Will someone now apologize that the pretext on which the Pakistani FM Shah Ahmad Qureshi is demanding UN investigation is not on the suspicion of a domestic cover up but a greater intrigue of an intra-national scale? I owe this article to the soul of BB; the shameless accusation of her death through a nonexistent bullet that was never the case (Scotland Yard), and the crime scene being washed by overeager foolish police diluted the emphasis on the main culprit and effectively put Pakistanis on a collision course with their own selves.
Scandalous politicising of her remembrance is the ultimate human and moral low with which some of these present leaders who played with her demise will have to live with. If not their own conscience that should prick them daily, I am sure history will not forgive them. The present sufferings of Pakistanis are a partial result of schematic minds that are frightened of their own shadows. This article is written as a note to posterity. It is a rehash version of what I had written some months back.(*) Most of those predictions have come spot on.Rising tide of Islamic extremism in Pakistan is the result of coalition continued appeasement with killers of BB. marginalization of previous strategy in name of 'appeasement is now raising nightmarish specter for the western strategists.
In New York yesterday, Pakistani FM Shah Ahmad Qureshi, in reply to correspondents, finally spilled the beans on the so-called conspiracy theory. According to him, the reason for bringing BB’s case to the UN is to investigate the involvement of ‘foreign nation’ in her assassination plot. Bhutto's party, which now heads a coalition government, has demanded an international investigation by the United Nations. Its purpose would be "identifying the culprits, perpetrators, organizers and financiers behind the assassination ... with a view to bring them to justice," Qureshi said.
Let’s avenge her youthful death that came at the hands of vandals at our doors. Can we all unite to eradicate this cancer of fanaticism and radicalism amongst us? The real war starts now. Let’s get rid of these elements of extremism amongst us. There is no ‘foreign power’ that has killed her, the enemy is within us and we are appeasing them; no need to find killers elsewhere, they are holed up where they are, go get them. Pakistan's previous government, British police and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency have accused militants of killing Bhutto.
Certain names were mentioned as the killers. The connection of these ruthless killers to Al-Qaida’s Baitulah core group was rubbished by the Pakistani politicians as a cheap ploy. Everyone, including the world media, tried to implicate Musharraf into it. By accepting Al-Qaida hand in BB’s murder, the liberal western press felt that they indirectly strengthened the hands of Bush coalition, as war against terror appeared defensible.
BB was an immense representative of Pakistan. In a classic exhibition of political opportunism and to trade political advantage over her death, her party’s leadership created every possible kind of doubt as to the identity of the murderers and channelled the media attention to plots by domestic agencies, even though the events that unfolded conclusively showed that the real architects of crime were Alqaeda/ Baitullah Massod axis.
The efforts to politicise her murder were a wretched mind’s exercise to gain political mileage at the expense of the country. In a discreditable show of convenience the PPP /PML N leadership and media ignored the telltale signature of Al-Qaida on BB’s murder script and created suspicions that today have helped these assassins to threat the very leadership who authored this heinous script of conspiracy. As a result, they are rarely in the country, they only feel safe outside. People keep asking as to why the leadership stays more out than in; the answer is appeasement of the terrorists that has turned a full circle.
What the Pakistani rank and file should ask today is whether our nation deserved such cold-hearted and pitiless attitude towards a calamity of such colossal proportions? How can we survive the consequences of conspiracy theories? The lack of trust of authority and government is mind boggling? Who is responsible for derailing the Pakistani economy and confidence?
Implicating Musharraf helped the domestic politics and also the liberal cause and it sold well. A dictator screws up again - the line that was sold post-BB murder. The Pakistani politicians who authored the script of conspiracy, with their own resentment against Musharraf, joyously went singing along this line of thinking. But here comes the big thaw. It appears that Pakistani government’s version was right and every one seems to agree.
In a US election year, in a bizarre perverted demonstration and rare unity of political expediency with Pakistani politicians, as varied as PPP, PML and the extreme right, the western liberals joined hands with ideological foes and feverishly avoided putting the callous cold-blooded murder of BB in Al-Qaida’s account. This rainbow coalition’s extreme aims converged on a one-point agenda: to implicate the bespectacled dictator. Politics over her dead body was brazenly cold blooded. The killers were given a carte blanche to continue butchery at the expense of a burning Pakistan; the creation of doubt is one cause for derailment of the economy, the resulting freeze in productivity and collateral damages in collection of revenue derailed and was the first mortal blow to the economy of the country. Today, her party coalition is suffering from that conspiracy theory fallout, the terrorists who killed her are scot-free and have issued new warnings to the brainchild of this conspiracy theory. The main leaders are afraid of their own shadows for the simple reason that they gave into the black warrant of Baitullah Masood.
Politics over her dead body was not limited to treacherous Pakistani politicians, it extended much beyond the borders; the global outcry and initial reaction was outrageously anti-Musharraf. In democratic and liberal echelons, the new policy of ‘appeasement’ and talk with 'cohorts' of OBL work plans out far better if Mush is implicated as an inefficient and inept dictator who failed to save her, therefore these conspiracy theories are further encouraged and Al-Qaida connection is diluted. The threats of assassination by the vandals rule the minds of most of these minnow leaders. By deflecting charges on Baitullah Masood, they wanted to save their own necks from his cruel reach; this is a callous show of infidelity and expediency towards the great woman. Today her killers are on a spree to kill more Pakistanis, the moment where the nation could have stood united behind eradication of ‘terrorists’ was lost to a ‘fleeting merriment’ of scoring points against Musharraf and the security agencies of the country. What a shame that these very security agencies within 90 days were given the task of cleaning up the ‘Augean Stables’ of vandals around Peshawar.
When Pakistan security forces arrested a teen suspect in Benazir’s assassination, I contemplated that politics is always a match between the greater evil and the lesser evil. The greater good and lesser good are never a part of politics. Post poignant and tear-jerking tragedy of BB’s callous murder, PPP and the entire political leadership of the country, instead of joining in unison to condemn the perpetrators of the murder, tried to implicate Musharraf and his regime with absolutely no regard for the consequences or repercussions of a conspiracy theory that such a tragedy could hold for Pakistan.
The pictures of the sharply guillotined head of the bomber/and killer were released within 24 hours. A tape recorded conversation of Baitullah Mehsud and the field operators congratulating each other on a very successful operation was also released.
BM: Congratulations to you, were they our men? MS: Yes they were ours. BM: Who were they? MS: There was Saeed, there was Bilal from Badar and Ikramullah. BM: The three of them did it? MS: Ikramullah and Bilal did it. BM: Then congratulations. MS: Where are you? I want to meet you. BM: I am at Makeen (town in South Waziristan tribal region), come over, I am at Anwar Shah's house. MS: OK, I'll come. BM: Don't inform their house for the time being. MS: OK. BM: It was a tremendous effort. They were really brave boys who killed her. MS: Mashallah (Thank God). When I come I will give you all the details.
The recording in Pushto as released...
Whatever the role of dirty Pakistani political leadership was, it was eclipsed by the liberal western media who avoided pinning the blame for their own little politics to continue. Any icon of secularism and democracy rising within the nation of Islam are systematically eliminated by the extremists. The ‘killing of Pakistani hope’ carried a lot more political mileage within USA. BB represented hope for a nation at a crossroads. Her Al-Qaida-led elimination justified continued campaign of smoking Al-Qaida out of holes. If established that Al-Qaida was behind her murder, it would have justified continuous vigil and follow up of the war on terror. The western liberal media in its haste to discount an ally of Bush and thrash Bush support of 10 billion dollars to Pakistanis as “money wasted,” inadvertently joined hands with the expedient domestic politicians who wanted to protect the skin of their next of kin Al-Qaida and were myopically settling for their own petty political scores.
Public outcry and rage against the extremists, if rightly directed, would have given the Army a carte blanche for the next few years against the extremists; that opportunity was lost to ‘political convenience’ across the board. An army action with 100 percent support of people has a different impact and result. BB, even from her grave, would have been most instrumental in wreaking havoc on extremism and militancy that she hated.
It is only the reckless who make their own job difficult; a government-in-waiting should not just look for votes, but make sure when they enter the government and take over a state, the economy stays in full swing and the exchequer remains full to the brim. The huge losses led to a budgetary deficit exploding from 4.55% of the GDP to 7.5% that led to enormous borrowing from the central bank and added to higher interest rates. Insurance losses of 250 billion-plus were needed to be paid by the national exchequer. This added a new bout of inflation, slowdown of economy and loss of jobs. The tasks of the incoming government became twice as bulky. They axed their own legs before even swearing in and now ask what hit them. It is these conspiracy theories that are now haunting them and their shadows, there is no appeasement of the killers.
Governance is difficult business and those responsible for ‘politicisation of her murder,’ riding on huge sympathy votes and anti-Mush rage, definitely won the election. But situation they created by allowing conspiracy to take hold and creating divisions made their own task very difficult. What a way to go making their own job harder! By encouraging conspiracy and doubts to implicate Mush, they have now sown the seed whereby in the government, they face similar challenges. The real culprits who want to subvert Pakistan and make it a ‘religious caliphate’ were given a clean slate by a bunch of very ‘secular imprudent people.’ The real murderers can now cherry pick their leaders to eliminate and still get away with all this carnage. WE as a nation are paying a price for ineptitude and power lusty gamesmanship post-BB murder. The political leadership of our country remains inept, futile and totally power hungry with no idea of penalties emerging from dreadful results of political expediency.
Regretfully, one more time, short-term gains to catch on sympathy votes led to compromises that paralyzed the incoming government as they try to tackle the tentacles of huge Al-Qaida presence. No one will ever believe in official story if any of the current leader is eliminated, the seed of distrust has so innately been sown. The killers can go on selective killing without any remorse, those who tried to entangle others have been caught in the tentacles of the cabal. For Pakistanis, most unfortunately, one who is in power is never to be trusted - BB, NS, Mush and now PPP - face this predicament. Those who wrote the script to incriminate Mush and the government in this atrocious crime forgot that they had to run this country and face the same enemy of equally ferocious wrath. Now they are dancing to the ‘enemy tunes’ instead of its elimination. The soul of BB demands that we avenge her assassination, not by words, but by elimination of extremism and militancy. Musharraf direct action against terrorists is now replaced with wait and see plus dilly dallying attitude of new coalition partners either they change it or the terrorists will devour what remains of this nearly bankrupt coalition. Welcome to free fall democratic Pakistan.
Iqbal Latif writes for the Global Politician about Islam and related issues.