I received in my email today a new article by Duane Baughman and Mark Siegel about the film documentary of Benazir Bhutto they have produced titled, “Bhutto: You Can’t Murder a Legacy.” I am posting the trailer for this film which is released in UK and US later this week. The message of these two men in their article and their film is exactly what we need, though.
It’s been nearly two and half years since the assassination of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Since her murder her party has won democratically contested parliamentary elections, established a government, elected a Prime Minister, installed the Muslim world’s first female Speaker, elected her husband Asif Ali Zardari as president and restored the nation’s democratic constitution that had been perverted by decades of dictatorship.
For a woman who once told a Joint Session of the U.S. Congress that “democracy is the greatest revenge” one would think her murder has been avenged. But the United Nation’s Commission of Inquiry into her death has recently opened new wounds with a blistering indictment of General Pervez Musharraf and his government, holding them responsible and accountable for the assassination by deliberate decisions to reject even minimal security arrangements for Ms. Bhutto during her election campaign that could have saved her life. With the death of the world’s first woman to have led an Islamic nation, only truth and justice can be the greatest revenge. That is what the people of Pakistan want. And that is what Benazir Bhutto deserves.
Immediately after Ms. Bhutto’s murder, we began a documentary on the Bhuttos and their inextricable link to Pakistan. The resulting film is a painstaking and methodological examination of what the US government has frequently referred to as “the most dangerous place on earth.” We conducted hundreds of hours of interviews with Benazir’s husband President Zardari, her children, her sister, General Musharraf, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and many others including her niece, a bitter and acerbic critic. The film, Bhutto, premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, and will open across Pakistan on June 11, shortly before what would have been Ms. Bhutto’s 57th birthday.
The documentary is hauntingly narrated by Bhutto’s own voice, culled from 50 hours of previously unheard tapes, and builds to the crescendo of her return to Pakistan and the tragedy of her assassination on December 27 of that year. The film’s narrative is unintentionally but strikingly similar to the courageous report of the United Nations released on April 15, 2010 which pointed directly to the actions of General Musharraf, his government, the police, the military and intelligence agency, and the all-powerful “Establishment” in Pakistan that determines not only life, but apparently death as well.
The film is expected to be controversial in Pakistan and simultaneous premiers in Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi and Islamabad are expected to add to growing chorus of Pakistanis demanding accountability, trial, punishment and justice for what the UN called in its report “a heinous crime of historic proportions.” Benazir Bhutto was the modern face of Islam, a uniquely positioned bridge between genders, cultures, religions and nations. She dared to unambiguously challenge the Jihadist perversion of Islam. Her loss to the world is incalculable. But could her murder have been prevented?
In the film General Musharraf looks straight into our camera and declares that he “resents” any suggestion that he could have done more to save Benazir Bhutto’s life. And he says that what he did for her, even though her assassination was successfully carried out, was “more than the maximum.” But the United Nations, after nine months of investigation and 250 interviews categorically disagreed with Musharraf. In language rarely written or uttered in the UN’s 64 year history, the report puts blame squarely on Musharraf for deliberately endangering Prime Minister Bhutto’s life by failing to protect her even after the October 18th attack on her when she returned to Pakistan killed over 170 of her supporters.. Her October 26, 2007 email to Mark Siegel asking that Musharraf be held responsible if anything happened to her, was vindicated by the UN report.
The United Nations report echoing information in the documentary Bhutto, raises questions about why the reports of UAE and Saudi intelligence which identified three close associates of General Musharraf as plotting against Ms. Bhutto’s life, were never acted upon by Musharraf. Even more haunting, one of the people identified by the intelligence agencies was Brigadier Ejaz Shah, who is directly linked to the murderer of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Shah, like others closely linked to Musharraf and the Bhutto assassination, has fled the country to avoid fallout from the UN report. But the link between the Pearl murder and the Bhutto assassination remains uninvestigated and unreported, and those responsible for both deaths remain at large. General Musharraf lives comfortably in London, making high paid speeches around the world, saying that he will return to Pakistan in three years to contest new elections, and flippantly hoping that on his return his “luck is better than Ms. Bhutto’s.”
As the producers of the documentary on her barrier-breaking life that is about to open in Pakistan and around the world, we echo the words of the UN and hope our film contributes to bringing the people of Pakistan what they so poignantly deserve — truth and justice.
Duane Baughman produced and directed, and Mark Siegel produced the award winning documentary “BHUTTO” which premiers in Pakistan and the United Kingdom later this week.