Saturday, December 29, 2007

Thoughts about Benazir Bhutto as I saw the final moments of her Assassination

I don’t remember if it was from her autobiography or from her syndicated column that I learnt about the behind the scene activities of ‘Shimla agreement’ that was signed after India -Pakistan 1971 war. Benazir must have been 26 then when she accompanied her father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto for the summit talks with Indira Gandhi. Benazir wonderfully portrayed the defeated mindset of Pakistani rulers whose pride was brutally wounded after their defeat in war and partition of their country. I think the opportunity to be present at the Shimla Pact must have been the moment for Benazir’s baptism into Pakistani politics.

In 1993, I saw Benazir’s mother at hotel Intercon in Abu Dhabi. She was tall, fair and it seemed she bestowed her physical traits to Benazir. I do not know if she is still alive or not, but if she is- this must be the most cruel moment for her. Her husband was hanged, her one son – Murtuza was murdered in Cannes, second son – Shahanwaz ambushed and killed by Pakistani forces and now her daughter Benazir brutally assassinated by terrorists.

Both Benazir and Rajeev Gandhi came to power around the same time, both were the first generation rulers that were raised after the partition and did not carry bias and malaise towards their favorite enemy. Both were keen to take country forward. I had read an article that commented about the uneasiness of USA with a possibility of seeing India and Pakistan coming together under Benazir and Rajeev and blunting their objective of selling arms in the subcontinent. Both had charisma with the masses and thanks to common Oxford/Cambridge background between them had rare bonhomie that always eluded before. Both had modern approach and were keen to turn the new page away after decades of war and hostility between but US fears were so easily allayed by respective bureaucracy that successfully throttled both these leaders and made sure they didn’t succeed. Both these leader had uncanny similarities. Both were born with inherited legacy of leadership, both studied in same universities, had seen their parents suffer gruesome deaths, both resumed mantle of premiership at young age with huge public mandate and at the end both died young from horrible suicide terrorist attack during election campaigning.

Benazir as a prime minister didn’t much impress me nor did she when she brokered a secret deal with Parvez Musharuf for power sharing and removal of pending corruption cases against her. But she carved a special place in me with her articulate expressive and persuasive communication skills and command over English language, her charm and dignity during interview and above all her courage to come to Pakistan despite seeing her death written and pronounced all over Pakistan.

Pakistan has lost their most visible modern face for international community and terrific public speaker.

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