New details of Benazir Bhutto’s final moments, including indications that her doctors felt pressured to conform to government accounts of her death…added to the pressure on Pakistan’s leaders to accept an international inquiry.
Athar Minallah, a board member of the hospital where Ms. Bhutto was treated, released her medical report along with an open letter showing that her doctors wanted to distance themselves from the government theory that Ms. Bhutto had died by hitting her head on a lever of her car’s sunroof during the attack.
In his letter, Mr. Minallah, who is also a prominent lawyer, said the doctors believed that an autopsy was needed to provide the answers to how she actually died. Their request for one last Thursday was denied by the local police chief….
While the Cheney/Musharraf faction and the Rice/reform(ish) faction battle it out internally on how the US should proceed, we look like dithering idiots when the US ought to be standing up for real democratic principles: openness, honesty and integrity in an investigation, free and fair elections, and independent judiciary, for starters. Making this statement from Sen. Hillary Clinton in the immediate aftermath of the Bhutto assassination look all the more prescient:
…I don’t think the Pakistani government, at this time, under President Musharraf, has any credibility at all. They have disbanded an independent judiciary. They have oppressed a free press.
Therefore, I’m calling for a full independent international investigation, perhaps along the lines of what the United Nations has been doing with respect to the assassination of Prime Minister Hariri in Lebanon….
…there are other institutions that are international that have credibility, like Interpol and others. So, it doesn’t have to be the exact model of the Hariri investigation, but it needs to be international. It needs to be independent. It needs to have credibility….I’m reluctant to say it should be an American investigation, where we send our law enforcement personnel, because I’m not sure that would have credibility for a different reason. So, that’s why I’m calling for an independent international investigation….
You know, this is an odd situation, Wolf. The people in the streets are wearing suits and ties. They are lawyers. They are professionals. They are the middle class of Pakistan, which really offers the very best hope for a stable, democratic country. And that is in America’s interests….
I hear echos of discussions with old hands at diplomacy and negotiation in this statement. The Pakistani public is not buying the implausible BS coming out of Musharraf’s government on the wholly unsupportable "hit her head on the sunroof" theory. By floating such incredibly idiotic CYA dreck in the wake of the emotionally charged murder of Mrs. Bhutto, they’ve managed to make a chaotic, angry mess into an even worse one.
As Thomas Ricks pointed out earlier this week, we cannot afford to miscalculate — the stakes are higher than ever in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Continued failure and half-assed, ill-planned policies cannot be the answer. Too bad for all of us that we have to depend on the Bush Administration to choose wisely — their track record isn’t exactly exemplery, now is it?
UPDATE: AJ at Americablog has more thoughts here as well. Good points to ponder…
(A little diva music from Sarah Brightman seemed somehow appropriate here.)