Never forget… the day she arrived and the day she died

Oct 18, 2007: Benazir returns. Photo by Beena Sarwar

Benazir Bhutto’s assassination on this day two years ago was utterly devastating for many of us. Here is the link to a piece I wrote for IPS just before she returned to Pakistan. On Oct 18, 2007, Absar Alam and I were both at the Geo TV studios in Karachi. We hopped onto a motorbike and headed for the airport, a cameraman and assistant on another motorbike. Absar managed to get us onto the truck on which Benazir was riding. See photos taken with my cell phone at this web album. Absar scooped a brief interview of her – her first to a Pakisani journalist on home soil since her exile – broadcast on Geo shortly afterwards.

Even those who had been her sternest critics over the years were unable to stem the tide of grief that hit them on learning of her death. I wrote this article after her murder – I was in Lahore, on my own at a friend’s house and it was an incredibly difficult piece to write, in between breaking down, monitoring the television, and calling people for quotes and information.

To those who even on this day, her second death anniversary, focus on her alleged corruption and plundering: please read M. Hanif’s article ‘My Benazir murder fantasy’ posted in Jan 2008 that the Newsline blog just re-posted. Extracts: Even if all the allegations about her corruption and arrogance are true, one should keep in mind that she was active in politics for 30 years, out of which she was in power only for four and a half years. The rest of the time she struggled against two of the most well entrenched military dictators in the region…

“The reason we don’t see very many dossiers on the financial corruption during General Zia and General Musharraf’s regimes is that when Bhutto was in power the intelligence agencies went into over drive documenting or sometimes inventing her misdemeanours. When the generals or their cronies are in power all the intelligence leaks just dry up.”

This is not to suggest that corruption should be condoned or excused, but it is important to get some perspective on the issue.


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2 Responses

  1. Hello – thanks for this intrigiuing posting. Please accept this, my English is a second language to me. French is my native tongue but I am trying to learn getting down English. Thank you again!

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  2. The year is 2000 and the self-employed Chief Executive of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf is basking in the ‘unabashed constitutional legitimacy’ of his rule since the 12 member Supreme Court bench has validated his October 12, 1999 Coup d’état. Few months following the ‘Coup d’état’ Musharraf introduces a Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) and appoints his new Chief Justice, Irshad Hasan Khan who takes oath under this PCO… along with six other judges.

    Forty-One out of 43 judges of Lahore High Court, 5 judges of LHC Rawalpindi bench, 8 of Multan bench, Chief Justice of Sindh High Court along with 18 other judges, 11 judges of Peshawar High Court and the then Chief Justice of Baluchistan High Court, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry with his 5 judges were administered oath. However, six judges including former CJ Saeeduzaman Siddique refused to take oath under the PCO and nobody named Chaudhry Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry toed the line of these senior judges sticking to their principles.

    Beside taking oath under the PCO of General Musharraf, Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry is included in the five-member judges bench which dismisses the petition against General Musharraf’s dual role of Army Chief and the President of Pakistan. Ironically, Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar was seated along with Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry in this bench and both validated the 17th Constitutional Amendment. Thus considering his valuable commitment and ‘services’ Gen. Musharraf appointed Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry as the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan on 7th May 2005. The rest is history mingled into the hoopla. So much for ‘conscience’ and ‘conscience-keepers’.

    Now… if ‘past and closed’ transactions can be re-opened with so much song and dance plus much else accompanying them… don’t you think charity needs to begin at home… ???

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