Suspects in the Bhutto Assassination/The Elections, ISI and Martial Law
In the wake of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, Mark Tran looks at the background to the crisis in Pakistan
Thursday December 27, 2007
Who are the suspects?
… After the October assassination attempt, Bhutto’s husband, Asif Ali Zardari, who is in Dubai where the couple had been living in exile, accused members of the Pakistani security services, the ISI. “I blame government for these blasts,” he said. “It is the work of the intelligence agencies.”
Elements of the ISI sympathise with the Taliban and it was a possibility that “rogue elements” in the intelligence services were involved in the two attacks. The ISI became one of Pakistan’s most powerful institutions under General Zia-ul-Haq, the man who launched an Islamisation campaign and who overthrew Bhutto’s father and had him hung. After Gen Zia’s death in a mysterious plane crash in 1988, the ISI actively campaigned against Bhutto when she entered politics.
Has there been other violence?
Hours before Bhutto’s death, four people were killed and three wounded in a clash just outside Islamabad between pro-government supporters and backers of the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Last week, more than 50 people were killed when a suicide attacker detonated a bomb at a crowded mosque near the home of Pakistan’s former interior minister on one of Islam’s major holidays. Aftab Khan Sherpao, once a supporter of Bhutto, took a strong anti-militant line in office.