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Benazir Bhutto's Murder Aims At Gagging Masses Voice

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The murder of Benazir Bhutto should not be considered a simple case. Actually it is an effort by the terrorists enjoying full support of corrupt officials to kill the democracy in Pakistan. The killing of democracy means shattering the hopes of millions of people. A five-member team from London's Scotland Yard has been meeting police and interior ministry officials in Islamabad as it begins its high-profile probe into the murder of Benazir Bhutto. Scotland Yard of course has a legendary reputation when it comes to investigating crime - and it has figured in numerous detective stories, films and television series. But in the context of the murder of Benazir Bhutto, already swamped in the mire of countless conspiracy theories and speculative guesswork - much of it politically inspired - it is uncertain how much the Yard's men can achieve.

Benazir's body has been buried at that graveyard in Naudero that has become a shrine; with it has disappeared, several metres under the earth, the evidence of what killed her. The latest account of the possible use of new technological weapons has only compounded the mystery. It is highly improbable that an exhumation of the body will be permitted by Benazir's family, for reasons that are both emotional and traditional. The crime scene itself, from where it may have been possible to secure crucial forensic evidence even so many days after the event, has meanwhile been washed down with giant hoses - the likes of which are rarely seen in the country. In an astonishing display of efficiency, this task was undertaken within hours of the murder. Claims that all material required had been secured by investigators obviously lack all credibility.

Left then with the vehicle, and whatever reports and forensic material it can obtain from Pakistani authorities, Scotland Yard thus has a tough time on its hands. There is much doubt as to how useful the film footage of the murder will prove, and the Scotland Yard team that had been called in just over a decade ago to inquire into the murder of another Bhutto - Mir Murtaza, Benazir's brother, had stated the experience was 'frustrating'. In these circumstances, it is uncertain how much assistance Scotland Yard will be able to offer in the case of an assassination that has instantly changed Pakistan's political landscape. The days ahead will be closely watched to see what the Yard's team can come up with. But, on the surface, it is feared that perhaps little will be solved. After all, in a case like this, a detective no less than Sherlock Holmes may be needed to uncover the many mysteries and come up with evidence where none seems any longer to exist.

Former foreign secretary of Pakistan Tanvir Ahmed Khan while paying tributes to Benazir Bhutto wrote that henceforth you would know her only at the point timelessness begins and history melts into legend. Biographers will wrestle with the minutiae of her life and politics and she will keep stepping back into the mists of eternity challenging them to come further into the sacred mysteries of martyrdom.

There would forever be that haunting image of her total radiance, of an ecstatic communion with the people symbolised by a hand raised in joy, vanishing into the hazy vacuity of a frame suddenly emptied of her. She must have always wanted it this way; she must have believed that a people wronged by many would somehow be saved by her blood. Why else would she dare death as often as she did?

I got a glimpse of this destiny when I met Benazir Bhutto in Dubai on May 16 2007, the last year of her earthly life. I spoke to her about my fears then and wrote to her about them later. I saw her after a long time to find her as open, trusting and hospitable as ever. She was going to count on my discretion not to write of her plans till she revealed them herself but she, the chosen daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was not going to watch her motherland descend into chaos. No, she turned my loaded questions around, she would not come to lead a revolution but to seek a peaceful democratic settlement.

I said that she might not have that choice. Could she have lived away for too many years and was thus unable to take a full measure of how much the country had already sunk into a vortex of violence? Where would she fit in the endless confrontation between a regime for which democracy was just a camouflage and those of its opponents who had no use for democracy anyway? She said she understood me, knew the threat to her life, but would I like it to deflect her from her responsibilities?

She was not deflected even by the death of more than 150 followers who perished on October 18 last year, the day of her homecoming. What the accounts of that immense tragedy kept missing was a new mystical bonding of the leader and the people in an ancient ritual of sacrifice. It was a fresh compact that exponentially enlarged the circle of support for her.

But the more she succeeded the more urgent was the need of her enemies to cut her down. She understood that their fear of her would also grow exponentially but in her lexicon of courage there was no word for turning back. Only death could sunder the covenant made in the blood of the innocent in Karachi on her return.

They say that BB should not have stood up in the hatch to become an easy target for the assassins lurking around her. They forget that the only potent weapon in her hand was the love that she inspired in the people which also left her with no option but to reciprocate. Mansoor Hallaj says: "O you who blame love and blame it so often / If only you were aware of love's tyranny, you would not blame it."

She stood up because of this tyranny of love. Tears used to well up in her eyes when she spoke of her years of lonely exile; only the toiling masses kept chasing the dream of a better tomorrow if she were to come back. The wretched of the Earth, she would say, drew strength from her and she drew her relentless energy from them.

This is what lifted her from the sheer banality of our political life. On Mark Antony's death, Shakespeare makes Cleopatra say: "And there is nothing left remarkable/ Beneath the visiting moon". Something similar has happened to us. A fleeting light that dazzled like a meteor for a brief while has gone out. Ghalib saw the end of an era in the image of a dying candle the solitary flame of which being the only reminder of the painful severance from a night of joy. An era has ended for us too.

Life will carry on without the lustre of her presence. But every thing will have become a little more difficult. Her benighted people needed her charisma to heal the rupture between the rulers and the ruled. They were tired of obedience extracted out of them at the barrel of a gun, be it in the hand of the State or that of the modern-day terrorists, the new assassins of the Muslim history. They will miss her as a luminous symbol of the unity of a federation weakening with every insensitive flourish of a dictatorial arm.

Pakistan's sprawling lumpen proletariat spurned those who told it that she would let it down and insisted on seeing in her a beloved princess of hope. Our neighbours saw an opportunity of peace in her return. It was not for nothing that President Karzai flew his flag at half-mast on her death and gracious words of sympathy came from India.

How Pakistan finds a way out of grief and bewilderment may well decide its destiny. It is an unspeakable grief that struggles to break out in a lament but gets smothered by the death of hope. Who will resurrect the hope without which this weary nation will find its journey even more arduous?

The terrors of the living need not trouble you, Bibi, any more. You overcame all misgivings, calumnies and flaws inherent in mortal human beings by sacrificing your life. Rest in peace and may God's angel of mercy keep guard on you. Now it is our turn to walk the wilderness alone. The desert is pitiless and so far there is not a speck of a water-heavy cloud of regeneration. All that we can do is to look up to heavens and pray.
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Muhammad Khurshid, a resident of Bajaur District, tribal areas situated on Pak-Afghan border is journalist by profession. He contributes articles and news stories to various online and print newspapers. His subject matter is terrorism. He is (more...)

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