[Guest post by DRJ]
On the day she was assassinated, the UK Independent claims Benazir Bhutto was set to hand over to visiting US politicians (identified as Sen. Arlen Specter and Rep. Patrick Kennedy) proof of a Pakistani intelligence plan to rig the January 8 elections:
“On the day she was assassinated, Benazir Bhutto had planned to reveal what she claimed was damning evidence that revealed the involvement of a shadowy Pakistani intelligence agency in a plan to rig the country’s upcoming elections.
Colleagues of Ms Bhutto have revealed she was due to meet visiting US politicians to hand over a report compiled by her Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) into an operation it says was being run by the ISI military intelligence agency to fix the polls in the favour of President Pervez Musharraf. Safraz Khan Lashari, a member of the PPP election monitoring cell, said the report was “very sensitive” and the party wanted to initially share it with trusted US politicians rather than the government of George Bush, which has backed Mr Musharraf.”
It was reported earlier that Sen. Arlen Specter and Rep. Patrick Kennedy were in Pakistan and scheduled to meet with Bhutto when she was assassinated. The Independent article confirms the meeting:
“The PPP has not claimed that Ms Bhutto was killed in order to stop her from revealing the information the party had gathered. However, last Thursday – the day that she was killed in Rawalpindi – Ms Bhutto was due to meet Senator Arlen Specter, a Republican, and the Democratic Congressman Patrick Kennedy. It is unclear whether the two US lawmakers had any indication that they were to be provided with the report.
After Ms Bhutto’s death, Mr Specter said: “Our foreign policy had relied on her presence as a stabilising force. I knew her personally… She was, as you know, glamorous, beautiful, smart. Her loss is a setback. But you have to face what is. And now, without her, we have to regroup.”
The Melbourne Herald Sun described the meeting with Specter and Kennedy as follows:
“Ms Bhutto was due to meet US Republican Senator Arlen Specter and Democrat Patrick Kennedy last Thursday to hand over a report charging that the military Inter-Services Intelligence agency planned to fix the polls in favour of President Pervez Musharraf.
Safraz Khan Lashari, a member of the Pakistan People’s Party election monitoring unit, said the report was “very sensitive” and the party wanted to initially share it with trusted American politicians rather than the Bush administration, which it believed strongly backed Mr Musharraf.”
I’d like to know what Specter and Kennedy knew beforehand and where their interests lie.
The Independent report (linked above) also indicates the proof was provided by intelligence sources loyal to Bhutto and claims the plans to rig the election used diverted US aid funds:
“The report compiled by the PPP apparently includes information on an alleged “safehouse” being run by the ISI in a neighbourhood of Islamabad called G-5, from which the rigging operation was run. “It was compiled from sources within the [intelligence] services who were working directly with Benazir Bhutto,” said Mr Lashari.
The report names a recently retired ISI officer who has allegedly been running the rigging unit and claims he worked in tandem with another named senior intelligence officer. It also claims that US aid funds were being used for the projects.
At the heart of the scheme, the report says, was a project in which ballot papers – stamped in favour of the Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q), which supports Mr Musharraf – were to be produced by the intelligence agencies in about 100 constituencies. Mr Lashari said the effort was directed at constituencies where the result was likely to be decided by a small margin, so it would not be obvious. “They diverted money from aid activities. We had evidence of where they were spending the money,” he added.”
Finally, the Independent article provides new hospital information that further disputes the government account that Bhutto died after hitting her head on a sunroof lever:
“Meanwhile, controversy continued to rage over the precise cause of Ms Bhutto’s death. Having initially said she was killed by a gunman, the government has since claimed Ms Bhutto died after striking her head on a lever that controlled the sunroof of her bullet-proof car. The claim drew accusations of a cover-up from members of her party who said the government was seeking to avoid criticism for not having provided adequate security.
Yesterday a member of the board of the hospital where Ms Bhutto was rushed last Thursday, said doctors had been prevented from carrying out a post-mortem examination by the local police chief. Athar Minallah, a leading lawyer, released medical notes from the hospital which showed Ms Bhutto had suffered a single wound to her head. Mr Minallah said the doctor who had written the report, the head of surgery at Rawalpindi General Hospital, had told him he believed Ms Bhutto had died of a bullet wound, though the medical notes make clear that a post-mortem examination was required.
“The doctors have said they were not allowed to perform an autopsy,” said Mr Minallah.”
Corrupt Pakistani elections, diverted US aid, and clandestine meetings with US politicians to avoid the Bush Administration …
This is not good news for the US government.