FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Tragedy Foretold

by DILIP HIRO

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.

 

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 23, 2017
Dave Brotherton
Trump, Moral Panics and Resistance
Jonathan Cook
One State: Trump Has Reminded Palestinians What It Was Always About
Bill Quigley
Ten Examples of Direct Resistance to Stop Government Raids
Linn Washington Jr.
Bigot Boy Business: Trump Exposes His Ignorance and Intolerance, Again
John W. Whitehead
The Illusion of Freedom: the Police State Is Alive and Well
Ralph Nader
Restricting People’s Use of Their Courts
David Macaray
Women As Labor Union Organizers
Kathy Kelly
Friendship in Defiance of War
Doug Weir
Why Did the US Use Depleted Uranium Weapons in Syria?
Steve Horn
Former GOP Congressional Staffer Follows Revolving Door, Now Latest Keystone XL Lobbyist
Binoy Kampmark
From Rights to Repentance: Norma McCorvey and Roe v Wade
Thomas Knapp
The Target of the “Border Adjustment Tax” is You
Chris Zinda
Open Letter to Neoliberal Environmentalists
February 22, 2017
Mike Whitney
Liberals Beware: Lie Down With Dogs, Get Up With Fleas
John Grant
On Killers and Bullshitters*
Peter Linebaugh
Catherine Despard, Abolitionist
Patrick Cockburn
The Bitter Battle for Mosul
Ted Rall
Sue the Bastards? It’s Harder Than You Think
Yoav Litvin
The Emergence of the Just Jew
Kim Scipes
Strategic Thinking and Organizing Resistance
Norman Pollack
Mar-a-Lago, Ideological Refuge: Berchtesgaden, II
Fred Donner
Nixon and the Chennault Affair: From Vietnam to Watergate
Carl Kandutsch
Podesta vs. Trump
Ike Nahem
To the Memory of Malcolm X: Fifty Years After His Assassination
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s Tough Talk Won’t Fix Chicago
Paul Donnelly
Betsy DeVos and the War on Public Education
Ebony Slaughter-Johnson
The End of an Alliance for Police Reform
Richard Lawless
Wall Street Demanded the Nuclear Option and the Congress Delivered
Liaquat Ali Khan
Yes, Real Donald Trump is a Muslim!
Ryan LaMothe
“Fire” and Free Speech
CounterPunch News Service
Bloody Buffalo Billboards
February 21, 2017
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Finance as Warfare: the IMF Lent to Greece Knowing It Could Never Pay Back Debt
CJ Hopkins
Goose-stepping Our Way Toward Pink Revolution
John Wight
Firestarter: the Unwelcome Return of Tony Blair
Roger Harris
Lenin Wins: Pink Tide Surges in Ecuador…For Now
Shepherd Bliss
Japanese American Internment Remembered, as Trump Rounds Up Immigrants
Boris Kagarlitsky
Trump and the Contradictions of Capitalism
Robert Fisk
The Perils of Trump Addiction
Deepak Tripathi
Theresa May: Walking the Kingdom Down a Dark Alley
Sarah Anderson
To Save Main Street, Tax Wall Street
Howard Lisnoff
Those Who Plan and Enjoy Murder
Franklin Lamb
The Life and Death Struggle of the Children of Syria
Binoy Kampmark
A Tale of Two Realities: Trump and Israel
Kim C. Domenico
Body and Soul: Becoming Men & Women in a Post-Gender Age
Mel Gurtov
Trump, Europe, and Chaos
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail