Sometimes, numbers convey a strange sense of fatefulness. Just 12 days before the election, Benazir Bhutto is assassinated by a suicide bomber/gunman, who also took out at least 30 others on his way to his own death. In the same square where 2 other Pakistani prime ministers were also killed. It was 12-27-2007. She was 54 years old.
According to this report from the Hindustan Times,
After the major candidates from the region made their speeches, she spoke. I have heard many of her speeches and this was perhaps one of her finest, not in terms of the content but for her exemplary delivery. She mostly talked about her father, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, and his achievements and avoided dwelling upon the current political situation in the country. She especially avoided criticizing President Musharraf. She did not name any of her opponents, but instead called them ‘political orphans’.
Later, her own trusting nature and political sense led to her death:
Benazir made the fatal mistake to come out of the sun-roof, deciding to wave to
the crowd, and was shot. The suicidal bomber then blew himself up.
Benazir Bhutto died in the hospital after almost an hour of desperate, but futile surgery.
She was "immortalized" in Pakistani newspapers, such as this article:
Benazir Bhutto embraced martyrdom and was immortalized just like her father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as another tragedy struck the unfortunate Bhutto family.She is the fourth Bhutto dying in violent circumstances.
PPP founder Mr Bhutto was executed in 1979 after being deposed by General Ziaul Haq in a military coup. His execution was later termed as judicial murder and one of the judges, Justice Nasim Hassan Shah, who was on the bench that tried him on murder charges conceded sometime back that the court’s verdict was a mistake.
Benazir Bhutto’s brothers Shahnawaz Bhutto and Murtaza Bhutto were killed in mysterious circumstances. Shahnawaz, younger of the two, died in France while Murtaza was gunned down outside his family home in Karachi’s posh Clifton locality. Their killers never got punished.
Ironically, Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in the same city, Rawalpindi, where her father was executed 28 years ago. He was hanged at the Adiala jail ...(but) she was assassinated outside the Liaquat Bagh, the same park where Pakistan’s first Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan was shot dead not long after the country’s independence. ... Liaquat Bagh, named after Liaquat Ali Khan, has in a way become a tragic place where participants of public rallies have been often attacked and killed and two prime ministers lost their lives in violent circumstances.
She was matchless as her name, Benazir, which could be roughly translated as someone without parallel.
And this report mentions "A suicide attacker, who was reportedly riding a motorcycle, then detonated his explosives, killing up to 30 people and injuring 60 others."
Bush, of course, has already stated his opinion:
"The US strongly condemns this cowardly act by murderous extremists who are trying to undermine Pakistan's democracy," he said. "Those who committed this crime must be brought to justice."
There are reports in the West stating that it's the work of Al-Qaida. Just the shot in the arm we need for the war on terror to jumpstart in the hearts of America? Not by a long shot.
This is all we need to destabilize Pakistan, the Islamic world, and change the dynamics of the so-called war on terror, from a war against the notorious al-Qaida to a war of chaos, of ever-shifting factions against one another. Who can claim this was not the work of the also-notorious Musharraf?
Apparently, Al-Qaeda did claim responsibility.
"We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat [the] mujahadeen,” Al-Qaeda’s commander and main spokesperson Mustafa Abu Al-Yazid told Adnkronos International (AKI) in a phone call from an unknown location, speaking in faltering English. Al-Yazid is the main al-Qaeda commander in Afghanistan.
It is believed that the decision to kill Bhutto, who is the leader of the opposition Pakistan People's Party (PPP), was made by al-Qaeda No. 2, the Egyptian doctor, Ayman al-Zawahiri in October. Death squads were allegedly constituted for the mission and ultimately one cell comprising a defunct Lashkar-i-Jhangvi’s Punjabi volunteer succeeded in killing Bhutto.
Those guys sure are brilliant. Whatever it is they're fighting for, it's not an Islamic state, for sure. Bhutto may have been an "American asset", but the alternative, which they now have, is the old standby, military dictatorship. So where's the "power to the people" and "anti-oppression" line they've trumped up? Benazir, for her part, practically set herself up for assassination by linking up with the U.S. & all its oppressive baggage while trumpeting, "I'm going to wipe out the extremists!" Brilliant for martyrdom, idiotic for survival.
And at any rate, one thing is certain. Any leader tied to the United States is sure to be targeted. American alliance is also the kiss of death. And the only ones who can survive that deadly embrace are ruthless dictators like Musharraf, Hosny Mubarak, and the autocratic but less ostentatiously ruthless King Abdullah and his royal clan of Saudi Arabia. Ultimately, it's the people of those nations we "embrace" who suffer.
So much for the idea that the "war on terror" is somehow pro-democracy. That's the "passion play" du jour but in reality it's the direct opposite. Maybe Benazir's death should give us fair warning that if we want democracies, we ourselves should act like one. Start with letting other nations run their own affairs. Without, please, more invasions.
As for the terrorists, why did they only target Benazir, if Musharraf is also an enemy of terrorists, as the U.S. is fond of broadcasting? Because she was more... well, democratic. Yet she espoused that "war on terror" line quite openly. She really believed that passion play. But her failure to address what "terrorism" is really all about - her mimicking of the Bush line that we simply have to "fight the extremists" - thus playing into the extremists' hands rather than playing them for fools - exposed her to their ever-present plots. Like standing up for the crowds, knowing full well her killer could be out there. If only someone in Pakistan would see ... dialogue always trumps rhetoric. If only a democratic leader could gain power - while standing up without America in the wings. If only America would stop inventing wars.