As noted above, the PPP members have already made up their minds about what “really” happened and no amount of evidence will ever convince them to accept reality.

Ralitsa Vassileva also asked Wajid Shamsul Hasan to comment upon the claims that BB was careless with her security. Hasan’s reply to this (valid) observation bordered on the absurd. He hit back (paraphrase): “You are asking BB not to be a politician and not to meet her supporters!” Umm…no! To act carefully and with caution does not amount to not being a politician and meeting supporters. BB could have been more careful and cautious, particularly when she knew her life was in danger, and still have worked as an effective politician. For example, it was the height of carelessness for BB to come out of the escape hatch and wave at onlookers when her vehicle was surrounded by so many people and moving so slowly. Let’s face it: she made a big mistake on this instance, albeit an innocent/naive mistake. To quote one security expert:

Bhutto would almost certainly be alive if she had not ignored police advice and stopped her armoured car on her way from a political rally, so that she could stand up in her socks on the rear seat and poke her head out of the sunroof to wave at supporters.

She made herself such an easy target that a 16-year-old boy could have walked up and got her,’ a Western security expert said.

According to U.S. officials, key security suggestions which were made to BB’s aides to boost her security “…appear to have gone unheeded…” The report goes on to say:

However, there was no indication that Bhutto’s teamincluding her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, who attended at least one of the meetingshad followed through on the most critical of the recommendations, including the hiring of private guards and reducing her visibility in large crowds like the one in Rawalpindi where she was killed.”

So then, why on earth is it wrong to ask an individual who is being threatened to take some precautionary measures and avoid certain situations? And when this person gets killed as a result of disregarding much of the security suggestions, then how convenient it is to blame the authorities!

It appears that the Pakistan government is trapped in a catch-22 scenario. If they ask a politician who is being threatened to avoid certain actions and situations, then individuals such as Hasan will go: “you are asking her not to be a politician!” And when the worst finally occurs, Hasan goes: “the security measures were inadequate! So many people were close to her!

While Wajid Shamsul Hasan is quick to blame the government, he cannot bring himself to also blame BB and her team for disregarding a number of security advises. Hasan cannot grasp the simple point that the one whose life is in danger also bears a responsibility. He/she needs to avoid certain things, particularly when this is proposed by the security officials. And when the one in danger decides to avoid some or all security suggestions, then not only is this person putting his/her own life at risk, but is also endangering the lives of others and making it all the more difficult for the security personnel to perform their duties.

Next, Wajid Shamsul Hasan enquired how the assassin got so close to BB? After posing this question he again suggested that the government was involved in a conspiracy. But that the assassin got so close to BB does not by itself in anyway suggest that the government was “involved” in BB’s killing or “involved” in any other nefarious manner. There exist other more reasonable options: either the security personnel were negligent, or, more probably, even though the security was generally high, it was not foolproof.

Hasan was implying that the security measures around BB were weak as the assassin managed to get so close to her. However, the fact that the suicide bomber could not enter the area where BB was giving her speech indicates that security measures must have been tight. It was only when BB and everyone else were leaving and when she had exited the Liaquat National Bagh that the suicide bomber finally got a chance to get close to her and strike. This stage – when people are exiting a venue and making their way home – tends to be the most sensitive with everyone being more vulnerable as it is not possible to provide here the same type of security which can be put around a fixed location to keep away all potential assassins and trouble makers.

There are no foolproof security measures in existence. President Musharraf, whose security is undoubtedly of a very high standard, himself had close encounters with suicide bombers on two occasions, as did former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz (once) and former Federal Minister Aftab Sherpao (twice). No security measure can with 100% certainty keep at bay all attackers. If ten attackers are caught or unable to implement their plan, then at least one may succeed. This is the unfortunate reality.

Be that as it may, nothing here points towards the possible complicity of the government in BB’s assassination.

As if the above was not enough, Wajid Shamsul Hasan ended his comical interview with another ludicrous charge. He asserted that while the government had earlier on named the terrorist Baitullah Mehsud as the one responsible for the assassination of BB, it was now involved in a “deal” with him! Hasan asked if Mehsud had really killed BB, then why was he not being arrested and why was the government negotiating with him? There are a couple points to note here. That the government is now negotiating with Mehsud does not negate the accuracy of their assertion that Mehsud was responsible for the assassination of BB. Secondly, if it was easy to catch Mehsud, then the government would have already done it by now. No one can doubt their desire to catch this guy or to get rid of him since he has caused so much mayhem in Pakistan. Besides BB, Mehsud has killed many ordinary Pakistanis as well as many belonging to the Pakistani army. Thus, the resolve of the government to remove this fellow from the scene cannot be doubted. Third, it could be that the government is engaging in specific negotiations with Mehsud simply to ensure that elections take place in a peaceful environment and not in the midst of suicide bombings. This would be an intelligent approach on the part of the government. All along the government will continue seeking ways to eliminate him and, probably, pursue Mehsud even more vigorously after the elections. Fourth, it could also be that the aim of the “negotiations” is to trap Mehsud and get rid of him. At this stage, however, we should not jump to conclusions. There are no signs that the government has decided to “give up” on acquiring Mehsud.

Finally, for all those twisted minds out there which still insist that the government was involved in the assassination of BB, IT WAS A FREAKIN SUICIDE BOMBING!! Who commits suicide bombing? The religious (albeit misguided) lot, right? Does it make sense to suppose that the government of Musharraf decided to do a suicide bombing upon BB to kill her, thereby creating more troubles for themselves, or does it sound more reasonable to say that religious extremists, who had earlier on categorically threatened BB (something she acknowledged), finally managed to eliminate her through a suicide attack? Surely the later is most reasonable, probable and sensible.

Anyone who tries to attribute and classify a suicide bombing as an act committed by the government rather than an act committed by religious extremists/terrorists only exhibits confirmed signs of being totally brain-dead and mentally irrational.

++++++++

© Musharraf Supporters 2008 All rights reserved

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Responses

  1. […] Scotland Yard report into B. Bhutto’s assassination and the PPP melodrama […]

  2. As with any political organization (and a lot of others), you can’t use logic, it just doesn’t exist. With the PPP alone you can note many many illogical ways of thinking and statements made. My favorite is how every time they don’t win, the polls are rigged, but if they win…everything is good and fair, and we can expect to see this when the loose (hopefully) in the future. It’s not just the political organizations, however-the common person doesn’t think logically either…if so, BB would not have been welcomed back with such fervor from the people-they completely forgot what this country was like and what she DIDN’T do while in office and again wanted to put her there. And the more I read about Nawaz Sharif…the more I’m convinced of the same thing…..why oh why would people gather around those who thumbed them down once before????? No one is perfect, even Musharraf has his issues, but we can at least say that he’s enabled the people of Pakistan, even if it’s in a small portion.

  3. An excellent analysis and I hope it soothes down the on-purpose created ‘political mileage’ controversy! The conflicting statements given by PPP leadership shows their level of integrity & honesty. Keep your excellent work up!


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