After the suicide attack on Benazir Bhutto’ home-coming celebration killed as many as 136 supporters on Thursday, the big question still remains – who was behind the attacks?
Bhutto’s first speech after the carnage was notable because it grabbed the attention and admiration of a number of people, some of even those who usually stay detached from political activities in Pakistan.
An undeterred Benazir Bhutto donned a black armband on Friday as she vowed not to be frightened by the murder attempts. The body language was loud and clear. Twice she snapped at people’s ringing mobiles and on several occasions made sure her words were heard exactly she meant them. As she stood among a crowd of hundreds she seemed to be signalling to not only the media but also to her enemy that this is Butto’s daughter and she would stand unmoved. Her resolution could not go unnoticed even by her worst critics.
The Bhutto family history has been written with blood.
Her father and the father of Pakistan People’s Party, Zulifiqar Ali Bhutto, was hanged at the gallows under a military regime, and her two brothers, Shahnawaz and Murtaza Bhutto died in suspicious circumstances. The death of the latter caused a rift within the party and resulted in a family feud.
If anything, Benazir understands what death means and how close it can be. In her own words the attacks were not exactly a surprise. Pakistan’s government and the security agencies had given her warnings about them. Some warnings even came directly from the militants. The pro-Taliban militant leader, Baitullah Masood, said he would target her with suicide attacks.
While Ms Bhutto steadfastly and innocently discarded the threats saying “a Muslim would not harm a woman because he would burn in hell”, the stark reality remains that a large number of pro Taliban Muslims would hate her precisely because she was a woman.
Let’s not be in denial about the distorted teachings that still exist in the hearts of many where a Muslim woman leadership would not be accepted as Islamically appropriate.
Earlier this year, the Chief Minister of Sindh publicly termed female leadership a hazard. He stood by his comments despite much hue and cry raised by Benazir’s party members and human right activist Aasma Jehangir. The hatred for a female ruler exists in Pakistan and that too in with the Islamic parties. One would have hoped that the moderate powers of Pervaiz Musharraf had made Pakistanis more enlightened. This sadly does not seem to be the case.
Some people have even blamed Ms Bhutto for using the Pakistani people for her own egoistic show of a grand home coming. However, a general sense prevails that Bhutto was a victim. The aftermath of the attacks suggests the killers meant business. In her own words: “There was one suicide squad from Taliban elements, one suicide squad from Al Qaeda, one suicide squad from Pakistani Taliban and a fourth, I believe a group from Karachi.”
Whoever was behind the attack, the fact remains these were attacks on the very core of apparent sovereignty of Pakistan. The terrorism about which Pakistanis and Muslims around the world had been slumbering in denial about, stands at the very heart of their own country now.
With the Indo-Pakistan anti-terror mechanism set to meet on Monday, I am sure there will be a number of issues that the two countries can talk about.
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Filed in: Pakistan,Religion,South Asia