Saturday, April 17, 2010

UN Says Pak Needs Truth, Reconciliation and Reform After Bhutto's Murder

In its 65 page report released recently, the United Nations' Commission of Inquiry holds the Musharraf government primarily responsible for security lapses in protecting Benazir Bhutto, and blames federal, provincial and district governments for failing to to protect her or properly investigate her tragic assassination.

Plenty of Blame To Assign

In addition to assigning primary responsibility to the Musharraf administration, the commission concludes that there is plenty of blame to go around all of the players involved in Benazir Bhutto's security. The report says that Pakistan suffers from deep, long-standing and systematic problems in terms of the lack of basic professionalism, and the absence of overall competence at all levels of the government. Along with the incompetence and unprofessional conduct of the officials, the report also finds that "the PPP’s security for Ms Bhutto was characterized by a lack of direction and professionalism". Mr. Rehman Malik, the man in charge of Benazir Bhutto's security, is now in charge of Pakistan's internal security as the country's interior minister since 2008, in the midst of the worst ever carnage unfolding on the nation's street.

The UN commission report expresses its dismay at the absence of any serious investigation into her death by her own party's government headed by her widower during the last two years. It says, "Ms Bhutto was killed more than two years ago. A government headed by her party, the PPP, has been in office for most of that time, and it only began the further investigation, a renewal of the stalled official investigation in October 2009. This is surprising to the Commission."

Tension Between PPP and Police

The report suggests that there was tension between police and the PPP workers when the police struggled to control a mass of PPP members attempting to climb on the stage at Liaquat Bagh on the day of the Bhutto murder. The Commission finds that the police were indeed passive in their security role after the scuffle with some of the PPP members on securing the stage. The commission "believes it was unprofessional if the Rawalpindi District Police reduced their level of alert to any degree as a result of wounded pride".

Benazir Bhutto's Responsibility

The commission members hold Benazir Bhutto at least partially responsible for ignoring the advice of Major Imtiaz who was assigned by the Musharraf government as a security officer to be with her at all times. She also disregarded warnings from the ISI chief about risks to her life at Liaquat Bagh. The report says that Major Imtiaz "advised Ms Bhutto on her own security responsibilities. He noted that he had advised her many times not to expose herself by standing through the escape hatch of her armoured car to wave to the crowds, but she would usually ignore his advice and sometimes express anger at being told what to do. On the day of her assassination, Major Imtiaz did not advise Ms Bhutto not to stand up through the escape hatch." However, the report says that the then intelligence chief General Nadeem Taj "met with Ms Bhutto in the early morning hours of 27 December at Zardari House in Islamabad" and "urged her to limit her public exposure and to keep a low profile at the campaign event at Liaquat Bagh later that day".

Pakistan's History of Political Assassinations

The report recognizes that the Bhutto assassination on December 27, 2007, was not the first in Pakistan's history of political assassinations which have remained unsolved. The report puts it as follows:

"Ms Bhutto’s assassination was not the first time in Pakistan’s brief national history that a major political figure had been killed or died in an untimely fashion. The country’s first prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, was assassinated in 1951 in the same park where Ms Bhutto was assassinated; the assassin was killed by police on the spot, but broader responsibilities, including who might have been behind the killing have never been established. Ms Bhutto’s father, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, president of Pakistan from 1971-73 and prime minister from 1973-77, was deposed in a military coup in 1977, charged with the murder of a political opponent’s father and hanged in 1979. Many believe that the judicial process against Mr Bhutto was deeply flawed and politically-motivated. Later, General Zia ul Haq, the military leader who deposed Mr Bhutto and ruled Pakistan for 11 years, died in a plane crash together with the United States Ambassador to Pakistan in 1988; investigations by the United States and Pakistan into the crash came to conflicting conclusions, and it remains the object of much speculation. Other killings of political figures that have never been solved include the deaths of Ms Bhutto’s two brothers, Shahnawaz, who was killed in France in 1985 and Murtaza, killed in Pakistan in 1997. The list continues to grow, more recently with the killings, among others, of Nawab Akbar Bugti, a 79-year old Balochi nationalist leader in a military operation in August 2006 and three other Balochi nationalist leaders in April 2009, including Ghulam Mohammed Baloch."

Botched CSI or Cover-up?

The report specifically refers to the botched crime scene investigation (CSI) after the assassination. “The collection of 23 pieces of evidence was manifestly inadequate in a case that should have resulted in thousands,” it said. “The one instance in which the authorities reviewed these actions, the Punjab (provincial) committee of inquiry into the hosing down of the crime scene was a whitewash. Hosing down the crime scene so soon after the blast goes beyond mere incompetence; it is up to the relevant authorities to determine whether this amounts to criminal responsibility.”

While UN commission sees the hosing down of the crime scene "soon after the blast" as "whitewash", any cursory look at the standard CSI practice in hundreds of murder cases in Pakistan would suggest otherwise. In a post on this subject back in January, 2008, here is what I wrote:

"There is a total lack of professionalism in the way the law-enforcement agencies in Pakistan go about their business. Even a cursory review by a lay person who has watched CSI:Miami or other US police shows on TV can see that no established crime scene procedures are understood or followed in Pakistan. The police do not immediately seal off the crime scenes. The police do not take time to carefully collect and preserve crime scene evidence such as detailed pictures, sketches, weapons, bullet fragments, explosives residues, blood swatches, fibers, vehicles etc. The police do not immediately contact the people present in the vicinity, interrogate them professionally and record their statements. They do not order an immediate autopsy in murder cases. They let the media and even ordinary folks just walk into the crime scene, disturb it and take pictures etc. They order that the crime scene be hosed down as quickly as possible even before it is scrutinized adequately for clues."

Corruption, Incompetence of Police Force

"The Contours of Police Integrity" by Carl Klockars, et al, talks about the lack of professionalism among Pakistani police officials as follows:

"The causes of police misconduct in Pakistani society are deeply embedded in the country's socioeconomic and political structure. To begin with, the society is highly tolerant of corruption in general, as indicated by Transparency International....A police officer is expected to posses a high degree of intelligence and the interpersonal skills required to exercise in enforcing the law. However, the level required of the constables, who (together with head constables) comprise 89% of the police force (Chaudhry, 1997, p. 101), is matriculation or even less. Such educational requirements have created a situation in which the majority of the police force have a low level of education. The education of a typical constable can not support the the demands of the job; the constable is therefore someone who is trained to serve as a mechanical functionary obeying the orders of those more senior rather than an officer using personal judgment to solve policing issues....Both police officers' importance as members of government apparatus and their influence as a result of their estimated illegal income make policing such an attractive profession that people are willing to pay any price to get their dear ones positions in the police force. Politicians attach such importance to police service that even the members of National Assembly get their close relatives (such as sons and brothers) inducted into the police service as deputy superintendent of police-by direct notification of the prime minister and without any exam or procedure."

In what Newsweek recently called "transfer industry" in South Asia, the bribe-rich police precincts ( called thanas) in Pakistan are "sold" to the highest bidder to become the station house officer (SHO or thanedar), who then has a "license" to recoup what the appointee paid and make additional "profit" for himself and his superiors. Such appointments encourage continuing massive corruption and incompetence in the police departments.

The fact is that a large number of police officers are recruited because of their political connections rather than their competence. It is hard to expect such a police force to be either professional or competent, as has been demonstrated time and again in a recent spate of violence, including political assassinations such as Benazir Bhutto's.

The three-member UN panel, led by Chilean Ambassador to UN Heraldo Muñoz and included Marzuki Darusman, former attorney-general of Indonesia, and Peter Fitzgerald, a veteran official of the Irish National Police, has urged the Government of Pakistan to undertake police reform in view of its “deeply flawed performance and conduct.”

Need For Truth, Reconciliation and Reform

Instead of engaging in media spin to politicize the Commission's report to settle political scores, the PPP government should immediately begin in earnest the long overdue process to change the culture of corruption, incompetence and impunity.

The report recommends the establishment of a fully independent Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate political killings, disappearances and terrorism in Pakistan in recent years in view of the backdrop of a history of political violence carried out with impunity.

The first serious police reform effort since independence was launched during the Musharraf years that was widely applauded, even embraced briefly by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif until it caught the eye of the Musharraf critics. The draft of Pakistan Police Ordinance 2001 was aimed at organizing a police system, which is “independently controlled, politically neutral, non-authoritarian, people friendly and professionally efficient.” Even though the text of the 2001 Ordinance has been significantly altered since then, first by the Police Order of 2002 and then by the Police Order (Amendment) Ordinance of 2004, the initiative still retains a fairly good blueprint for police reforms. It is as of now referred to as the Police Order 2002. Unfortunately, there has been no progress on it in the last few years.

Unfortunately, the hopes of reform in Pakistan are already being dismissed by key officials. “I have witnessed history in my country for the last 60 years and nothing is ever taken to conclusion,” Pakistan's UN Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon said in an interview with Businessweek. “We have had great trauma in Pakistan that did not lead to reform.”

Hope For the Future

Talking about her husband and current president Asif Ali Zardari, Benazir Bhutto reportedly told senator and family friend Dr. Abdullah Riar that "Time will prove he is the Nelson Mandela of Pakistan". Let us see if Zardari can live up to his late wife's expectations of him by taking the UN advice on launching a South African style "Truth and Reconciliation Commission" in Pakistan.

Related Links:

Zardari: Nelson Mandela of Pakistan?

CSI: Pakistan?

Police Reform in Pakistan

Reforming Police in South Asia

Intelligence Failures Amidst Daily Carnage in Pakistan

Incompetence Worse Than Corruption in Pakistan

CSI Training in Pakistan

UN Report on Bhutto Assassination

The Contours of Police Integrity


Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan has sidelined eight officials, including policemen, responsible for the security of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto after a U.N. report said she was poorly protected, according to Reuters:

Bhutto was killed in a gun and suicide bomb attack after an election rally in Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007, weeks after she returned to Pakistan from years in self-imposed exile.

A United Nations commission of inquiry released findings last week, saying her killing by a 15-year-old suicide bomber could have been prevented if adequate security measures had been taken.

Seven police officers and a former Interior Ministry spokesman had been removed from active operations and designated officers on special duty (OSD), President Asif Ali Zardari's spokesman, Farhatullah Babar, said.

"On the recommendations of the party, the government initiated a process and has made some officials OSD," Babar told Reuters, referring to Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP), now led by her widower, Zardari.

The government of the day led by allies of then President Pervez Musharraf blamed the then Pakistani Taliban leader and al Qaeda ally Baitullah Mehsud for Bhutto's murder.

The U.N. team focused on the circumstances surrounding Bhutto's death. Pakistan is still left with the responsibility of determining who carried out the assassination, one of the most dramatic events in the country's turbulent history.

The U.N. team heavily criticized authorities, saying they had "severely hampered" the investigation.

The three U.N. investigators who conducted a nine-month inquiry, headed by Chile's U.N. Ambassador Heraldo Munoz, said they believed the failure to effectively examine Bhutto's death was "deliberate".


They called on the Pakistani authorities to carry out a "serious, credible criminal investigation that determines who conceived, ordered and executed this heinous crime of historic proportions" and bring those responsible to justice.

Top leaders of the PPP met at the weekend and called on Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, a top party member and Zardari ally, to take "appropriate legal action" in light of the U.N. report. A staunch opponent of Islamist militants, Bhutto was also mistrusted by parts of Pakistan's military and security establishment.

Speculation has lingered she was the victim of a plot by allies of Musharraf, who did not want her to come to power. Musharraf had said he and his military and security forces played no part in Bhutto's killing.

Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said the government would go after Musharraf if he was implicated.

"If Musharraf or any of his associates is found responsible in criminal investigations, then definitely action will be taken against them," Kaira told reporters.

Retired Major-General Rashid Qureshi, a spokesman for Musharraf, said last week it was "ridiculous" to hold his government responsible for Bhutto's murder.

Musharraf has been living overseas for months.

Bhutto survived a bomb attack on a rally hours after arriving home in Karachi in October 2007. About 140 people were killed.

Many people doubt whether powerful figures within Pakistan will let the truth behind the killing come out. But Babar, the president's spokesman, said his party was determined to expose the conspiracy behind Bhutto's assassination.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is a BBC report about Pakistan court acquittals of terror suspects due to lack of sufficient evidence:

A Pakistani court has acquitted nine men accused of planning two deadly attacks on security targets, including one which killed the army's top medic.

A suicide bomber killed Lt Gen Mushtaq Baig with seven others in February 2008. He is the most senior military official to be killed since 2001.

Just weeks earlier, several employees of Pakistan's intelligence agency were killed in a suicide attack on a bus.

But the judge said there was not enough evidence. The men pleaded not guilty.

The 2008 suicide bombings left 16 people dead and wounded dozens more.

"Due to lack of evidence, no charges can be proved against the accused," judge Malik Akram Awan said in the anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi on Thursday.

But the court said the men would be held in "preventative custody" at home because they are still under investigation.

The public prosecutor, Bilal Ahmed, told the BBC they "produced several witnesses and lots of evidence."

Mr Ahmed said that those acquitted included the alleged ringleader, Dr Abdul Razzak, an employee at a local government hospital, who was charged in both cases.

The decision comes 10 days after another Pakistani court acquitted four men of being involved in the bombing of Islamabad's Marriott hotel in 2008.

This continues a trend in which dozens of suspects charged in high-profile militant attacks have recently been freed.

Their acquittal now raises serious questions about the government's ability to investigate and solve such high profile attacks.

Riaz Haq said...

Here is Soutik Biswas of the BBC on India's vast bureaucracy:

Like the UK and other countries, India hires it civil service recruits through competitive examinations. But its bureaucrats also face being moved around much more frequently than elsewhere. At least half of those working for the Indian Administrative Service - the country's fabled "steel frame" - spend less than a year in a single position, studies have found.

They can also end up working for India's vast number of state-run factories, hotels and airlines without much experience. So an official administering a small north-eastern state ends up running an ailing airline or a senior policeman can head up a liquor company. Most state-run companies - Air India is a good example - are poorly run, critics say, and perpetually in the red.

Bureaucrats are also hobbled by interference as politicians promote, demote or transfer them at will. There is corruption among a section of officers. Few alternate between state and federal governments, leading to accusations of provincialism in the ranks. More worryingly, some officers are perceived as champions of their religious or caste-based communities and act as "protectors" of their group's interests.

India has a range of forward-looking policies but a poor record on implementing them - for which many say bureaucrats must take a major share of the blame.

It's not as if those in charge are blind to the need for civil service reform: I have counted nearly three dozen reports and committees set up by the government since 1947 to streamline and modernise the bureaucracy. "There is growing concern that our civil services and administration in general have become wooden, inflexible, self-perpetuating and inward-looking," said one government paper.

The question is why does a bureaucracy which does a fine job in some areas - rehabilitating tsunami victims, managing millions at religious festivals, conducting the world's biggest elections - struggle to conduct day-to-day affairs of the state smoothly?

The answer may be simple. India's bureaucrats need to be insulated from political influence, observers say. They deserve transparent appointments and promotions and fixed tenures. The civil service needs a code of ethics. But most important, as one analyst says, is the need to develop a "climate of probity in public life".

Many of these observations apply to Pakistani bureaucracy as well.

Riaz Haq said...

Here are sme excerpts from a report by Lynda Voltz, an Australian legislator, on her visit to Pakistan, as published by Sydney Morning Herald:

Punjab, which holds more than half the population of Pakistan, has been offering the light to lead Pakistan towards more stable government.
One of the more important pieces of infrastructure was the new $30 million forensic science centre, which would be the envy of any police force in the world. The centre could be used to build a more professional police force and help to tackle the culture of corruption in Punjab.

The centre was being built within budget and on time, at odds with what many believe is possible in Pakistan.

The Pakistani government has also started to institute a national vocational training system modelled on Punjab, which is acknowledged as having progressed more than any other region.

I did not feel at risk as I travelled through Punjab's main cities, Lahore and Islamabad. Even the Wagah border crossing, once a place of serious conflict, reminded me of a summer day at any Australian cricket match against England.
On my travels I met Taseer, who emphasised the importance of building a broad, secular society that respects every culture.

He was a strong opponent of the jailing and death sentence imposed on Asia Bibi, a woman convicted of blasphemy.

I found it surprising that the High Court had stopped Taseer's petition to the federal government for a pardon, keeping Ms Bibi locked up until all appeal processes had been exhausted.

I also visited a moderate madrassa.

These are not, as perceived in the West, hotbeds of radicalism but institutions that teach boys and girls, men and women, in a country where just over 1 per cent of the federal budget is spent on education and more than 60 per cent is spent on defence.

This is a byzantine country where every extreme can be found but it is also a nation of warm and friendly people who wish to live in peace and prosperity. Taseer was a great advocate of such a society.

Pakistan still has a long way to go. It is a fledgling democracy that has suffered years of military dictatorships and violence.

Since September 11, 2001, more than 16,000 civilians have lost their lives. Everywhere you go people talk of corruption. But it is important that they talk about it.

The media, so long restricted, have been allowed to grow and, over time, are becoming braver and more forthright. More than 90 per cent of media condemned Bibi's death sentence.

Taseer had his own problems. Appointed by the federal government, which is run by the Pakistan Peoples Party, he had legendary battles with the speaker of the Punjab Provincial Assembly, Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan, of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz).

To stabilise Pakistan, ongoing democratic government is needed.

Many people I met supported the idea of the judiciary as a brake on government. But when the people are angry, they need to know that the government is responsible and democratic elections, not a politicised judiciary, are the mechanism to remove that government.

This will not occur under a military dictatorship or while the public believes the judiciary has a role in the political process, even if it is well-intentioned. Already there are stories of the judiciary initiating prosecutions without just cause.

It is only 60 years since partition, and Pakistan has spent many years without democratic government. It took 82 years for NSW electors to put the first woman into the Australian Parliament and numerous royal commissions will attest to our experiences with corruption.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting excerpt from an Adrian Hamilton commentary on Taseer assasination published by The Independent:

Assassination is an abominable act but also an effective means of challenging power structures and frightening people into passivity. Religion may make it more difficult for ordinary citizens openly to oppose the men of violence, but it's not necessarily the cause in itself.

The real issue is the almost universal assault on pluralism within countries. At a time when the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, openly dismisses multiculturalis m as a mistake, when senior members of the Israeli government call for new laws to enforce ethnic purity in the country, and minorities are being persecuted and driven out of most countries of Asia, to talk of the Muslim issue as if it were a unique phenomenon misses the wider context. The violence in Pakistan has been perpetrated far more by Sunnis on Shia, Ahmadi and Sufi co-religionists than on Christians.

The revival of Islamic belief is certainly a real and in some ways threatening reality of our time. In country after country Muslims seem to be turning back to religion as a means of defining and asserting their identity. That poses a problem – although much exaggerated – in Europe and other regions where they are a minority. But it poses much more far-reaching problems for Muslim states, such as those in North Africa and Central Asia, where secularism is associated with corrupt and authoritarian regimes.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt from a paper on police reform in India by Maja Daruwala, G.P Joshi, Mandeep Tiwana:

The Police Act of 1861 governs most police forces in India. Some states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Kerala and Delhi have indeed enacted their own Acts but even these closely resemble and are modeled on the Act of 1861.1 The National Police Commission, 1979-81 (NPC) was alive to the need for reform in legislation governing the police and went on draft a ‘Model Police Act’ in its Eighth Report submitted in
1981. Unfortunately, this proposed bill, which was developed as a response to the context of the times, and addressed to end some of the ills that plague policing has not been adopted by any state. Nevertheless, it has served as the template for nascent initiatives for many who are trying to replace the out of date Police Acts in their states with more relevant legislation.2
However, these initiatives, coming by and large from within the police establishment itself, have borrowed selectively from the NPC Model in ways that have the effect of strengthening the police establishment without the guarantee of accountability or responsiveness to the public. None of these initiatives has ever crystallised into an Act in any state in India.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's BR on Australian forensic training for Pak law enforcement:

The Australian Government has introduced a new policy initiative to enhance its law enforcement engagement with Pakistan. a statement by Australian High Commission said on Friday.

A major component of this initiative belongs to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and its focus is on forensic capacity development across both federal and regional Pakistan.

The AFP Pakistan Forensic Capacity Building Project was developed as a result of this initiative. To date, the Project has successfully delivered nine forensic training courses in Canberra with a total of 88 participants from various Pakistani regions and relevant agencies.

The Australian High Commission and the AFP are very pleased to have achieved a significant milestone by successfully running the Project's first training course in Pakistan: Laboratory Management and Quality Systems which ran from 8 to 17 October 2012 at the Punjab Forensic Science Agency and included 21 participants from a range of areas and agencies within Pakistan.

Dr. James Robertson from the National Centre of Forensic Studies in Australia who was the key lecturer during this course said: "It has provided an excellent opportunity to reach a broader group of participants and also to enhance our own understanding of current forensic structures and capabilities in Pakistan, which in turn enables us to better understand how we can best deliver the remaining courses under this Project."

Dr Robertson also acknowledged the great achievement of the Punjab Government and Dr Mohammad Tahir in establishing the PFSA as a world class forensic laboratory.

The coming nine months for the AFP Project includes a variety of activities to further develop forensic capability in Pakistan, including two more training courses in Karachi and Lahore, two Forensic Leadership Forum meetings in Karachi, Islamabad and a number of training courses in Australia.

This Project continues to demonstrate the strong strategic relationship and even stronger friendship between Australia and Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

From UN Investigator Heraldo Munoz of Chile as published today:

Today, former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf was indicted in the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. The UN official who conducted the special investigation into her death recounts his own search for answers -- and why, he believes, most everyone is guilty.

Munoz says "Even Bhutto, despite her e-mail pointing a finger at Musharraf, probably did not believe that Musharraf wanted her dead -- only that some people around him did."

More excerpts:

To be sure, Mehsud and the Pakistani Taliban were a clear threat to Bhutto. Just before Bhutto returned to Pakistan in October 2007, after nearly a decade of exile, a news article stated that Mehsud had threatened to welcome her with a wave of suicide bombers. (The report identified Saleh Shah as the source, but he denied the article’s claims emphatically.) Mehsud had motive to kill Bhutto. He was certain that her secularism and moderation would hinder the Pakistani Taliban’s ability to spread Islamic radicalism -- aside from the fact she was a woman and considered a Shiite. He was also convinced that her impending return to Pakistan was part of a power-sharing deal with Musharraf that would strengthen the already solid pro-Americanism of the Pakistani government, and thus undermine the Pakistani Taliban’s power in South Waziristan.

In February 2010, Yousaf Raza Gilani, who was Prime Minister of Pakistan at the time, told the commissioners about a meeting he had with President George W. Bush at the White House in mid-2008, when the subject of Bhutto’s murder was addressed. “As soon as I entered the Oval Office,” Gilani said, “Bush shot, ‘How come you are letting Baitullah Mehsud be interviewed on Pakistani TV? Don’t you know that he’s the one who killed Benazir Bhutto?’” Gilani said that he responded by asking, “Then why haven’t you taken him out with your drones?”

Riaz Haq said...

ISLAMABAD: The government of Japan on Thursday signed an agreement with the government of Pakistan to provide Japanese hybrid vehicles worth 500 million Japanese Yen (equivalent to around Rs 490 million or US$ 4.93 million).
The agreement was signed between Hiroshi Inomata, ambassador of Japan to Pakistan, and Nargis Sethi, secretary of Economic Affairs Division.
This assistance is provided in the form of Japan’s Non-Project Grant Aid (NPGA) for promotion of socio-economic development efforts in developing countries by providing foreign currency for the import of necessary goods or commodities. The Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Communications had submitted their requests to procure hybrid vehicles under this NPGA for the police agencies under their umbrella. Further details of the procurement will be determined between the Japanese and Pakistani counterparts.
At the signing ceremony, Japanese Ambassador Inomata said, “Security enhancement is indispensable for successful socio-economic development in Pakistan and Japan remains committed to improving capabilities of law enforcement agencies in Pakistan.”
In the field of security and law enforcement, the government of Japan, through Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), has provided training opportunities to around 50 Pakistani police officers for the last 10 years in areas such as forensic science, drug control and terrorism investigation. In 2013, Japan also agreed to install cargo and vehicle scanning devices at three international airports in Pakistan. In addition, JICA is currently conducting a feasibility study for improvement of container cargo inspection at the two international ports in Karachi. From the environmental point of view, the hybrid vehicles use less fuel and emit less greenhouse effect gases than the conventional cars. The latest hybrid vehicles from Japan are expected not only to enable the Pakistani police agencies to reduce fuel costs for their daily operations, but also help government address environmental challenges.

Riaz Haq said...

"Physical evidence does not lie, it does not perjure itself as humans do," said the dapper 65-year-old Tahir. "It is a silent witness ... We make it speak in a court of law."

Tahir, a dual Pakistani and U.S. citizen, has his own forensics lab in the Unites States. He spent 36 years working with U.S. police and helped write the FBI handbook on forensics.

In 2008, with militant attacks rising in Pakistan, Punjab's chief minister called Tahir and asked for help: to design a new $31 million forensics lab in the city of Lahore, handpick its scientists and try to enforce new standards of crime solving.

The lab was finished in 2012 and at first, business was slow. But now the lab, which is funded by Punjab state, takes around 600 cases a day, Tahir said. It could easily handle twice that if more police start sending in evidence or suspects.

"The police are not educated, they don't know our capabilities. We have to teach them," he said.


The gleaming new lab quickly discovered only a tiny fraction of police knew how to secure crime scenes and collect evidence. DNA samples were moldy. Guns arrived for analysis, smeared with officers' fingerprints.

"If garbage comes in, garbage goes out," explained one scientist at the lab during a recent Reuters visit, as his masked colleague unwrapped a bone from a woman's body found in a canal.

To change that, Tahir set up localized crime scene investigation units and began training police. Now the DNA department says around half the samples they receive are packaged correctly.

"They are getting better," Tahir said. So far 3,100 police out of a force of 185,000 have been trained.

But progress is slow. Punjab Police Inspector General Mushtaq Sukhera said police still secure "very few" crime scenes.

One detective was even found fingerprinting himself instead of the suspects for dozens of cases, an official working with the judicial system said.

Some police try to game the system. A prosecutor and a scientist told Reuters that police sometimes plant bullets at the crime scene and the gun on the suspect.

Courts usually treat police as unreliable. Any confession made to them is legally inadmissible because suspects are frequently tortured. Police argue they are becoming better at playing by the book.

"It used to be - you can say - a quick method of getting disclosure from the accused," said Sukhera. "(But now) I think very rarely the police torture."

Tahir has banned police from entering the lab to make sure they do not interfere with the process.

When Reuters visited the lab, police waited patiently in the basement, some clutching white cloth packages sealed with twine and red wax.

A dozen of them held bottles that were to be tested for alcohol, which is illegal in Pakistan. One had brought a pistol. Another held a box of body parts.


Once the lab makes a report, it goes to the prosecutor. But judges, lawyers and witnesses are often threatened or killed. Courts have a backlog of more than a million cases.

As a result, conviction rates are low. Anti-terrorism courts convict around a third of cases - about half of those are overturned on appeal. Fewer than a quarter of murder suspects are convicted.

But Tahir said that the lab has had some notable successes. One man confessed he poisoned his Scottish wife thanks to evidence from the toxicology and polygraph departments.

Two men claimed police planted suicide vests on them - but they were jailed after the lab's computer section recovered deleted videos from their phones confirming their wrongdoing. A man who raped and killed a 5-year-old in a mosque was identified by his DNA; seven other suspects were freed.

"On one hand, you have exonerated a man," said Tahir. "On the other you have found someone who has actually committed a crime. Nothing makes you happier." (Reuters)

Riaz Haq said...

Testimony: Security in-charge blames Benazir #Bhutto for her own death. Opened sunroof against advice. #Pakistan #PPP

RAWALPINDI: The security in-charge of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto has said that had the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader not opened the sunroof of her bullet-proof vehicle to wave to party workers, her death on December 27, 2007 could have been avoided.

Former SSP Major (retd) Imtiaz Hussain gave the statement during cross-examination by the defence lawyer in the special anti-terrorism court in Adiala Jail hearing the ex-premier’s murder case.

His statement appears an about-turn from his previous stance when he had criticized the lack of security for Benazir at Liaquat Bagh, Rawalpindi, the venue of her rally at the day of her assassination.

In his statement, the ex-SSP said that on the day of her assassination, Benazir left Zardari House in Islamabad at 1:30pm for Liaquat Bagh to address a political rally. “I was sitting in the front next to the driver [Javaidur Rehman] and the former premier was in the back seat with PPP leaders Makhdoom Amin Fahim and Nahid Khan.”

Senator Safdar Abbasi, security guard Khalid Shahanshah and Benazir’s personal servant Raziq were in the backmost seat, he added.

As soon as the vehicle left the rally venue and entered Liaquat Road party workers gathered around the car and started chanting slogans in party’s favour, explained Hussain.

He recalled that as Benazir opened the vehicle’s sunroof and began waving to party workers and supporters, gunshots were heard followed by a blast which injured her and she slumped into the seat.

The vehicle’s passengers told the driver to rush to a hospital which he did, but they were forced to change cars on Murree Road after the driver said the vehicle could no longer be driven owing to the blast impact. They then moved into PPP leader Sherry Rehman’s vehicle which was following them and rushed to General Hospital. He said doctors tried to tend to the former prime minister but could not save her.

Riaz Haq said...

it's worth reading about Bhutto because he represents a type - the unprincipled, populist, Middle Eastern leader seeking power as an end in itself. Bhutto resembles such Muslim leaders as Mujibur Rahman of Bangladesh, Mu'ammar al-Qadhdhafi of Libya, Saddam Husayn of Iraq, and the PLO's Yasir 'Arafat. But he most closely resembles Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, the man who dominated Middle East politics for the decade after 1956, and whose legacy remains alive among Arabs somewhat as Bhutto's does among Pakistanis. These two leaders shared a striking number of features.

Snatching victory from defeat: Nasser led the Arabs to defeat at Suez in 1956 yet emerged from the incident as the most popular leader in the Arabic-speaking countries. (He also recovered from an even more disastrous defeat in 1967 without much damage to his popularity.) Similarly, Bhutto masterminded Pakistan's defeats of 1965 and 1971 but profited from both.
Emotion-laden nationalist rhetoric: Both men made their mark through the force of their oratory, tapping deep responses among their countrymen. Bhutto's explanation of the 1965 loss reflected, accorded to Wolpert, "the suspicious, prejudices, and fears deep in countless Pakistani hearts and minds." His defiant words ("We will wage a war for a thousand years") had the intended effect, thrilling "every Pakistani who heard it, especially the men back home, who knew they had lost the war but whose dream of victory was being kept alive by [Bhutto's] words." In fact, "The more outrageous his rhetoric became . . . the more heroic Zulfi Bhutto appeared to Pakistani audiences." Nasser dazzled his audiences in like manner.
Political chameleons: Both politicians represented no ideas beyond their own power. They turned opportunism - the bobbing and weaving for short-term advantage - into an art. They adopted to the moment and to the audience. Ideologies and ideals mattered little to them. They saw arguments as but words, to be changed with circumstance. The politician serves as a vessel for others' interests. Bhutto and Nasser avoided taking a clear political position; why make enemies gratuitously? Accordingly, their followers came from many points on the political spectrum, from fundamentalist Muslims to pro-Soviet leftists.
Identifying self with country: Nasser and Bhutto mystically believed it their destiny to save their peoples. Wolpert notes that Bhutto fused "his own battered, defeated, and unappreciated feelings, dreams, ambitions, and desires with those of the people of Pakistan."
Seeing the world through conspiracy theories: When Egypt lost to Israel, the Western powers got blamed; and they (as well as the Soviet Union) got similarly accused when Pakistan lost to India.
Further, both Nasser and Bhutto applied socialist principles and created expectations they could not fulfill. Abroad, they espoused transnational ideologies (Pan-Arab nationalism, Third Worldism), meddled militarily (in Yemen, Bangladesh), and played Americans off against Russians.

In these many ways, Bhutto represents the unhappy politics of his region. To know him as Stanley Wolpert makes possible, is to live vicariously the pains of Pakistan and the countries to its west.