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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

BENAZIR BHUTTO -what a tragic end she had


Benazir Bhutto followed her father into politics, and both of them died because of it - he was executed in 1979, she fell victim to an apparent suicide bomb attack.

Her two brothers also suffered violent deaths.

Like the Nehru-Gandhi family in India, the Bhuttos of Pakistan are one of the world's most famous political dynasties. Benazir's father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was prime minister of Pakistan in the early 1970s.

His government was one of the few in the 30 years following independence that was not run by the army.

Born in 1953 in the province of Sindh and educated at Harvard and Oxford, Ms Bhutto gained credibility from her father's high profile, even though she was a reluctant convert to politics.

She was twice prime minister of Pakistan, from 1988 to 1990, and from 1993 to 1996.

Stubbornness

On both occasions she was dismissed from office by the president for alleged corruption.

The dismissals typified her volatile political career, which was characterised by numerous peaks and troughs. At the height of her popularity - shortly after her first election - she was one of the most high-profile women leaders in the world.

Young and glamorous, she successfully portrayed herself as a refreshing contrast to the overwhelmingly male-dominated political establishment.

But after her second fall from power, her name came to be seen by some as synonymous with corruption and bad governance.

Asif Zardari going to court
Asif Zardari has faced numerous corruption charges

The determination and stubbornness for which Ms Bhutto was renowned was first seen after her father was imprisoned by Gen Zia ul-Haq in 1977, following a military coup. Two years later he was executed after a much criticised trial on charges of conspiring to murder a political opponent.

Ms Bhutto was imprisoned just before her father's death and spent most of her five-year jail term in solitary confinement. She described the conditions as extremely hard.

During stints out of prison for medical treatment, Ms Bhutto set up a Pakistan People's Party office in London, and began a campaign against General Zia.

She returned to Pakistan in 1986, attracting huge crowds to political rallies.

After Gen Zia died in an explosion on board his aircraft in 1988, she became one of the first democratically elected female prime ministers in an Islamic country.

Corruption charges

During both her stints in power, the role of Ms Bhutto's husband, Asif Zardari, proved highly controversial.

He played a prominent role in both her administrations, and has been accused by various Pakistani governments of stealing millions of dollars from state coffers - charges he denies, as did Ms Bhutto herself.

Many commentators argued that the downfall of Ms Bhutto's government was accelerated by the alleged greed of her husband.

None of about 18 corruption and criminal cases against Mr Zardari has been proved in court after 10 years. But he served at least eight years in jail.

He was freed on bail in 2004, amid accusations that the charges against him were weak and going nowhere.

Ms Bhutto also steadfastly denied all the corruption charges against her, which she said were politically motivated.

She faced corruption charges in at least five cases, all without a conviction, until amnestied in October 2007.

General Musharraf
President Pervez Musharraf granted Ms Bhutto and others an amnesty

She was convicted in 1999 for failing to appear in court, but the Supreme Court later overturned that judgement.

Soon after the conviction, audiotapes of conversations between the judge and some top aides of then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif were discovered that showed that the judge had been under pressure to convict.

Ms Bhutto left Pakistan in 1999 to live abroad, but questions about her and her husband's wealth continued to dog her.

She appealed against a conviction in the Swiss courts for money-laundering.

During her years outside Pakistan, Ms Bhutto lived with her three children in Dubai, where she was joined by her husband after he was freed in 2004.

She was a regular visitor to Western capitals, delivering lectures at universities and think-tanks and meeting government officials.

Army mistrust

Ms Bhutto returned to Pakistan on 18 October 2007 after President Musharraf signed into law an ordinance granting her and others an amnesty from corruption charges.

Observers said the military regime saw her as a natural ally in its efforts to isolate religious forces and their surrogate militants.

She declined a government offer to let her party head the national government after the 2002 elections, in which the party received the largest number of votes.

In the months before her death, she had emerged again as a strong contender for power.

Some in Pakistan believe her secret talks with the military regime amounted to betrayal of democratic forces as these talks shored up President Musharraf's grip on the country.

Others said such talks indicated that the military might at long last be getting over its decades-old mistrust of Ms Bhutto and her party, and interpreted it as a good omen for democracy.

Western powers saw in her a popular leader with liberal leanings who could bring much needed legitimacy to Mr Musharraf's role in the "war against terror".

Unhappy family

Benazir Bhutto was the last remaining bearer of her late father's political legacy.

Her brother, Murtaza - who was once expected to play the role of party leader - fled to the then-communist Afghanistan after his father's fall.

From there, and various Middle Eastern capitals, he mounted a campaign against Pakistan's military government with a militant group called al-Zulfikar.

He won elections from exile in 1993 and became a provincial legislator, returning home soon afterwards, only to be shot dead under mysterious circumstances in 1996.

Benazir's other brother, Shahnawaz - also politically active but in less violent ways than Murtaza - was found dead in his French Riviera apartment in 1985.

Benazir Bhutto killed in attack

akistani former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has been assassinated in a suicide attack.

Ms Bhutto - the first woman PM in an Islamic state - was leaving an election rally in Rawalpindi when a gunman shot her in the neck and set off a bomb.

At least 20 other people died in the attack and several more were injured.

President Pervez Musharraf has urged people to remain calm but angry protests have gripped some cities, with at least 11 deaths reported.

Security forces have been placed on a state of "red alert" nationwide.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attack. Analysts believe Islamist militants to be the most likely group behind it.

Ms Bhutto, leader of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), had served as prime minister from 1988-1990 and 1993-1996, and had been campaigning ahead of elections due on 8 January.

Benazir Bhutto's coffin leaves hospital in Rawalpindi
Benazir Bhutto's coffin has now been taken from the hospital

It was the second suicide attack against her in recent months and came amid a wave of bombings targeting security and government officials.

Nawaz Sharif, also a former prime minister and a political rival, announced his Muslim League party would boycott the elections.

He called on President Musharraf to resign, saying free and fair elections were not possible under his rule.

The United Nations Security Council held an emergency session and later said it "unanimously condemned" the assassination.

Scene of grief

Ms Bhutto's coffin was removed from hospital in Rawalpindi and has now arrived by plane in Sukkur in Sindh province for burial in her home town, Larkana.

Her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, has arrived in Pakistan from Dubai to escort the coffin to its final resting-place.

The attack occurred close to an entrance gate of the city park where Ms Bhutto had been speaking.

Police confirmed reports Ms Bhutto had been shot in the neck and chest before the gunman blew himself up.

She died at 1816 (1316 GMT), said Wasif Ali Khan, a member of the PPP who was at hospital.


Some supporters at the hospital wept while others broke into anger, throwing stones at cars and breaking windows.

Protests erupted in other cities as news of the assassination spread, with reports of 11 deaths in the PPP's heartland province of Sindh, including four in provincial capital, Karachi.

More than 100 cars were burned in Karachi, while cars and a train were reportedly set on fire in Hyderabad.

In other violence:

  • Police in Peshawar, in the north-west, used batons and tear gas to break up a rally by protesters chanting anti-Musharraf slogans
  • One man was killed in a "shoot-out" between police and protesters in Tando Allahyar, the mayor said
  • Unrest was also reported in Quetta, Multan and Shikarpur
  • 'Security lapse'

    Mr Musharraf has announced three days of national mourning. All schools, colleges, universities, banks and government offices will remain closed.


    Mr Sharif said there had been a "serious lapse in security" by the government.

    Earlier on Thursday, at least four people were killed ahead of an election rally Mr Sharif had been preparing to attend close to Rawalpindi.

    Ms Bhutto's death has plunged the PPP into confusion and raises questions about whether January elections will go ahead as planned, the BBC's Barbara Plett in Islamabad says.

    The killing was condemned by India, the US, the UK and others.

    US President George W Bush telephoned Mr Musharraf for what the White House would only describe as a "brief" conversation on the situation.


    Ms Bhutto returned from self-imposed exile in October after years out of Pakistan where she had faced corruption charges.

    Her return was the result of a power-sharing agreement with President Musharraf

    He had granted an amnesty that covered the court cases she was facing.

    But relations with Mr Musharraf soon broke down.

    On the day of her arrival, she had led a motor cavalcade through the city of Karachi.

    It was hit by a double suicide attack that left some 130 dead.

    Rawalpindi, the nerve centre of Pakistan's military, is seen as one of the country's most secure cities.

    Many analysts say attacks like those on Thursday show the creeping "Talebanisation" of Pakistan.

    Radical Muslims calling for Islamic law, and fiercely opposed to the US, have become increasingly active in Pakistani politics in recent years, analysts say.

    THE ASSASSINATION OF BENAZIR BHUTTO
    Map
    1. Benazir Bhutto had addressed a rally of thousands of supporters in Rawalpindi's Liaqat Bagh Park
    2. As her convoy was leaving the park via the rear gate onto Murree road, she was shot twice in the neck and chest
    3. The gunman then blew himself up killing at least 16 people
    4. Ms Bhutto was taken to Rawalpindi General Hospital, but was pronounced dead at 1816 local time.



    SHE WAS THE LADY WITH STRONG HEART .......HER DEATH SHATTERED WHOLE WORLD

    1 comment:

    saher said...

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