Benazir Bhutto

Benazir Bhutto

Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto (1953-2007) was the first democratically elected female leader of a Muslim country during a tumultuous life that ended with her assassination. The daughter of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) founder and Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Bhutto took over as chairperson of the PPP in 1982. After her two stints as prime minister in the 1990s ended early amid charges of corruption, Bhutto spent several years in exile in London. She returned to Pakistan with plans to participate in the 2008 general election, but was killed during an attack at a PPP rally in late 2007.

Benazir Bhutto was born June 21, 1953, in Karachi, SE Pakistan, the eldest child of former premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. He founded the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and was prime minister from 1971 to 1977. After completing her early education in Pakistan, she pursued her higher education in the United States. From 1969 to 1973, she attended Radcliffe College, and then Harvard University, where she graduated with a B.A. degree in comparative government. It was then onto the United Kingdom to study at Oxford from 1973 to 1977. There, she completed a course in International Law and Diplomacy.

Bhutto returned to Pakistan in 1977, and was placed under house arrest after the military coup led by General Mohammad Zia ul-Haq overthrew her father’s government. One year after Zia ul-Haq became president in 1978, the elder Bhutto was hanged after his conviction on charges of authorizing the murder of an opponent. She inherited her father’s leadership of the PPP.

There was more family tragedy in 1980 when Bhutto’s brother Shahnawaz was killed in his apartment on the Riviera in 1980. The family insisted he was poisoned, but no charges were brought. Another brother, Murtaza, died in 1996 (while his sister was in power) in a gun battle with police in Karachi.

She moved to England in 1984, becoming the joint leader in exile of the PPP, then returned to Pakistan on April 10, 1986, to launch a nationwide campaign for ‘open elections.

She married a wealthy landowner, Asif Ali Zardari, in Karachi on December 18, 1987. The couple had three children: son Bilawal and two daughters, Bakhtawar and Aseefa.

Zia ul-Haq’s dictatorship ended when he was killed in a plane crash in 1988. And Bhutto was elected prime minister barely three months after giving birth to her first child. She became the first ever female prime minister of a Muslim nation on December 1, 1988. Bhutto was defeated in the 1990 election, and found herself in court defending herself against several charges of misconduct while in office. Bhutto continued to be a prominent focus of opposition discontent, and won a further election in 1993, but was replaced in 1996.While in self-imposed exile in Britain and Dubai, she was convicted in 1999 of corruption and sentenced to three years in prison. She continued to direct her party from abroad, being re-affirmed as PPP leader in 2002.

Bhutto returned to Pakistan on October 18, 2007, after President Musharraf granted her amnesty on all corruption charges, opening the way for her return and a possible power-sharing agreement.

Bhutto’s homecoming rally after eight years in exile was hit by a suicide attack, killing 136 people. She only survived after ducking down at the moment of impact behind her armored vehicle. Bhutto said it was Pakistan’s “blackest day” when Musharraf imposed a state of emergency Nov. 3 and threatened to bring her supporters on to the streets in mass demonstrations. She was placed under house arrest Nov. 9. Bhutto called for his resignation four days later. Emergency rule was lifted Dec.

Bhutto was killed when an assassin fired shots and then blew himself up after an election campaign rally in Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007. The attack also killed 28 others and wounded at least another 100. The attacker struck just minutes after Bhutto addressed a rally of thousands of supporters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, 8 miles south of Islamabad. She died after hitting her head on part of her vehicle’s sunroof — not as a result of bullets or shrapnel, a spokesman for Pakistan’s Interior Ministry said. President Musharraf said he had asked a team of investigators from Britain’s Scotland Yard to assist in the investigation into Bhutto’s killing. Hundreds of thousands of mourners paid last respects to former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on December 28, 2007 as she was buried at her family’s mausoleum in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh, the southern province of Sindh. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf announced three days of mourning. Bhutto’s husband, Asif Ali Zardari, her three children and her sister Sanam attended the burial. Bhutto was buried alongside her father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan’s first popularly elected prime minister who was later on executed by hanging.

The shooting and bombing attack on the charismatic former prime minister plunged Pakistan into turmoil. Pakistan is armed with nuclear weapons and is a key U.S. ally in the war on terrorism. Furious supporters rampaged through several cities, torching cars, trains and stores in violence that left at least 23 dead. Pakistan’s election commission announced January 2, 2008 that parliamentary elections would be postponed until February 18, a delay of six weeks. Bhutto reportedly had been planning to give two visiting American lawmakers a 160-page report accusing the Musharraf government of taking steps to rig the Jan. 8 vote.

“The United States strongly condemns this cowardly act by murderous extremists who are trying to undermine Pakistan’s democracy,” President Bush said from his ranch near Crawford, “Those who committed this crime must be brought to justice.”

Pakistan’s Interior Ministry also revealed that it had ”irrefutable evidence” showing that al Qaeda was behind Bhutto’s assassination. Brigadier Javed Iqbal Cheema said the government had recorded an “intelligence intercept” in which al Qaeda leader Baitullah Mehsud “congratulated his people for carrying out this cowardly act.” Mehsud is regarded as the commander of pro-Taliban forces in the lawless Pakistani tribal region South Waziristan, where al-Qaida fighters are also active. Mehsud has denied involvement.

Biography courtesy of BIO.com


The Bhuttos and their books

Over the past four decades, the name Bhutto has come to symbolize — depending on which version of history you believe — Pakistan. It has become our lot in life to obsess over the Bhuttos, discuss their macabre deaths — Zulfikar was hanged, Shah Nawaz poisoned, Murtaza and Benazir shot — and wonder how many more Bhuttos will come to rule over Pakistan.

The latest author to chronicle the Bhuttos is Fatima Bhutto, Murtaza’s daughter and the much-fawned over columnist and poet whose book, Songs of Blood and Sword: A Daughter’s Memoir, was recently released in Pakistan, India, and the United Kingdom. Songs of Blood and Sword is Fatima’s attempt at writing a memoir of her father, Mir Murtaza Bhutto, who died in 1996 when the Karachi police fired on his convoy while his sister, Benazir Bhutto, was prime minister.

On first read, this memoir often feels like a rehash of Daughter of the East, Benazir Bhutto’s 1988 autobiography that documented her life in prison under General Zia ul-Haq’s regime and the events that preceded it, including her father being hanged by Haq’s administration, simply because Fatima is as defensive of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s domestic and foreign policies as Benazir was.

But Fatima Bhutto’s grief is palpable on every page — anyone who has lost a parent can empathize with her pain, and anyone who hasn’t will still commiserate. But in her attempt to document her father’s life from his birth to his years in exile in Syria from the early 1980s and eventual return toPakistan in 1993, Fatima tries to wipe the slate clean and goes down the sameroute that Benazir did in Daughter of theEast: selectively using quotes from those who agree with her worldview.

Fatima traces Murtaza’s history and finds witty gems and beautiful ex-girlfriends as she travels to Boston and Athens to discover her father’s life. She finds professors reminiscing about their talented young student, and old friends sharing anecdotes and letters written by Zulfikar to Murtaza.

She writes at length about their shared memories, their bond as father and daughter, strengthened further by the fact that he brought her up almost single-handedly, since her parents divorced shortly after Shah Nawaz Bhutto’s death. Fatima’s account of their life in Damascus is poignant, peppered with their shared interests, anecdotes of Murtaza’s boisterous sense of humor and conversations about life and love. These parts are engaging, make for a compelling read and deserve to be documented. He writes a poem to her in a letter while he was in jail, excerpted here:

Here is a small one on Wadi [Benazir] and Slippery Joe [presumably Asif Ali Zardari, Benazir’s husband]
Inky, Pinky, Ponky
Her husband is a donkey
Both loot the country
Her husband is a monkey
Inky, Pinky, Ponky.

Fatima also paints a chilling narrative of the night Murtaza was shot dead along with several of his supporters, an account that explains why this book is laden with not-so-quiet rage. In the epilogue, she writes of an occasion when President Asif Ali Zardari and his entourage were being received at the British consulate, close to Fatima’s residence, as she stood at the same spot her father had been shot. "Here I was, standing where my father was murdered, and the man who I believe was in part responsible for the execution was across the road from me, being received diplomatically. I felt my knees buckle. I sat down on the curb."

She transports the reader back to the streets of Karachi and the frenzied scenes in the hospital where doctors tried to save Murtaza’s life. It is the story of yet another Bhutto trying to come to terms with yet another strange and unexpected death, the fourth in as many decades. These are the losses that have shaped Pakistan’s history to a great extent and will be an influential factor for the foreseeable future.

But given that this is a grieving daughter’s memoir of her father who was killed at the young age of 42, it is clear that she does not intend to criticize his actions in any way. Fatima Bhutto glosses over the time he spent in Libya as a guest of Colonel Gaddafi or in Kabul, as the alleged head of the Al-Zulfikar Organization (AZO) that was set up to avenge the death of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Unsurprisingly, Murtaza is absolved of all responsibility for AZO. The famed 1981 hijacking of a Pakistan International Airlines plane in Kabul that AZO took credit for is explained differently. Fatima quotes a friend of Murtaza’s extensively, who claims that the hijacker, Salamullah Tipu, was not a member of the AZO and that Murtaza was actually negotiating with the hijackers to release the women and children on board. It is an account that is widely disputed by former members of the AZO (Raja Anwar, The Terrorist Prince, 1997).

But in this new episode in the saga of the Bhutto dynasty that Fatima has chronicled, the blame — as well as the acerbic barbs and the retorts — are all directed at her aunt Benazir Bhutto. Fatima criticizes Benazir from her choice of room décor at the Bhuttos’ Karachi residence to Benazir’s decision to wear a headscarf and her wit — anecdotes all dissected to form a portrayal of a self-centered, power-hungry woman who Fatima squarely holds responsible for everything that has gone wrong in the Bhutto dynasty.

In her quest to absolve Murtaza of lingering criticism surrounding his name and paint Benazir as the "bad guy," Fatima blames her aunt for everything from Murtaza’s incarceration after he returned from exile, to alienating Nusrat Bhutto, Benazir’s mother and Fatima’s grandmother, from the PPP and being hungry for power. She does share anecdotes of her memories with her aunt, but writes that "since we returned to Pakisan I had seen a different, ugly side of my aunt," citing an incident where Fatima asked her to visit Murtaza in jail with her and Benazir refused, saying "I couldn’t get permission from the jail to come." Fatima couldn’t fathom this, given that Benazir was prime minister at the time, and writes, "I couldn’t shift the blame from her any more. She was involved. She was running the show." The final blow came after Murtaza’s death, when Benazir reportedly called his widow, Ghinwa, a ‘bellydancer’ from the ‘backwoods of Lebanon.’ Fatima writes, "After Papa was killed, I never saw that old Wadi again. She was gone."

In her quest though, Fatima even attempts to hold Benazir responsiblefor the death of Shah Nawaz, Benazir and Murtaza’s brother, who died under rather strange circumstances in France in 1985. (While the Bhutto family was on holiday in Cannes, where Shah Nawaz lived with his wife and daughter, they was alerted by his wife one morning that Shah Nawaz had "taken something" (p.250, Daughter of the East). They discovered he was dead, allegedly having taken poison, but the Bhutto family believes he was murdered while his wife was charged (and then cleared) with not assisting Shah Nawaz in time.) Her source? The observations of the lawyer Murtaza and Benazir engaged to fight the case in French courts, Jacques Verges. The insinuation that Benazir may have ordered Shah Nawaz’s killing and the remarks she chooses to include by Benazir (such as indulgent postcards she sent to Murtaza at university) sour the book. It no longer feels like a memoir, but yet another blame game in the history of the Bhutto family that is still at odds with each other. Their conflict shows no signs of dissipating or staying within the family. Last week, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s nephew Tariq Islam sent a letter to the Dawn newspaper disputing at least one account in Songs of Blood and Sword by quoting conversations he had with Zulfikar before Zulfikar was executed in 1979.

Fatima Bhutto’s rage at Benazir, who she believes was either involved in or complicit in covering up the killing of her father, Murtaza– the woman she once thought of as her favorite aunt — is understandable. But it is a niece’s anger, not a historian’s or a memoirist’s.

Songs of Blood and Sword is not, and should not be treated as, a chapter in the Bhuttos’ history. It is a self-serving charade discounting other versions or charactersbecause they do not fit with Fatima’s take on events that occurred in Murtaza’s life.

The book has reportedly sold well in Pakistan (ExpressTribune), but the reviews in the Pakistani press have been rather scathing (TheNews, Dawn, ExpressTribune). It is hard to gauge Pakistani public approval or disapproval of the book, given that Fatima Bhutto flew out of Pakistan for a book tour after it launched and has reportedly refused to sit down for face-to-face interviews with Pakistani journalists. Conventional readings and Q&A sessions would have given insights, but this is no conventional book. It will continue to sell well — anything with the Bhutto name does — but whether it can spark any negative public reaction to Fatima or Zardari remains to be seen.

Ultimately, Songs of Blood and Sword is yet another in the series of books written by the Bhuttos about their versions of history as they see it. Mark your calendars: 22 years from now, another Bhutto will be penning a memoir. As Tariq Islam says Zulfikar Ali Bhutto told him in jail, "I will go down in history. Songs will be written about me." He probably didn’t expect the songs would be written by members of his own family.

Over the past four decades, the name Bhutto has come to symbolize — depending on which version of history you believe — Pakistan. It has become our lot in life to obsess over the Bhuttos, discuss their macabre deaths — Zulfikar was hanged, Shah Nawaz poisoned, Murtaza and Benazir shot — and wonder how many more Bhuttos will come to rule over Pakistan.

The latest author to chronicle the Bhuttos is Fatima Bhutto, Murtaza’s daughter and the much-fawned over columnist and poet whose book, Songs of Blood and Sword: A Daughter’s Memoir, was recently released in Pakistan, India, and the United Kingdom. Songs of Blood and Sword is Fatima’s attempt at writing a memoir of her father, Mir Murtaza Bhutto, who died in 1996 when the Karachi police fired on his convoy while his sister, Benazir Bhutto, was prime minister.

On first read, this memoir often feels like a rehash of Daughter of the East, Benazir Bhutto’s 1988 autobiography that documented her life in prison under General Zia ul-Haq’s regime and the events that preceded it, including her father being hanged by Haq’s administration, simply because Fatima is as defensive of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s domestic and foreign policies as Benazir was.

But Fatima Bhutto’s grief is palpable on every page — anyone who has lost a parent can empathize with her pain, and anyone who hasn’t will still commiserate. But in her attempt to document her father’s life from his birth to his years in exile in Syria from the early 1980s and eventual return toPakistan in 1993, Fatima tries to wipe the slate clean and goes down the sameroute that Benazir did in Daughter of theEast: selectively using quotes from those who agree with her worldview.

Fatima traces Murtaza’s history and finds witty gems and beautiful ex-girlfriends as she travels to Boston and Athens to discover her father’s life. She finds professors reminiscing about their talented young student, and old friends sharing anecdotes and letters written by Zulfikar to Murtaza.

She writes at length about their shared memories, their bond as father and daughter, strengthened further by the fact that he brought her up almost single-handedly, since her parents divorced shortly after Shah Nawaz Bhutto’s death. Fatima’s account of their life in Damascus is poignant, peppered with their shared interests, anecdotes of Murtaza’s boisterous sense of humor and conversations about life and love. These parts are engaging, make for a compelling read and deserve to be documented. He writes a poem to her in a letter while he was in jail, excerpted here:

Here is a small one on Wadi [Benazir] and Slippery Joe [presumably Asif Ali Zardari, Benazir’s husband]
Inky, Pinky, Ponky
Her husband is a donkey
Both loot the country
Her husband is a monkey
Inky, Pinky, Ponky.

Fatima also paints a chilling narrative of the night Murtaza was shot dead along with several of his supporters, an account that explains why this book is laden with not-so-quiet rage. In the epilogue, she writes of an occasion when President Asif Ali Zardari and his entourage were being received at the British consulate, close to Fatima’s residence, as she stood at the same spot her father had been shot. "Here I was, standing where my father was murdered, and the man who I believe was in part responsible for the execution was across the road from me, being received diplomatically. I felt my knees buckle. I sat down on the curb."

She transports the reader back to the streets of Karachi and the frenzied scenes in the hospital where doctors tried to save Murtaza’s life. It is the story of yet another Bhutto trying to come to terms with yet another strange and unexpected death, the fourth in as many decades. These are the losses that have shaped Pakistan’s history to a great extent and will be an influential factor for the foreseeable future.

But given that this is a grieving daughter’s memoir of her father who was killed at the young age of 42, it is clear that she does not intend to criticize his actions in any way. Fatima Bhutto glosses over the time he spent in Libya as a guest of Colonel Gaddafi or in Kabul, as the alleged head of the Al-Zulfikar Organization (AZO) that was set up to avenge the death of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Unsurprisingly, Murtaza is absolved of all responsibility for AZO. The famed 1981 hijacking of a Pakistan International Airlines plane in Kabul that AZO took credit for is explained differently. Fatima quotes a friend of Murtaza’s extensively, who claims that the hijacker, Salamullah Tipu, was not a member of the AZO and that Murtaza was actually negotiating with the hijackers to release the women and children on board. It is an account that is widely disputed by former members of the AZO (Raja Anwar, The Terrorist Prince, 1997).

But in this new episode in the saga of the Bhutto dynasty that Fatima has chronicled, the blame — as well as the acerbic barbs and the retorts — are all directed at her aunt Benazir Bhutto. Fatima criticizes Benazir from her choice of room décor at the Bhuttos’ Karachi residence to Benazir’s decision to wear a headscarf and her wit — anecdotes all dissected to form a portrayal of a self-centered, power-hungry woman who Fatima squarely holds responsible for everything that has gone wrong in the Bhutto dynasty.

In her quest to absolve Murtaza of lingering criticism surrounding his name and paint Benazir as the "bad guy," Fatima blames her aunt for everything from Murtaza’s incarceration after he returned from exile, to alienating Nusrat Bhutto, Benazir’s mother and Fatima’s grandmother, from the PPP and being hungry for power. She does share anecdotes of her memories with her aunt, but writes that "since we returned to Pakisan I had seen a different, ugly side of my aunt," citing an incident where Fatima asked her to visit Murtaza in jail with her and Benazir refused, saying "I couldn’t get permission from the jail to come." Fatima couldn’t fathom this, given that Benazir was prime minister at the time, and writes, "I couldn’t shift the blame from her any more. She was involved. She was running the show." The final blow came after Murtaza’s death, when Benazir reportedly called his widow, Ghinwa, a ‘bellydancer’ from the ‘backwoods of Lebanon.’ Fatima writes, "After Papa was killed, I never saw that old Wadi again. She was gone."

In her quest though, Fatima even attempts to hold Benazir responsiblefor the death of Shah Nawaz, Benazir and Murtaza’s brother, who died under rather strange circumstances in France in 1985. (While the Bhutto family was on holiday in Cannes, where Shah Nawaz lived with his wife and daughter, they was alerted by his wife one morning that Shah Nawaz had "taken something" (p.250, Daughter of the East). They discovered he was dead, allegedly having taken poison, but the Bhutto family believes he was murdered while his wife was charged (and then cleared) with not assisting Shah Nawaz in time.) Her source? The observations of the lawyer Murtaza and Benazir engaged to fight the case in French courts, Jacques Verges. The insinuation that Benazir may have ordered Shah Nawaz’s killing and the remarks she chooses to include by Benazir (such as indulgent postcards she sent to Murtaza at university) sour the book. It no longer feels like a memoir, but yet another blame game in the history of the Bhutto family that is still at odds with each other. Their conflict shows no signs of dissipating or staying within the family. Last week, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s nephew Tariq Islam sent a letter to the Dawn newspaper disputing at least one account in Songs of Blood and Sword by quoting conversations he had with Zulfikar before Zulfikar was executed in 1979.

Fatima Bhutto’s rage at Benazir, who she believes was either involved in or complicit in covering up the killing of her father, Murtaza– the woman she once thought of as her favorite aunt — is understandable. But it is a niece’s anger, not a historian’s or a memoirist’s.

Songs of Blood and Sword is not, and should not be treated as, a chapter in the Bhuttos’ history. It is a self-serving charade discounting other versions or charactersbecause they do not fit with Fatima’s take on events that occurred in Murtaza’s life.

The book has reportedly sold well in Pakistan (ExpressTribune), but the reviews in the Pakistani press have been rather scathing (TheNews, Dawn, ExpressTribune). It is hard to gauge Pakistani public approval or disapproval of the book, given that Fatima Bhutto flew out of Pakistan for a book tour after it launched and has reportedly refused to sit down for face-to-face interviews with Pakistani journalists. Conventional readings and Q&A sessions would have given insights, but this is no conventional book. It will continue to sell well — anything with the Bhutto name does — but whether it can spark any negative public reaction to Fatima or Zardari remains to be seen.

Ultimately, Songs of Blood and Sword is yet another in the series of books written by the Bhuttos about their versions of history as they see it. Mark your calendars: 22 years from now, another Bhutto will be penning a memoir. As Tariq Islam says Zulfikar Ali Bhutto told him in jail, "I will go down in history. Songs will be written about me." He probably didn’t expect the songs would be written by members of his own family.


Contents

Bhutto had opted for self-exile while her court cases for corruption remained pending in foreign and Pakistani courts. [12] After eight years in exile in Dubai and London, Bhutto returned to Karachi on 18 October 2007 to prepare for the 2008 national elections, allowed by a possible power-sharing deal with President Pervez Musharraf. [5] [13]

Bhutto survived an assassination attempt in Karachi during this homecoming. [5] [14] [15] En route to a rally in Karachi on 18 October 2007, two explosions occurred shortly after she had landed and left Jinnah International Airport returning from her exile. [16] Bhutto was not injured, but the explosions, later found to be a suicide-bomb attack, killed 139 people and injured at least 450. [16] [17] The dead included at least 50 of the security guards from her Pakistan Peoples Party, who had formed a human chain around her truck to keep potential bombers away, as well as six police officers. [18] A number of senior officials were injured. Bhutto was escorted unharmed from the scene. [18]

After the bombing Bhutto and her husband asked Musharraf for greater security, including tinted windows, jammers for bombs, private guards, and four police vehicles. These calls were echoed by three U.S. Senators who wrote to Musharraf. Bhutto's supporters and the Pakistani government dispute whether or not she was provided adequate protection. [19] The Israeli newspaper Maariv reported that Bhutto further asked the United States' Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Britain's Scotland Yard, and Israel's Mossad several weeks before the assassination to help provide for her protection. Israel had not yet decided whether or not to provide aid because it did not want to upset relations with Pakistan and India. [20] Bhutto also tried to obtain private security personnel, approaching both the U.S.-based Blackwater and UK-based ArmorGroup. However, the Pakistani government refused to give visas to the foreign security contractors. Despite this, American diplomats provided Bhutto with confidential U.S. intelligence on threats against her. [21] After the assassination, President Musharraf denied that Bhutto should have received more security, saying that her death was primarily her own fault because she took "unnecessary risks" and should have exited the rally more quickly. [22]

Benazir Bhutto had just addressed a rally of Pakistan Peoples Party supporters in the city of Rawalpindi when the rally was rocked by an explosion. Initial police reports stated that one or more assassins fired at Bhutto's bulletproof white Toyota Land Cruiser just as she was about to drive off after the rally. [23] A suicide bomber detonating a bomb next to her vehicle followed. [24] According to Getty Images photographer John Moore, Bhutto was standing through her vehicle's sunroof to wave at supporters, and fell back inside after three gunshots. [7] [25] The Times of India aired an amateur clip showing the assassin firing three gun shots at Bhutto before the blast (video no longer available via India Times). [26] Various videos have surfaced on YouTube [27] [28] but sources are difficult to confirm.

Following the incident, an unconscious Bhutto was taken to the Rawalpindi General Hospital at 17:35 local time, [29] where doctors led by Rawalpindi Medical College Principal Mohammad Musaddiq Khan tried to resuscitate her, performing a "left anterolateral thoracotomy for open cardiac massage". [30] Sadiq Khan, Mohammad Khan's father, had tried to save Liaquat Ali Khan when he was assassinated in the same park and rushed to the same hospital in 1951. [31] Although Pakistan Peoples Party spokesman Farhatullah Babar initially said that Bhutto was safe, she was declared dead at 18:16 local time (13:16 UTC). [5] [32] [33]

Cause of death Edit

Bhutto's cause of death has been much discussed and debated. Some commentators suggested that this debate was motivated by attempts to define Bhutto's legacy: perhaps Bhutto would be considered a martyr if she died by gunshot, but not if she died by hitting her head following a bomb blast. [34] [35] Others asserted that the arguments against a death by gunshot were intended to blunt criticism that she was not adequately protected. [35]

Initial reports based on Pakistani Interior Ministry information reported that Bhutto was killed by a gunshot wound to the neck. Rehman Malik, a security adviser for Pakistan Peoples Party, suggested that the killer opened fire as Bhutto left the rally and that he hit her in the neck and chest before he detonated the explosives he was wearing. Javed Cheema, an interior ministry spokesman, stated that her injuries were caused either by her having been shot or from pellets packed into the detonated bomb that acted as shrapnel. [36]

On 28 December, however, the cause of Bhutto's death became less clear. Pakistan's Interior Ministry announced that they now felt Bhutto's death was as a result of a neck fracture sustained when she ducked or fell into her vehicle and hit the sunroof catch immediately after the gunshots but later reported her cause of death as a skull fracture. [37] [38] [39] According to an Associated Press report, the Ministry stated "Bhutto was killed when she tried to duck back into the vehicle, and the shock waves from the blast knocked her head into a lever attached to the sunroof, fracturing her skull." The Ministry further added, in contradiction of the official hospital account, that Bhutto suffered no gunshot or shrapnel injuries and that all gunshots missed her. [39]

Pakistan Peoples Party spokesman Farhatullah Babar rejected claims that Bhutto's death was caused by an accident. Bhutto's lawyer and a senior official in the Pakistan Peoples Party, Farooq Naik, said that the report was "baseless" and "a pack of lies". [40] He went on to support the view that the cause of death was two bullets hitting Bhutto in the abdomen and the head. [40] An anonymous Toyota official also rejected the notion that she could have even hit the lever based on its location in the car (a Toyota Land Cruiser). [41]

In statements made to Pakistan's The News, Mohammad Mussadiq Khan, one of the doctors who treated Bhutto at Rawalpindi General Hospital, described severe and depressed skull fractures, oval in overall shape, on the right side of Bhutto's head. [42] He apparently saw no other injuries and downplayed the possibility of bullet wounds, [43] although he had previously spoken of them. [44] One anonymous doctor said that Pakistani authorities took Bhutto's medical records immediately after her death, and that they told doctors to stop talking. [44]

On 31 December, Athar Minallah of the Rawalpindi General Hospital released a statement (described as "clinical notes") signed by seven persons involved in Bhutto's treatment at the hospital. [45] [46] [47] These persons were not pathologists and did not conduct a formal autopsy. The statement first narrates the course of treatment, from Bhutto's arrival at the hospital until she was declared dead. The second part of the statement details the head wound and notes that "Detailed external examination of the body did not reveal any other external injury". X-rays had been taken of the head wound and were interpreted in the statement. The cause of death was declared to be "Open head injury with depressed skull fracture, leading to cardiopulmonary arrest".

According to The Washington Post, the crime scene was cleared before any forensic examination could be completed and no formal autopsy was performed before burial. [48] Despite the ambiguity surrounding her death, Bhutto's husband Asif Zardari did not allow a formal autopsy to be conducted citing his fears regarding the procedure being carried out in Pakistan. [49]

On 1 January 2008, Pakistan's Interior Ministry backtracked on its statement that Benazir Bhutto had died from hitting her head on the sunroof latch. Ministry spokesman, Javed Iqbal Cheema said that the ministry would wait for forensic investigations before making a conclusion on Bhutto's cause of death. [50]

On 8 February 2008, investigators from Scotland Yard concluded that Benazir Bhutto died after hitting her head as she was tossed by the force of a suicide blast, not from an assassin's bullet. However, as quoted in an article in The New York Times: "It is unclear how the Scotland Yard investigators reached such conclusive findings absent autopsy results or other potentially important evidence that was washed away by cleanup crews in the immediate aftermath of the blast." [51] In the report, UK Home Office pathologist Nathaniel Cary said that while a gunshot wound to her head or trunk could not be entirely excluded as a possibility, "the only tenable cause for the rapidly fatal head injury in this case is that it occurred as the result of impact due to the effects of the bomb-blast." [52] The findings were consistent with the Pakistani government's explanation of Bhutto's assassination, an account that had been greeted with disbelief by Bhutto's supporters.

Funeral Edit

Bhutto's funeral occurred on the afternoon of 28 December 2007. Her body was moved from Chaklala Airbase in Rawalpindi to Sukkur Airport on 28 December at 01:20. Both her children and her husband travelled with her body. Earlier they reached Chaklala Air Base by a special flight to get her body. [5] Mourners from all over Pakistan made their way to Larkana to take part in the funeral ceremony for the former Prime Minister. The family delivered the body to its site of burial via helicopter. Bhutto was laid to rest beside her father in the family tomb. [53]

Riots Edit

After Bhutto's death, supporters wept and broke the hospital's glass doors, threw stones at cars, and reportedly chanted "Dog, Musharraf, dog" outside the hospital, referring to President Musharraf. [5] [24] [54] Others attacked police and burned election campaign posters and tyres. [55] Some opposition groups said that the assassination could lead to civil war, and other commentators said that the upcoming elections would likely be postponed. [56]

Demonstrations were widespread in Pakistan with police using tear gas and batons to break up angry demonstrations in Peshawar. [5] Some protesters torched the billboards of Musharraf, firing in the air and screaming. Protests in Multan also had protesters burning tires and blocking traffic. Similar scenes were witnessed in Karachi, Bhutto's home city. [57] Police in Sindh were put on red alert. [58] Two police officers were shot in Karachi during the riots following the assassination. [59]

Musharraf ordered a crackdown on rioters and looters to "ensure safety and security." [60] The Pakistan Rangers announced shoot-on-sight orders against anyone inciting violence or arson, although attempts to avoid direct confrontation were maintained. On 28 December the riots deteriorated, especially in the Sindh Province, the homeground of Bhutto. Foreign outlets, trains, banks and vehicles were destroyed or burned and protesters took over the streets, chanting slogans and setting tires on fire in several cities. At least 47 people died in the riots. [61] Rioters destroyed 176 banks, 34 gasoline stations and hundreds of cars and shops. [61] 28 December was the first day of a general strike called by many groups, ranging from political parties to various professional groups.

Then it was the banks mainly in Sind. They were attacked and the buildings were burned in many cities of Sind. Most of the automated teller machines were destroyed. In some places, people were lucky to bring some money home.

Hundreds of private buses were burned in all parts of the country. There were also incidents of burning of trains in Sind. According to the Daily Jang:

Twenty-eight railway stations, 13 railway engines and seven trains were burned resulting over three billion rupees' loss. The whole rail system had collapsed since the night of December 27. Thousands of passengers were on the railway stations waiting for restoration. There were no sign of restoration for some days. Thousands of private cars were also damaged all over Pakistan by the angry mobs, mainly youth. The houses and offices of politicians, local government mayors and administration were the other victims of the mass reaction. They were either burned or damaged.

Over 100 people died in the incidents related to mass protest, either by police or in the crossfire of different groups.

Pakistan Peoples Party Edit

Bhutto's son, Bilawal Zardari, read her instructions on the future of the Pakistan Peoples Party on 30 December. [62] In that will, she had designated her husband Asif Ali Zardari as her political successor but Zardari made their then nineteen-year-old son, Bilawal, the Chairman of the PPP as Zardari favoured their son to represent Bhutto's legacy, in part to avoid division within the party due to his own unpopularity and he serve as Co-Chairman of the PPP. [63] [64] [65]

Elections and electoral fraud report Edit

Pakistan's election commission met on 31 December to decide whether or not to delay the January elections two days before they hinted that they would need to because pre-election preparation had been "adversely affected". [66] A senior election commission official subsequently announced that the election would be delayed until "the later part of February". [67]

Senator Latif Khosa, one of Bhutto's top aides, reported that she was planning to divulge evidence of fraud in the upcoming election following the event where the assassination took place. The pair co-wrote a 160-page dossier on the subject, with Bhutto outlining tactics she alleged would be put into play, including intimidation, excluding voters and fake ballots being planted in boxes. The report was titled Yet another stain on the face of democracy. In a statement he made on 1 January 2008, Khosa said:

The state agencies are manipulating the whole process, there is rigging by the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence), the Election Commission and the previous government, which is still continuing to hold influence. They were on the rampage. [68]

Khosa said that they had planned to give the dossier to two American lawmakers on the evening of her assassination and release it publicly soon after that. One of the claims in the dossier was that US financial aid had been secretly misappropriated for electoral fraud and another was that the ISI has a 'mega-computer' which could hack into any other computer and was connected to the Election Commission's system. A spokesman for President Musharraf called the claims "ridiculous". [68]

In the run up to the election, the 'sympathy vote' was considered crucial for the Pakistan Peoples Party, which was expected to win the National Assembly. [69] [70] The election results yielded a majority for the Pakistan Peoples Party in the National Assembly, and in the Provincial Assembly of Sindh. [71]

Economy Edit

Following a three-day shut-down, the benchmark index, the KSE100 index, of the Karachi Stock Exchange fell 4.7%. The Pakistani rupee fell to its lowest level against the U.S. dollar since October 2001. [72] The stock exchange has a history of recovering after political unrest. [73] The Pakistan Railways suffered losses of PKR 12.3 billion as a direct result of riots following the assassination. [74] Sixty-three railway stations, 149 bogies, and 29 locomotives were damaged within two days of Bhutto's death. [75] In the first four days after the assassination, Karachi suffered losses of US$1 billion. [74] By the fifth day, the cost of country-wide violence amounted to 8% of the GDP. [76]

Adnkronos claimed that al-Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri ordered the killing in October 2007. [77] [78] U.S. intelligence officials have said that they cannot confirm this claim of responsibility. [79] Nonetheless, U.S. analysts have said that al-Qaeda was a likely, or even prime suspect. [79] [80] For its part, the Pakistani Interior Ministry (of the previous Musharraf administration) stated that it had proof that al-Qaeda was behind the assassination, stating "that the suicide bomber belonged to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi—an al Qaeda-linked Sunni Muslim militant group that the government has blamed for hundreds of killings". [39] [81] The Interior Ministry also claimed to have intercepted a statement by militant leader Baitullah Mehsud, said to be linked to al-Qaeda, in which he congratulated his followers for carrying out the assassination. [82] [83] On 29 December a Mehsud spokesman told the Associated Press that Mehsud was not involved in the assassination: [84] "I strongly deny it. Tribal people have their own customs. We don't strike women. It is a conspiracy by government, military and intelligence agencies." [85] The Pakistan Peoples Party also called the government's blame of Mehsud a diversion: "The story that al-Qaida or Baitullah Mehsud did it appears to us to be a planted story, an incorrect story, because they want to divert the attention," said Farhatullah Babar, a spokesman for Bhutto's party. [84] [86] On 18 January 2008, CIA Director Michael Hayden claimed that Mehsud and his network was responsible. [87]

Bhutto, in a letter to Musharraf written on 16 October 2007, named four persons involved in an alleged plot to kill her: current Intelligence Bureau (IB) Chief Ijaz Shah, former chief minister of Punjab Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, former chief minister of Sindh Arbab Ghulam Rahim, and the former ISI chief, Hamid Gul, as those who posed a threat to her life. [88] British newspaper The Times suggested that elements within the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence with close ties to Islamists might have been behind the killing, though it asserts that Musharraf would have been unlikely to have ordered the assassination. [89] October 2007 emails from Bhutto saying she would blame Musharraf for her death if she were killed, because the Musharraf government was not providing adequate security, were also published after Bhutto's death. [19] [90] [91] Soon after the killing, many of Bhutto's supporters believed that the Musharraf government was involved in the assassination. [92] On 30 December Scotland on Sunday quoted MI5 sources saying that factions of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence may be responsible for the assassination. [93]

United Nations inquiry Edit

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced on 5 February 2009 to send a commission to investigate Benazir Bhutto's assassination on Government of Pakistan's request. Armed with a modest mandate and a limited timeframe, a three-member team arrived at Islamabad on 16 July 2009. The unit, headed by the Chilean diplomat Heraldo Muñoz, found themselves plunged into a murky world of conspiracy theories, power politics and conflicting agendas. Muñoz was supported by the Indonesian official Marzuki Darusman and Peter Fitzgerald, a retired Irish police officer who headed the initial inquiry into the assassination of Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri in 2005.

The UN was asked to send a team to dispel away a conspiracy theory claiming that Zardari himself orchestrated his wife's death a notion most analysts dismissed because of absence of any concrete evidence. Basically the UN team's mandate was to "establish the facts and circumstances of the assassination" and not to undertake a criminal investigation, which remained responsibility of the Pakistani authorities. [94]

A formal investigation by the United Nations commenced. [95] The report concluded that the security measures provided to Bhutto by the government were "fatally insufficient and ineffective". [96] Furthermore, the report states that the treatment of the crime scene after her death "goes beyond mere incompetence". [96] The report states that "police actions and omissions, including the hosing down of the crime scene and failure to collect and preserve evidence, inflicted irreparable damage to the investigation." [96]

The UN Commission in its report mentioned that: A range of government officials failed profoundly in their efforts first to protect Ms Bhutto and second to investigate with vigour all those responsible for her murder, not only in the execution of the attack, but also in its conception, planning and financing.

Responsibility for Ms Bhutto's security on the day of her assassination rested with the Federal Government, the government of Punjab and the Rawalpindi District Police. None of these entities took necessary measures to respond to the extraordinary and urgent security risks that they knew she faced.

In short among other failings: the police co-ordinated poorly with the PPP's own security police escort units did not protect Ms Bhutto's vehicle as tasked parked police vehicles blocked the emergency route and, the police took grossly inadequate steps to clear the crowd so that Ms Bhutto's vehicle would have safe passage on leaving Liaquat Bagh. The performance of individual police officers and police leadership was poor in areas of forward planning, accountability and command and control.

The heroism of individual PPP supporters, many of whom sacrificed themselves to protect Ms Bhutto should have been properly canalised by the Chief of PPP's security [Mr Rehman Malik]. More serious, Ms Bhutto was left vulnerable in a severely damaged vehicle by the irresponsible and hasty departure of the bullet-proof Mercedes-Benz which, as the back-up vehicle, was an essential part of her convoy [perhaps purposefully taken away by Rehman Malik, Babar Awan & Farhatullah Babar].

. The collection of 23 pieces of evidence was manifestly inadequate in a case that should have resulted in thousands. Hosing down the crime scene so soon after the blast goes beyond mere incompetence and needed fixing criminal responsibility on many.

The deliberate prevention by CPO Saud Aziz of a post mortem examination of Ms Bhutto hindered a definitive determination of the cause of her death. It was patently unrealistic for the CPO to expect that Mr Zardari would allow an autopsy on his arrival in Pakistan while in the meantime her remains had been placed in a coffin and brought to the airport. The autopsy should have been carried out at RGH long before Mr Zardari arrived. The Commission was persuaded that the Rawalpindi police chief, CPO Saud Aziz, did not act independently of higher authorities, either in the decision to hose down the crime scene or to impede the post-mortem examination. [97]

Official indictment Edit

On 5 November 2011, a Pakistani court indicted two police officers in connection with Bhutto's 2007 assassination in Rawalpindi, among them the former police chief of the city. The two men were in charge of the former prime minister's security and have been previously arrested charged with "conspiracy as well as abetment in the murder" and "changing the security plan". A further 5 men have also been indicted all of whom are believed to have been affiliated with Beitullah Mehsud, the Pakistani Taliban leader blamed by the government for the attack. On 20 August 2013 ex-President Pervez Musharraf, was indicted on three chargers for murder, conspiracy to murder, and facilitation of murder in connection with his alleged failure to provide adequate security for Bhutto—charges for which he is reportedly denying responsibility. [98] [99] [100]

On 31 August 2017, a Pakistani anti-terrorism court declared Musharraf as a fugitive in Bhutto's murder and acquitted five suspected Pakistani Taliban of conspiracy to murder due to lack of evidence, and two high-ranking police officers have been sentenced to 17 years in prison, one for mishandling security at the Bhutto rally and the another for mishandling the crime scene. [101] [102] [103] On 16 December 2019, Musharraf, in exile for hospitalization in Dubai, was sentenced to death in Pakistan in absentia for high treason, for suspending the constitution and imposing a state of emergency a decade early, with right of appeal. [104] The United Arab Emirates has no current extradition with Pakistan, though Sharaf's poor health prevents him from being moved even if there was.

Pakistani government Edit

According to state television, Musharraf held an emergency cabinet meeting after he received word of the blast. He then addressed the nation, saying that "We shall not rest till we tackle this problem and eliminate all the terrorists. This is the only way the nation will be able to move forward, otherwise this will be the biggest obstacle to our advancement." [105] In a televised address, President Musharraf publicly condemned the killing of Bhutto, proclaiming a three-day mourning period with all national flags at half-mast. [106] Mahmud Ali Durrani, the Pakistani ambassador to the United States, called Bhutto's death "a national tragedy" and stated that ". we have lost one of our important, very important and, I would stress, liberal leaders." [33]

Opposition Edit

Nawaz Sharif was the first mainstream political leader to reach the hospital and express his solidarity with Bhutto's family and political workers. [107] He vowed to "fight your [Bhutto's] war from now on" and calling the day of her assassination the "darkest, gloomiest day in the history of this country". [105] [108] Despite extreme political enmity between the two leaders during the 1990s, both vowed to introduce politics of tolerance before returning from exile and had earlier signed the Charter of Democracy. After signing the charter, they said that they would work for an end to the rule of President Musharraf. [109] Earlier in the day, Nawaz Sharif's political meeting had also been shot at, resulting in the death of four people. [110]

Chairman Imran Khan of the Tehreek-e-Insaf party strongly condemned the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. "It is a dastardly act designed to destabilise Pakistan with the government responsible for not providing her security though she was demanding it. We must fight this menace of terrorism. It is a black day in the history of Pakistan and an irreparable loss to this country," Khan said. [111]

Pakistan Peoples Party Washington, D.C. chapter president Javaid Manzoor said, "We [Bhutto's supporters] are shocked. We are stunned. Every single one of us is mourning the loss of our leader," also stating that he believed that the next election, scheduled for 8 January would be cancelled. [24] Pakistan Peoples Party senior vice chairman Ameen Faheem later called for a 40-day period of mourning across Pakistan. [112] Pakistan Peoples Party spokesman Farhatullah Babar said the Pakistan Peoples Party was unhappy with the government's declaration of the death coming as a result of an accident and said that the Pakistan Peoples Party wanted to see a change in the direction of the investigation. He called for an independent inquiry into the assassination by international experts. He also said that "had the government accepted our demand of conducting an inquiry into Karachi's 18 October blast by international experts, this incident would not have happened." [113]

International reaction Edit

Bhutto's assassination was met with widespread condemnation by members of the international community, [105] including Pakistan's regional neighbours Afghanistan, [105] China, [114] India, [105] [115] Bangladesh and Iran. [33] [105] Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh praised Bhutto's efforts for the improvement of Indo-Pakistani relations. [105] [115] The United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting and unanimously condemned the assassination, [116] a call echoed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. [117]


From sloggers to celebrities

By Sherry Rehman

IF there is one reality that defines Pakistan’s media consistently across seven decades, it is its commercially powered growth. In 70 years it has mutated in quantum stages to multiple levels. The pen that used to be mightier than the sword has become a nano-chip-powered lightsabre. Today the media is very different from the entity that lived and breathed through the printed word alone.

In the 1970s or ’80s, when I was struggling to find my voice, Pakistan Television monopolised the airwaves, and the print media’s message was refracted to literate, if not educated, elites. At that point, its power and scale were both at another platform. Despite being controlled and smaller in scale, the mission statement was about telling truth to power, not brokering it.

As we speak, in its new electronic or digital avatar, the media is inside our living rooms, our smart phones and our heads. It is often the persistent voice bombarding us with information overload and shrill opinion, or the quiet algorithm curating and culling what we read in the digital world. Not all the changed hard-wiring is entirely sinister, or a conspiracy to strip readers and viewers of choice and knowledge, but certainly a darker labyrinth to navigate.

It wasn’t always like this of course. The journey from newspaper to television to the social media, all vying for space in a crowded information environment took a few decades, but it brought the spectrum light years away from its vintage days as I like to call it. As a budding journalist myself in the pre-private channel days, I am grateful that a high learning curve was literally forced on one, as was the ability to build context and to try and locate the story behind the headline.

The political landscape was not complicated for those who spoke out or fought authoritarianism. After 1977, for 11 long years when General Zia dictated Pakistan’s big choices, despite the political darkness, the beacon-call of values confronted every decision. Every era demands its own clarity and courage, but to me this one felt like Pakistan’s darkest night. The line between political activism and professional journalism often blurred at the press clubs.

There was always tension between the media and government, the owner and the professional. Like any media in the world, Pakistan’s too always walked a tightrope between its mission statement and its business plan. There were many definitions of what the media was supposed to do. Yet in the moral universe we inhabited, outside the shadowy world of yellow or paid journalism, we all had rough agreement on one rule: that the media was supposed to be a watchdog for the public, holding both a mirror to society and making government answerable. To many of my heroes who plied the tradecraft, it was a calling, not just a smart career choice.

Much of that changed when two things re-defined Pakistan. One was controlled democracy, which as a form of government was restored in 1988, but remained hostage to a strong civil-military establishment axis that still wielded constitutional power to dismiss elected governments. This dynamic by itself changed the nature of the state’s relationship with the media. As governments eased back on restrictions, cacophony often replaced checked content. In the best cases, courageous rites of confrontation with dictator-led regimes were replaced by investigative but also other less robust types of mainstream reporting. Largely, in the absence of publicly shared facts, as covert policy-plays and information famines became the norm, the media reports that gained most currency were the ones that predicted different outcomes. In this context of serial uncertainty, the media changed. It became a site for endless speculation which it has refined to a lesser art to this day.

The other big change that re-tooled the Pakistan media was the opening up of the licensing regime for the air waves which broke the state monopoly on television with permissions to air for the BBC, the CNN and a local private channel. These baby steps should have heralded incremental change, which would have perhaps tempered growth with quality. Instead, another dictator, this time Pervez Musharraf, in an attempt to buy favour with the media, opened the floodgates to TV channel licenses without regulating the business. Media houses that could once only run a few newspapers grew into cross-media juggernauts, empires that small independent media could not hope to challenge for resources. Flash celebrity journalism replaced the daily slogger. In the space of one decade, Pakistan’s media turned into a huge window of social and political churn.

While remarkable changes in Pakistan’s media have transformed its vast axis and peripheries, to my mind, at its core sits the professional journalist, who still fights a daily battle for survival. From the dangers of frontline reporting, both in traditional war zones and complex urban battlegrounds, Pakistan’s battle against violent extremism has re-set the terms journalists have to ply. Thousands of journalists have become a statistic in the roll-call of silenced voices.

Ironically, high risk has brought with it a new breed of valour. With self-censorship in such a predatory, unprotected environment where the battlefield can be anywhere, the truth could have become a terrible, endangered casualty. But it hasn’t, because the urge to out the real story behind the muffled one still excites many journalists. Today the bodycount and bloodspill of the Pakistani media ranks high in international metrics for professional bravery. Counter-intuitively, the fragility of a life in journalism is much higher than it was in times where the state was the only repressor.

At no point in our history, though, was any media house a temple to abstract virtue. In the pre-television days, the media was often or primarily a business, and, equally, a bargaining chip for power. Yet even as a commercial venture, or pathway to power, the proprietor, as the owner was known, was conscious of the nature of the business. It was never a widget or tool-factory. The newspaper traded in ideas, information, and, at best, knowledge. It had to embrace values or reject them every single day. Ethical, moral choices over what to print, or what not to print, defined a professional’s daily universe.

The choices are made even today, except with a difference. Today, unlike before when policy was a yearly discussion between editor and owner, the new normal for red lines between the executive and editorial have totally blurred. The average proprietor sets the daily terms of engagement for news content. Exceptions, like the Dawn, maintain separation of powers, but largely the owner-editor is a phone line away, where advice from various places informs output.

Global trends don’t help. A new frontier of alternative facts and ‘post-truth societies’ set at least my teeth against the digital leash that allows truth to become real just because it is repeated enough. But hope, like data, springs eternal. The good news is that the truth like this cliché, is always out there, even if only in analogue reality, and there are journalists who clearly know that it must not become fungible like money. A story or news show may spurt its froth, but the core will find its hydraulic way to the surface, even if it is coloured.

The dangers of modern-day televangelism, though, is a whole different op-ed.

The writer, a Senator, is former editor of the Herald, and has served as Pakistan’s Information Minister and Ambassador to the USA. She is Chair of the Jinnah Institute and Vice-President of the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians.

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Benazir Bhutto - HISTORY


Benazir Bhutto 1953 - 2007

Ms Bhutto was the Prime Minister of Pakistan


Let's try to wrap our little heads around the historical significance of this fact:

Benazir Bhutto visited the Fourth World Conference on Women, which was held September 4 to 15, 1995, at Beijing, China. There, Bhutto delivered her Equality and Partnership speech on the first day of the conference.

Hilary Clinton followed up with a speech of her own on the 5th, titled Women's Rights Are Human Rights .

And later, Bella Abzug had the mic and delivered her Women Will Not Stop speech.

Eventually, things got a little bit too bumpy in the political arena and Bhutto fled to Dubai where she should have stayed. But Ms Bhutto returned to Karachi, Pakistan, where she was assassinated on December 27, 2007.

An assassination attempt on Bhutto was made on October 18, 2007, in Karachi, Pakistan. The following details are quoted from the bible for bodyguards, Just 2 Seconds by Gavin de Becker.

Bhutto was riding in an armored bus in a slow moving motorcade. A suicide bomber threw a hand grenade, which exploded in front of her bus. Another suicide bomber then detonated his larger bomb, which destroyed two escorting police vans. There were also reports of gunfire.

The attack reportedly killed 140 and wounded 500. Bhutto was not injured. She blamed the government for turning off streetlights, making it more difficult for security guards to spot potential attackers, and suggested that officials did not act on information she passed on about planned attacks.

On December 27, 2007, another assassination attempt in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, was successful.

Bhutto had finished addressing a rally of Pakistan People's Party (PPP) supporters and was leaving the scene in her armored Toyota Land Cruiser when the attack occurred.

Bhutto was standing through the sunroof of the vehicle when an attacker fired three two shots at her. Another attacker then detonated an explosive device next to the vehicle, killing himself and 20 other people. At least 40 people were injured. Bhutto was declared dead at the Rawalpindi General Hospital.

Initial reports indicated she had been shot in the head. Then her death was blamed on her hitting her head on a metal crank for the sunroof when she fell through the opening. Pakistani intelligence officials blamed the attack on al-Qaeda terrorists.

Disputes as to the cause of her death and who was to blame still remain.

On November 5, 2011, a Pakistani court indicted five militants and two police officers in Bhutto's assassination. Justice Shahid Rafique charged all seven men with criminal conspiracy and murder.

The five militants are Sher Zaman, Hasnain Gul, Rafaqat Hussain, Abdul Rasheed and Aitzaz Shah. The two police officers are Saud Aziz, who was the Rawalpindi police chief at the time of the killing, and Khurram Shahzad, another senior officer.


Benazir Bhutto was bisexual and had a libertine sex life: Book

Recently, Pakistan People’s Party filed a complaint with the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) cybercrime wing against Cynthia D Ritchie, a blogger from the US who has based herself in Pakistan, for “hateful comments and slander” against former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. To buttress her point about the Bhuttos, Ritchie posted the front page of the book Indecent Correspondence: Secret sex life of Benazir Bhutto, written by Roshan Mirza, a Pakistani author.

Indecent Correspondence unfolds the secret lives of some very high-profile people from Pakistan. According to the author, sex parties were organised and very powerful and influential people took part in such events. The author claims “it’s much more than some usual sex affairs!”

This book has included the e-mail correspondence made between various participants of this secret lifestyle. This correspondence explicitly describes how some people from the top echelon of a political dynasty were/are engaged in such strange and shocking activities that no one could have ever imagined!

Kiran Yusufzai, one of the participants, in such parties, writes:

I am highly indebted to Sherry Rehman. She showed me and opened up a whole world of sexuality for me. Sexual dimensions which I never thought existed – enriched my life with her help. We started making around when I was at Herald. Initially it was a lesbian romp. But then I attended a few private parties with her and then I was introduced to a swinging lifestyle. She is very dominant but caring during sex.

You will experience with her true heights of wild love and passion. I greatly admire Benazir Bhutto. She had a libertine sex life. She was a bisexual and participated in swingers’ sex parties. Aunty Sherry introduced me to Benazir, when she arranged a sex party in UK. Benazir was really without example, unique with no parallel. My life’s greatest moments were making love with Benazir. I am honored and privileged to have done it. My only regret is that I only got the opportunity four times. Each and every occasion is burnt in my mind and soul. It would live forever with me as a cherished possession of my life.


The Legacy of Benazir Bhutto

KARACHI, Pakistan — Seven years have passed since Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan’s former prime minister, was assassinated in Rawalpindi, on Dec. 27, 2007. Her legacy and significance in world history continue to hold a special place in the hearts of the millions of Pakistanis who mourn her death as much as they mourn the death of the dream of what Pakistan might have been had she lived to rule the country just one more time.

As with that of many political icons, Ms. Bhutto’s sudden death left a void in both leadership and inspiration no politician in Pakistan has been able to fill it. She also left behind a checkered past, with allegations of corruption that still linger, unproved in court for lack of evidence. The two governments she led were dismissed on corruption charges, and she was accused of amassing a large personal fortune for her own family while doing far too little to alleviate the burdens of Pakistan’s poor.

In her own life, she carved out a brilliant academic career at Harvard and Oxford, and political achievements of undeniable import as the daughter of an assassinated prime minister battling to restore democracy in Pakistan later, she became the first woman elected to lead a Muslim country. She inhabited a marriage that puzzled people as much as it fascinated them — to a controversial man who ruled Pakistan in her name for years after her death. She raised a son and two daughters, who now strive, with mixed results, to serve the Pakistani people she claimed to have lived for.

Yet Ms. Bhutto left behind more than success or scandal. In her wake are the millions of Pakistani girls and women who look at her life, her determination, her perseverance in the face of all odds. They appropriate even the smallest part of these elements of her life and add it to the blueprint they envision for their own. And they thrill to the idea, still radical in Pakistan 40 years after Ms. Bhutto began her political career, that gender doesn’t have to stop them from achieving their dreams.

One of the more literal examples of Ms. Bhutto’s legacy that helps Pakistani women is the Benazir Income Support Program, which distributes cash, without conditions, to low-income families throughout Pakistan. These poorest of the poor, 5.5 million families in 2013, receive 1,200 Pakistani rupees — about $12 — twice monthly, most of which is spent on food. Ms. Bhutto worked on the vision, concept and design of the program with a renowned Pakistani economist, Dr. Kaiser Bengali. After her death, the initiative was enacted by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, but named after Ms. Bhutto by her widower, President Asif Ali Zardari, as a tribute to her.

The program isn’t without flaws critics have said that it is meant to influence voters at election time, that political influence skews which families are eligible to be recipients, and the fact that most of the assistance is nonconditional renders it ineffective (a subprogram gives families more cash if they enroll their children in primary school).

But there is also a revolutionary side to the scheme: The cash is transferred into the bank account of a woman in the family, not a man. Placing spending power directly into the hands of poor Pakistani women empowers them on many levels: They become decision makers within the family, and their respect and value increase in the community. To obtain the cash, they are required to get national identity cards and bank accounts as a result, they achieve a level of citizenship and fiscal identity denied to previous generations, when the births and deaths of women were rarely registered in official records.

While mothers are being helped by the program, their daughters are going to school in even greater numbers than before, thanks to the many awareness campaigns and education drives underway in Pakistan. Many of these girls regard Benazir Bhutto as an inspiration for their own educational paths. Malala Yousafzai, Pakistan’s most famous schoolgirl, cites Ms. Bhutto as her personal idol, and wore Ms. Bhutto’s white shawl when she addressed the United Nations in 2013.

Young women attend classes at the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology, which Ms. Bhutto established in her father’s name, in Karachi, Islamabad, Hyderabad and Larkana. There, they study law, media, computer engineering and more. Ms. Bhutto’s university-educated daughters, Asifa and Bakhtawar, today publicly encourage Pakistani girls to go to school so that they, too, may one day serve the nation as educated, empowered women.

The daughter of a privileged landowning family, Ms. Bhutto nevertheless fought against the conservative social mores of her environment, in which rich girls could go to school but grown women were expected to run a house and raise a family, no matter how educated they were. She herself returned to Pakistan after her studies, and entered politics, heading the Pakistan Peoples Party in its now-celebrated struggle in the 1980s against the dictator Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq.

She endured house arrest and exile throughout her political career, overcame the powerful mullahs’ objections to a woman’s ruling an Islamic nation, and won admirers all over the world for her political skills and compassion. Even after her death, she serves as the ultimate mentor to Pakistani girls and women who want to set the course of their lives for themselves, instead of having it dictated to them.

What might have happened in Pakistan had Ms. Bhutto been elected for a third term will remain an unanswerable question. Her personal and political legacy is full of contradictions and complexities that will continue to be examined by earnest historians, mined by rapacious politicians, venerated by her supporters and picked apart by her detractors.

Yet she emboldened the heart of every girl and woman in Pakistan who was ever told that being a woman precluded her from a lifetime of accomplishment, service and worth. This was her greatest legacy.

Bina Shah is the author of several books of fiction, including, most recently, “A Season for Martyrs.”


Benazir Bhutto - HISTORY

For the jiyalas of Lahore, April 10, 1986 was a celebration: after over two years in exile, having left Pakistan on January 10, 1984, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairperson Benazir Bhutto was returning to Pakistan and landing in their city. Amidst the tussle between President General Ziaul Haq and Prime Minister Mohammad Khan Junejo, an old foe was back.

Before departing London for Lahore, Benazir had already sent a message to the Pakistani leadership through a statement issued in the Times of London. She said that she did not believe in the politics of revenge rather, she was returning to have democracy restored and to work towards building the country afresh.

But her arrival in Lahore drew a huge crowd of PPP supporters to receive her. After staying in Lahore for a day, she travelled to various towns in Punjab and addressed large gatherings. This sent a clear message to Gen Zia, who did not want any political activity at that point since he had already held polls on non-party basis and was locked in a battle with PM Junejo over the restoration of political parties.

Soon enough, the general began consulting colleagues on how to deal with two opponents at the same time: PM Junejo and PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto.

A month after arriving in Lahore, Benazir arrived in Karachi on May 3, 1986 to a rapturous response. Her reception procession took eight hours to reach the public meeting venue near Quaid-i-Azam mausoleum from Karachi airport. The general did not waste any time and issued a statement warning the PPP leadership that if any confrontation took place, he would clamp down with another martial law that would be stiffer than the previous one.

Soon enough, the general began consulting colleagues on how to deal with two opponents at the same time: PM Junejo and PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto.

From the next day, Benazir began meeting party leaders. It appeared that she wanted to reorganise the PPP on a pattern that met the demands of the new political atmosphere and infused people with a sense of confidence in democracy. She knew that her workers were the asset of the party, but she was also aware of the ‘uncles’ who wanted her to toe their line.

Nonetheless, this was a changed Benazir, who knew perfectly what to do and which end to meet. The trials and tribulations of the past decade had taught her much. She knew the way to struggle and how to survive.

Benazir decided to celebrate Independence Day on August 13 and 14 in a befitting manner. The Sindh government received reports that she might undertake a detailed tour of the province, and it subsequently banned her movement while she was still in Karachi.

Nonetheless, Benazir had made alternative plans to address a public meeting on August 14 at the Kikri Ground in Lyari. That too was banned under Section 144 in fact, any meeting of more than five people was prohibited in Karachi and many other districts of Sindh.

Meanwhile, PM Junejo was making his efforts to manage various government departments. He sought details of the ongoing talks between Afghanistan and Pakistan through United Nations. Till then, the Afghanistan issue was being handled solely by Gen Zia, who considered it a great personal service to Islam.

On the insistence of the United States (US), the United Nations (UN) had passed a resolution condemning the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and called for the withdrawal of Soviet troops and return of democracy. In June 1982, Diego Cordovez was appointed as the personal representative of the UN secretary-general, with the sole purpose of pushing through talks about Afghanistan.

Discussions began the same month in Geneva. Indirect talks between Pakistan and Afghanistan were also held at various intervals. To facilitate the talks, an office of the UN was established, called the United Nations Good Offices Mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan (UNGOMAP).

During the process, the more serious elements of the talks were handled by Nawabzadah Yaqoob Ali Khan. But after Junejo took over as prime minister, he was relieved and Zain Noorani was appointed the minister of state for external affairs. Since Junejo wanted to have his hold on defence and foreign ministries, he took complete charge of both.

Before Junejo’s entry, the general had made Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lieutenant-General Akhtar Abdur Rahman as the head of the Afghan issue. But Junejo did not try to interfere in technical issues such as guerrilla training to Afghan Mujahideen or arms supply from the US and other sources — these matters continued to be handled by the ISI chief. The prime minister, however, kept himself abreast of all developments and the flow of financial assistance received for waging armed struggle against the Soviet Union.

Till the end of 1986, talks were moving in the right direction. Junejo wanted a quick withdrawal of Soviet troops, as he hoped that it would satisfy the US and its allies, Saudi Arabia, and other friendly countries. During the process, he had developed a kind of confidence that if he succeeded in brokering Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, it would also grant him support to continue in power for another term.

Gen Zia could read Junejo well, but he also wanted his name to be written in the annals of history if the accord was reached at according to his wishes. The general believed that any Soviet exodus would lead to him being remembered as a true mujahid.

In late 1987, a year before Junejo’s dismissal, Junejo was informed by the Soviet Union that they wanted to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan and complete the process in the next year. Similar information was also received from the US.

This was a welcome development and all stakeholders began preparations to finalise the terms and conditions of withdrawing that were to be placed before the Soviet Union. This is where Gen Zia and PM Junejo held opposing views— not on the very point of withdrawing all troops, but on what measures should be taken next to ensure that a peaceful Afghanistan emerged out of a devastating war.

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, October 4th, 2015

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Benazir Bhutto – One of the Most Influential Political Personalities in History

The prominent political personality of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto’s 11 th death anniversary is being observed today. She was assassinated on 27 th of December, 2007 subsequent to gun shot, when she was leaving after the rally in Rawalpindi while standing through the car’s escape hatch to wave to the crowd.

Benazir Bhutto is known as one of the most influential political personalities in the history and her patriotism for the country carries nothing to be doubted. She was the daughter of the great leader Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and she ensured to prove the essence of being his daughter by leading everything in his manner throughout her life.

Benazir Bhutto, aka as Pinky (to her father), was born on 21 st June, 1953 in Karachi to a politically significant and wealthy family. She studied at Harvard University and the University of Oxford, where she was President of the Oxford Union. Benazir Bhutto showed her brilliance during her studies time as well apart from the known political career.

She proved herself with exceptional leadership qualities just like her father Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, stepping into the political career after her father was ousted from his reign by military coup.

Benazir Bhutto returned Pakistan in 1986 and was warmly welcomed by the people of the nation who considered her as a ray of hope at that time.

She tied the knot with Asif Ali Zardari in year 1987, who was a prominent businessman at that time. She has 3 children Bilawal, Aseefa and Bakhtawar.

Her struggle paid off on 10 of January, 1988 when she took oath as first female Prime Minister of Pakistan however her government had to face dissolution merely after 10 month time period. Benazir was the first woman to head a democratic government in a Muslim majority nation. She was a Pakistani politician who served as Prime Minister of Pakistan from 1988 to 1990 and again from 1993 to 1996.

She also had to face long term exile in Dubai but despite of threats to life, she returned home in the year 2007. The warm welcome by her own people made Bhutto break into tears out of the uncontrollable patriotic emotions for Pakistan and the people of the nation. She stated that, “Coming back to my country. I dreamt of this day for so many months and years, I counted the hours, I counted the minutes and the seconds…”

She struggled hard to make Pakistan as per her father’s dream with the justified provision of bread, clothes and home to every citizen of Pakistan. Despite of hurdles on the path, she continued consistently to stay closer to the people of the nation in order to be the one resolving their matters at grass root level.

The terrorists attempted to attack her in Karachi but she wasn’t afraid and kept on mingling with the people at public platforms regardless of caring about her own life. But unfortunately, she became the target of gunshot leading to blast on 27 th of December, 2007 in Rawalpindi.

Benazir Bhutto, apart from her strong political background, is undoubtedly a role model for the females of Pakistani society who want to grow in their respective fields at such a level that they can be as much dominantly influential as that of Benazir.

The way she balanced her personal life with the professional life, along with brilliant brought up of her children Bilawal, Aseefa and Bakhtawar, no one can find any match to this example of strength.

She proved herself as a good listener for the deprived people of the nation and that’s the reason everyone was in love with her for her unconditional services.

Even after 11 years of her death, she is still alive as a strong part of Pakistan’s political history carrying along the memories of utmost struggle, gains and losses as an asset for her family. She will always be remembered.


Benazir Bhutto – 21 June

Benazir Bhutto (21 June 1953 – 27 December 2007) was a Pakistani politician who served as Prime Minister of Pakistan from 1988 to 1990 and again from 1993 to 1996. She was the first woman to head a democratic government in a Muslim majority nation. Ideologically a liberal and a secularist, she chaired or co-chaired the centre-left Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) from the early 1980s until her assassination in 2007.

Bhutto was born in Karachi to a politically important, wealthy aristocratic family. Her father, the PPP’s founder and leader Zulfikar, was elected Prime Minister on a socialist platform in 1973. Bhutto studied at Harvard University and the University of Oxford, where she was President of the Oxford Union.

Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan, where her father was ousted in a 1977 military coup and executed. Bhutto and her mother Nusrat took control of the PPP and led the country’s Movement for the Restoration of Democracy.

Bhutto was repeatedly imprisoned by Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq’s military government and then exiled to Britain in 1984. She returned in 1986 and—influenced by Thatcherite economics—transformed the PPP’s platform from a socialist to a liberal one, before leading it to victory in the 1988 election.

As Prime Minister, her attempts at reform were stifled by conservative and Islamist forces, including President Ghulam Ishaq Khan and the powerful military. Her administration was accused of corruption and nepotism, and dismissed by Khan in 1990.

Intelligence services rigged the 1990 election to ensure a victory for the conservative Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI), after which Bhutto served as the Leader of the Opposition. After the IJI government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was also dismissed on corruption charges, Bhutto led the PPP to victory in the 1993 elections.

Her second term oversaw economic privatization and attempts to advance women’s rights. Her government was damaged by several controversies, including the assassination of her brother Murtaza, a failed 1995 coup d’état, and a further bribery scandal involving her and her husband Asif Ali Zardari in response to the latter, the President again dismissed her government.

The PPP lost the 1997 election and in 1998 she went into self-exile in Dubai, leading her party mainly through proxies. A widening corruption inquiry culminated in a 2003 conviction in a Swiss court. Following United States-brokered negotiations with President Pervez Musharraf, she returned to Pakistan in 2007 to compete in the 2008 elections her platform emphasised civilian oversight of the military and opposition to growing Islamist violence. After a political rally in Rawalpindi, she was assassinated the militant Islamist group al-Qaeda claimed responsibility, although the involvement of the Pakistani Taliban and rogue elements of the intelligence services were widely suspected. She was buried at her family mausoleum.

Bhutto was a controversial figure. She was often criticised as being politically inexperienced and corrupt, and faced much opposition from Pakistan’s Islamist lobby for her secularist and modernising agenda. She nevertheless remained domestically popular and also attracted support from Western nations, for whom she was a champion of democracy and women’s rights. Several universities and public buildings in Pakistan bear Benazir’s name, while her career influenced a number of activists including Malala Yousafzai


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