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Benazir the Matchless

31 December, 2007

By Anwaar Hussain


Whoever killed her, snuffed out the last major representative of liberal/moderate voices in Pakistan

I met Benazir. I spoke to her.

Some twenty years back, she became the first woman elected to head a Muslim state and was feted as a sensational feminist symbol of modernity. She was only 35. People magazine included her among its Fifty Most Beautiful People. Common Pakistanis started dreaming the dream of free people. She was the central figure in those dreams. She was their symbol.

In early 1989, the newly elected Prime Minister embarked upon a goodwill visit to all military cantonments. A spectacular air show was arranged for her on one of the Air Force bases. The airplanes involved were the American supplied state of the art F-16 aircraft. I was in one of those planes.

When the show was over she asked to meet the pilots. She was brought over to the Air Defense Alert hut where she shared a cup of tea with us all. Being a young woman, she appeared to be visibly impressed by our air dance. Unbeknown to her of course, and to many amongst us too, it was decided before hand that the meager flying allowance that we pilots were getting would be tactfully brought to her attention. Needless to say, young Anwaar, the scribe, was made the scapegoat.

It was thus that on a cue from my commanding officer I approached the Prime Minister and asked her, ” Madam Prime Minister, do you know how much we get paid for these maneuvers that you just witnessed and so liked?” “Why, no” she said. “Less than a taxi driver makes every day” I said. “Also, it was your father the late Prime Minister Zulfikar Bhutto who had last raised it more than 15 years back” I further added.

Her gasp of disbelief was audible to all. She called the Defense Minister right then and asked to be reminded of the issue the first thing in the morning in her office. To our pleasant surprise, we found a 500 percent increase in our flying allowance in the very next pay check. Not only that, she also introduced a clause into our pay structures that would make the flying allowance increase automatically every year to keep pace with the inflation. Pakistan Air Force’s fighter pilots are still enjoying that perk.

Not very much later, the dream shattered.

Both her prime ministerial tenures were brought to abrupt halts by the Pakistan Army. In both her terms, stories of her husband Zardari and his cronies making sickeningly large fortunes in less time than one can say the word dollar started doing frenzied rounds in our mess halls. The nation was abuzz with the dizzying tales of unbelievable gluttony and naked nepotism of the husband-wife team and their side kicks. The remnants of Zia’s Jihadis in the armed forces, in the intelligence agencies and in the civil society made sure that those rumors did not die.

Her husband became known as Mr. 10 percent for a whole lot of inventive kickback ventures that weaved across many continents. In 1999, Bhutto and her husband were sentenced to five years in jail and fined $8.6m (£4.3m) on charges of taking kickbacks from a Swiss company hired to fight customs fraud. A higher court later overturned the conviction as biased. Bhutto was abroad at the time of her conviction and chose not to return to Pakistan. Zardari spent eight years in prison before being released on bail in 2004 with no charge proven against him. Despite her repeated claims that the allegations were politically motivated, she was indelibly stained. Mistrusted by the army and the powerful intelligence services, and reviled by Pakistan’s Islamist clerics and parties, she virtually became a pariah.

Then came the ‘War on Terror’ and Benazir’s slow road to rehabilitation.

The Jihadis sired by the USA, mothered by Pakistan, midwifed by some powerful Muslim countries and nurtured by the West, found themselves jobless after a defeated Soviet Union. Bringing along fringe lunatics from all over the Muslim world, they came home to roost and turned their guns on their own countrymen. Pakistan soon earned the dubious distinction of being called ‘the ground zero of terror’.

A convenient 9/11 later, the ‘War on Terror’ started in real earnest. The Pakistan Army’s grand vision of ‘strategic depth’ in Afghanistan quickly folded on itself. The general staff soon backed off from their majestic self-view and started singing the latest American tunes in unison and with great enthusiasm. Six years down the line, a bungling Musharraf, the resurgent Jihadis in Pakistan and a rapidly deteriorating situation in the neighboring Afghanistan, for which Pakistan was always blamed, all fused together into a curious mix carving yet another role for Benazir.

On January 27 2007 she was invited by the United States to speak to President Bush and congressional and state department officials. Washington was concerned, and not too improperly at that, that Musharraf’s insistence on holding presidential elections while remaining as commander-in-chief would make a travesty of his claim to have a democratic mandate. A re-laundered Benazir in the new governmental setup would not only ensure the whole charade seemed a genuine democratic exercise, the Americans would have in Pakistan not only a man but a woman too.

With American blessings, a deal was hatched. Bhutto was given immunity from prosecution on all corruption charges and Musharraf would relinquish his uniform - but only after kicking out the senior judges and chief justice who tried to block him standing for election again. The expectation was that he would remain as civilian president and she would be prime minister.

It was thus that in October this year she embarked upon the fateful journey. She survived a horrific bomb attack on her very first day in Pakistan. Close to 700 hundred people were killed and maimed in that attack. Her enemies, however, were determined. In the very next attempt, her tragic death at the hands of her assassins is only too well known by now. She had to be lucky many times, her enemies only once.

The entire world is stunned at this heinous act. From Moscow to Washington to New Delhi and points in between, dismay, condemnation and rage, along with concern for the stability of this volatile region are pouring forth over her assassination. World leaders lauded her bravery and commitment to democratic reform. International stock markets plummeted. Pakistan is ablaze since then. Full blown loot and arson is going on even as these lines are being written and Army has been called out in many Pakistani cities.

Who killed her?

One thing is clear though. Assassination with suicide bombings is not the work of some petty criminals. It requires resources available only to powerful actors acting at the behest of a state or an organization like Al-Qaeda.

The most obvious suspects, therefore, must be religious militants. Benazir was very vocal against these extremists. She repeatedly said that she will rein them in once in power and seemed genuinely convinced of the cause. Moreover, the very nature of the attack, death by shooting and a suicide bombing in a public place with many casualties, points in that direction. A Taliban commander by the name of Baitullah Mehsood had earlier threatened to send squads of suicide bombers to kill her. Other militants too had made similar threats, saying she was a target because of her perceived close relationship with the west and with the US in particular.

Next in line of suspicion are the field operators, retired are semi-retired, of the powerful Pakistani Intelligence agencies. General staff may have a rethink on strategies, the field operators seldom do, especially when the cause is so thoroughly mixed up with religious zealotry and fervor. These operators had breast-fed the extremists in the heady days of the Afghan Jihad. They just cannot break off from the euphoria of those days when they were the heroes of the whole free world. Even Rambo then used to fight on their side in Hollywood movies. The tide may have turned but they cannot disown their own creations. In all probability, old alliances are alive, the dream is on, the Jihad is on, only the enemy has changed. It is simple as that.

The killers could be either one of the above singly or, having worked closely before, both working in tandem. It is hard to imagine at this time that her political opponents, being non-entities by comparison, or any one else for that matter having planned the kill. The news, though, is coming in thick and fast at this time and you never know.

After the first assassination attempt in October, Benazir blamed the ‘remnants’ of General Zia for the attack. She spoke bluntly about who she believed wanted her dead. “I know exactly who wants to kill me. They are dignitaries of General Zia’s former regime who are behind extremism and fanaticism,” she told the French magazine Paris-Match. Later she blamed “closet supporters” of the militants and spoke of her fear that retired military men wanted her dead. She pointed an accusing finger at the army’s powerful intelligence arm, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

There were death threats even before Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan two months ago after years in self-imposed exile. However, as is with all such assassinations, the truth may never emerge. Nobody knows who killed Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Liaquat Ali the first prime minister of Pakistan, General Zia and a score of other world leaders.

Literally in Urdu language, Benazir means matchless. Her father’s favorite, she was called Pinky by him due to her very pink complexion. Matchless or not, two facts are noteworthy and will not be denied by even her diehard opponents. First, whoever killed her, snuffed out the last major representative of liberal/moderate voices in Pakistan. However corrupt she may have been, no one came close to her in being the liberal symbol of moderation in Pakistan. Next, though a woman, she was the bravest leader Pakistan has ever produced. We are left with weaklings now whose knees are as wobbly as their spines are elastic.

A journey that started for Benazir in UAE’s glamorous Dubai ended in a dusty grave in her family mausoleum in her small ancestral village of Garhi Khuda Bux in the Pakistani province of Sind. The graves of her father and two of her brothers, all killed, are already there. She lies next to her father.

Draped in a tear drenched shroud, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s Pinky returns to him.

Copyrights : Anwaar Hussain

http://truthspring.info/2007/12/29/benazir-the-matchless/

Reader Comments:

Benazir the Matchless

Mr.Hussain your article really brings out the real Benazir. This is not only a big loss for Pakistan on top of it its a loss for the women of the world who try to speak against the unjustice. Women of Pakistan lost a champion who was willing to fight for their causes, for the moderation of Pakistani society. She was trying to bring Pakistan to a world map where Pakistan was not called a Terrorist state. My heart goes to her kids who lost a Gam and Intelligent mother . May Allah blees her soul and give her family the strength to bear this loss.
She was definitely matchless in Beauty and Intelligence. Who ever killed her is a coward and has no balls.

Vinod, United Kingdom - 01 January, 2008

Pinch of salt

With all due respect to the departed soul and sympathies for the manner in which she died. Truth beknowst all and be told, There are no politicians with dreams for people. Not in pakistan. Not in india. Not in the middle east. not in africa. Not in the developed world . Once in a blue moon, someone will show up. this leader will have an amazing vision and will be so poor at executing that vision when in government. Right wing leaders, left wing leaders, middle of the way leaders and even fringe leaders. NO ONE CAN SAVE or help their populations nor do they intend to. Take care of yourself. The leaders do. By the time the term comes to an end.. they have swollen bank accounts, immovable properties and like. GOD BLESS US ALL


Prasad, Hungary - 01 January, 2008

Great Loss !

Its blow to democratic process and nation as a whole of Pakistan. Even India is shocked to hear the sudden and cruel death of BB. Its big loss to her party and people of Pakistan. Its time for people of Pakistan to take stock and decide whats future for democracy in Pakistan. Pakistan will have to strengthen its institutions like Media, Judiciary,Parliament, Executive, etc to promote tolerance , liberal mindsets. There are civilised ways to sort out differences , be that political, cultural, religious etc. Violence cannot be tool for sorting differences, its animals who resort to violence. Its time for people of Pakistan to unitedly raise their voice and fight for change.

Sanjay, Hungary - 01 January, 2008

Brokered Tragedy

Is it a terror attack or brokered death? Benazir's death is undoubtedly a huge national loss but, it is equally deplorable that, we fail to learn from our losses. We lost East Pakistan due to failed politicians, we lost Z.A Bhutto and our first democracy due to resilient mullah interference in the democratic governance. We lost our second and third democratic leaderships due to military interventions under foreign hatched and cultivated intrigues. Now, we have lost the "people's hope".

Some of the international media has termed this incident as a well calculated continuation of the 9/11. It simply means that, our religious sentiments are being infused with our national psyche under intricate initiatives to make a lethal weapon of mass destruction. Imagine the amount of destruction we have seen during the last three days, both in direct and indirect losses sustained. Economy has reversed by over Rs.12,000 million and the set back will continue to drag. It is simple to imagine, what amount of bombs and ground operations are required to create same amount of destruction, using conventional war tactics. Watching the burning and destruction was enough proof that, we are being pushed back to the stone-age. Yet we fail to see the plot and put the blame where it has been designed, that is, to add fuel to fire. Can we ever understand who is pulling the strings and why?

M.Saeed, Pakistan - 02 January, 2008

You Write As Well as you Flew.

Dear Anwaar
Though the occasion calls for sadness and mourning, I still want to appreciate you for an excellent article on Shaheed Benazir. Without doubt she was a matchless leader even if compared with the better lot of leaders than we see in our country. She surely represented a very moderate, liberal, tolerant and enlightened face of Pakistan. Unfortunately, with her demise, this face of Pakistan will be so difficult to emerge again. She stood for the democratic values and civil liberties in our society, lets hope and pray that her sacrifice achieves what seemed difficult in her life. The best way to reward her by the people of Pakistan would be by getting out of the shackles of religous intolerance, show a moderate face of Islam/Pakistan and walking on the way to true democracy.
This may be easier said than done. You rightly pointed as to who could have killed her other than the so called Al-Quieda. The conservative elements within our military and civil establishment have always hated her and her party. Those of us who have served in armed forces especially army, may have seen and observed this hatered and the plans to defame and demean her and her party. The establishment had the audacity to conclude that she died of a self inflicted injury and was not shot or killed purely to lessen her sacrifice. This shows that the attitude still persists. Because of the perks and authority enjoyed by the military and civil elite services, they would never let true democracy take roots in this country. Now it is upto the masses to understand that in the name of the security and integerity of the country, they are being exploited ruthlessly. Can anyone concieve in a democratic country that an ordinary Brigadiar retiring from army, goes home with at least two highly valued commercial properties, three residential plots and a house at a choice station in one of the big cities. This kind of legal loot and plunder can't even be imagined by ordinary people of Pakistan. In addition their cornies, like the honorable chaudhries of Gujrat end up piling billions to say the least.
Our only hope is that the civic society instead of lying down and taking things as its fate, rises to or at the least voices its dislike for undemotratic rule and a drama kind of Jamhooriat in the country. Whereever we are and no matter what we are doing, we can do our bit to highlight the problems faced by our beloved country. Imagine the progress country can make if we had democracy, stability and rule of law in our country.
Keep the good work of keeping people informed, going. By the way, I sweated in the same kind of g-suite and coverall in which you did but started it a couple of years before you.

M. Yns, Pakistan - 02 January, 2008

I always wonder about assassinations

Dear Anwaar, dear friend, I always wonder about the unseen hand when I learn of an assassination. However this vile murder is officially portrayed I find myself aggreeing with M. Saeed; this is the continuation of the 9/11 agenda.

Kings, emperors, 'leaders' have always performed for the public and acted in secret but never more so then today. This new form of illuminati; Trilateralists et al have powerful tentacles that reach into virtually all power structures everywhere in the world. There has been a shadow world government since the creation of the private bank known as the Federal Reserve.

When you control world finance and energy sources you control everything and everyone. I fear that unless humanity makes an evolutionary intellectual leap and grasps this murderous level of power, manipulation and control humanity will simply not survive the genocidal policies of subhuman madmen who are driven only by greed, the lust for power and self aggrandizement.

bluenote, Pakistan - 03 January, 2008

Bluenote good in Observing -BB assassination oil and finance

Bluenote, Good Observation.You said "Whoever control world finance and energy control everything and everyone" .There are Assassins of Bhuttos Kennedy Gandhis.The notion about world of finance mortgage stock exchange turmoil may be true but there is added feature. They are tricky.They have one thing in common - the real power death fate control with control of force of gravity electromagnetic pull and push control belong to the creator of universe human and world with its content. Many great people like Benazir Bhutto Came and gone.Current world leaders retired world leaders got united .Sometimes you write directly or post your comment online ,the messages go through even to powerful leaders or observants.The world became global village .One fifth of fresh water in Niagra fall take A plunge once every year.Arctic is melting.the earth have spilled its content and converted into food steal cars and machines.World Population have increased.The world needs work not observation.

Prophet Abraham was made to walk on fire.Satan had been Contained by its creator “God”.Adam and eve had been thrown out of Paradise.Human worships God Allah Bhagwan Gurus Buddha Goddesses energy and finance.The clue is to work together to solve problem of self and the world.Either you know it Have the skill or cooperation of above forces or you don’t have it Talented and skilled person like Benazir Bhutto hard to get.But we have had opportunity to see how BB had achieved par excellence as leader of This Great Nation Pakistan.Pakistan has been shaped by many leaders.USA UK and each country being shaped up by many leaders.Many had assassasins. Many have wealth energy gold and resource and manpower.All belong to one powerful enough at the time of development or destruction.But energy resource blue note (currency) often seem misleading and disrupting or controlling wrong
development.

zakaria_belal@yahoo.ca, United Arab Emirates - 03 January, 2008

beautiful people should not die.

THERE WAS ATTEMPT TO KILL HER TWO MONTHS AGO.SHE SURVIVED BUT OTHERS 140 PRESENT THERE PERISHED. I HAD A LETTER IN PAK TRIBUNE ABOUT BALLOTS AND NOT BULLETS AND THOUGHT THAT SHE WILL GO NO HARM WAYS AFTER THAT.

BUT AFTER COUPLE OF DAYS, WE SAW HER IN CALGARY SUN NEWSPAPER.THERE WAS HER PRETTY PICTURE WITHE NEWS OF HER SAYING THAT SHE WILL BE SLAUGHTERED LIKE A GOAT AS SOME HAD WARNED HER.

I LOOKED AT HER PRETTY PICTURE AND SANK IN THOUGHTS ABOUT HER FOR AN HOUR OR SO.I HONESTLY WISHED THAT SHE WOULD QUIT POLITICS AS HER ENEMIES WERE DETERMINED TO TAKE HER OUT OF THE WORLD ACCORDING TO HER.

I REALLY LOOKED AT HER PICTURE AGAIN AND AGAIN AND SHE LOOKED EXTREMELY PRETTY.I THOUGHT ABOUT THE SCENES OF THE AMERICAN FILM,"DEAD MAN WALKING" AND THE FILM HAD MUSIC OF NUSRAT FATEH ALI KHAN.

TO ME SHE SEEMED DEAD BEAUTY WALKING AND THAT SHE WAS NOW LIVING TO DIE IN A VERY BLOODY WAY AS SHE HAD HERSELF TALKED OF HER GOING THAT WAY.I DON'T KNOW WHY, BUT I HAD VERY STRANGE FEELINGS ABOUT BB THAT EVENING.IT WAS SAD TO THINK THAT THE BEAUTY COULD BE SOAKED IN HER OWN BLOOD.

I HAVE KNOWN HALF A DOZEN PERSIAN GIRLS IN MY LIFE IN CANADA. BB IS OF KURDISH PERSIAN ORIGIN FROM HER MOM SIDE. THESE PERSIAN GIRLS(NOT BB) I HAVE KNOWN HERE IN CANADA WERE AND STILL ARE WONDERFULLY PRETTY FRIENDS. AT LEAST THREE OF THEM HAD TALKED TO ME ON OCCASIONS ABOUT THEM DREAMING TO GO IN BLOOD AND FLESH AS SHAHEED.

I KNOW ONE WIFE OF MY PERSIAN FRIENDS ALLWAYS WANTING TO SHOW HER HAND OF PALMISTRY AND TELLING ME THAT HER HAND CLEARLY SAYS THAT SHE WILL BE SLAUGHTERED AS SHAHEED.I ALLWAYS LOOKED AT HER GORGEOUS LOOKING FACE AND FELT SAD AND SORRY. BUT SHE IS STILL ALIVE.

I KNOW TWO OTHER SISTERS OF PERSIAN TAJIC AFGHANI ORIGIN AND I HAVE SOCIALIZED AND BEFRIENDED THEM FOR OVER TEN YEARS.THESE SISTERS ARE WONDERFULLLY PRETTY.THEY LOST TWO OF THEIR UNCLES IN AFGHAN-RUSSIAN WAR.

ONE DAY, I HAD TAKEN THE ELDER SISTER(ONE THIRD TO HALF MY AGE)TO THE REVOLVING RESTAURANT ON THE TOWER OF HOILDAY INN HOTEL OF THE CANADIAN CITY. THERE WAS A BAD NEWS FROM HER HOME COUNTRY.THIS VERY YOUNG AND PRETTY GIRL STARTED TALKING OF HER GOING IN FLESH AND BLOOD WAYS ALL OVER HER BODY AMD BE SHAHEED IN RETURN TO AFGHANISTAN.I TOLD HER THAT I FELT SADDENED ABOUT HER TALKS OF HER BODY TATTERED INSIDE OUT IN BLOOD AND FLESH.ALL OUR DINNER TIME WENT DISCUSSING PROS AND CONS OF A LOVELY THING LIKE HER PERSIANA TAJIK BEAUTY'S BODY GOING INTO FLESH AND BLOOD OF HER.ONLY THE NEXT DAY I FOUND HER CALM AND RECEIVING TIGHT AND INTIMATE HUGS AND KISSES OF MINE.I CONGRATULATED HER THAT HER BEAUTIFUL SELF WAS ALL SAFE IN MY ARMS INSTEAD OF HER SOAKED IN HER OWN BLOOD AND FLESH IF SHE WENT TO GO SHAHEED IN AFGHANISTAN.I MADE ALL KINDS OF JOKES ON HER PRETENDING TO GO THE WAYS OF A SLAUGHTERED GOAT.

I STILL JOKE ON HER IN FRONT OF HER SISTER ABOUT THE EVENING THAT WAS SPENT ON HER WANTING TO DIE LIKE A GOAT.

HER YOUNGER SISTER IS MUCH LIVELY AND LIFE LOVING. SHE PUT UP SO INTIMATINGLY ROMANTACIZED DANCES ON A TURKISH WEDDING THAT WE TALKED OF LIFE ONLY.

I WISH BB'S TALK OF HER GOING THE WAYS OF A SLAUGTERED GOAT WOULD HAVE STAYED ONLY JOKES LIKE THE TAJIK PERSIAN BEAUTY FRIEND OF MINE FROM AFGHANISTAN SAID ABOUT HERSELF.I WISH BB HAD STAYED ALIVE LIKE THIS TAJIK PERSIANA AFGHANI BEAUTY GIRL THAT I HAVE KNOWN FOR OVER 10 YEARS.

ONLY THE PERSIAN ORIGIN GIRLS HAVE TALKED TO ME THAT WAY.BUT, I AM GLAD THAT THE ONE IN CANADA HAS'NT GONE THAT WAY AND I HAVE BEEN ABLE TO KISS AND EMBRACE AND INTIMATE WITH HER AS ALIVE AND WITH ALL HER BLOOD AND FLESH STILL IN HER WARM LIVE BODY.

HOPE THIS ONE IN CANADA WILL STAY ALIVE FAR BEYOND FOR EVER.

WISH BB HAD STAYED ALIVE. I DO COMMISERATE HER FAMILY AND THE NATION ON HER SAD DEMISE.

Anwar Mahmood, Canada - 05 January, 2008

Bhutto.

I do agree with Zakaria of UK who very nicely put his words accross. People come and go and its all the time happening. Leaders who risk their lives and disobey the instructions of the intelligence and security the end was death. Its sad but remember going back when Gandhi (Mahatma) was killed by his own people. He gave no harm to anyone. A freedom fighter nothing more than that but an important man for India. World felt sorry and deplored the killing. Same way Bhutto was a good woman if not good for Pakistan but had her days with her spouse minting money from a poor country. God may rest her soul in heavens. Ameen. World never stops. It will keep on going and if one person goes another will take over to do the job.

mohammad, United Arab Emirates - 06 January, 2008

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