Dec 28 2007
It would seem the forces in Pakistan spooked by a possible Bhutto win include some elements of the Pakistani military or ISI, given the accounts being presented in the New York Sun today:
American and Pakistani military leaders are seeking to account for what may be renegade commando units from the Pakistani military’s special forces in the wake of the assassination of Pakistan’s opposition leader and former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto.
The attack yesterday at Rawalpindi bore the hallmarks of a sophisticated military operation. At first, Bhutto’s rally was hit by a suicide bomb that turned out to be a decoy. According to press reports and a situation report of the incident relayed to The New York Sun by an American intelligence officer, Bhutto’s armored limousine was shot by multiple snipers whose armor-piercing bullets penetrated the vehicle, hitting the former premier five times in the head, chest, and neck. Two of the snipers then detonated themselves shortly after the shooting, according to the situation report, while being pursued by local police.
A separate attack was thwarted at the local hospital where Bhutto possibly would have been revived had she survived the initial shooting. Also attacked yesterday was a rival politician, Nawaz Sharif, another former prime minister who took power after Bhutto lost power in 1996.
A working theory, according to this American source, is that Al Qaeda or affiliated jihadist groups had effectively suborned at least one unit of Pakistan’s Special Services Group, the country’s equivalent of Britain’s elite SAS commandos. This official, however, stressed this was just a theory at this point.
OK, it is just a theory and that needs to be emphasized. But it is also possible individuals with training and access to the weapons pulled this off. One thing is clear, it was an act to destroy Pakistan’s democracy and try and breathe life into the Taliban’s and al-Qaeda’s dying prospects. The recent bloodshed in Pakistan’s FATA and NWFP provinces, especially the Swat valley, had begun to turn the locals against the extremists. I noted in an earlier (now lost) post the endless bloodshed without any results had begun to undermine opposition forces in elections. This act of violence against a well-liked Pak leader may just accelerate the backlash.