Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali, Pakistani prosecutor investigating the murder of the former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto
Pakistan: Gun Law
A Guardian Editorial
3 May 2013
Any number of people had an interest in killing the Pakistani prosecutor investigating the murder of the former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali represented the Federal Investigation Agency which has implicated the former military leader Pervez Musharraf in the security arrangements that led to Ms Bhutto's death. But the prosecutor was also involved in the trial of seven members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, accused of orchestrating the Mumbai attacks in 2008.
The brave fallen prosecutor had therefore three potent foes: Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (the Pakistani Taliban known as the TTP) who are thought to have killed Bhutto; Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT); and, standing behind both, the Pakistan army's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). LeT was founded with help from the ISI. The army says it has cut all links with the group, although its alleged leader, Muhammad Hafiz Saeed, lives openly in Lahore. They claim, too, they have no control over the Pakistani Taliban, although again few believe that all connections have been severed, despite the fact LeT have repeatedly attacked military targets. The murder took place in a suburb of the capital Islamabad which is ringed by a security cordon. That only adds to the suspicion of collusion.
The killing therefore set any number of conspiracy theories going: that the military had been alarmed by Musharraf's arrest and imprisonment since returning to Pakistan; that they would lose face if their former commander were held accountable for security failings involved in Bhutto's murder; that this was a message being sent to Nawaz Sharif, the likely winner of the forthcoming election, and his chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, two of Musharraf's arch enemies, as the case against the former military leader hots up. No one will ever know. No one has been convicted of the murder of Ms Bhutto and it is more than likely that the same impunity will exist for the killer of the prosecutor pursuing the case.
This has long since ceased to be a free election, in the sense that three parties cannot campaign. Since the Taliban declared the elections to be part of an un-Islamic system which serves only infidels and the enemies of Islam, the Pakistan People's party (PPP), the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the Awami National party (ANP) have ceased holding rallies. Human Rights Watch now puts the tally at over 80 killed and 350 injured in gun and bomb attacks on meetings and election offices.
This may be Pakistan's first transition from one democratically elected government to another. But all politicians are reminded every day that they exist in the shadows of darker and more powerful forces.