Sunday, June 21, 2015

Music Video - Taylor Swift - Shake It Off

Video - "Jurassic World" stomps "Inside Out" at box office

WikiLeaks reveals chequebook diplomacy of Saudi Arabia

Before becoming the president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi wanted visas to take his family on a religious pilgrimage. A Lebanese politician begged for cash to pay his bodyguards. Even the state news agency of Guinea, in West Africa, asked for $2,000 "to solve many of the problems the agency is facing." 

They all had good reason to ask, as the kingdom has long wielded its oil wealth and religious influence to try to shape regional events and support figures sympathetic to its worldview. 

These and other revelations appear in a trove of documents said to have come from inside the Saudi foreign affairs ministry and released Friday by the anti-privacy group WikiLeaks. 

While the documents appear to contain no shocking revelations about Saudi Arabia, say, eavesdropping on the United States or shipping bags of cash to militant groups, they contain enough detail to shed light on the diplomacy of a deeply private country and to embarrass Saudi officials and those who lobby them for financial aid. And they allow the curious to get a glimpse of the often complex interactions between a kingdom seen by many as the rich uncle of Middle East and its clients, from Africa to Australia. 

READ ALSO: WikiLeaks says it's leaking over 500,000 Saudi documents 

In a statement carried by the Saudi state news agency Saturday, a foreign ministry spokesman, Osama Nugali, acknowledged that the documents were related to a recent electronic attack on the ministry. 

He warned Saudis not to "help the enemies of the homeland" by sharing the documents, adding that many were "clearly fabricated." Those who distribute the documents will be punished under the country's cybercrimes law, he said. 

Nugali also struck a defiant tone, saying the documents were essentially in line with the "state's transparent policies" and its public statements on "numerous regional and international issues." 

More than 60,000 documents have been released so far, with WikiLeaks promising more to come. They include identification cards, visa requests and summaries of news media coverage of the kingdom. The most informative are diplomatic cables from Saudi embassies around the world to the foreign ministry, many of which are then passed along to the office of the king for final decisions. 

Many of the cables are incomplete, making it hard to determine their date and context, and very few indicate which requests were approved by the king and ultimately carried out. Most documents focus on a turbulent period in the Middle East, beginning after the popular uprisings that toppled Arab leaders in 2011 and continuing through early this year. 

Clear in many of the documents are efforts by Saudi Arabia, a Sunni power, to combat the influence of Shia Iran, its regional rival, as well as Iranian proxies like Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia militant group and political party. 

Cables about Iraq suggest efforts to support politicians who opposed Nouri al-Maliki, then the Shia prime minister of Iraq, who was close to Iran. One said the kingdom had given 2,000 pilgrimage visas to al-Maliki's chief rival, Ayad Allawi, to distribute as he saw fit. 

READ ALSO: Israel, Saudi Arabia 'met secretly' to discuss Iran 

Another cable from the Saudi embassy in Beirut relayed a request by a Christian politician, Samir Geagea, for cash to relieve his party's financial problems. The cable noted that Geagea had stood up for the kingdom in news media interviews, opposed the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad and had shown "his preparedness to do whatever the kingdom asks of him." 

A spokesman for Geagea did not respond to requests for comment Saturday. 

"Are there just more Lebanese begging Saudis for money or does my timeline skew toward Lebanon?" wrote one Twitter user, Laleh Khalili, noting the frequency of such requests from Beirut. 

Other cables show Saudi Arabia working to maintain its regional influence. One accused Qatar, another Persian Gulf state known for oil wealth and cash-based diplomacy, of stirring up trouble in Yemen, Saudi Arabia's southern neighbor, by backing a rich politician to the tune of $250 million. 

And a few cables implied that Saudi leaders had negotiated with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt after the revolution that ousted President Hosni Mubarak, a longtime Saudi ally. One document said a leader in the Brotherhood had said the group could ensure that Mubarak would not go to prison in exchange for $10 million. 

But a handwritten note on the document said paying "ransom" for Mubarak was "not a good idea" because the Brotherhood could not prevent his incarceration. 

The documents also indicate concerted Saudi efforts to shape news media coverage, both inside and outside the kingdom. 

READ ALSO: Saudi Arabia promises to match Iran in nuclear capability 

One cable suggested that the government pressure an Arab satellite provider to take an Iranian television station off the air. In another cable, the foreign minister suggests that the provider use "technical means to lessen the Iranian broadcast strength." 

Other documents suggest intervention at the highest levels to shape domestic media coverage in a way that suits the rulers. 

In an early 2012 cable marked "top secret and urgent," King Abdullah told top ministers about new talks between the kingdom and Russia over the crisis in Syria and asked them to "direct the media not to expose Russian personalities and to avoid offending them so as not to harm the kingdom's interests." 

Missing from the documents is any evidence of direct Saudi support for militant groups in Syria or elsewhere. 

Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer now at the Brookings Institution, said that while considerable evidence of such programs exists, they are handled by the kingdom's intelligence services, and the Foreign Ministry is often "not in the loop." 

"That allows the Saudis to have plausible deniability and to liaison with other intelligence services aiding the rebels," he said. 

Some found the documents underwhelming, noting that similar activities are carried out by many countries, including the United States. 

"There is not really something shocking that compromises Saudi security," said Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a political science professor in the United Arab Emirates, who had read about 100 cables.

READ ALSO: Saudi Arabia launches military operation in Yemen 

Everyone knows that Saudi Arabia practices chequebook diplomacy, he said, adding that it now had to compete for clients with other rich states, like Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

One surprise in the documents, he said, is that the former Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, had to seek the permission of the king before proceeding with even minor matters. 

"It seems that the king is the king in Saudi Arabia, no matter how princely you are," Abdulla said. 

Other surprising finds showed up in the WikiLeaks' net. 

The Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram, known for shocking conservative Muslims with her sexy music videos, received a visa and visited a Saudi prince inside the kingdom despite instructions that all visas for artists and singers be preapproved by the Interior Ministry, according to the documents. 

The foreign ministry branch in Mecca responded that Ajram had received the visa to travel with her husband and had come on a personal visit, not in her capacity as an artist. 

Also in the cache was an email to a foreign ministry official from a technology company called StarLink, whose website says it is a "trusted security adviser." 

Reached by phone, the company's business development manager, Mahmoud Odeh, confirmed that StarLink had provided computer security services to the Saudi government. 

When asked what he thought of the leaks, Odeh hung up.

President Obama on First Fatherhood, high heels, and the family's "rock"

Before he was president, Barack Obama worried about balancing the pressures of work with the demands of his family. But contrary to his expectations, the president says, moving into the White House allowed him to become "a better father."
"People often ask me whether being President has made it more difficult to spend time with Michelle and our girls," Mr. Obama writes in a MORE magazine column,in an issue guest-edited by First Lady Michelle Obama. "But the surprising truth is that being in the White House has made our family life more 'normal' than it's ever been."
"Normal" for the Obama family, up until the move into the Oval Office, was a juggling act. In his editorial, the president details his hectic schedule after their eldest daughter, Malia, was born: he continued to teach at the University of Chicago's law school and also commuted to the state capitol in Springfield to serve on the Illinois state legislature. Michelle, meanwhile, also returned to work part-time. And with their accumulated student debt adding to the financial burden, the Obamas struggled to count "every penny to manage" household bills, according to the president.
"The combined pressures sometimes put a real strain on our marriage, as they do for many working parents with young kids," Mr. Obama wrote.
And though the president considered himself "a pretty enlightened guy," after their second daughter, Sasha was born, the burdens of family life "disproportionately--and unfairly--fell on Michelle, as happens to many women."
Despite the help of Marian Robinson, the mother of the first lady, in raising the children, "Michelle was understandably stressed and frustrated," Mr. Obama wrote. "[A]nd I suspect she felt a little like a single mom sometimes."
The transition into the White House turned out to be a boon to the president's home life: according to Mr. Obama, "it's not always easy being a father of teenage girls. But it is pretty good to live above the store."
The move meant that the first family could actually gather together for dinner nearly every night, an "inviolable" time that only a national emergency could interrupt. And according to the president, it has meant that he's been able to attend his daughters' tennis matches, dance recitals, and basketball games.
"I've even experienced what all dads dread: watching my daughter go to her first prom," Mr. Obama wrote. "In high heels."
Regardless of the hardships, the president says he survived it all because of his wife, who he calls "the rock" of the Obama family.
"It just so happens that I'm fortunate enough to be surrounded by women," he wrote. "They're the most important people in my life. They're the people who've shaped me the most. And in this job, they are my sanctuary."
The July/August issue, which features Michelle Obama on the cover and which will include several articles that allowed the first lady to explore her passion projects on childhood nutrition and higher education, will hit newsstands June 23.

President Obama's Touching Essay on Fatherhood

You might think that being the leader of the free world might take away from someone's availability to be a good parent, but President Obama argues just the opposite in a touching essay for the July/August issue of More.

Michelle Obama guest-edits the magazine, marking the first time a First Lady has ever guest-edited a magazine. For the publication's recurring "Second Sex" column, President Obama penned the essay "How the Presidency Made Me a Better Father," detailing how being pulled in every direction has allowed the president to more consciously choose to be there for his kids, Sasha and Malia:

"So for an hour or so at dinner, my focus is not on my day, but on theirs. I ask Sasha and Malia the usual annoying parental questions: How was school! What are your friends up to? Have you done your homework? What are you thinking about? In return, they spend a lot of time teasing me about my big ears or stodgy suits—and Michelle is always happy to join them."

Worst load shedding as Ramazan starts in Pakistan

Major cities in Pakistan plunged into darkness due to load shedding during Sehri on the first day of Ramazan.
Though Water and Power Minister Khawaja Asif on Thursday said no load shedding would take place during Sehri and Iftar hours, most areas of Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore and others cities witnessed worst load shedding during the first Sehri of Ramazan.

Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Federal B. Area, Sakhi, Hasan, Shah Faisal Colony, Jail Road and Malir were the most affected areas in Karachi.

The Horrors Of Blasphemy Law in Pakistan

Chak 59 was unusually silent following the lynching of Shama and Shahzad. The striking silence engulfed the streets and everybody from the fruit and vegetable vendor to co-workers denied even knowing the couple that was burnt alive.
Everybody is aware to the story that led to the death of Shama and Shahzad. To sum it all up, Shama’s father-in-law was a spiritual man. He made taveez or charms with spiritual inscriptions and gave them to people. After his death Shama was cleaning his room when she found such inscriptions and took them out to burn them.
Irfan, a new convert from Christianity to Islam watched Shama burning papers with Arabic writing and made the blasphemy accusation public before sunrise the other day. Announcements were made from the local mosque asking all Muslims to gather at the kiln.
“The maulvi picks up the loudspeaker — actually, I would call it a Kalashnikov — and starts firing bullets into the air,” said one local, requesting anonymity because of safety concerns.
Shahzad and Shama were locked in a room for some time. When the lock was opened they were dragged out and a mob of hundreds started beating them with sticks and fists. Shama was five months pregnant. After their bodies being smeared with blood, Shahzad lost consciousness. Shama was struggling to catch her breath. Shahzad died and Shama was still alive. They were dragged to a furnace and a metal sheet was put over Shama to stop her from resisting. The three feet tall flames did the rest.
The memories will slowly fade away. The case will be forgotten. Although arrests have been made in this regard they are not considered as seriously as they should be. The actual criminals remain at large.
The blasphemy law is a sword hanging over the heads of Christians in Pakistan and could lead to many more similar attacks.
- See more at:

Pakistan: More people killed by law enforcers than target killers, HRCP report

While the city has seen a 32 per cent decline in killings in the first five months of this year as compared to the corresponding period from 2014, more people are now dying at the hands of the law enforcement agencies than by target killers in Karachi.
These findings were revealed in a report by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). According to the five-monthly report, 255 people have been killed in encounters by the law enforcement agencies from January, 2015, to May, 2015. Of these, 217 were killed in police encounters while the remaining 38 in paramilitary encounters. Another person was killed due to police torture.
Nida Tanweer, a representative of HRCP, has compiled the report. Saying that targeted killings have reduced while encounters have gone up, she was of the view that police encounters are wrong. “No one has the right to kill anyone,” she said. “The criminals should be caught and presented in the court.”
This year v/s last year
According to the report, around 876 people were killed or died in various incidents in Karachi from January, 2015, to May, 2015. In contrast, the number was 1,286 during the same period in 2014.
In the past five months, 108 persons who had no political affiliation became victims of targeted killings. This number was 339 during January and May last year.
However, sectarian killings saw an increase with 68 killings this year as compared to 59 of last year. May was the deadliest month due to the Safoora carnage. Forty-eight people became victims of sectarian attacks during this month alone.
Thirty-two political activists were gunned down while another 21 were abducted and killed. The report this time includes a new category of killings of social activists and human rights defenders. In the past five months, two of them have died – one of them was Sabeen Mahmud, the director of The Second Floor.
Around 79 dead bodies were found as compared to last year’s figure of 177.
There has been an increase in killings of members of banned outfits, with 47 having been killed this year as compared to last year’s 15.
Meanwhile, killings of police officers continued with 49 police officers having been gunned down along with four Rangers and soldiers. Sixty-two policemen were killed last year. Another 28 people were killed by robbers while 46 were killed over enmity.
Killings of children have also seen a considerable decline. From January to May last year, 48 children were killed or died. This year, the number has come down to 13. Similarly, crimes against women have also gone down, from 82 to 38 killings.
Other reasons in the report for violent deaths included 12 people being killed by stray bullets, 18 men killed by toxic liquor and another 18 killed on railway tracks.

Pakistan - Haqqani Network, LeT spared by army in military offensive: US report

A US State Department report on global terrorism has acknowledged that the ongoing military offensive in North Waziristan and Khyber Agency has severely dented al Qaeda’s presence in South Asia.
“Al Qaeda’s presence in the [South Asia] region continued to face pressure from international, Afghan and Pakistani forces, and Pakistan’s ongoing offensive in the North Waziristan Agency  [has] further degraded the group’s freedom to operate,” stated the Country Reports on Terrorism 2014, published by the State Department on Friday.
“South Asia remained a frontline in the battle against terrorism [in 2014]… [But] pressure on al Qaeda’s traditional safe haven has constrained its leadership’s capability to communicate effectively with affiliate groups outside of South Asia,” it said.
The report noted that Pakistan’s military conducted ‘significant counter-terrorism operations’ in North Waziristan and Khyber Agency, while the country’s law enforcement and security agencies carried out raids in the country’s provinces.  “Security forces intercepted large stockpiles of weapons and explosives, and discovered bomb-making facilities and sophisticated telecommunication networks,” it said.
Even so, some groups continued to find space to orchestrate and launch attacks into Afghanistan and against minorities in Pakistan, the report pointed out. It said that while operations carried out by Pakistan’s military and security forces disrupted the actions of many militant outfits in the country, groups like the Afghan Taliban, the Haqqani Network and Lashkar-e-Taiba were spared by the offensive.
And while it acknowledged Pakistan as a critical counter-terrorism partner of the US, the report noted that cooperation in this regard between Islamabad and Washington in 2014 had been ‘mixed’. “Pakistan continued to deny visas for trainers focused on law enforcement and civilian counter-terrorism assistance,” it said.
The report also stressed the need for improvement in Pakistan’s national security and law enforcement infrastructure. It said that while the government rolled out many counter-terrorism plans, it failed to implement any of them completely.
“Pakistan promulgated a National Internal Security Plan (NISP) in February 2014, but failed to implement most of initiative. The National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta), which was formed under NISP, remained ineffective throughout the year due to the budgetary and bureaucratic reasons,” it said.
The report lauded the government’s efforts to reinforce legislation against terrorism and blamed the judiciary for slow processing of terrorism and other criminal cases.
On the other hand, it lauded the efforts of Federal Bureau of Revenue to counter bulk cash smuggling and acknowledged the initiatives of Pakistan Customs, which launched the End Use Verification (EUV) project to facilitate the entry of dual-use chemicals for legitimate purposes, while also investigating and preventing the entry of chemicals intended for use in IEDs.
At the same time, the report said, there is a need for improvement with respect to kidnapped US citizens.
Karachi in spotlight
The report noted that Karachi continued to suffer from political and ethnic violence by different groups, including militant organisations, fundamentalist groups, and the militant wings of political parties.
It added that some militant groups had garnered enough momentum to start asserting control over political parties and criminal gangs operating in the city and other areas in southern Sindh.
Global ‘terror’ death toll soared in 2014
According to the report, the global death toll from terrorism soared by 81 per cent in 2014 with more than 1,100 assaults a month.
There were 13,463 attacks in 95 countries in 2014 – up by a third from the year before – with Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan bearing the brunt of the violence.
Islamic State (IS) militants carried out the largest number of attacks, unleashing 1,083 assaults last year. The Taliban were the next most lethal group, with 894 attacks.

Pakistan - #PPP celebrate Benazir Bhutto’s 62nd birthday today

The 62nd birth anniversary of former Prime Minister and Pakistan Peoples Party chairperson Benazir Bhutto is being observed today (sunday) at Garhi Khuda Buksh Bhutto and Naudero.
Several functions have been arranged in this regard.
Both leaders and workers of the party have assembled at the location to pay tribute to their slain leader, assassinated on December 27, 2007 in Rawalpindi.
On the eve of the birthday, on Saturday, the PPP co-chairperson and chairperson also issued separate statements, paying glowing tributes to their former leader.
The PPP Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari facilitated “the women and the marginalised sections of the society for whom Shaheed Benazir Bhutto had devoted her life”.
The PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, on the other hand, vowed to pick up the threads of the late prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s struggle for a democratic Pakistan before her assassination on December 27, 2007.

Pakistan: #PPP to continue fighting militant ideology

Paying tributes to former prime minister Benazir Bhutto on the occasion of her 62nd birth anniversary, PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari has extended heartfelt felicitations to the workers of Pakistan People’s Party.

“I wish to extend heartfelt felicitations to the party workers indeed to all the democracy-loving people of Pakistan.
I wish to especially felicitate the women and the marginalized sections of the society for whom Benazir Bhutto had devoted her life,” said Zardari in a statement issued here Saturday.

He said the fight against militancy is a collective fight of the whole nation.
It can be fought successfully only when it is fought collectively with each segment performing its assigned duties.
As for the PPP we are committed to exterminating the militant ideology that is posing existential threat to the country, he added.

“This birth anniversary of our leader is also an occasion to reiterate our pledge to defeat the militant mindset and uphold the ideals of democracy, pluralism and rule of law for which Benazir Bhutto stood for and struggled throughout her life,” he added.

“We pledge to tread in her footsteps to further strengthen democracy, safeguard the rights of the marginalized sections and uphold and defend the values for which our founding fathers created this country,” said Zardari.

He said they salute all those in the defence forces, the police, the civil law enforcing agencies and the people who have sacrificed their lives or suffered otherwise in the fight against militancy.
The nation cannot forget them and will not allow their sacrifices go in vain, he added.

Monitoring Desk adds: The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) is going to set up a new opposition alliance against the government, which may come into being by the end of Ramazan, senior PPP lawyer who got closer to Asif Ali Zardari after years of estrangement said on Saturday.

Babar Awan said in a TV programme that the proposed alliance would mount pressure on the government.
However, he did not say what would be the ultimate objective of the new coalition.

He said the PPP, the JUI-F and the ANP were already in an alliance in KP, a factor in the presence of which a broader alliance at the national level would not be difficult to cobble together.
“The PPP would no longer be a friendly opposition”.

According to Mr Awan, a meeting of the PPP leaders would be held at the Naudero House during the next few days after which Asif Zardari, accompanied by Bilawal and Bakhtawar, would be visiting Punjab.

He predicted that the next few weeks would be very eventful.
The judicial commission probing the alleged rigging in the 2013 elections was expected to give its verdict during the next two weeks.
Similarly, he said, a decision on NA-122 was also expected pretty soon.

'Darling of the crowd' Benazir Bhutto's 62nd birthday being observed

‘Darling of the Crowd’ Benazir Bhutto was born on June 21, 1953 in Karachi’s Pinto Hospital. It’s just her 62nd birthday but it’s been more than 7 years since she was murdered by a terrorist in 2007 in Rawalpindi while returning from a public meeting during 2008 election campaign. She was a larger than life character. Being the daughter of one of the biggest Muslim political personalities of the 20th century, Benazir Bhutto had seen a lot during her short life of 55 years.
Benazir saw her father, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, becoming the foreign minister of Pakistan, then the first and only civilian martial law administrator of the country, then the President, the Prime Minister and finally she saw him getting hanged. She saw exiles, jails, malicious campaigns, oppositions, conspiracies and of course power. But one thing all her devoted workers testify to was her ability to remember them. She knew them; almost all of the old guards, from Peshawar to Karachi; she knew them by their names.
Born to a popular political family of Sindh, Benazir Bhutto was the daughter of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who later founded Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), and granddaughter of Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto. Her mother, Begum Nusrat Bhutto, was from Iranian-Kurdish descent and Benazir was the eldest of her 4 kids. Sanam Bhutto, Shahnawaz Bhutto and Murtaza Bhutto were the other three.
Benazir started her political career when Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto went to India for negotiating the the situation after the 1971 war and took Benazir with him. There, the young Bhutto met Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India. She saw her father pleading Pakistan’s case, negotiating from a point of weakness, before a proud and victorious Indira Gandhi. She learnt the art of politics from The Bhutto himself.
When General Ziaul Haque staged a coup and overthrew Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s government in 1977, Benazir was only 24 years of age but she led the protest rallies at this young age with brilliance. Meanwhile, she was also the closest aide of her father when the latter was in jail. In his book ‘Last 323 days of Bhutto’, Colonel Rafiuddin has mentioned that Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto talked to each other in ears so that the bugged dungeon was unable to transmit their discussions to the government authorities.
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was hanged on April 4, 1979, despite many clemency appeals from the foreign leaders. Benazir was immediately arrested along with her brother Murtaza Bhutto. Later, she was house arrested at her home in Larkana. In 1981, the military regime imprisoned her in a solitary confinement in a desert cell of Sindh. As she described the conditions she lived in during those days, her situation was miserable. Her hair started to fall and her skin ‘split and peeled’. She lived in this wall-less cell along with mosquitoes, grasshoppers, bugs, ants and spiders. “I tried pulling the sheet over my head at night to hide from their bites, pushing it back when it got too hot to breathe”, she wrote in her book  Daughter of Destiny . She was hospitalized for several months afterwards and then imprisoned again.
Finally in 1984, Bhutto family was allowed to travel abroad under international pressure for medical treatment. Benazir Bhutto had a political rebirth in exile as she was allowed to use media in the West as a tool for spreading her message. However, in 1985, she received yet another shock when learned that her brother Shahnawaz had been poisoned to death.
In 1986, Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan. She came to Lahore, the heart of Pakistan, and was given one of the warmest welcomes ever in the city s history. She was cheered from the rooftops by the ladies, hundreds of thousands of people rallying behind her as her caravan moved slowly towards the walled city. It was massive. Lahore hadn’t seen anything like this before. Crowd went wilder as she waived her hands at them in her father’s style.

“We gather together to celebrate freedom, to celebrate democracy, to celebrate the three most beautiful words in the English language: ‘We the People’.”

General Elections were held in 1988 after General Zia’s death in a plane crash on August 17 that year. She became the prime minister as a result of these elections as PPP won the largest number of seats in the National Assembly.
She said in her address to the nation, “We gather together to celebrate freedom, to celebrate democracy, to celebrate the three most beautiful words in the English language: ‘We the People’.”
However, her tenures in PM Office remained turbulent. While there were some busy forging alliances against her party, bringing all the anti-PPP politicians and political parties together under the umbrella of Islami Jamhuri Ittehad (IJI), Benazir Bhutto was finding it tough to handle the civil-military establishment as the Prime Minister. Finally, her government was dislodged in 1990 over corruption charges by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan (Late). PPP lost the 1990 election to IJI and Nawaz Sharif, who had been Punjab’s Chief Minister twice till then, became the Prime Minister of Pakistan for the first time. Benazir Bhutto assumed the role of the Opposition Leader.
Three years later, Benazir came to power again. She worked on power crisis during this term and her IPPs policy successfully curbed the load shedding issue in the country for a few years to come. However, these very IPPs became a major problem for her as corruption charges leveled against her by the opposition in these projects heavily dented her credibility and in 1996, President Farooq Leghari dissolved the assemblies. Benazir wasn’t allowed to complete her term once again. It was also during this tenure that her other borther, Murtaza Bhutto, was assassinated.
The caretaker government that followed after her dismissal made corruption cases against her and the following government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vigorously followed the cases, forcing Benazir into yet another self-imposed exile while her husband Asif Ali Zardari was still in jail. The vacuum created by her absence allowed the military to take over the government once again and in 1999, Nawaz Sharif’s second government was also removed by General Pervez Musharraf. Nawaz Sharif was first sent to jail and after remaining there for 14 months, he was also sent into exile to Saudi Arabia.
Musharraf pursued the corruption charges against Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif quite enthusiastically. Both the leaders were kept out of Pakistan’s politics for the next several years. However, their political parties continued their struggle against the military regime.

Consequently, Benazir returned to Pakistan and Musharraf was elected by his allies as the president. PPP, allegedly under the deal, didn’t give any serious opposition to the decision.

In 2006, Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto shook hands in London, signing the Charter of Democracy. The old enemies now called each other their siblings. But it was actually a masterstroke by Benazir. With Nawaz’s support behind her, Benazir started negotiations with the Musharraf regime from a point of strength. Keen to break the exiled duo, Musharraf offered Benazir a safe passage in return for his election as president for another term in military uniform. Consequently, Benazir returned to Pakistan and Musharraf was elected by his allies as the president. PPP, allegedly under the deal, didn’t give any serious opposition to the decision.
But this was the beginning of the end. Benazir came back to Pakistan after 11 years of self-imposed exile on October 18, 2007. This time it was Karachi. And it was an equal, if not bigger, reception. Benazir was back in Pakistan again. PPP supporters from all over the country came to Karachi to welcome their heroine. But the terrorists had other plans. At around 10 pm in the night, while her caravan moved slowly towards its destination, a bomb blast near Benazir’s truck was heard. 200 supporters lost their lives in a blink of an eye and several others were injured.
But Benazir wasn’t one of those who get terrified. She led her party in the election campaign. From Peshawar to Karachi, she led them everywhere; convening meetings, addressing public rallies, holding press conferences. PPP was all set to win the elections as per all the major polls including IRI and Gallup.
But then, just like in Greek mythologies the hero has to die to become immortal, Benazir’s life had to come to an end. Nobody knew that while the PPP would go on to win the election, ‘Bibi’ was never going to make it to that point.
On December 27, 2007, she went to Liaquat Baagh, Rawalpindi, to address a massive public meeting. Her face was glowing. She delivered a fiery speech. Just like her father used to do.
Nobody in the crowd might have known while singing in chorus with her ‘Zinda hai Bhutto, Zinda hai’, that their slogan would be changed to ‘Zinda hai Bibi, Zinda hai’ shortly. Returning, happy, from the venue, Benazir saw a group of supporters chanting slogans around her car. She stood up through the sun-roof of the car roof to waive her hand at the supporters. And just then, out of nowhere, a terrorist shot her in the head. An explosion was heard just then.
She was rushed to the hospital. And there, amid the sobbing and mourning supporters, Babar Awan informed the media that Benazir was dead. Even Nawaz Sharif, now the Prime Minister of Pakistan, was seen weeping while talking to international media. "This is the saddest day in Pakistan s history", he said.
PPP went on to win the election and her husband Asif Zardari was elected the president after the civilian leadership forced the former military general to resign. Benazir’s legacy won PPP the elections but today, her party is nowhere near its zenith. After losing the 2013 elections, PPP also lost the recent local body elections in KP and then the Legislative Assembly elections in Gilgit-Baltistan as well.
Surely, there would have been other reasons of PPP’s decline but one thing that alienated the workers is that despite 5 years of rule in the center after her death, on her 62nd birthday, Benazir’s murderers are still at large.