Thursday, December 27, 2007

Benazir, Benazir

Pakistan's oppn leader Bhutto killed in suicide attack NepalNews Bhutto was assassinated Thursday evening in a suicide attack that killed at least 20 others at a campaign rally in Rawalpindi ..... Bhutto was fired upon at close range before the blast, and an official from her Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) said she was further injured by the explosion, which was apparently caused by a suicide attacker ....... She breathed her last at around 7:01 pm NST at the Rawalpindi General Hospital where she was taken after the attack. ........ witnesses at the scene described the assassin as opening fire on Bhutto and her entourage, hitting her at least once in the neck and once in the chest, before blowing himself up. ....... Bhutto’s supporters at the hospital began chanting "Dog, Musharraf, dog" ...... Some of them smashed the glass door at the main entrance of the emergency unit, others burst into tears.
I am just feeling numb. What a waste! How could we let this happen? This was so preventable.

Benazir Bhutto: No American Stooge
Benazir Should Address Many Mass Rallies, Hold No Street Events, Keep Tight Security Around Her House, Office
Benazir And Islamofascism

An element of fatalism seeps in. There is so much in the Global South that is preventable. Children die in untold numbers of minor diseases. Children die of diarrhoea. Salt, sugar, water cures it.

But this is a much bigger tragedy. Benazir was hope that that salt, sugar, water would get there, faster.

Benazir always had it tough. When she became Prime Minister at 35, she was the youngest Prime Minister in the world, and Pakistan is no Arkansas.

It is curious that the first Muslim head of state had to ride the last name of her famous father when she was so much more qualified than him to lead the country. It is curious that her party of sexist Pakistani men elected her party president for life with no little deference to her Oxford, Harvard education.

Beanzir could have been. Pakistan could have been. Now I am unexcited. What if military rule does end? Ultimately the democratic process, if established, will throw up someone. The beauty is in the process, if the process is allowed to unfold. But I am unexcited. I was eagerly awaiting Benazir's second inning.

I am at utter loss. I am at a loss for words. Am I to feel grief? Am I to get angry? Am I to think with a cool head?

What is the Global South that someone like me takes intense, incurable pride in? Or am I supposed to remake it before I can love it?

I feel deep anger. Anger that asks for concrete action. Action that will prove this loss was so unnecessary.

There are several prominent women politicians in that and other parts of the world. But noone came close to Benazir in my worldview. She stood out.

Many Latin American countries are run by guys who have degrees from fancy western universities. But Benazir stood out.

She stood out as a person. She was different. She was unique. She was a gift. She was gifted. She was a symbol of what I wanted women around me to be, or at least idolize, women I had grown up around, women who could love an ocean, but women inescapably trapped into the endlessly complex politics of an extended family in a society so sexist, the word sexism did not even exist. And I could see it was much worse for the Muslim women.

No man in South Asian politics quite had Benazir's story, her stature, her abilities. Forget women.

Benazir made you proud. You did not have to be Pakistani. She made you feel like your part of the world had finally arrived on world stage. We still might have poverty to cure, and illiteracy to get rid of, and diseases that needed medicine, but at least we had a leader who could hold her own when talking to western leaders and journalists from fancy name TV and newspaper outlets. And in holding her own, she could speed up that work on poverty, illiteracy and disease.

She died. She was not defeated. But defeat was written all over her background. You can get yourself elected Prime Minister, but you are still saddled with a menacing military and intelligence agency - "a state within a state" as it in known as - that is run by supremely sexist men, some of whom likely killed your father.

But more than most, I am thinking Bin Laden. Bhutto's supporters naively think Musharraf did it. And I am not going to say Pakistan's ISI is all that innocent: they are the ones who unleashed the Taliban upon Afghanistan. But they also made two assassination attempts on Musharraf within a week. This is Al Qaeda's handiwork. They have long penetrated the Pakistani state.

Bin Laden did it. He now has a new prize: a dead Benazir. Now his documentaries have more value. That is how his thinking works.

I have always thought there is a physical angle to the so-called war on terror. Draining the swamp is not enough. You also got to go after the mosquitoes. But going after the mosquitoes only is just not going to work. Even more stupid is the idea of going after the trees with tanks because you think the mosquitoes are in the trees: wrong weapons, wrong target.

Why did not Benazir find a ready ally in the west? She did not. If the war on terror means so much to the west, why did it not invest in Benazir? She was thrown to the dogs.

Benazir Bhutto, 54, Lived in Eye of Pakistan Storm New York Times, United States Charismatic, striking and a canny political operator .... reared in the violent and turbulent world of Pakistani politics ..... self-imposed exile in London for much of the past decade. She returned home this fall, billing herself as a bulwark against Islamic extremism and a tribune of democracy. ...... A woman of grand ambitions with a taste for complex political maneuvering ..... Even from exile, her leadership was virtually unchallenged. ....... she developed a reputation for acting imperiously and impulsively ...... her father encouraged her to study the lives of legendary female leaders ranging from Indira Gandhi to Joan of Arc ....... at Harvard, where Mr. Galbraith remembered Ms. Bhutto arriving as a prim, cake-baking 16-year-old fresh from a Karachi convent. ....... Ms. Bhutto called herself chairperson for life of the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party, a seemingly odd title in an organization based on democratic ideals and one she has acknowledged quarreling over with her mother, Nusrat Bhutto, in the early 1990s. ......... her style of government combined both the traditional and the modern ..... Chief among her attributes, they said, was her sheer determination. ..... and what was the difference, she would ask, between such a marriage and computer dating? ...... Mr. Zardari, who is 51, is known for his love of polo and other perquisites of the good life like fine clothes, expensive restaurants, homes in Dubai and London, and an apartment in New York.
Bhutto Assassinated in Attack on Rally
Pakistan's Bhutto Assassinated Forbes, NY the viability and legitimacy of the Jan. 8 elections have dimmed with her death. ..... She appeared to be courting danger by insisting on holding public rallies ....... “Everyone is saying that this army has killed Benazir. ...... "She was the most secular of the political leaders. She had allied herself very clearly with the West, she spent time outside Pakistan building contacts and connections and she has been pretty clearly favored by the U.S. as a successor to Musharraf. For all those reasons she came at the top of the list in terms of offending the extremists." ........ Musharraf has also been the target of repeated assassination attempts by Muslim extremists. ...... Her supporters turned violent when she was taken to a hospital in Rawalpindi, chanting slogans like “Killer Musharraf” and smashing vehicles in the area. Musharraf lives in Rawalpindi, a satellite city of the capital Islamabad that hosts the army headquarters. ....... the question remains if anyone in the second tier of the party can step up to take her place ..... Bhutto's popularity appeared to have been not as high as she anticipated before she returned to Pakistan
FACTBOX: Benazir Bhutto spoke of dangers ahead of killing Reuters At a rally in Rawalpindi on Thursday, she said: "I put my life in danger and came here because I feel this country is in danger. People are worried. We will bring the country out of this crisis.". ....... From "Daughter of Destiny", autobiography of Bhutto: "You can't be fuelled by bitterness. It can eat you up, but it cannot drive you."
The Benazir Bhutto I knew Christian Science Monitor, MA Benazir Bhutto was a beautiful and idealistic woman when she came to Pakistan's rescue in 1988. ...... unrealistic expectations of what she could deliver ...... She struck me as a terribly conflicted person who deep in her heart wanted to save Pakistan from its evils, but was unable to put her personal lifestyle choices aside in doing so. ....... must immediately call for an independent international investigation into her assassination, led by a blue ribbon panel of FBI and MI5 officials, that determines the extent – or lack – of complicity from Pakistan's police and intelligence services in her death. .......... human rights activist and lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan ..... Rebuilding political institutions was one of Benazir's key platforms as a candidate. The country should honor her death by making that happen.
Sharif's Party To Boycott Elections
Guardian Unlimited, UK Sharif rushed to the Rawalpindi hospital where she died and sat silently next to her body. .... ``Benazir Bhutto was also my sister, and I will be with you to take the revenge for her death,'' he said afterward, his eyes at times welling up with tears. ``Don't feel alone. I am with you. We will take the revenge on the rulers.'' ..... Bhutto's supporters erupted in anger and grief, attacking police and rioting in several cities. At the hospital where she died, some smashed glass and wailed, chanting slogans against Musharraf. ..... Islamic militants have repeatedly targeted top figures in Musharraf's government. Last weekend, a suicide bomber targeted former Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao inside a mosque, killing 56 other people.
Bhutto Campaigned Despite Risk of Attack
NPR An explosion, gunshots, a frantic rush to the hospital. At first, details of the events surrounding the assassination of Benazir Bhutto were sketchy and contradictory .......... Bhutto died doing what she loved doing and what Pakistanis demand of their politicians: addressing a large rally, pressing the flesh. Thursday's event was especially crucial, coming less than two weeks ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for Jan. 8. ....... Crowded and colorful, Rawalpindi could hardly be more different from the planned and sterile Pakistani capital of Islamabad, only eight miles to the north. ...... Security at Thursday's rally was heavy, with hundreds of riot police guarding the event and Bhutto. But political rallies in South Asia are boisterous affairs, and complete security is probably impossible .......... Bhutto had just finished addressing the rally and was getting into her vehicle when a man on a motorcycle approached her and opened fire. He then detonated explosives, killing himself and 17 others ......... It was unclear if the gunshots or bomb explosion killed the charismatic 54-year-old ..... Bhutto had complained that the Pakistani security forces were not protecting her sufficiently and implied that elements within the Musharraf government may have been plotting against her. ...... Bhutto was killed just a few miles from the scene of her father's violent death 28 years earlier.
Slain Bhutto's supporters take anger to the streets Reuters angry backers of the slain former prime minister took to the streets across Pakistan, from the Himalayas to the southern coast. ....... there is trouble almost everywhere ...... At least three banks, a government office and a post office were set on fire ..... "The situation is not good in the interior of Sindh. A large number of people have come out on the roads in many cities to protest," said senior police official Fayyaz Leghari.
Benazir Bhutto: Hope Denied
Forbes, NY Bhutto possessed enormous reserves of good will that crossed a host of factional lines that divide this troubled nation. No other individual was at once so potentially uniting and divisive in the world's sixth-most-populous country. ........ While India has managed in the course of the last half-century to adopt a free and democratic government and, more recently, a vibrant economy that is among the world's fastest growing, Pakistan has sunk into a morass of feuding political factions and violent extremists. ....... on April 4, 1979, Benazir Bhutto's father was hanged for alleged complicity in the murder of the father of an opposition politician. The Supreme Court affirmed his death sentence in a 4-to-3 vote. Now, with Benazir Bhutto's assassination, the niceties of law and justice have been done away with in one catastrophic stroke. ...... America's experience in Pakistan, and in scores of other countries around the world, has demonstrated one critical reality. At one point in the trajectory of any dictator, you own him. At another point, he owns you. We've reached that point now with Gen. Musharraf. ........ the one person who might have found a way to bring together key factions--from military officers to Islamic fundamentalists--and unite them in a battle against the extremists who promised to turn this nation into a staging ground for international terrorists is dead. Ironically, her last important action before her assassination was a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The subject? Joining forces to fight the war on terror. ......... "We, too, believe that it is essential for both of our countries, and indeed the larger Muslim world, to work to protect the interest of Islamic civilization by eliminating extremism and terrorism," Bhutto said after their meeting. Hour later, after she met her death at the hands of an assassin, Karzai responded: "I am deeply sorry, deeply pained that this brave sister of us, this great daughter of the Muslim world is no longer with us. She sacrificed her life for the sake of Pakistan and for the sake of the region."
Musharraf says terrorists killed Bhutto, urges unity Reuters "This cruelty is the work of those terrorists with whom we are fighting," Musharraf said in a brief televised address. "The biggest threat to Pakistan and this nation is from these terrorists," he said. "I seek unity and support from the nation ... we will not sit and rest until we get rid of these terrorists, root them out." He declared three days of mourning.
Pakistan's Biggest City Shuts Down as Bhutto Supporters Riot
Bloomberg All the city's petrol stations were sealed off and street lights were turned off. Protestors exchanged fire with the police in some parts of the city.
McCain Reaction to Bhutto Assassination
CBS News, NY
Benazir Bhutto Killed; Islamists, Musharraf Suspected
The Media Line, NY it could "not be ruled out" that those behind the killing might have been supporters of President Pervez Musharraf from within the army ranks, or the intelligence corps. Rawalpindi, where Bhutto was killed, is the power base of the Pakistani army ..... it is possible Bhutto's killers will never be apprehended ..... on Wednesday, a day before her murder, a small bomb exploded outside a stadium in Peshawar, where Bhutto was giving an election speech. ..... The police claimed to have apprehended a 15-year-old boy carrying explosives.
After Bhutto: Pakistani Blogs Chime In
Radar Online, NY members of Bhutto's People's Party are "sitting and weeping loudly" in front of the Rawalpindi Hospital, where Bhutto died. Blog commenters say there are random shootings and fires springing up all over Karachi as part of a "widespread panic." ......... "Civil unrest is what the extremists want. Anarchy and chaos suit them." Now, such is the case bubbling up across Pakistan ...... Bhutto was shot in the neck and chest after a rally in Rawalpindi Thursday, reportedly at the behest of high-ranking Al Qaeda leaders. ...... You know it's a major world news event when even Dubya is roused from his lazy holiday in Crawford to make a televised statement about the situation in the country some pundits say is "the most dangerous" in the world.

There is this scene in the movie Heat. Pacino the cop is going to nab De Niro the thief. They zero in on in this small heist. Pacino is inside this police van in the parking lot. For a brief moment, they stare at each other. It is not a stare since Pacino is looking at a screen fed by a night vision camera. De Niro is not even aware Pacino exists. But there they are staring at each other.

Bin Laden is De Niro.

For the Americans it might be about 9/11, for me it is about infant mortality. It is personal, sure.

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Al Qaeda Claims Bhutto's Death A spokesperson for the al-Qaeda terrorist network has claimed responsibility for the death on Thursday of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto. “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.

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