Getting Away With Murder

Jason Burke in The Guardian:

Benazir-Bhutto-books-011Decade after decade, Pakistan waxes and wanes as a news story. The early and late 70s, the end of the 80s, the beginning and end of the last decade have all seen spikes of interest in this complicated, troubled nation. In 2007 and 2008, two events in particular focused attention on the country: the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in the northern city of Rawalpindi and the terrorist operation launched by Pakistan-based Islamic militants on the Indian commercial capital of Mumbai, which left 166 dead. Together with new violence along the Afghan-Pakistani frontier as Pakistani troops tried to roll back resurgent extremists and bombings across Pakistan itself, these two attacks signalled the return of the “strategic centre of gravity” of the post-9/11 battle against extremist violence to south-west Asia after the shift to the Middle East following the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Heraldo Muñoz is a UN assistant secretary general who led the investigation into the assassination of Bhutto. He tells his story in Getting Away With Murder: Benazir Bhutto's Assassination and the Politics of Pakistan, a short book which, though oversold by publishers' claims of a “gripping” narrative that goes “further than anyone else to unravel the mystery” of the two-time prime minister's death, nonetheless makes some interesting points.

Central to the narrative is Bhutto herself. I spent much time with this impressive but deeply flawed woman in Pakistan in the late 90s, spoke to her regularly throughout her exile and accompanied her on several days' campaigning close to the Afghan border only a week or so before she died. She was charming, intelligent, moderate and extraordinarily brave. On one occasion, I joined her after she impulsively halted her motorcade and headed off into a market in a violence-prone conservative town to mix with stallholders and shoppers. But Bhutto was also intolerant of dissent, wilfully blind to the faults of key associates and, by the time she returned to Pakistan, in 2007, out of touch with her homeland.

More here.