The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) seems to be losing the cooperation of witnesses whose testimonies had implicated the former President Pervez Musharraf and two senior police officers for failing to provide adequate security to Benazir Bhutto, resulting in her death. Not only have the key witnesses changed their statements to completely exonerate the three of any responsibility, their new testimonies parrot a similar line – almost word to word – giving glowing appreciation to the security arrangements.

This dramatic and almost simultaneous change in witness testimony heavily implies intimidation. It also is another example of FIA’s incompetence – whose job it is to protect witnesses from outside influence.

The Benazir Bhutto murder case has been a long and tortuous affair. From the start it has been shackled by conflicting political motivations, and marred by an investigation that has been sluggish and lacking initiative. Yet, recent developments take it further into limbo. Having failed to charge someone for directly carrying out the attack, charging the authorities for negligence always seemed like a half-hearted effort, especially since it was based on very generalised security assessments. Additionally, failing to hold on to existing witnesses goes beyond a lack of motivation - it strays into supreme ineptitude. The FIA has failed to make any meaningful progress in the way of achieving conviction in several high-profile cases. At best it serves as a body used by the federal government to generate pressure on its opponents (like the MQM and Musharraf).

Speaking of Musharraf, the cases against him seem to melting away as time passes. While the rest have been either dropped due to lack of evidence, or mired in technical delaying tactics, this one presents the clearest evidence that outside forces are intent on making these cases go away. Despite this, the government has shown no political will to deal with Benazir’s murder trial in an expedited manner. It was always on the cards, but now it seems highly likely that no one will be convicted for the murder of Benazir Bhutto.