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OPINION | Ten Years After Bhutto's Assassination, Terrorism Continues to Ail World

File photo of Benazir Bhutto. (Photo: Reuters/Athar Hussain)

File photo of Benazir Bhutto. (Photo: Reuters/Athar Hussain)

Recalling Benazir Bhutto, who was killed in a terrorist attack in December 2007, she stood aloft against terrorism “in a country that has suffered more than most at the hands of terrorists.” She was “murdered for standing up for democracy, murdered for espousing tolerance, and murdered for being a woman”.

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s address to the 72nd Annual session of UNGA in New York was music to my ears. In an emotional speech Ms. May — whose country has become a victim of frequent acts of terror — reminded the world of her friend Benazir Bhutto who was martyred by terrorists a decade ago.

“This year is the tenth anniversary of the death of the woman who introduced me to my husband, and who was known well to many of us in this United Nations. Benazir Bhutto was brutally murdered by people who actively rejected the values that all of us here in this United Nations stands for.”

Recalling Bhutto, who was killed in a terrorist attack in December 2007, she stood aloft against terrorism “in a country that has suffered more than most at the hands of terrorists.” She was “murdered for standing up for democracy, murdered for espousing tolerance, and murdered for being a woman”.

May’s speech should serve as an eye-opener for the overly biased, anti-Bhutto PML-N leadership, including the establishment and others in cahoots with them. By mentioning the colossal Bhutto tragedy — elimination of Pakistan’s only internationally recognizable face -- Ms. May encapsulated ugly manifestations of terrorism and its catastrophic impact on human beings world over. There could not be a better exposition of the evil that threatens everyone where ever one is.

Pakistan’s run-away General Pervez Musharraf -- avoiding his arrest for alleged murders of Benazir Bhutto and Sardar Akbar Khan Bugti -- has exposed his devil’s workshop and his epileptic thinking recently by crudely shifting the blame of murder on her husband. There is not enough space to respond to his recent quixotic outbursts, one would suffice to repeat to him words of British Prime Minister that Benazir Bhutto was “murdered for standing up for democracy, murdered for espousing tolerance, and murdered for being a woman.”

What did Benazir Bhutto stand and struggle for all her life? Democracy, rule of law, freedom of expression, empowerment of the people irrespective of caste, creed, colour or gender especially of the less privileged, peaceful co-existence for all human kind whereas General Pervez Musharraf was an international pariah dictator that no one respectable leader would have wanted to shake hands with until 9/11.

As opposed to her higher ideals, General Musharraf had violated every one of those values that civilised world is defending against terrorism. He committed an act of treason by violating the Constitution of the country in October 1999, he had subverted democracy, rule of law and disparaged country’s highest judiciary. As regards women in Pakistan, he was brazen when answering a question regarding rape; he was inhumanly dismissive — ‘such women get raped to seek a visa to go abroad and acquire a nationality.’

As regards Benazir Bhutto — he felt like General Zia vis-à-vis Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. He was scared of her that he would not let her return to Pakistan. He made it clear to her time and again, that Pakistan had no space for her as long as he was in power. Despite the best efforts of the foreign friends of Pakistan to whom GPM owed loyalty, he would not let Bhutto come back. When he met her in Abu Dhabi in January 2007, his mantra from start to end was, he would not let her return to Pakistan.

He opposed her participation in elections and threatened her with “horrible consequences”. His message was clear to her
Not only did he have the entire establishment, intelligence and security apparatus with him but close links with the jihadi terrorist networks, including Baitullah Mehsood.

His defence of Hafiz Saeed shows how deeply involved he is with such elements. At long last, Pakistan’s new Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif has shown guts to accept that Hafiz Saeed and LeT are the ugly legacy of Musharraf era and needed to be discarded.

One single act of having the crime scene washed by fire tenders under his orders within minutes of her assassination is enough proof to indict him for Bhutto’s murder. Brigadier retd. Javeid Iqbal Cheema, former director general of National Crisis Management Cell (NCMC), had told the Anti-Terrorist Court (ATC) that he had received orders directly from the Presidency to have the area washed immediately.

It was, indeed, an intriguing coincidence that in Karachi (Oct 18, 2017), too, when her cavalcade was attacked by suicide bombers, fire tenders — as if they were standing nearby -- reached the scene of the crime first, much before ambulances could pick up dead bodies and take injured to the hospitals. She narrowly escaped in the attack aimed to kill her while over 150 of PPP jiyalas were martyred.

The crime scenes - if they were not washed - both in Karachi and Rawalpindi, according to experts, held the key to tracing those involved in the dastardly acts.

This could be judged from the fact that General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani as DG ISI investigated the attempt on President Musharraf’s life, got to the bottom of the case through a telephone chip recovered from the scene of the blast.

In Bhutto’s case, the all-powerful mastermind destroyed all the evidence. The desperate urgency shown in hosing the entire area instead of following the mandatory standard procedure of cordoning off the scene of crime identifies the murderer explicitly. And it was under General Pervez Musharraf’s orders that the crime scene in Rawalpindi was washed.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s reference to the mother of all victims of terrorism — Benazir Bhutto — instantly got the global issue into focus with all its ugly manifestations. And if Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqqan Abbasi or Pakistan’s Permanent Representative too had mentioned the murder of Pakistan’s only iconic and internationally recognizable face, it could have been the most appropriate response to American President’s recent warning to Pakistan for sustaining safe havens for terrorists.