-on the 5th anniversary of Benazir Bhuttos death the writer critiques the Scotland Yard report.Did Scotland Yard Cover Up?-ed note
by Khalid Munir
I will focus my observations, not on UN report but on the vehicle used by BB (Benazir Bhutto) and whether there has been a cover up. Mr. Rehman Malik is on record saying that BB wanted a vehicle with an open roof and that is why such a vehicle was purchased. This was a serious security lapse and BB’s adviser should have told her that having a sun roof in an armored vehicle defeats the basic purpose of having an armored car. BB was a brave lady and flouted security measures by appearing in the open, un-guarded amongst the crowds. She did this outside Karachi airport, when she stood in front of the bullet proof glass rather then standing behind it. She was seen standing and waving to the crowd in Sukkur and finally on that fateful day at Liaqat Bagh. That was her style, but the security advisors should have known their job. So purchasing a vehicle with an opening at the top was a blunder even if BB insisted on that, as she did. The UAE based firm that carried out the armoring of the vehicle, confirmed to the writer that BB insisted on having an opening at the roof .Which as per their claim was not acceded to and vehicle without an opening was delivered to BB. Surprisingly he asserted,” I believe she was not in our vehicle."If the version of the UAE based firm is correct, then when was the other vehicle purchased? or if it was the same vehicle then where and when was the roof opening made , and more importantly on whose instructions? Every one called it a sun roof till the time Scotland Yard came up with the clarification that it was not a sun roof but an emergency escape hatch.
Scotland Yard team presented its report on February 8, 2008. The report goes out of its term of reference on two accounts. Scotland Yard, while giving its opinion regarding the construction of the vehicle, went out of its term of reference to state, “It is an unfortunate and misleading aspect of this case that the roof escape hatch has frequently been referred to as a sunroof”. Why did Scotland Yard emphasize on its not being a sun roof. Would it make any difference had there been a sun roof or an emergency escape hatch? Then why did Scotland Yard include this in the report? Was it an attempt to cover up for someone? I am certain there are many like me who have yet to see an armored vehicle with an emergency escape hatch opening at the top.
Scotland Yard further stated that there was only one assassin. Now the question is that why would an assassin with a suicide jacket on, waste time in firing three shots when BB was standing being vulnerable to the hundreds of ball bearings he was carrying. Did he intend to miss and provide an opportunity for BB to duck down? Presence of more than one suicide bomber, both ignorant of presence of the other would have meant that the assassination was carefully planned and not an inviduals effort. “The footage does not show the presence of any other potential bomber,” Scotland Yard goes on to say. What is a potential bomber? How does one differentiate between an ordinary man and a potential bomber in a crowd? Only Scotland Yard can explain this.
The most dubious part of the Scotland Yard report is the UK home office pathologist Doctor Nathanial Cary’s remarks. Please note that in the whole report Scotland Yard refers to BB as Ms Bhutto, however the doctors sitting in UK uses the words "Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto". Now even in Pakistan before her assassination only PPP sympathizer used the title ‘Mohtarma’ for her. A Doctor who was not a politician, a UK resident, uses the word which Scotland Yard had never used in the whole report. So, was that dictated by a Pakistani? Secondly he, in the same paragraph uses the word “escape hatch”. Now till the Yard’s report got public, every one called it a sunroof. Logically, doctor’s opinion must have been taken before the finalization of the report so why did the doctor called that an emergency hatch?
The purchase/conversion of a vehicle with opening at the roof can be termed as a gross security lapse. It may have been on insistence of BB herself as confirmed by the UAE based firm. So it was an opening to facilitate BB to stand up and respond to crowd. That is a simple explanation. Why Scotland Yard declared it as an emergency escape hatch does not seem that simple. Is it possible that it may have been under pressure from the British government? We are not aware of existence of such pressure, but the circumstances prevailing at that time do not rule out the possibility.
USA and UK had brokered a deal between BB and Musharaff. The war on terror was too important for both the countries and BB’s assassination disturbed the equilibrium, both countries wanted to achieve in Pakistani politics. With one player of their game plan gone, was it not logical to at least protect the other player? This could have been the cause of the cover up by Scotland Yard. Do we have to wait till 2038 for answers, when UK will declassify its documents of year 2008?
-The writer is a retired army officer who served in FATA and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. This article was first published on his blog in 2010 / He tweets under @khalid_munir