BENAZIR Bhutto is dead. She died amidst her supporters who revered her, and her father before her, and from whom she derived her strength, her legitimacy as a leader. She died because the state proved inadequate in protecting her.
She died at the hands of an assassin, a suicide bomber, God knows at whose behest. She epitomised courage and courted death because she said it was important for her to reclaim the political space lost to the extremists by the current government's policies.
Among sinking hearts, an emptiness, and doom and gloom many questions will need to be answered. Did she die because she was a woman politician swimming against the tide of obscurantism? Did she die because she was in the process of staging a comeback after being dismissed twice on charges of corruption and misconduct? Did she die because she represented the aspirations of millions of her supporters -supporters so committed that they refused to blame the party leadership for many unfulfilled dreams?
The reception accorded to her as she returned home, ending years in exile on October 18, was a demonstration of such selfless dedication by several hundred thousand supporters. More than 150 people, mostly PPP activists, died in the bombing aimed at her that night in Karachi. Her supporters knew very well she was the target and yet thronged each venue she appeared at. Such was their bond.
While we appeal for restraint, the anger and the frustration of PPP supporters is understandable. The sniper's bullet has snatched their dreams from them. Will we ever know who killed her?
She died literally yards from where Liaquat Ali Khan was felled by an assassin's bullet and probably a mile from where her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, had his life snuffed out by the hangman's noose. We know nothing about Liaquat Ali Khan's murder and very little about Z.A. Bhutto's killing beyond what his supporters say was a judicial murder.
No amount of condemnation will compensate for the sense of loss that fills millions of hearts across the land today. We can't even begin to imagine the grief of her family who have been robbed of the jewel in their crown.
It is a tribute to the tenacity of Ms Bhutto, the politician par excellence, that she kept her father's political legacy alive in a male-dominated society. He had championed the popular cause and had given a sense of dignity to the common man in Pakistan. Benazir Bhutto had the mettle to do the same.
The repercussions of her murder will continue to unfold for months, even years. What is clear is that Pakistan's political landscape will never be the same having lost one of its finest daughters.
She announced before she arrived in Pakistan that she would allow US forces to search for Osama Bin Laden in Pakistani territories. Obviously such an announcement should not be very appealing to Pakistani citizens since it undermines the sovereignty of the nation she was seeking to represent but are well appreciated by United States. Do we hear any outrage against such an announcement from the Pakistani people? Did she even care about the public opinion of the nation she was seeking to be the leader of?
She also announced that she would grant IAEA access to question Abdul Qadeer Khan while Mr. Musharraf denied such an access. Is this something the Pakistani people want to hear? Did she care?
Finally, I would say that although it is sad that she had to die in such a manner but had she tried to derive her power genuinely from within the Pakistani people and refrained from such bold American sell-out statements she would not have created such zealous enemies who found it to be a service to who knows who while making sure she dies.
Those of you who plan to respond please make sure you answer my questions.
To refresh the memory, I would remind the Pakistanis that while the atomic program of Pakistan was initiated by Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, every Pakistani government since Mr. Bhutto kept it going while continuously denying to the international community in the national interest of Pakistan. Every Pakistani government was pressurized by the West to cease its atomic program but one common strategy that every Pakistani government had in the interest of Pakistan was the continual denial of atomic program.
I remember very well watching Benazir Bhutto on the TV sometime in 1990s while she was visiting the United States as an ex-Prime Minister of Pakistan. She admitted during a press conference before American media that Pakistani government of her opponent Nawaz Sharif was, in fact, planning to create a nuclear bomb.
Obviously information from an ex-Prime Minister of a country has to be credible and carry some authenticity. Nobody could deny the truthfulness in her statement now in hindsight since we now know for a fact that she was not lying. Her information was not only accurate but was well appreciated by the Americans and they applied more pressure on Nawaz Sharif to cease the nuclear program. Although Mr. Nawaz Sharif did not take that pressure and continued with the program while officially denying it, but the fact that Mrs. Bhutto reported that to foreign media is nothing but treason giving out her nation's secret simply because the government in power in Pakistan at the time was her political opponents.
My question to the Pakistani readers and specially Benazir's supporters is to analyze whether Benazir went too far in her opposition to Nawaz Sharif's government. I believe it is treason to disclose one's national secret.
It is time for those in high Islamic posts to make a collective stand and repeatedly air their view on this subject across the world. Money and effort should be put into this cause to remove such idea from Islamic belief. Young people are being lured into this idea that by blowing themselves up they go to Heaven. That this is indeed jihad. Men of knowledge across all sects need to clarify this point to bring clarity to young minds. It would be worth while if it saves one innocent life.
However we can analyze the situation and the behind the scenes "monkey business" that lead to her returning to Pakistan to share power with a power hungry maniac.
That itself proves the old adage ---- power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.
How sad people otherwise well educated and well informed can allow themselves to be manipulated by "special interests".
Her own niece Fatima Bhutto said this: "It is widely believed that Ms. Bhutto lost both her governments on grounds of massive corruption. She and her husband, a man who came to be known in Pakistan as "Mr. 10%," have been accused of stealing more than $1 billion from Pakistan's treasury. She is appealing a money-laundering conviction by the Swiss courts involving about $11 million. Corruption cases in Britain and Spain are ongoing."