Thursday, December 28, 2017
By NOUR YOUSSEF
Airstrikes on a market and a farm in Yemen killed at least 68 civilians in a single day, including eight children, the United Nations said on Thursday.
The two attacks occurred on Tuesday, making it one of the bloodiest days for civilians so far in Yemen’s civil war. At least 109 civilians have been killed nationwide over the past two weeks, in a conflict that has intensified since the death of the country’s former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, this month.
Local Yemeni officials blamed the Saudi-led coalition for the airstrikes.
More than three years of fighting have turned Yemen, which was already the poorest Arab country, into the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.
On one side are the Houthis, Shiite rebels aligned with Iran who took over the capital, Sana, in September 2014 and forced the internationally recognized government into exile. Those on the other side include an Arab coalition led by the Sunni kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which has waged a devastating air campaign since March 2015 to restore the government. So far, the conflict has only cemented a political deadlock.
One of the airstrikes on Tuesday hit a busy marketplace in Attazziah, a district in the southwestern province of Taiz. That attack, the United Nations said, killed 54 civilians, including the eight children, and wounded 32 more.
The market was used to sell vegetables and khat, the narcotic leaves widely consumed in Yemen and the Horn of Africa. It was hit during its busiest time, around 8 a.m., said Tawfeeq Al Sufi, a relative of one of the victims.
Mr. Sufi said that shrapnel struck his cousin in the abdomen. “Right before he bled out,” he said, “ he gave someone his cellphone and said, ‘Call my family and tell them I died.’ ” The man had a wife and four children, Mr. Sufi said.
The other attack struck a farm in Al Hudaydah, a province further west, and killed 14 members of one family. The Saudis believe Iran is smuggling weapons to the rebels through Hudaydah — a claim that remains largely unsubstantiated.
“These incidents prove the complete disregard for human life that all parties, including the Saudi-led coalition, continue to show in this absurd war,” Jamie McGoldrick, the United Nations aid coordinator in Yemen, said in a written statement, adding that he was “deeply disturbed” by these attacks.
“There can only be a political solution,” he said, urging both sides in the war to abandon their “futile military campaign.” Mr. McGoldrick’s statement did not confirm the Yemeni account that the airstrikes had been carried out by the Saudi-led coalition, but it did remind all sides, including the coalition, to “always distinguish between civilian and military objects.”
The market was not near any permanent rebel military installations, but it was close to the site of recent clashes between Houthis and pro-government forces. It remains unclear whether the farm was near any military targets. The United Nations and international aid groups have accused the Saudi-led coalition of repeatedly attacking civil gatherings and residential areas.
Saudi officials vehemently deny this, and the United States supports their campaign in Yemen.
A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition could not be immediately reached for comment on Thursday.
The civil war in Yemen has killed an estimated 10,000 people and displaced at least three million. Much of the country’s infrastructure and health system has been destroyed by coalition airstrikes and rebel shelling.
Yemenis suffer from dire shortages of electricity, food and medicine. The collapse has led to the world’s worst contemporary outbreak of cholera, which has killed over 2,200 and affected about a million people since April.
The death of Mr. Saleh — who became a strong ally of the Houthis, but was killed after publicly breaking with them — has further exacerbated the humanitarian crisis, local and United Nations officials said.
The Saudi-led coalition has attempted to capitalize on his death by increasing its airstrikes to roughly 120 a day nationwide from about 80. The Houthis, meanwhile, have responded with a crackdown in the areas they control, arresting hundreds for real or imagined ties to Mr. Saleh, blocking the entry of humanitarian aid and shutting off access to the internet.
- Musharraf suggests people in the establishment could have been involved in the murder
- UN commission says Zardari’s ministers refused to give interviews
- Bilawal says Musharraf exploited situation to assassinate my mother
Benazir Bhutto was the first woman to lead a Muslim country. The decade since an assassin killed her has revealed more about how Pakistan works than it has about who actually ordered her death.
Bhutto was murdered on December 27, 2007, by a 15-year-old suicide bomber called Bilal. She had just finished an election rally in Rawalpindi when he approached her convoy, shot at her and blew himself up. Bilal had been asked to carry out the attack by the Pakistani Taliban.
Benazir Bhutto was the daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan’s first democratically elected prime minister. His political career was also brought to a premature end when he was hanged by the military regime of General Zia-ul Haq. Benazir went on to become prime minister twice in the 1990s, but she was always distrusted by the military, which used corruption allegations to remove her from power.
At the time of her death she was making a bid for a third term as prime minister. The assassination caused widespread civil unrest in Pakistan. Bhutto’s supporters took to the streets, putting up road blocks, lighting fires and chanting anti-Pakistan slogans.
THE GENERAL AND THE ‘THREATENING’ PHONE CALL:
A decade later, the general in charge of Pakistan at the time has suggested people in the establishment could have been involved in her murder.
Asked whether rogue elements within the establishment could have been in touch with the Taliban about the killing, General Pervez Musharraf replied: “Possibility. Yes indeed. Because the society is polarised on religious lines.”
And, he said, those elements could have had a bearing on her death.
It’s a startling statement from a former Pakistani head of state. Normally military leaders in Pakistan deny any suggestion of state complicity in violent jihadist attacks.
Asked whether he had any specific information about rogue elements in the state being involved in the assassination, he said: “I don’t have any facts available. But my assessment is very accurate I think… A lady who is in known to be inclined towards the West is seen suspiciously by those elements.”
Musharraf has himself been charged with murder, criminal conspiracy for murder and facilitation for murder in relation to the Bhutto case. Prosecutors say that he phoned Benazir Bhutto in Washington on September 25, three weeks before she ended eight years in self-imposed exile.
Long-serving Bhutto aid Mark Seighal and journalist Ron Suskind both say they were with Bhutto when the call came in. According to Seighal, immediately after the call Bhutto said: “He threatened me. He told me not to come back. He warned me not to come back.
Musharraf said he would not be responsible for what would happen to Bhutto if she returned, Seighal told the BBC. “And he said that her safety, her security was a function of her relationship with him.”
Musharraf strongly denies making the call and dismisses the idea that he would have ordered her murder. “Honestly I laugh at it,” he recently told the BBC. “Why would I kill her?”
THE DEADLY PLOT:
The legal proceedings against Musharraf have stalled because he is in self-imposed exile in Dubai. Benazir Bhutto’s son and political heir, Bilawal, has rejected his denials out of hand.
“Musharraf exploited this entire situation to assassinate my mother,” he said. “He purposely sabotaged her security so that she would be assassinated and taken off the scene.”
While Musharraf’s case is on hold, others have been acquitted of the crime. Within weeks of the assassination, five suspects had confessed to helping the 15-year-old Bilal assassinate Bhutto at the behest of the Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaeda.
The first person to be arrested, Aitzaz Shah, had been told by the Pakistan Taliban that he would be the suicide bomber chosen to kill Bhutto. Much to his annoyance he was kept in reserve in case the attempt failed.
Two others, Rasheed Ahmed and Sher Zaman, confessed they were mid-ranking organisers of the conspiracy and two Rawalpindi-based cousins, Hasnain Gul and Rafaqat Hussain, told the authorities that they provided accommodation to Bilal the night before the killing.
Even though these confessions were subsequently withdrawn, phone records showing the suspects’ locations and communications in the hours before Bhutto’s murder seem to corroborate them. Hasnain Gul also led the police to some physical evidence in his apartment.
DNA from Bilal’s body parts gathered after his attack and tested in a US lab matched the DNA on some training shoes, cap and a shawl Bilal had left behind in Hasnain’s residence when he put on his suicide vest.
Just a few months ago prosecutors were confident these alleged plotters would be convicted. But in September the case collapsed, with the judge declaring that procedural errors in the way the evidence was gathered and presented to the court meant he had to acquit them.
The five are still in detention pending an appeal.
WHO WAS BENAZIR BHUTTO?
A dominant figure in Pakistani politics, Bhutto served twice as the country’s prime minister, from 1988 to 1990 and from 1993 to 1996.
Young and glamorous, she successfully portrayed herself as a refreshing contrast to the male-dominated political establishment.
But after her second fall from power, she became associated in the eyes of some with corruption and bad governance.
Bhutto left Pakistan in 1999, but returned in October 2007 after then-president Musharraf granted her and others an amnesty from corruption charges.
She was set to take part in an election called by Musharraf for January 2008.
But her homecoming procession in Karachi was bombed by suspected militants. She survived the attack, which killed well over 150 people, but would be assassinated two months later.
THE HUSBAND WHO BECAME PRESIDENT:
In Pakistan, it is commonplace to hear people accuse Benazir Bhutto’s widower Asif Zardari of having organised the assassination. The claim is normally based on the observation that since he became president after her death he was the one who benefited most.
The conspiracy theorists, however, have not produced a single shred of evidence to indicate that Asif Zardari was in any way involved in his wife’s death. He has denied the allegation in the strongest possible terms. Those who make the allegation, he said, should “shut up”.
Asif Zardari faces another accusation: that despite having the powers of the presidency, he failed to properly investigate his wife’s murder. Secret official documents relating to the investigation and obtained by the BBC show that the police inquiries were so poorly managed as to suggest they never wanted to find guilty parties beyond the low-level plotters they had already arrested.
The inadequacies of the police investigations were especially apparent after an unsuccessful attempt on Bhutto’s life on October 18, 2007 – two and a half months before she was killed. Two suicide bombers attacked her convoy and killed more than 150 people. It remains one of the deadliest attacks ever mounted by violent jihadists in Pakistan.
The police work was so half-hearted that the bombers were never even identified.
The leader of the enquiry, Saud Mirza, has said that one man he established to have been a bomber had distinctive features, suggesting he came from a long-standing but small Karachi-based community of people of African descent. This potentially significant clue about the suspected bombers identity was never released to the public.
Former president Zardari answers criticisms about the thoroughness of the police work by pointing out that he encouraged the work of Scotland Yard in relation to the murder and secured the appointment of a UN commission of inquiry to examine the circumstances of her death.
That enquiry, however, says it was repeatedly and blatantly blocked not only by the military but also Zardari’s ministers. “There were many people in the establishment that we wanted to interview but they refused,” said Heraldo Munoz, the head of the UN commission.
And he said some of the obstacles came from the politicians as well as the military. As the investigation progressed, he said, the safe house the UN team used was withdrawn, as were the anti-terrorist personnel who were protecting the UN staff.
A TRAIL OF DEAD PEOPLE…
That there was a cover-up is beyond doubt. A BBC investigation found evidence suggesting that two men who helped the teenage assassin reach Benazir Bhutto were themselves shot at a military checkpoint on January 15, 2008. A senior member of the Zardari government has told the BBC that he believes this was “an encounter” – the term Pakistanis use for extra-judicial killings.
Nadir and Nasrullah Khan were students at the Taliban-supporting Haqqania madrassa in north-west Pakistan. Other students associated with the seminary who were involved in the plot also died. One of the most detailed official documents obtained by the BBC is an official PowerPoint presentation given to the Sindh provincial assembly.
It names Abad ur Rehman, a former student at the madrassa and bomb-maker who helped provide the suicide jacket used to kill Benazir Bhutto. He was killed in one of Pakistan’s remote tribal areas on 13 May 2010.
Then there was Abdullah who, according to the Sindh assembly presentation, was involved in the transportation of the suicide vests ahead of the Rawalpindi attack that killed Bhutto. He was killed in Mohmand Agency in northern Pakistan in an explosion on May 31, 2008.
One of the most high-profile deaths related to the assassination was that of Khalid Shahenshah, one of Bhutto’s security guards. Shahenshah was within a few feet of Bhutto as she made her final speech in Rawalpindi. Phone footage shows him making a series of strange movements for which no one has offered any reasonable explanation.
Although he kept his head completely still, he raised his eyes towards Bhutto while simultaneously running his fingers across his throat. Pictures of his gestures went viral and on July 22, 2008, Shahenshah was shot dead outside his home in Karachi.
The next victim was the state prosecutor, Chaudhry Zulfikar. A lawyer with reputation for high degrees of both competence and doggedness, he told friends he was making real progress on the Bhutto investigation.
On May 3, 2013, he was shot dead on the streets of Islamabad as he was being driven to a legal hearing on the case.
… AND ONE WHO TURNS OUT TO BE ALIVE:
Finally, there is a man who was said to be dead but, in fact, is still alive. In their confessions the alleged plotters said that on the day of the murder a second suicide bomber named Ikramullah accompanied Bilal. Once Bilal had succeeded in his task, Ikramullah’s services were not required and he walked away unharmed.
For years Pakistani officials insisted that Ikramullah had been killed in a drone strike. In 2017 chief prosecutor Mohammad Azhar Chaudhry told the BBC evidence gathered by Pakistani investigating agencies, relatives and government officials established that “Ikramullah is dead”.
In August 2017, however, the Pakistani authorities published a 28-page list of the country’s most wanted terrorists. Coming in at number nine was Ikramullah, a resident of South Waziristan and involved, the list said, in the suicide attack on Benazir Bhutto.
The BBC understands that Ikramullah is now living in eastern Afghanistan where he has become a mid-ranking Pakistan Taliban commander.
So far the only people punished in relation to the murder of Benazir Bhutto are two police officers who ordered the murder scene in Rawalpindi to be hosed down.
Many Pakistanis regard those convictions as unfair, believing that the police would never have used the hoses without being told to do so by the military.
It suggests, once again, a cover-up by Pakistan’s deep state – the hidden network of retired and serving military personnel who take it upon themselves to protect what they consider Pakistan’s vital national interests.
محترمہ بے نظیر بھٹو کو قتل ہوئے دس برس گزر گئے۔صبح اٹھا ہوں تو ای میل اور ٹویٹر کے ذریعے بہت دوستوں کی یہ خواہش پڑھنے کو ملی کہ ان کے بارے میں کچھ لکھا جائے۔ دوستوں کا احترام سرآنکھوں پر لیکن فرمائشی کالم مجھے لکھنے کی عادت نہیں۔ ”دل سے جو بات نکلتی ہے....“والی بات پر یقین رکھتا ہوں اور اس پر عمل پیرا ہونے کی ہر ممکن کوشش کرتا ہوں۔
یہ بات درست ہے کہ میرا بطور صحافی محترمہ سے بہت قریبی تعلق رہا ہے۔ اس تعلق کا آغاز 1978کے ان دنوں میں ہوا جب بیگم نصرت بھٹو کو اسلام آباد میں ڈاکٹر ظفر نیازی مرحوم کے گھر میں نظر بند کردیا گیا تھا۔ان کی عدم موجودگی میں صحافیوں سے رابطہ برقرار رکھتے ہوئے ذوالفقار علی بھٹو کے خلاف چلائے مقدمے کی روداد بتانے کی ذمہ داری انہیں لینا پڑی۔ صحافیوں کے ساتھ اپنے پہلے اور تفصیلی Interactionکے لئے جو نوٹس انہوں نے تیار کررکھے تھے انہیں مجھے دکھاکر رائے بھی طلب کی تھی۔
اس کے بعد جو ہوا وہ ایک طویل داستان ہے۔ اس میں کئی تاریخی مقامات آتے ہیں۔ میں ریکارڈ کا حصہ بنے ایسے بے تحاشہ واقعات کے پسِ منظر کا بھی عینی شاہد ہوں۔ ان میں سے چند ایک کو وقتاََ فوقتاََ اس کالم میں کسی نہ کسی حوالے سے بیان بھی کیا ہے اور شاید آئندہ بھی ایسا ہوتا رہے۔
ربّ نے توفیق اور ہنر دئے ہوتے تو شاید ان کی ذات اور سیاسی جدوجہد کے بارے میں ٹھوس حقائق پر مبنی ایک کتاب لکھتا۔ وقت مگر بہت ستم گر ہے۔روزمرہّ کے جھمیلوں میں خرچ ہوچکا ہوں۔ تخلیقی توانائی کو نچوڑتی ذمہ داریاں اور مصروفیات وغیرہ۔
محترمہ کی برسی کے روز میرے کئی ساتھی اگرچہ شرلک ہومزبن کر ان کے قتل کا معمہ نام نہاد Investigative Reportingکی بدولت ہمیشہ کے لئے حل کرنے کی کوشش میں مبتلا نظر آتے ہیں۔ چند نیک نیت ساتھیوں کے سوا ہمارے بیشتر ”صحافتی تفتیش کاروں“ کا اصل مقصد مگر یہ نظر آتا ہے کہ صاف انداز میں کہے بغیر اشاروں کنایوں میں یہ پیغام دیا جائے کہ محترمہ کے چند ساتھی جو درحقیقت آصف علی زرداری کے قریب تھے ان کے قتل میں اگر براہِ راست ملوث نہیں تو کم از کم دانستہ یا نادانستہ انداز میں اس قتل کے Obvious”سہولت کار“ ضرور تھے۔ان ”سہولت کاروں“ ہی کی وجہ سے پیپلز پارٹی محترمہ کے قتل کے صدقے میں ملی پانچ سالہ حکومت کے دوران ان کے قاتلوں کا سراغ لگاکر انہیں کیفرکردار تک نہ پہنچاپائی۔
مجھے ایسی ”تفتیش“ سے بہت تکلیف پہنچتی ہے۔ محترمہ کے قتل کے روز جن افراد کے ”مشکوک“کردار کا اکثر ذکر ہوتا ہے ان میں سے کئی مجھے ذاتی طورپر سخت ناپسند ہیں۔ محض ذاتی ناپسند کی وجہ سے لیکن انہیں بے بنیاد الزامات کا نشانہ بنانا نہایت نامناسب بات ہے۔
منطقی ذہن سے ذرا Big Pictureپر نگاہ ڈالیں تو محترمہ کے قتل کے حوالے سے ہوئی بیشتر ”صحافتی“ تحقیق وتفتیش ایک سفاکانہ Diversionتخلیق کرتی نظر آتی ہے۔ 27دسمبر کے دن ہوئے قتل کو نومبر2007میں کراچی میں محترمہ کے استقبال کے لئے جمع ہوئے اجتماع پر کئے دہشت گرد حملے سے جدا کرکے سمجھا ہی نہیں جاسکتا۔ ظاہر سی بات ہے کہ نومبر اور دسمبر کے دوران ہوئے یہ حملے کسی ایک ہی گروہ نے کروائے تھے۔ حیران کن بات یہ بھی ہے کہ 27دسمبر کے قتل کا سراغ لگانے کی کوششوں میں مصروف ا فراد،نومبر والی دہشت گردی کا ذکر تک نہیں کرتے۔
محترمہ کی طویل جلاوطنی کے بعد نومبر2007میں پاکستان واپسی یقینا ایک Grand Bargainکی بدولت ممکن ہوئی تھی۔ مقامی اور بین الاقوامی قوتوں نے باہم مل کر یہ Dealکی تھی۔ واحد مقصد اس Deal کا پاکستان پر مسلط دہشت گردی سے نبردآزما ہونے کے لئے ہماری Establishmentکو ایک Populistچہرہ فراہم کرنا تھا۔ محترمہ بے نظیر بھٹو وہ واحد سیاست دان تھیں جو عوام کے لئے قابل قبول ایک ایسا بیانیہ تشکیل دے سکتی تھیں جو دہشت گردی کو جواز فراہم کرنے والی سوچ کا بھرپور مقابلہ کرسکے۔ انہیں قتل کرنا لہذا دین اسلام کی من گھڑت تشریح کی بدولت اس ملک میں دہشت گردی پھیلانے والوں کے لئے Now or Neverوالا ہدف تھا۔تلخ حقیقت یہ بھی ہے کہ وہ اپنے ہدف تک پہنچنے میں کامیاب رہے۔
اس حقیقت کو تسلیم کرنے کے سوا جو بھی ہے محض فروعات ہیں۔ ٹامک ٹوئیاں ہیں۔ شترمرغ کی طرح ریت میں سرچھپانا ہے۔ اس حقیقت کو تسلیم کرنے سے انکار ہے کہ 80کی دہائی سے پاکستان پر بتدریج ایک Mindsetمسلط کردیا گیا ہے۔ یہ مائنڈ سیٹ برصغیر پاک وہند کے مسلمانوں کے لئے بنائے پاکستان کو جسے قائد اعظم جمہوری عمل کے ذریعے ایک جدید اور ترقی پذیر ملک کی صورت دینا چاہتے تھے، ”اسلام کا قلعہ“ بنانے کے نام پر یہاں بسے مسلمانوں ہی میں سے ”کافر“ ڈھونڈنے میں مصروف رہتا ہے۔
ہمیں گماں ہے کہ پشاور کے APSپر دسمبر 2014میں ہوئے حملے کے بعد اس Mindsetکے خلاف حتمی جنگ لڑنے کافیصلہ ہوا۔دعویٰ یہ بھی ہے کہ ہم یہ جنگ تقریباََ جیت چکے ہیں۔ان دنوں ”اِکا دُکا“وارداتوں کے ذریعے ”آخری راﺅنڈ“ چل رہا ہے۔
محترمہ کی دسویں برسی کی صبح ان کے قتل سے جڑے واقعات کو یکجا کرکے کوئی تفتیشی کہانی گھڑنے کے بجائے میں فریاد فقط یہ کروں گا کہ چند ہی روز قبل راولپنڈی کو اسلام آباد سے ملانے والے فیض آباد چوک میں جوکچھ ہوا اسے یاد رکھا جائے۔ ”نیا پاکستان“ اب علامہ خادم حسین رضوی کا ہے۔ حکم یہاں اب پیر حمید اللہ سیالوی کا چلے گا۔ ٹی وی سکرینوں پر گرجتے برستے باقی سب سیاستدان اپنی کشش اور اثر کھوبیٹھے ہیں۔ زندہ ہیں اس طرح سے مگر زندگی نہیں
Barrister Mian Aamir Hassan
You may call a ‘rose by any other name’ but cannot call Benazir Bhutto (peerless) by another name since her name sets fit in her personality or vice versa. Had Shakespeare been alive in 21st century, he would have conceived his magnum opus upon the tragedies relating to Bhutto family. F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896 – 1940), was an American novelist and short story writer. He said, “Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy.”
The life and tragic assassination of Benazir Bhutto qualifies to be a fit subject to conceive a great tragedy of world literature. After all, she was born in Bhutto family, her grandfather and father became Prime Ministers, she got her higher education from Oxford and Harvard Universities, entered politics after her father’s tragic dethronement and assassination, suffered atrocities committed by worst kind of Martial Law regime in Pakistan, provided leadership and hope to a scattered party and the nation, purged the party from the ‘infected ones’, started her career as opposition leader under a despot ruler, led a family life, married and fulfilled the demands of matrimonial life, read and wrote books and articles, contacted national and international leaders, faced and tolerated cheap political tactics and techniques, made tours on near and far places in and outside country during pregnancy and right after of the birth of her first child, did not lose her cool against the foul language, blames, removal of her elected governments, imprisonment of her husband, shahadat of her father, two brothers as well as party workers, faced discrimination and injustice throughout her life.
It is so simple to drag some words upon the life of a personality but how hard it is to undergo the above said miseries and challenges? The first hand observers know better or the person who has passed through such types of trials and tribulations. Dictators come and fade into oblivion while the leaders like Bhuttos remain alive in hearts after their demise.
There are politicians and politicians in Pakistan. However, all of them claim to be loving and caring towards the nation. We can judge the veracity of their claim from the dichotomy of choice -whether they sacrifice their lives on principles or sacrifice their principles to save their skins. It goes without saying that the rival of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto chose the latter. That’s the reason we can say that history repeats itself but not the people like the Bhuttos.
Being a human we are quite helpless in the selection of our birthplace, time and family but we are free to pick the death of our choice if we live by principles. So did Benazir Bhutto who after Karsaz carnage at Karachi, was well aware of the price she was going to pay for her presence in Pakistan at a time when the country was in the eye of the storm.
The assassination of Benazir Bhutto which took place on 27 December 2007 in Rawalpindi, was a major blow to the democracy and federation of Pakistan. Beyond doubt she was the democratic chain connecting the four provinces of Pakistan (Charon Subon ki Zanjeer) and it was proved on the day of her death when the connecting chain disappeared and the country wavered like a rudderless boat in stormy sea. Pakistan had been giving a glimpse of lawless land. How long had the horrible situation prevailed if Asif Ali Zardari would not have raised the slogan, ‘Pakistan Khappey’? God knows better.
Its repercussions we still see even after the lapse of a decade. Today no leader can claim to be the democratic chain connecting the four provinces of Pakistan (Charon Subon ki Zanjeer). The question arises: Shouldn’t there be a democratic leader like Benazir Bhutto to bind all the provinces in a single democratic chain? Here comes Bilawal Bhutto to play his role in the national politics of Pakistan. Like her mother who inherited the people’s politics from her father Shaheed Zulifqar Ali Bhutto, Chairman Bilawal Bhutto was trained by her shaheed mother herself.
Despite suffering all kinds of pains and predicaments, she never lost her patience and remained cool and calm at a time when she was able to avenge the murder of her father from the dictator. After years long exile, she landed on Lahore airport in 1986. A sea of people from all the corners of Pakistan welcomed her. That was the time when she could make a bloody revolution happen against the dictator. She was advised to do so but she declined the proposal since she did not want to see the people dying in struggle against the despotic government.
Prior to her assassination, her rivals were committed for rendering her character assassination. In this world of consequences, she avoided to pay in the same coin to her rivals when she got a chance to do so. Even she asked his workers to abstain from mocking a lady from the opponents’ rank. Like her father and father of the nation, she believed in neat and clean politics. Once Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was presented the secret letters exchanged between Nehru and Mrs. Mountbatten for political use. Mr Jinnah refused to use nasty and blackmailing tactics in politics.
Being a foreseeing lady, she condemned the menace of extremism from the day first. The time proved and endorsed her anticipation. The extremism did not take long time while turning into terrorism. Now the genie is out from the bottle and the armed forces along with government are struggling to put it back into bottle. How long it will take time, it remains to be seen.
She always strongly supported the case of Pakistan all over the world. She was expert in foreign policy and could deter the political moves against Pakistan on world forums or else. At present, no leader from the government can play this role in the international arena. During her tenure, she tried her best to empower the lower and deprived classes such as minorities, women and children. For this purpose, efforts were made in and outside the parliament. She was the staunch supporter of media freedom and adopted liberal policy for freedom of press during her days in power.
Now a decade has been passed without Benazir Bhutto. One can compare a decade- old-Pakistan with the present-day-Pakistan. With martyrdom of Benazir Bhutto, the era of Oxford or Harvard qualified leadership has ended. This is the domain where Pakistan beat several developing as well as developed countries of the world since she was even more qualified from several western leaders. Only Bilawal Bhutto Zardari seems to fulfil the gap created from the martyrdom of Benazir Bhutto since a phoenix can rise from the ashes of a phoenix.
Today marks the tenth death anniversary of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. To say that her loss makes Pakistan a poorer place will be an understatement. Benazir was, and remains, a symbol of courage and hope. Notwithstanding what her critics had to say while she was in government and the opposition, few matched her will to fight and keep the torch of a democratic Pakistan alive. Solitary confinement, imprisonment, exile and relentless defamation could not subdue her. In her death, she leaves us with a huge challenge. Of not giving up. And not relinquishing the quest for justice and democracy.
Patriarchal political structures and the powerful institutions of the state wronged Benazir throughout her career. The generals jailed her, painted her as a villain, rigged elections and called her a security threat. The Supreme Court of Pakistan upheld her governments’ arbitrary dismissals in the 1990s. Whatever her failings were, and certainly there were quite a few, she did not deserve to die at the hands of assassins and the country did not deserve to lose her.
Her premeditated murder with the footprints of Al Qaeda, sections of the security establishment, police and others are all in the public domain. A United Nations Inquiry Commission presented damning findings but her own party had to distance itself from the mention of sacred cows to preserve short-term power. Instead, the conspiracy theory that her husband abetted her murder permeates the public mind. To add insult to a national injury, a recent verdict of the court freed those who allegedly killed her. Her party did not bother to show up in court.
Benazir’s murder is a test case for Pakistan’s so-called democrats who are yet to show their mettle in consolidating democracy. Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif promised that he would bring her killers to justice. Benazir’s husband Asif Ali Zardari kept on telling the public that he would identify the real killers. But he never did. Instead, her death anniversary has turned into a ritual of peddling power politics and mobilising the disenfranchised Sindhi peasantry that deserves at the very least a semblance of good governance. This is nothing less than a plot of a Greek tragedy.
There is much to celebrate in the eventful life that Benazir lived. She continues to be an inspiration for many women some of whom are now at the forefront of national and local politics. This is her formidable legacy. Twenty seven years ago, Benazir started the Lady Health Workers (LHW) programme at the village level which continues and demonstrates how state intervention is vital to achieving social development. LHWs help families, especially women, to access healthcare services, including immunisation. In addition, the cash transfer programme in Benazair’s name started by the (previous) PPP government is helping millions of households and is a crucial step to empower women.
But Benazir’s party remains under fire on charges of misgovernance and corruption in Sindh. PPP supporters view her son as the hope for the future; and as someone who can carry out her mission. Bilawal displays her idealism but is constrained by a father who places realpolitik before idealism, and a legacy of cronyism as well as the elite capture of a party that was once the torchbearer of redistribution and social justice. Ten years after his mother’s death, Bilawal faces even a more fractured polity and a fragmented party that has all but vanished from the largest province of Pakistan.
Those who eliminated Benazir had estimated with some precision that her exit would deprive her party of the anchor that it always had in her person and charisma. For Pakistan, the dwindling of the PPP undermines the federation for most political parties today lack a nationwide appeal. This compounds the gravity of the loss that Pakistan suffered on December 27, 2007.
It is imperative that Benazir’s assassination should not go unpunished. This ugly tradition of impunity has turned into an unwelcome norm. It must end. Perhaps only then Pakistan will be able to redeem itself. Otherwise Benazir’s murder will continue to haunt the direction of this country.
Talking to the media in Larkana, the Senate chairman told reporters that enemies of the country did not want to see a democratic Pakistan move forward.
“An international conspiracy was hatched to arrange the judicial murder of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. His daughter Benazir was also martyred on the streets of Rawalpindi,” Rabbani added.
The PPP leader was of the opinion that had Benazir Bhutto been alive today, the interior and foreign policy directions of the country would have been much different.
“The Senate and parliament are not the strongest of institutions in Pakistan. But if they work within bounds of the constitution and law in the country, they can transform.”
Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai has called for the merger of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).
In a tweet on Tuesday, Yousafzai said that the people of Fata had kept been deprived of their human and constitutional rights for decades.
She added that the tribal areas should be merged with K-P immediately. She also demanded that the government should pass the Fata reforms bill.
The Fata Youth Jirga thanked Yousafzai for her taking a “precise and clear” stand on the issue.