I was terribly shocked by the unexpected news of the assassination of Pakistani Former Prime Minister, Ms Benazir Bhutto.
A friend from the UN called me, “Hey, have you heard about Benazir Bhutto? She was shot dead.”
“Are you joking?”
It was serious, a fact which I really didn’t want to believe. Benazir was shot three times in a political rally in Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi, somewhere I used to stay two years before. I couldn’t believe that Pakistan, which I used to love because of the people’s extreme hospitality, turn to boiling hell.
I remembered, sometime in winter 2005, in a village in northern Karakoram Mountains, a vertical tricolor flag was hoisted on a pole on top of a house. Black-red-green.
“Is that flag of Afghanistan?”
“No. That’s flag of PPP,” explained an old villager, “Pakistan People Party. That’s the party of Benazir Bhutto. We loved her very much.”
I remembered, deep in Thar Parkar desert town of Umerkot, a Hindu friend of mine was extremely happy to hear from the BBC about Benazir’s plan to come back to the country and joined the election. “Life will change,” said him full of hopes, which deeply marked in my memory.
I remembered, sometime two months ago, my Pakistani colleague showed a real, very honest happiness, when Benazir came back to the country. A huge rally was held in Karachi to welcome her. People paraded and danced. I saw his optimism. “Democracy will come back again to Pakistan!”
But that optimism turned to be grieved just the next day, when he was informed that the parade turned to be deadly one. Benazir was almost died due to a bomb directed to her. About 130 of her supporters were sacrificed. Politics in Pakistan was always bloody, my friend said.
Benazir’s father, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, was hanged after a coup by Zia-ul-Haq, the extremist leader. Benazir was sent to jail after that. Benazir then followed her father step, to be a politician, and then twice Prime Minister amid rivalry with Nawaz Sharif. Yesterday, again, she followed her father’s step, died tragically because of politics.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai made a press conference in his palace, condemning the cowardice action and show condolence to Benazir’s family and the nation of Pakistan. He stated that the assassination of the great leader, Muslims’ brave sisters, was a great loss to Pakistan and to the whole Muslim world.
Karzai almost cried when he delivered his speech. He met Benazir Bhutto the very day, discussing about the future of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Then Benazir went to the political rally and Karzai’s security officers proposed him to go back to Afghanistan. From the plane, the Afghan TV cameramen coming together with Karzai, witnessed the blast in Rawalpindi and recorded the happening, which will change the future of Pakistan, directly from the air.
I felt tears flowing down my cheeks when I read about Benazir. I followed pages by pages on the internet, seeing the photos of the tragedy, and reading the history of Bhutto. About the same day last year, we were shocked by the execution of Saddam Hussein. And this year, just few days before 2008, Benazir Bhutto perished in a tragedy. I worried about Pakistan, a country which I used to and I always love too much. General election was supposed to be held in less than two weeks, but the strong candidate just left away millions of saddened supporters.
The same day, angered Benazir supported all over the country drove the country into turbulence. Mobs burned banks, vehicles, street signs, everything. Situation was horrible. The photos reminded me to the political reform which turned to be revolution in Indonesia in 1998. Blood and fire. A combination found in countries at junctions.
Not all Pakistanis love Benazir Bhutto, of course. There are many people who are against her policies, her ideas of secularism, etc. The angered mobs destroying public buildings and vehicles also made bad impression of Bhutto’s supporters. But everybody was shocked. The fact that Bhutto perished in such brutal terrorist attack was a sad picture of Pakistan future.
Where Pakistan is going after this, only God knows.