Dear Miss Chinoy,
Before I move on to the main theme of this post, I must clarify its purpose as not being the blind adulation you have received from some quarters at your Oscar win.
Human Rights Advocacy and Media Watch
To the world, she was an icon. To me, she was my mother. On the fourth anniversary of that dark day, indelible in the history of Pakistan, when our greatest leader and our best hope was ripped from our lives and our
Source: Counter Currents
First publication date: 28 December, 2007
It was the summer of 1966. We were mere teenagers meeting Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who had just resigned as Pakistan’s foreign minister and was about to launch a new left-wing political movement, the Pakistan Peoples Party.
میلے لاوو، جشن مناوو، فتح دے جھنڈے اج لہراوو
بھٹو دی بیٹی آئی جے
ظلم دیاں زنجیراں توڑن، مظلوماں دے رشتے جوڑن، دکھ دے دریاواں چوں گزر کے، اپنی جان تلی تے دھر کے
بھٹو دی بیٹی آئی سی، انج جان وی نذر چڑھائی سی، سارے جگ وچ پئی دھائی سی، بھٹو دی بیٹی آئی سی
پھانسی گھاٹ توں علم اٹھایا سی، نالے جنگ دا بِگل وجایا سی، جناں بچے اودے رلا دِتے، دویں ویر وی قتل کرا دِتے
اوھناں پنڈی گھات لگائی سی، اِک سازش لکھی لکھائی سی، سارے جگ وچ پئی دھائی سی، بھٹو دی بیٹی آئی سی
چہوی(٢٤) سال دی عمرے جنگ چڑھی، تی (٣٠) سال کفن سِر بن کے لڑی، نا او کارساز بمباں توں ڈری، سج دج نال مقتل وچ اتری
جدوں قاتلاں گل مکائی سی، روئی اتھرواں نال خدائی سی، سارے جگ وچ پئی دھائی سی، بھٹو دی بیٹی آئی سی
کِسے بے نظیر فیر آوناں نہیں، لوکاں عشق دا میلا لاوناں نہیں، چارے صوبیاں دی زنجیر بنی، نالے ملک دی او تقدیر بنی
جِنے جِندڑی اودی بنائی سی، اونے اِنج دی لکھی جدائی سی، سارے جگ وچ پئی دھائی سی، بھٹو دی بیٹی آئی سی
آئی سی اِنج آئی سی، عمراں دی پئی جدائی سی
On the evening of 27th December, 2007, we edged along the crowded Shahrah-e-Faisal in Karachi. A cold winter breeze drifted in from a car window that had been left open for ventilation. Air-conditioners were a redundant luxury now that the temperature had plummeted to a cold extreme. And yet, there was a strong undercurrent of political friction that constantly reminded us that we were living through an era of sweeping changes.
There was a flood-tide of expectations from the forthcoming elections.
Optimism was virtually a non-entity as suspicion governed thought-processes. Many judicious observers had gone to the extent of stating beforehand that the elections would be rigged, damaging the political process entirely. However, not everyone was thoroughly convinced.
Against this backdrop of uncertainty, we drove leisurely towards our destination – the house of an ailing grand-aunt. But before we knew it, things took an unpredictable turn. A phone call announcing Benazir Bhutto’s murder left us astounded. The instinct of self-preservation prodded us to turn back.
Political murders were catastrophic events, particularly in turbulent countries like Pakistan. They could trigger a spate of socio-economic uncertainties. Mob tendencies would grow fearfully extreme and life would reach a standstill.
But there was a general consensus that this assassination had greater symbolic significance than any other mission of sabotage. To some it implied the derailment of democracy and to others it indicated the growth of radical Islam. In a sense, the murder had been expected much before Benazir Bhutto had returned to Pakistan to rally support for her political goals. Unfortunately, no one had anticipated it that evening.
As we drove homewards, fear enveloped my mind.
How could life be so brittle? I asked myself.
Here was a woman who had floundered for the upkeep of social justice, equality and the restitution of democracy. In the months following General Zia’s totalitarian takeover, she emerged as the true embodiment of righteousness when she untiringly fought to claim justice for her father. Her efforts may not have been of much avail but they steeled her to confront countless adversities she faced during her years in and out of public office.
How could moral courage that was obtained through several years of a dismal struggle be thwarted in a single explosion? More importantly, how could death justify a divergence of political opinion?
It was these questions that plagued my thoughts that night as the trepidation of Benazir’s murder turned into resignation. Their urgency astonished my sixteen-year-old mind. I felt the restive urge to understand this murder. But I knew that facts would not offer an accurate representation of its purpose. They would simply provide a string of politically motivated excuses for this heinous crime. All I could decipher in those brief moments was that life was precious. One simply could not divest it from anyone. It seemed so futile, so completely immature.
As the hours passed, I continued to ponder over this. But on a more pragmatic level I was convinced that no one in a world ravaged with political violence would understand this. Thus, I endeavoured to seek answers for myself. In a frenzied spurt of agony, I walked to my desk, equipped myself with a pen and several reams of paper and began to write.
Initially I had contemplated a lengthy perusal of the many manuals on Pakistan’s history that had been tucked into a book shelf but the ideas came across as absurd. After all, how could something as fragile as death be explained through politics? Did it not surpass its influence?
I was certain that it did. And so, I chose to write in an attempt to immortalize Benazir’s life. I realized that so long as her life had been productive, the idea of its denouement would not seem bizarre. In fact, it would make death seem like a necessary phase of respite.
Moments later I was prepared with a poem that celebrated the life and times of a courageous woman:
Enthused by that graceful soul,
We throng to her sepulchre in cries and doles.
Our mind eclipsed in disbelief,
As her mission remains adjourned.
We recall those hours, unsightly and grim,
When she willingly floundered, fulfilling our whim.
She decreed for us the bounties of liberation,
Vowing to succour this poverty-stricken nation.
In a mesh of foreboding, she slithered to our rescue,
Wallowing in our woes; exulting when necessary,
Until her demise forced her to eschew.
Now, the Empress of Sindh, a saviour and kin,
Is ensconced in a mausoleum of martyrdom.
As melancholy hymns permeate in hopeful dins,
We wail and wait akin.
The dead besiege me with every new day
And ask me, “Where were you? Give back
To the lexicon all the words
You offered me”
And let the sleepers sleep without phantoms in their dreams!
The dead teach me the lesson: there is no aesthetic beyond freedom
“Yeh Bhutto sahib ki beti hai” (She is daughter of Mr. Bhutto) – With these words my father introduced her to me by pointing out when she was giving a fiery speech on stage. That was an autumn evening of 1993 and she had come to my city in order to campaign for her party candidate. Though, at that time, I wasn’t mature enough to discern the significance of shibboleth -Zinda hai Bhutto zinda hai- being chanted in a rhythm by the crowd present there but, that whole panorama of reverence and homage for her and her father did lead me to materialize a conception that some Messiah had come.
That was Bertolt Brecht who, once, had said “Unhappy is not the land that breeds no hero but pity the land that needs heroes”. The land, we all belong to, has always been so lamentable and unfortunate with longing for heroes who would come one day and take away the centuries’ old miseries of inhabitants of this region. This has become a widely persisting norm to attribute gods like excellencies to common human beings. This sense of longing and yearning for Messiahs roots in the wretched conditions of human life –an emblem of this part of planet earth- and also metaphysical subjectivism that belongs to realm of religion rendering it highly viable for idols and paragons that are perceived as rulers of destinies.
And then the sparkling noon of October the18th, 2007. Her plane kissed the soil of her homeland and millions of ‘wretched of the earth’ were present outside Karachi Airport to greet and watch single glimpse of their Messiah -the sight for sore eyes for those who had longed for her and a dreadful scene for her adversaries- she came(out of plane), she saw and she wept with joy. There were Sadqa offerings (animal sacrifice) to ward off evil eyes, there were celebrations and rejoicings –mere pleasance- and at the midnight, amidst all those pleasures, there was blood, flesh and fire.
‘Cult’ is the most malignant expression of despotic regimes which is widely maneuvered by tyrannical administrations to impose the specific state agenda in the name of love for homeland and some state figures. In subcontinent, the articulation of this expression is more rigid and influences wider areas of implications, be it religion, politics, art or general attitudes. Traumatized people, who have never been allowed to endeavor for betterment of their own miserable conditions under mighty empires and colonial oppression, are highly leaned to submissive attitudes. This is, taking into account the general inclinations, the most lenient disposition of locals to follow someone-standing-for-them against all possible odds.
She was unstoppable. The journey started from the banks of Indus where a saint sleeps and offers hope to those in dire need. She had never forgotten the saint and at every stop of her expedition she reiterated the message of saint, “I have brought with me the message of peace from the shadows of Sehwan Shareef, be my arms to spread this!”. That was in Hyderabad where she disintegrated all the strings, if any, attached to her return and shouted at top of her voice, “Behold! You, who yearn for your rights, need to snatch them from the hands of tyrants.” Advancing and marching forward, she was approaching the destination with hundreds of thousands of ‘untouchables’ behind her. And the destination-the last hilly corner of Punjab- where the act finished and curtains fell with tragic ending of heavy bloodshed and sprinkles of red flesh.
From Dara Shikoh to Benazir Bhutto, history of this region marked with the red sanguinary traces of blood. Messiahs of downtrodden who raise the flag of humanity and justice have always been a dreadful dream for tyrants who consider them as obstruction in the way of implementing their despicable agendas. These despots may change their face with flow of time from absolute kingships to treacherous Generals but agenda remains the same. Generations have borne the brunt in the form of horrendous poverty, distressing living conditions and sustained oppression; and still craving for betterment in their miserable conditions. Hereditary politics or other way around is not the question at all but query of the hour is that who will extricate this race from centuries’ old misery if not the people themselves?
Hope had been demolished. Messiah had gone to the howling wilderness of ‘Garhi Khuda-Baksh’. On that day, I saw my father crying for the very first time in my life. That was mourning of a whole generation that couldn’t get rid of centuries’ old misery. Concurrently, I felt some drops of warm water lurking down my cheeks. Whatever, I belong to the same race after all and now it’s my turn to bear that burthen of misery on my shoulders and endeavor to throw it away.
The 3rd death anniversary of a blazing fire of truth, a beauteous blossom of love, a soothing balm of peace, highly experienced lecturer, one of the best decision makers, esteemed, much-loved, daughter of the East Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto will be observed with the renewed commitment and pledge to strengthen the democratic institution in line with the vision of one of the greatest leader of this subcontinent.
The daughter of Pakistan is no more with us but is a guiding star for the generations to come. It was her unprecedented determination and sacrifice for nation. Her commitment towards people was spotless that she did not let her own misfortunes position in her way. Mohtarma Shaheed will always be remembered in world politics because of her
political acumen and leadership qualities. History of our region cannot find any other example of a leader who climbed to such eminence.
Benazir Bhutto Shaheed in her address to a rally at Liaqat Bagh Rawalpindi, Thursday, 27 December 2007, said
“My sisters and brethren, you have given a great honor to your sister. Twice you elected me as the prime minister; it is no longer important if I become the prime minister for the third time; what is important is that I have risked my life while coming back; but I had to return because my country is in danger. I feel that the people feel concerned about the country’s circumstances. That is why I have returned home; I have come to you to say that your sister needs those who are brave; who are courageous and who are faithful to the national flag; the flag of our motherland and the flag of the Pakistan People’s Party. I need your support in the work for the security and integrity of Pakistan; let us join hands to steer the country out of the crisis and rid the country from those who have endangered its security”.
Today we live a better life in many aspects but question arises what are the reasons behind it? Many times we hardly realize what others had done for us. I would consider it momentous to quote Mohtarma again, she said: “Some
people may not understand why I left a comfortable life and faced these threats. So many people have sacrificed much for so many things, so many died and so many see me as the hope of liberty. Now, I cannot run away from the battle. Dr. Martin Luther King’s phrase comes to my mind: “Our lives end when we keep our silence in important issues.” And I confide myself to my own people by my belief on God.”
Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheed had the extraordinary nobility to become the 1st Prime Minister of an Islamic country and had an honor to be included in hundred world leaders, whose speeches have been included among hundred speeches. She endured all sorts of hardships she had to face tragedies like martyrdom of her father, her brothers, threats to her life, still she lived out what she sermonized. She recuperated after every blow with new commitment, strength, and willpower. She really motivated people and maintained their hopes during the era of dictatorship. She was of the view that if you turn your pain into strength, you can conquer world with this strength.
Benazir Bhutto was of the view that the continuation of democratic order and establishment of good governance was the only way to ensure nation’s well being. Shaheed Mohtarma once said “The politics of violence is the dire enemy of the hopes, the dreams and the ambitions of our people”. In reality, she is the founder of politics of reconciliation and harmony. At then National Defense College, she said in a speech: “The basic elements which define my vision of Pakistan are: a modern, enlightened, social democracy based on federalism and parliamentary form of government”. She represented an idea of human liberation, empowerment of common man and a welfare state.
There are very few people who become eternal after their deaths and without any doubt Benazir Bhutto fits in that category. She is a heartthrob of millions and rules their heart and minds. We should learn lesson from her life, which is a unique role model for people of entire world. Her name would be testified in golden words in the annals of history. She will be remembered by history for so many things like unwavering resolve, courage, ability to forgive etc. Be it workers, laborer, students, teachers, lawyers and women, PPP has got the sole honor of having its deep roots in all section of society. She may not be with us today but her vision continues to lighten our path, the principles remain for which fought and gave her life.
“Individuals can be killed but not ideas. Ideas live in the hearts of minds of men and women”- Benazir Bhutto Shaheed
He was part of General Musharraf’s interim cabinet and unlike his other friends, he still is a fan of him, he’s an admirer of MQM and its leader Altaf bhai, he also wrote in support of President Zardari and has also shown his appreciations for Benazir Bhutto.
One thing is for sure, he has utter dislike for Mian brothers of Lahore. He has shown it umpteen times, and has conducted shows with Rehmat Shah Afridi, the Frontier Post editor and shows on Mian Shahbaz Sharif’s style of administration, the police state of Punjab, the fake encounters by the Punjab police.
He also has a strange relations with the Ahl-e-Hadith scholar Ibtisam Elahi Zahir, who is the most frequent visitor of his shows.
But all these strange mixes were left behind when he invited Safdar Abbasi in his talk-show, Point Blank, via telephone.
The show was about Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, one of the most debated political murders in Pakistan’s history.
BB’s assassination tragedy has two narratives, one is the narrative of the Pakistan Peoples Party leadership and its workers, which is also shared by neutral defence and political analysts of Pakistan and the world; it was also endorsed by the UN fact finding commission via its report submitted to the UN Secretary General.
Another is the Pakistan’s military establishment’s narrative described by General Musharraf, ISPR, retired Army generals, ex-ambassadors and beaurocrats and their subsidiaries in political parties and the media.
This whole narrative revolves around the sun-roof lever of BB’s vehicle, black mercedes, BB’s Blackberry, hers will and other similar things.
Now coming back to the Point Blank, I mean Lucman’s show.
The way he was investigating the Mr Abbasi was to prove the establishment’s narrative to hold BB responsible for breaching the security by exposing herself to the shooter by appearing through the sun roof, and very weirdly blamed Mr Abbasi and others with BB in the vehicle for allowing her to appear through the sun roof.
He invited Safdar Abbasi to talk on what happened on the fateful day. Mr Abbasi was in that bulletproof Land Cruiser BB was travelling in. He described details of the whole incident. He has nothing new to tell the viewers, but his account of the whole story was missing some details and he failed to answer some questions regarding these details.
As Mr Abbasi was asked who opened the hetch of the sun-roof, he for some unknown reasons refrained to name or perhaps he forgot as he said in the programme, but the fierce anchor was running a “No Mercy” episode. He grilled him for his inability to answer the simple question. He also held him responsible for slowing down the vehicle and gathering of workers around the vehicle as Mr Abbasi was shouting slogans on the megaphone and the workers around were answering these slogans, and BB appeared through the sun-roof to laud the workers and as a result, suffered the fatal bullet injuries.
Mr Lucman was very aggressive in this whole episode. Mr Abbasi was a bit defensive, giving the impression that he was upset with Lucman’s style of grilling.
The episode as expected was liked by the audience and the TV channel decided to show carefully selected parts of it in the hourly and half hourly news bulletins the whole day, and telecasted the episode more than once. An article also appeared in the newspaper of the same media group to further propagate that narrative. A few PPP workers also liked it for its grilling of Mr Abbasi.
Mubashir vs Mubashir; What are they up to?
Another channel (TV One) in their programme, interestingly by another Mubashir (Prime Time with Rana Mubashir), provided Mr and Mrs Abbasi an opportunity to rebuild their dented image and to answer the unanswered questions. Mr and Mrs Abbasi suggested that an FIR coulkd be lodged against them if anyone has a doubt about their involvement.
Now what was the aim of this collaborated effort by the Mubashirs duo and the couple, Mr and Mrs Abbasi?
If our readers have watched the show, the target was not Mr Abbasi. The target was the UN report. The anchor repeatedly was calling it a useless practice and urging that if Mr Abbasi should be handed over to the Punjab Police to tell the whole truth. (Mr Lucman has conducted various shows on the atrocities of Punjab Police.)
In the whole episode, he did not mention the contents of UN report and the alleged involvement of the Military Intelligence and ISI. He also very foolishly blamed Mrs Naheed Khan of preventing the police from the post-mortem, ignoring a very simple fact that in criminal cases, state itself is the party and it does not need approval for any necessary steps taken, which can help the investigation. But unfortunately here the state and its spy agencies are a party, which has in fact impeded the investigation. The UN commission report has described that several obstacles and hurdles were put in their investigations.
But the macho-man, Mr Lucman carefully ignored all such aspects, and instead promoted a new conspiracy theory. Therefore, Rana Mubashir has to be brought in for ‘damage control’ because Mr and Mrs Abbasi have not yet lost their attraction for the circles who have been investing on them to be used in their anti PPP plots, although not unlike their other counterpart Mr Aitzaz Ahsan, they too have failed miserably.
Here is the exact tweet:
Concluded it was Baitullah Masood xcellent researchRT @gpspakistan: Book on BB’s murder launched Daily Times http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\12\23\story_23-12-2010_pg7_23
Here is the news item Mr Taseer referred to which was published in his own newspaper:
Book on BB’s murder launched
Source: Daily Times, 23 December 2010
LAHORE: A renowned journalist, Sohail Warraich, has launched his book on the life and murder of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, based on unbiased research. The author has disclosed thrilling facts about the incident. He has written in detail on undisclosed aspects of the episode and has tried to find out if there is any role of the US, Musharraf, Zardari, Baitullah Mehsud or the intelligence agencies, including ISI, in the incident, the identity of the man wearing a ghazi cap who is said to have stopped the car, etc. Who was behind staging a fake encounter for killing the accused suspects of the murder?
He has also obtained opinions from the world’s top experts to find out if the will produced is a real or a fake document. He has thrown light for the first time on the reasons for the differences between Naheed Khan and Asif Zardari. The book includes the viewpoint of the Taliban on the murder of Benazir Bhutto. Special interviews with 100 VIPs like General (R) Musharraf, President Zardari, Naheed Khan, Khalid Shahenshah and Rehman Malik have been incorporated in the book. The book includes rare pictures, sketches, maps, original reports and tables for illustration. Besides, the interesting details of a number of meetings of the writer with Benazir Bhutto have enhanced the worth of the book.
Using Mr Salman Taseer’s wisdom, let us conclude that Benazir Bhutto’s father, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, was not killed by General Zia-ul-Haq but by Tara Maseeh or Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court Maulvi Mushtaq Hussein.
While Baitullah Mehsud and his nominated suicide bomber may be the footsoldiers, it is criminal to ignore those who master-minded BB’s murder by creating, mentoring and supporting Mehsud and his likes.
We think that Salman Taseer’s comments and actions deserve to be carefully scrutinized.
Is it just a coincidence that he happened to be a common choice of the establishment and the PPP even before the PPP came to power through elections. He served as a minister in the caretaker cabinet of Prime Minister Muhammad Mian Soomro under Pervez Musharraf. He was appointed to the post of governor on 15 May 2008 in place of outgoing governor, Lt Gen (R) Khalid Maqbool by former President, General Pervez Musharraf.
During Musharraf’s military rule while other politicians (including Rana Sanaullah, Yusuf Raza Gilani, Javed Hashmi etc) remained faithful to their party, Taseer deftly managed to placate the former military dictator and expanded his business empire.
The PPP workers in the Punjab province are questioning any good that Mr Taseer has done to the party in the past three years.
Here is another example of a Tweet by Mr Taseer:
“One thing is clear from Wikileaks that elected persons wth peoples mandate don’t run Pakistan. Makes elections pointless”
If Mr Taseer really believes that people’s mandate is unnecessary, then why doesn’t he just resign from the government? How can someone from the ruling party say something like this in a public forum?
Does it show the fact that Mr Taseer is unable to be elected even as a councillor in any constituency in the province he is currently ruling?
Mr Taseer’s comment are particularly bland when he is known to have almost abandoned the PPP when Benazir Bhutto was in exile and her husband was in prison for almost 11 years.
By stating and reinforcing the establishment’s line that Baitullah Mehsud was Benazir Bhutto’s killer, Mr Taseer has clearly demonstrated where his loyalties lie.
Those who are still unclear may feel free to consult the following archive of articles.
For example, BB wanted Pakistan to have better relations with neighbouring countries, and presented the concepts of soft borders in the region and a Commonwealth of South Asia.
I remember all those speeches and statements of BB shaheed during 1980s in which she used to talk about peaceful relations with India, Afghanistan and other South Asian countries. While reaction of our print media and other segments of civil society was very harsh at that time, I also found the party comrades and other pro-PPP circles uneasy with this stance of BB. Most left oriented circles in and outside the PPP were in trance of staunch nationalist line of Z.A. Buhtto.
When Benazir Bhutto (as an opposition leader in mid 1980s) decided to support the international community on Afghan issue, and supported the then Prime Minister Junejo, the inner circles of the PPP thought that BB should not go with that line.They were urging BB to not to participate in the All Parties Conference called by the Junejo Government.
But time has verified that BB possessed the right insight on these issues.
When BB came to power the first time (in 1988), she was forced to adopt a line of hawks of establishment on issue of Pak-India relations. But in her second tenure, BB returned to her original stance of reconciliation, and presented the idea of the Commonwealth of South Asian countries and free visa polices. She also stressed on making free trade agreements between South Asian countries. That was BB shaheed who was talking about trade not proxy wars between two main countries of South Asia.
BB asserted for a radical change in Pakistan’s foreign policy. In her second tenure, she tried to convince Pakistan’s military leadership to change its mentality which was formed during the cold war and before the fall of Soviet Union, but in vain. In those days our Urdu print media adopted very hostile attitude towards the stance of Benazir Bhutto.
To be fair, the PPP too did not make any coherent and organized effort to convince the masses on this issue. Due to this failure of the party on this account, masses could not be mobilized to pressurize the establishment.
BB had learnt many lessons from the era of her father. For example she changed her father’s policies on nationalism. Perhaps this seemed strange to many people but this is a fact that BB made more flexible and acceptable federalist politics for the people of Baluchistan, Khyber Pakhtoonkha and Sind and also for the Saraiki region. She made changes in the PPP’s notion of nationalism of party and time has proved that if such changes were not made, the party could lose its control in many parts of the federation.
Today, I think the current leadership of the PPP should take a bold stance on issues such as liberalism, secularism and should follow BB’s path. But for this to occur, it is necessary to mobilize the PPP’s media cell and disseminate its clear stance on issues such as liberalism, theocracy, sectarianism, and soft borders with neighbors.
It is a great tragedy that our society has not paid adequate attention to BB’s ideas which could help us build a progressive and prosperous Pakistan.