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THE ASSASSINATION

With threats at her heels, Benazir had always faced opposition from Islamic extremist groups for her liberalism and support for the US’ War on Terror. Well aware she was of the fate that might await her, Ms Bhutto explicitly brushed it off, in spite of insistences from authorities.

Rawalpindi’s famous Liaquat Bagh was clad with crimson, green and black, on 27th of December 2007. Party songs echoed throughout the wide expanse of the area. For the supporters of Pakistan People’s Party, better known as “jiyalas”, this was just another day when their beloved “Bibi” would speak to, and for, them.

Many thought that Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto would bring back “Bhuttoism” and would free Pakistan from the martial law of General Pervez Musharfaf. But, no one knew what was going to happen soon. Little did they know that their ‘Bibi’ wouldn’t be able to fulfil her pledge of retribution — reconciliation in the form of democracy.

Needless to say, however, that the Bagh presented a sight that would leave everyone awed; a plethora of Sindhis, Punjabis, Pathans, Baloch and Kashmiris.

Benazir had recently returned to Pakistan after an eight-year exile and had narrowly escaped death less than two months ago, which was surely to attract the sympathy of those who showed up at the rally.

With threats at her heels, Benazir had always faced opposition from Islamic extremist groups for her liberalism and support for the US’ War on Terror. Well aware she was of the fate that might await her, Ms Bhutto explicitly brushed it off, in spite of insistences from authorities.

The fruit of her determination could be seen in the eyes of the 5,000 people who had gathered in the Bagh, reeking of hope and infused with spirit, only to reinstate democracy.

The highly anticipated moment came at last, when Benazir entered in her signature ashen scarf, smiling and waving to her jiyalas, who by now had burst into choruses of “Zinda hai Bhutto zinda hai” and “Charon subon ki zanjeer, Wazir-e-Azam Benazir”.

Bhutto’s eloquence and acumen were truly captivating. The “Jan Nisar Benazir” held onto every word that came out of her lips, adorned with the brightest shades of lipstick. Not only this, but hundreds of thousands of people sat near their television screens to, in some way, be a part of this enthralling moment in history.

As soon as Benazir concluded her speech, she was escorted to her white SUV, showered with flowers and outbursts of naras (slogans). Unable to hold herself back, Bibi emerged from the sunroof to the joy of her supporters. And this one move earned her martyrdom, when a finger pulled a trigger and the world witnessed the assassination of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.

It was a matter of seconds. Liaquat Bagh that only some moments ago was presenting an image of a joyous party congregation, had now morphed into no less than a sea of blood, followed by gunshots and explosions that occurred almost simultaneously, killing 20 people and leaving 50 wounded.

PPP, and more rightly Pakistan, had lost a brilliant leader. The Bhutto and Zardari families had lost a daughter, sister, wife and mother. But above all, the world had lost a patron of democracy.

In the course of history, even the greatest of people have made mistakes; Benazir too was no exception to this. Seven years have passed by and still the question that comes to our minds is: Was, for the tyrants, assassinating Benazir justified?

By:Safa Qureshi

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