Thursday, November 15, 2007

Lights Out in Karachi

Loyal reader B directed me to an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times that all but accuses Benazir Bhutto of assassinating one of her main political rivals in 1996.

The hook, as they say, is that the accuser is Bhutto’s niece and the alleged victim is her father—Benazir Bhutto’s brother.

My father was a member of Parliament and a vocal critic of his sister's politics. He was killed outside our home in 1996 in a carefully planned police assassination while she was prime minister. There were 70 to 100 policemen at the scene, all the streetlights had been shut off and the roads were cordoned off. Six men were killed with my father. They were shot at point-blank range, suffered multiple bullet wounds and were left to bleed on the streets.

My father was Benazir's younger brother. To this day, her role in his assassination has never been adequately answered, although the tribunal convened after his death under the leadership of three respected judges concluded that it could not have taken place without approval from a "much higher" political authority.

Things must be pretty tense around the Thanksgiving table at the Bhutto family reunion, that’s all I can say.

And it certainly makes the Democracy on the march in Pakistan narrative overly complicated, so I don’t expect to see a lot of follow-on.

My loyal reader also pointed out that the mechanics of the assassination attempt on Ms. Bhutto were similar to those employed in the murder of her brother.

VOA:

Ms. Bhutto said that there were circumstances about the attack that needed to be investigated, particularly why streetlights along her motorcade route were not working, forcing her guards to use floodlights to search the crowd for threats.

"And while I'm not blaming the government for the assassination attacks on me at this stage, nonetheless, we need to have an inquiry as to why the streetlights have been shut (off)," Bhutto said.

Witnesses along her route said security had been tight at the start of Ms. Bhutto's procession from the airport in Karachi following her return to Pakistan after eight years of self-imposed exile. But they said the police cordon around her grew more lax after several hours.

Pakistan Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao said officials had urged Ms. Bhutto not to drive through Karachi because of the difficulty of protecting her during the long exposure to crowds.

He said officials asked her repeatedly to fly by helicopter. He said, because the leadership of her Pakistan People's Party refused to agree to a flight, they bear some responsibility for the attack.


Did Bhutto stage the attack on herself?

A hostile Karachi blogger thinks so:

On 18th of October, everyone was asked to stay home. These were the orders from all the family members, and not just mine but my friends’ too. Everyone knew it was “NOT SAFE” to go out even on the eve of Bhutto’s return.

While watching the procession from the morning till late at night, everyone knew that something’s going to happen. It seemed they were all watching TV to see when it actually takes place. The tragedy moved us all. This is how this nation is made to bleed. All those people walking beside Ms. Bhutto’s “bullet-proof” and “rocket proof” were poor common people. Most of them were paid to be there. How many of those poor souls might have thought that the money would cost them their lives. More than 130 people died, more than 500 were injured!

I laughed out loud sarcastically when I heard on T.V that the attack was an assassination attempt on Bhutto. Hello… For me or others who have “BRAINS” know that if Bhutto really was the target, she was a clear shot. One sniper, and no one would have ever known where the bullet came from. The blast took place near her well-protected car when she was INSIDE, RESTING!

It took her a few minutes to reach her home right after the blast. The people were scattered everywhere when her car braved away from the scene to her well protected home in Clifton.

Everyone of us watched the tragedy on T.V. It’s like acid being poured inside our windpipes.
...
It hurts me to say this. But I will mercilessly be blatant into saying that people who were there were sacrificed to ensure that Bhutto has sympathy of the rest of the world.


Hmmm.

Maybe Ms. Bhutto didn’t plan an attack on herself that might provoke international outrage and the Full-Hariri—a hostile, destabilizing international investigation of the Musharraf government.

But she must have felt a familiar and perhaps guilty thrill of horror as she saw the lights go out in Karachi.

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