The Powers That Be are rapidly succeeding in making such a muddied mess of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination that nobody will ever be able to say with certainty what happened. This will go down as another unsolved mystery. You watch.

BRITISH officials have revealed that evidence amassed by Scotland Yard detectives points towards Al-Qaeda militants being responsible for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

Five experts in video evidence and forensic science have been in Pakistan for 10 days since President Pervez Musharraf took up an offer from Gordon Brown for British help in the investigation of the December 27 killing. Last week they were joined by three specialists in explosives.

Yes, because after all, it’s very convenient for certain people when Al-Qaeda militants become responsible for reprehensible deeds.

Behold the cover-up:

1. Her body was buried without an autopsy. The actual cause of death remains unknown and forever will.

Bhutto’s murder as she left a rally she had been addressing in Rawalpindi sparked an international outcry. Her body was flown home to be buried with no postmortem examination. Companions insist the cause of death - a bullet wound in her neck - was obvious.

She lost a lot of blood from the neck wound, but the attending doctors listed her head wound as the cause of death. Important note: the head wound was not a bullet wound, but some kind of deep puncture wound causing a skull fracture.

2. Dispute continues over the timing of the various wounds Bhutto suffered and which one actually caused her death.

Claims by the government that she had fractured her skull on the sunroof of her car while escaping the blast from a suicide bomb prompted fury from party supporters who insisted she had been shot before the explosion.

The Pakistani government really likes the sunroof theory because it explains the skull fracture. However, supporters point out that the timing doesn’t work. Bhutto was shot and she had a fatal skull fracture and there was an explosion, but the timing of these three events remains problematic. The explosion cannot explain the fracture, and neither can the bullet. Somebody looks silly and inept, and that is the Pakistani government. That’s ok. Bhutto’s companions and supporters, who point to the neck wound, seem rationale in comparison. That’s ok, too. This is how a cover-up goes down. Somebody has to be a patsy.

When footage of the incident clearly revealed a man waving a pistol in the crowd, the government was accused of a cover-up.

Obviously she was shot. Why does the Pakistani government cling to the sunroof explanation? Because they know it explains the fatal head wound which is not a bullet wound but which also cannot be explained by the explosion due to timing problems.

3. Quick! Blame Al-Qaeda and find a tape somewhere!

Musharraf was quick to blame the killing on Baitullah Mehsud, a tribal leader from the Afghan border area of southern Waziristan with links to Al-Qaeda. The interior ministry released a transcript of a purported telephone conversation between Mehsud and a militant cleric in which, though Bhutto’s name was not mentioned, he appeared to congratulate him on the death, saying: “Fantastic job. Very brave boys, the ones who killed her.”

They released a transcript of a purported telephone conversation, eh? How about releasing the recorded call? Critics helpfully pointed out that this was not very convincing evidence, especially since Mehsud humiliated Musharraf last August. Furthermore, this tribal leader does not have the influence or resources to plan such an attack.

But British and American officials, who have examined the transcript, say they believe it is genuine and share Musharraf’s view that Mehsud is behind most of the suicide bombings in Pakistan.

They “examined the transcript”? What’s involved with that? Reading? Checking the printer paper? Well, in any case, they believe it is genuine and not only did Mehsud probably kill Bhutto, but he is responsible for most of the suicide bombings in Pakistan. And who are we to doubt this?

4. Alas, as everyone knows by now, Al-Qaeda tribal fighters are practically impossible to capture. So nothing can really be done. Sorry.

Asked why Pakistani forces do not capture Mehsud, one official said: “It’s not so easy to go into tribal areas. Look what happened to the last lot of Pakistani soldiers that tried.” According to diplomats, Mehsud had dispatched teams of suicide bombers round the country to follow Bhutto to rallies and seize an opportunity to kill her.

They know who did it, they just can’t catch him. It’s that old Al-Qaeda genius.

The gun fired at Bhutto has been checked for fingerprints by the Scotland Yard detectives. A government minister told The Sunday Times that these have been traced through identity cards to a man in Swat, an area where Mehsud’s men have been fighting. “There was no cover-up,” he insisted. “It was just unfortunate that in all the shock and confusion at the beginning, people shot their mouths off talking about sunroofs rather than simply saying it would be investigated.”

Indeed, somebody really messed up and shot his mouth off talking about sunroofs. Too Much Information, People.

5. For added confusion, return to the beginning, when we simply would like to know what actually killed her. Conveniently, the Pakistani police treated the crime scene to a quick and thorough scrubbing.

Scotland Yard has insisted that its task is not to establish who killed her but only how she died.

Yes, because if you can answer that question, you know who killed her. But sadly, that question will never be answered because the evidence was immediately scrubbed away by police who clearly understand the importance of forensics.

Even that is not straightforward. They cannot examine the body, and the crime scene and Bhutto’s vehicle were both scrubbed within hours.

Every day another conspiracy theory emerges. It is now widely believed that the gun had a laser sight, suggesting military complicity, or that a sniper may have been in a nearby building.

Ahh, conspiracy theories. Now the gun had a laser sight! That conveniently co-opts the very quickly buried laser theory by making it much more palatable. It was just a laser sight. We all know about those. Nothing to see here…move along folks.

Confusing as it all seems now, everything will get ironed out in the next few weeks, meaning the official story will take care of all these messy loose ends, or at least as many of them as possible. Some lingering doubts and unanswered questions will remain, but only people lacking good will or crazy conspiracy theorists will reject the explanations offered by Scotland Yard. Right?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.