Iconic deaths have an established history of spawning conspiracy theories. In the days since Benazir’s assassination, in a country deeply sensitised to political drama, where reality is increasingly fantastical, and established authority labours under a heavy deficit of trust, the “Who killed Benazir?” question is hotly debated in salons, chai-stalls and boardrooms.
“Of course the government killed Benazir,” scoffed my Lahore neighbour. “Why else try to convince us she died of concussion when we saw her being shot on TV? Why hose away evidence? Why no inquiry?” So deep is public rage and grief at Benazir’s loss it will not acknowledge that Musharraf and his puppet government are the prime losers from her death. “Musharraf is a commando, you know; she was thrust on him by the Americans, but he could not stomach her popularity. It was either him or her.”
More cynically, there is an imminent election, and no sooner had Bhutto been buried that political parties began crafting self-serving versions of what happened. In a press conference, her widower, Asif Zardari, was careful not to antagonise the country’s strongest power broker. “We have no quarrel with the army,” he said. Instead he pointed a finger at Musharraf’s civilian government, which would have been swept out of office in a fair and free election. Surreptitiously, their rumour-mongers are now accusing Asif Zardari, arguing that as regent to his son he has the most to gain from the current situation.