I was greatly shocked to hear of Benazir Bhutto‘s death. Around the time she was assassinated, I was catching up with a few old friends. I heard the news on BBC Radio as I drove home, and like many others, was stunned for a moment, not able to believe the fact that she was dead.
She was one of those political figures who never seemed to disappear totally from the spotlight. Like all other politicians, she wasn’t perfect but she provided competition to a dictator and brought hope for fairer elections. Democracy is weaker without her.
BBC Radio interviewed an old schoolmate of Bhutto’s who said there were aspects of her that were not seen in public life, such as being a devoted mother, and having a witty sense of humour. I immediately wondered how her children were feeling at this point in time.
When I got home, I went straight to CNN.com which already set up a special page for her, and watched the video of the last moments as she finished her speech and moved off in a car. I caught another video of the aftermath, where people ran about in a state of chaos and the camera zoomed in to her car, which had stopped moving.
Catching up with other social media feeds, I saw how some people were closely tracking the news of her death. Steve Rubel noted how Bhutto was now number 1 on Google Trends. Wikipedia has been quickly updated to reflect that their entry on Bhutto is about a person who has recently died.
Time may allow the truth to unfold. Who killed her? Was it her closest political rival, or extremists who could not stand for the woman to take power again? Either way, murder is not a solution. It will open Pandora’s box instead. It could lead to some uncomfortable questions.
For instance, what will the US Government do if it learns that the man they’ve supported in their ‘war against terror’ had something to do with the assassination? Then again, Pervez Musharraf has also had his fair share of assassination attempts. What might happen is if the public suspects Musharraf to be behind Bhutto’s murder, his own life will be in danger when others attempt ‘revenge attacks’. The Pakistani Government must do all it can to restore order and trust to minimise the chances of more violence occurring. Of course, this is much easier said than done.
Over a decade ago, I was also shocked and saddened by the death of another great politician, Yitzhak Rabin. I cried when I heard he was assassinated, because he was one of the few men who could have brokered for peace in the Middle East. Of course, to some he was seen as a sell-out, but there must always be give and take to have reconciliation. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.
A poignant quote from Nawaz Sharif, another former PM and rival:
“My heart is bleeding and I’m as grieved as you are.”