Monday, December 29, 2008

Who Killed Benazir Bhutto?

By Saeed Qureshi

December 27 is the first death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto, the Chairperson of the Pakistan Peoples Party and the wife of Asif Ali Zardari the President of Pakistan. She was killed in mysterious circumstances after her address at the Rawalpindi Public rally. It is still to be concluded whether she was killed by snipers or by the mammoth blast that killed scores of others. Besides filing of an FIR after much of hassle and arresting some youngsters, there is no other progress in sight to unearth the plot, the plotter and the identity of the assassins of a remarkable political icon.

Referring the case to the United Nations for investigation has further delayed the probe and perhaps placed the emergent matter indefinitely on the back burner. The ruling PPP has seldom issued any updates on the development or progress with regard to the probe that in fact should have been conducted with a sense of utmost urgency and due speed. It appears no one is truly serious in the party echelons, about assassination of BB for unexplained reasons.

To mark her first death anniversary, however, certainly a high sounding program has been announced by the prime minister and party cadres. Among this is the reading of the holy Quran (Quran Khawani) for more than 10 million times to bless her soul and for her redemption. There would be rallies, public and party meetings to recall her services and sacrifices and pay tribute to her. She is no doubt a political martyr and this aspect of her political struggle would be highlighted during the anniversary period. As is customary, some prisoners might also be released to add compassion to this sad event.

But this sublime show of love and solidarity with BB cannot distract the people of Pakistan generally and the PPP rank and file especially from the nagging question as to who killed her. This distressing question would keep lurking in the minds as to why this high profile murder case is being evidently turned into a blind and closed case. If there was a government other than the PPP at helm in Pakistan then one could expect such willful sidetracking of this heinous crime that has deprived the PPP of its celebrated leader of international repute and fame. This utter disregard and patent indifference towards Benazir Bhutto’s assassination by her own party in power is as baffling as it is questionable.

At the media level many intriguing and valid question marks are being pointed out that provide positive and worthwhile clues to the suspects who could have masterminded the physical removal of BB from the political scene. The latest is a special investigative report presented on Geo by Hamid Mir, the reputed journalist and well known anchor person. This report gives well researched and abundant indicators towards the killers and their abettors of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. If at all the incumbent government of PPP and especially the widowed president Asif Ali Zardari and Interior Minister Rehman Malik are still curious about finding the culprits of Benazir’s murder then they can pick up the threads from this report. To suppress, discourage or shelve the inquiry for indenifte period will not end the matter and in due course of time it would raise more questions. The biggest question would be why PPP didn’t show the required zeal and concern to find the murderers of a person who was not only a great political figure, daughter of the party’s founder but also the Chairperson of the PPP, that is now in power because of her epic struggle and consequential martyrdom.

Dealing with India

By Saeed Qureshi

In the backdrop of Mumbai episode, India is bending heavily over backward to utilize the aftermath for the unacceptable option of carrying out punitive air strikes on the chosen targets in Pakistan. For a neighbor to ask for such permission from the United Nations is as weird as it is lethal to the territorial integrity of a sovereign country. Pakistan has already been under enormous burgeoning pressure from United States to use its armed forces and other heavy handed means to annihilate the radical Islamic militants from the region starting from Afghanistan to the extreme periphery of Kashmir.

One would wonder if the Mumbai bloody melo-drama was deliberately enacted to achieve the concealed yet coveted objective of having a walk over the territory of Pakistan and Kashmir and to glibly and indiscriminately bomb any place anywhere. In peace times, this very unusual demand or petition that India is making against such a neighbor that has gone a long way to normalize bilateral relations in all avenues with her. India wants the same leverage and queer rights that Israel is exercising against the Palestinians. In the latest missile attack Israel killed over 300 Palestinians. But is Pakistan what Palestine is?

Pakistan is a sovereign state in existence and a member of the United Nations. The state of Palestine is yet to appear and take a physical shape. The kind of rift between Israel and Palestine is anchored on legitimate demand for the statehood of an uprooted people. India and Pakistan are already two independent states resulting from the partition of India via an established international covenant. The incident of Mumbai is no parallel to the deep rooted and historical conflict between Israel and the Palestinian nation.

The 9/11 event is also no match to the Mumbai incident. The 9/11 event is a mega sized act of terrorism and the Mumbai is a miniscule local event. The United States has not been able to conclusively establish the identities of the 9/11 perpetrators as the Indian government is far from being candid and unambiguous about the individuals or backdoor abettors actually responsible for the Mumbai carnage. But to go for monstrous reprisal in the form of military aerial forays against Pakistan, in the footsteps of America, would be a grievous folly that would entail horrific consequences for the region. If India is under the illusion that it was the most opportune time to squeeze Pakistan from both the Eastern and the western fronts, then it can be merely erroneous and wishful thinking.

This is for the first time that India has blamed the Pakistan based radical Islamic organization for Mumbai calamity. Earlier the Kashmiris freedom fighters were held responsible for the storming of the Parliament building in New Delhi in December 2001. Some other similar attacks were also attributed to the Kashmir militants. While India brackets Pakistan government and its intelligence agencies as the accomplices in these activities with the militants, it conveniently forgets that Pakistan has also suffered enormously at the hands of these faceless radicals who treat India and Pakistan at par, in that Pakistan is being punished for its partnership with Us while India is out-rightly considered as an un-islamic country and killer of countless Kashmiri muslims. This is simple logic that should be known to the keen observers of the beliefs and modus operandi of these new born crusaders. There seems to be more than meets the eyes in the Indian call for attacking the militants’ targets in Pakistan.

If some how Pakistan comes under pressure and is subjected to the UN sanctions, then obviously India will be free to also curb and crush with full might, the Kashmiris’ uprising against the Indian occupation, now apace for six decades. But before that it would like to cripple and contain Pakistan’s potential to pursue the Kashmir cause through various channels. There cannot be a better time to achieve this agenda as the present one, when Pakistan army was bogged down on the Western front against its own people and India has become a strategic partner with the United States.

An objective assessment would lead a dispassionate observer to the conclusion that no matter how much Pakistan stoops low before the Indian conditionalities for peaceful coexistence, India would not relent in asking for more. The reason is that Pakistan has always been a thorn in the side of India. India displayed its historic animus towards Pakistan by dismembering the latter in 1971.

Since 1971, Pakistan has remained embarked upon a path of reconciliation and appeasement with India. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took giant leaps to make friendship with India so much so that the then Indian prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee traveled to Lahore in a bus in February 1999. That visit culminated in the historic Lahore Declaration. The Lahore Declaration spelled out various steps for normalizing relations between the two nations. President Pervez Musharraf during his rule of 9 years made every effort to win Indian goodwill. He is on record of mellowing down and drastically departing from Pakistan’s traditional stand on Kashmir with regard to a plebiscite. But India seldom seemed content with these measures although these were detrimental to Pakistan and to Pervez Musharraf’s personal standing as a patriotic or nationalist sovereign.

President Asif Zardari has gone extra mile to break the barriers of acrimony and distrust between the two neighbors. He has outstripped his pro-conciliation predecessors with India by declaring Kashmiri insurgents as terrorists and suggesting the elimination of the boundary line between the two countries. But India doesn’t seem to be convinced that Pakistan can be a friendly country. India refuses to buy the idea that the recent Mumbai attacks were carried out solely by the disparate militant groups and were not sponsored by Pakistan and her intelligence outfits.

It is my considered opinion that India will not rest till Pakistan disappears from the world map. India with an enormous goodwill around the world will keep cashing on the international support to fulfill her agenda of further truncating Pakistan or reducing its size to the level of the East Punjab. There can’t be a more propitious and opportune time than to do it now when the incumbent leadership in Pakistan is as weak and fractious as it is shorn of valor and a strong will to stand up to blunt the foreign dictates. They lack an emphatic commitment and the clear vision to protect the motherland.

Pakistan should set a limit to curry favor with India and stop taking things lying down. As India is to Pakistan, a hostile country gets emboldened if not resisted or counterpoised by courage and determination. If the final clash is to take place then let it be so. The incumbent Pakistani leadership that is more focused on extravaganza and puerile frivolities than serving their bedeviled nation, should come out of its complacent frame and should tell India “enough is enough”

There cannot be a more sublime cause than to go down fighting for safeguarding the national honor and geographical integrity. But if Pakistan surrenders hands down, history will judge Pakistani leaders as spineless betrayers to a country and a nation that was carved out with a dogged spirit for freedom despite a combined opposition and treachery from Indians and the British imperialists. Let Pakistan fight on all fronts and fight to the last. To procure peace by becoming a protégé and a client state of India is ignominious and must be discarded. It’s time to talk plainly also to the Americans to not drag us too much in a quagmire that would ultimately devour us as a united country. Signs of fissures and cracks have already started appearing in the national unity within Pakistan.