SLIDESHOW- After Benazir- What next for Pakistan?

Asian image Published on the Asian Image Website

By Majed Iqbal- Ever since Benazir stepped backed into Pakistan, security was the key concern for her to ensure she could kick start her Political rallying after securing her deal with the then ‘uniformed’ Musharraf. Her episode in the Karachi Rally where she narrowly escaped death re-asserted the lack of Political security offered from the state and highlighted a new phenomenon on Pakistani terrain- that of suicide bombings, something which was unheard of prior to Pakistan engaging in the War on Terror.

However, last Thursday, Benazir became the new casualty in the episode of this External War which has found a front in Pakistan through the discredited military dictatorship of Musharraf. But this has not been the focus of discussion! Both national and international media have been glued to the tug of war taking place between the government and the Pakistan Peoples Party’s version of events. What exactly happened? Who was the Assassin? Where was security? Was it Bullets, Shrapnel or the bang on the head?

The release of two new videos showing the assassin of Benazir Bhutto firing shots with a hand gun just feet away from her vehicle and the impact of the bullets upon the head of Benazir Bhutto prior to the explosion corroborate the testimonies of eye witnesses who saw shots being fired at the former Pakistani premier as she left the fatal election rally in Rawalpindi. In addition, testimonies from close aides to Bhutto who witnessed her wounds at the time of the attack and when her body was washed for burial confirmed that her death had been caused by shots to the neck/head.

This new evidence coupled with the scenes of Pakistani security forces washing the crime scene just hours after the assassination and conflicting statements from the Interior Ministry claiming that Benazir’s death was caused by shrapnel wounds to the head, later revised to “had bumped her head on the sunroof” have fuelled speculation that Musharraf’s regime is involved in a cover-up!

Whilst Pakistan Peoples Party have tread on glorifying Benazir’s death as equivalent to martyrdom, Musharraf and his government on the other hand have resumed their rant on blaming Al-Qaeda elements in the country and re-asserting their position on how these people are hell bent on destroying the country and are the root cause of the problem- a line of argument which seems to be radically losing credibility now.

“This is not by any means a signature killing by Al Qaeda,” security analyst Nasim Zehra said. “A targeted shooting, even in combination with a familiar suicide bombing, makes it look more like a political killing than one by some militant group”.

With the dynamic events of Benazir’s departure, Pakistan Peoples Party were thrown into abyss especially after months of efforts were made to convince the party itself when Benazir aligned herself to the General in a deal to enter the country which many of her supporters regarded as a betrayal of all that her party stood for.

The election of Bilawal Zardari who even had Bhutto added to his name highlighted the continuation of the Bhutto dynasty of feudal politics and the continuous efforts to keep the PPP binded at this difficult juncture. Indeed these were signs of a party in disarray who were forced to allow a 19 year old student living outside of Pakistan to be chairperson- something which was hardly easy to stomach for senior party members of the PPP.

But history only repeats itself as this situation was not dissimilar from Benazir declaring herself the lifetime president of the PPP and refusing to let her brother Murtaza challenge her. Even now fragmentation is mounting in the Bhutto family as to who is the rightful candidate to assume leadership of the PPP.

Elections are now looming as government and Political parties squabble over dates whilst the masses are starved from the real debate- that is their future in their country and not who is a more suitable party to secure further deals with international powers on the future of the nation. People are demanding representation and participation and demand a departure from dynastical politics and foreign interference. As writer Ahmed Rashid put it: ‘In some constituencies, if the feudals put up their dog as a candidate, that dog would get elected with 99 per cent of the vote.’

According to political scientist Ayesha Siddiqa: “Both the military and the political parties have all failed to create an environment where the poor can get what they need from the state”.

Surely, now is the most apt time for a new leadership and a new system to emerge.

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