A Tragedy Foretold


With the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, her family will go down in history as one where everyone, except the mother, Nusrat, died a violent death.

Her father, Zulfikar Ali, former prime minister of Pakistan, was hanged in 1979 during the rule of his successor, General Muhammad Zia ul-Haq, who had overthrown his civilian government two years earlier. Then Benazir’s younger brother, Shah Nawaz, died of poisoning in mysterious circumstances in 1985 in the south of France. And in 1996, her elder brother, Murtaza, was gunned down in a street by unknown assailants.

Given the atrocious suicide bombings of Benazir Bhutto’s tumultuous homecoming procession in the port city of Karachi in October, with her open-top bus as the main target, which claimed 140 lives, further attempts on her life were not unexpected.

Since she was determined to campaign widely and openly for the upcoming parliamentary poll on January 8, she exposed herself to a violent attack. Only a tight ring of professionally trained bodyguards that protect the likes of US presidents could have safeguarded her while allowing her the luxury of mixing with ordinary folks gathered in unruly crowds.

Bhutto’s security adviser, Rahman Malik, was quick to blame the government of President Pervez Musharraf. "We repeatedly informed the government to provide her proper security and appropriate equipment including [electronic] jammers, but they paid no heed to our requests," he said.

But more than electronic jammers are needed to protect VIPs in this age of suicide bombers and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

On returning to Pakistan after an eight-year exile, Bhutto bravely announced that the workers and officials of her Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) would protect her. In any case, having official bodyguards would have cramped her style, inhibited her movements and personal conversations – a political price she was probably not prepared to pay.

Although no group has claimed responsibility for killing her, it does not require much political savvy to guess. It is the Islamist extremists operating from the borderlands of Pakistan and Afghanistan. As ultra-orthodox Muslims, they loathe governance by a woman. For them, Benazir Bhutto was not only a woman politician but was also "a slave of America".

The way she was shoe-horned into Pakistani politics by the Bush administration left little doubt about her pro-American proclivities in a country, where anti-Americanism is running deep.

While Bhutto’s assassination is a shock to the ongoing general election campaign, it is unlikely that the poll will be postponed. That would not be beneficial to her Pakistan People’s Party.

History shows that a sensational political murder usually brings out a sympathy vote for the party that lost its leader. Such was the case with Indira Gandhi and her Congress Party in India. After her assassination in October 1984, her son, Rajiv Gandhi, an erstwhile junior MP, led the Congress party to a victory at the polls. (Seven years later he too was assassinated by a woman suicide bomber during an election campaign.)

History is likely to repeat itself, with the PPP doing better than it would have done with Benazir Bhutto at the helm.

DILIP HIRO writes for the The Guardian.

November 30, 2015
Henry Giroux
Trump’s Embrace of Totalitarianism is America’s Dirty Little Secret
Omur Sahin Keyif
An Assassination in Turkey: the Killing of Tahir Elci
Uri Avnery
There is No Such Thing as International Terrorism
Robert Fisk
70,000 Kalashnikovs: Cameron’s “Moderate” Rebels
Jamie Davidson
Distortion, Revisionism & the Liberal Media
Patrick Cockburn
Nasty Surprises: the Problem With Bombing ISIS
Robert Hunziker
The Looming Transnational Battlefield
Ahmed Gaya
Breaking the Climate Mold: Fighting for the Planet and Justice
Matt Peppe
Alan Gross’s Improbable Tales on 60 Minutes
Norman Pollack
Israel and ISIS: Needed, a Thorough Accounting
Colin Todhunter
India – Procession of the Dead: Shopping Malls and Shit
Roger Annis
Canada’s New Climate-Denying National Government
Binoy Kampmark
Straining the Republic: France’s State of Emergency
Bill Blunden
Glenn Greenwald Stands by the Official Narrative
Jack Rasmus
Japan’s 5th Recession in 7 Years
Karen Lee Wald
Inside the Colombia Peace Deal
Geoff Dutton
War in Our Time
Charles R. Larson
Twofers for Carly Fiorina
John Dear
An Eye for an Eye Makes the Whole World Blind
Weekend Edition
November 27-29, 2015
Andrew Levine
The Real Trouble With Bernie
Gary Leupp
Ben Carson, Joseph in Egypt, and the Attack on Rational Thought
John Whitbeck
Who’s Afraid of ISIS?
Michael Brenner
Europe’s Crisis: Terror, Refugees and Impotence
Pepe Escobar
Will Chess, Not Battleship, Be the Game of the Future in Eurasia?
Ramzy Baroud
Forget ISIS: Humanity is at Stake
Vijay Prashad
Showdown on the Syrian Border
Dave Lindorff
Gen. John Campbell, Commander in Afghanistan and Serial Liar
Colin Todhunter
Class, War and David Cameron
Jean Bricmont
The Ideology of Humanitarian Imperialism
Dan Glazebrook
Deadliest Terror in the World: the West’s Latest Gift to Africa
Mark Hand
Escape From New York: the Emancipation of Activist Cecily McMillan
Karl Grossman
Our Solar Bonanza!
Mats Svensson
Madness in Hebron: Hashem Had No Enemies, Yet Hashem Was Hated
Walter Brasch
Terrorism on American Soil
Louisa Willcox
Grizzly Bears, Dreaming and the Frontier of Wonder
Michael Welton
Yahweh is Not Exactly Politically Correct
Joseph Natoli
A Politics of Stupid and How to Leave It Behind
John Cox
You Should Fear Racism and Xenophobia, Not Syrian Refugees or Muslims
Barrie Gilbert
Sacrificing the Grizzlies of Katmai Park: the Plan to Turn Brooks Camp Into a Theme
Rev. William Alberts
The Church of “Something Else” in “an Ecclesiastical Desert”
Andrew Gavin Marshall
Bank Crimes Pay
Elliot Murphy
Cameron’s Syrian Strategy
Gareth Porter
How Terror in Paris Calls for Revising US Syria Policy
Thomas S. Harrington
Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe and the Death of Ezra Schwartz
Michael Perino
The Arc of Instability