One persistent theory about the motive for Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto‘s assassination was her knowledge of too many secrets about covert organizations in Pakistan and the Islamist radical movement – and her reputation for loose lips.
(See first article in this issue.)
The truth about the last moments of her life may become one of the secrets she took with her to her grave. The various video clips released since Dec. 27 are mostly fakes, designed to incriminate President Pervez Musharraf, the army or Pakistan intelligence. Some were spliced together from fragments of film shot at different times. The opposition circles circulating them are doing so to promote their respective agendas, especially that of the dead politician’s widower, Asif Ali Zardari.
Musharraf himself has begun to question initial assessments and invited foreign investigators to help in the investigation.
One exotic theory held by a section of her Pakistan People’s Party-PPP and some foreign think tanks is that she was killed by sophisticated “laser beam technology.”
While Benazir Bhutto was attacked from different directions, only one guaranteed her death, says this allegation: a laser-based pin-pointed weapon that pierces the skull and bones and causes instantaneous death. These theorists do not credit an alien BEM armed with a space-age weapon, but the ISI- Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence Agency, alleged to have bought the weapon in Europe.
The debate over the manner of her death and its perpetrators has generated a rich crop of conspiracy theories, some fanciful, others more interesting.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly cites two of the most prevalent making the rounds of knowledgeable circles:
Some intelligence sources in the Persian Gulf and Asia believe that Pakistan is in for a period of turbulence that will end in large parts of the country and its nuclear arsenal falling into the hands of the Taleban. The end result will be the acquisition of nuclear arms by a Sunni Muslim state to counter-balance the future nuclear-armed Shiite Islamic Republic of Iran.
These circles recall that in the 1980s, American CIA agents, working in conjunction with the Saudi throne, participated in the creation of a Taliban regime in Kabul and the formation of an early version of al Qaeda, as instruments for defeating the Red Army in Afghanistan, and the key to the overthrow of the Soviet empire.
These circles, while offering no evidence to support their contention, hypothesize that the US is again pulling wires to bring Taliban to power in Islamabad.
This time, a US-backed Taliban would also wipe out al Qaeda in the course of taking over parts of Pakistan and either unseat Musharraf or enter into some power-sharing arrangement. After all, DEBKA-Net-Weekly notes, Islamabad was the only nation to recognize Taliban rule in Kabul and, like the United Arab Emirates, plays host to an official Taliban mission in Islamabad. These sources argue that Taliban may even turn out to be capable of finally stabilizing government in Islamabad and helping to provide safe hands for its nuclear arsenal.
Does this sound fantastic? Well, here’s another.
Or maybe Balkanization?
Some American liberals and Russian intelligence circles maintain the Bhutto assassination was the result of the Bush administration’s deliberate negligence in providing her with credible protection and thus effectively throwing her to the wolves. Their reasoning? Washington has settled on the secret objective of partitioning and Balkanizing Pakistan.
According to this scenario, America is in league with the Baluchis in support of a bid for positions of influence in Baluchistan, which has begun challenging Punjab and Sindh as the country’s dominant province.
Baluchistan has the advantage of size (48 percent of Pakistani territory), rich, largely unexploited natural resources – mainly gas and oil – and long-standing nationalist aspirations. This southern province is also strategically wedged between Iran and Afghanistan, with ethnic Baluchis scattered among all three countries.
All of Pakistan’s rulers, including Musharraf, have had to deal with separatist Baluchi insurgencies. One uprising was brutally quelled in the mid-1970s by the army with the help of the Iranian military.
If Baluchistan succeeds in breaking away from Pakistan, it could have a domino effect on fellow separatists in Iran and Afghanistan.
A second, serious look at these theories before they are dismissed is advised by their advocates, who recall that similar conspiracy theories were broached twenty years ago about the hands pulling the strings of the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan.
They were never denied or disproved.