NEWS

Bomb Attack on Benazir Bhutto's Convoy, Over Hundred Dead

October 18, 2007
temporal

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketOver 135 are dead in two bomb blasts in front of Benazir Bhutto's convoy as it made its way from the Airport to Quaid's Masoleum today.

Millions in Pakistan and abroad were glued to their TV screens watching her departure from Dubai and arrival in Karachi after nearly nine years of self exile.

IF Ms. Bhutto had any premonition she did not show it. In countless interviews and sound bites in the past few days she focussed on the future, brusquely pushing past aside. She talked of providing work and food to the poor, further investigating Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan who sold 'weapons of mass destruction', played ethnic cards - Punjabis versus Sindhis. (Punjab is the majority province and has a major share in the army and bureaucracy. Benazir hails from a feudal Sindhi family.)

* * * * *

A friend sent me an email:

...a whimsical comment from (name edited) "She lands at Karachi airport, with a Tasbih in her hand, an Imam zamin on each arm and someone holding a Holy Book over her head. During the flight she insisted that passengers recite specific prayers that bring good luck. (I assume Ayet ul Kursi is one of them)". ....

And from friend, activist, and journalist Beena Sarwar:

Absar managed to get an interview with Benazir as she stood in front of the truck-top. "The uniform and democracy cannot go together," she said but stressed the virtues of patience and reconciliation – a marked difference from her earlier oppositional rhetoric. Her most important priority on coming to power would be economic betterment and employment opportunities for the people.adding with a gesture to the crowd before her: "It is for these people that I, and my family, and my party workers have given so many sacrifices."
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
The latest reports from Geo Network puts the numbers of dead at over 135. ARY puts the numbers in similar proximity. And these numbers are expected to climb.

The suicide blast occurred around midnight Karachi time at Karsaz, on Shahrah e Faisal a few miles from the Quaide e Azam International Airport.

Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto arrived Back in Karachi nearly nine years after self exile. Ministers in General Pervez Musharraf's Government who were in communication with Benazir and her PPP colleagues had privately and publicly warned her to delay her arrival because of terrorist threats.


According to Daily Times (Oct. 05) Baitullah Mahsud, a Pakistani Taliban leader had threatened to carry out suicide attacks against Bhutto.

She put on a brave face, saying she could not go back on her words. On January 5, 2007 she declared that she will return to Pakistan this year.

In July her meeting with Gen. Musharraf was revealed. She had been negotiating an amnesty deal with his government for some time.

Publicly she insisted that PPP (whose chairperson for life she is) had three non negotiable conditions prior to supporting President Musharraf's bid for re-election.

1: The President shedding his uniform.
2: Repeal of Article 58(2)b (The President can dissolve an elected government under this)
3: Repeal of law barring a third term as PM. (both Benazir and Nawaz Sharif have been PM twice).

There were other issues such a "Free and Fair Elections" and repeal of corruption and other cases against her and her husband Asif Zardari.

In the end she settled only for the dropping of corruption and money laundering charges against her and Zardari and a promise by Gen. Musharraf to doff off the uniform sometime in future.

Speculations are rife that Conoleeza Rice brokered this 'deal'.

An enraged friend called me. "t if you are writing about this please quote me. "She took measures to provided for her own security - her bullet proof truck, her 'jialas' surrounding her entourage, she called her supporters from all over Pakistan to come and receive her in a 'sea of heads' yet she abysmally failed to recognise the dangers to their security. In her haste to return to Pakistan, I hold BB personally responsible for the deaths of every single one of the civilians who succumbed today."

Benazir was made aware of serious threats against her return. Was she wise to ignore them?

For more read
HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

photos courtesy AP

love people who are in awe of words. words are the sole arbiter and the final survivor. desicritic editor, slave and slave-driver.
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#1
Deepti Lamba
URL
October 18, 2007
10:25 PM

t, I can understand your friend's rage- politicians rarely care about the common masses. My heartfelt condolences to the families who've lost their loved ones in the blast- they were true heroes

#2
BJ Kumar
October 18, 2007
11:15 PM


My sincere condolences to those affected by today's blast - those who are injured and the family members of those who were killed.

Over one hundred killed. For what? For exercising their right to assemble as free people?

It is wrong to make an issue of "should she have or shouldn't she have". There is no guarantee that at a later time of return, things would not have been just as violent or even worse!

I do not know much of or care for Ms. Bhutto's past track record or anything about alleged corruption. But one thing is certain. The Good Lord has created a situation where the country needs real leaders - with ability and courage, who can put the country ahead of anything else. It is an opportunity for her - should she be able to rise up to it, her past record will be considered a mere side note to what she can achieve in the rest of her career!

Today's events are distressing - absolutely distressing! But there is no other real way except to move forward! That is the only way not to stay stuck where the country has been for far too long.

#3
temporal
URL
October 18, 2007
11:53 PM

the lady in green with head covered in white
floats over smoky corpses sunni and shite

wheeling, dealing, negotiating her way
camouflaged as free and fair power outlay

to usher in some khakhi demo-crazy

#4
Paulus
URL
October 19, 2007
02:01 AM

It is always the innocent that suffer and my heart goes out to them. They are caught in an ugly battle between angry seekers for power.

I have been struggling to understand what is going on in the Middle East and it's starting to make sense to me. There is a civil war throughout the region and it was only a matter of time before Pakistan would be drawn in deeply.

It is not surprising that the spark that finally lit the flame was the arrival of a high profile advocate of moderation in the person of Benazir Bhutto.

The battle we are seeing is for the leadership of Muslim fundamentalism. I have written a series of articles which analyse how this situation has evolved to try to provide a simple explanation of what is at stake. If you are interested the link is:

http://www.thinkhard.org/middleeast/index.html

#5
Aaman
URL
October 19, 2007
02:18 AM

Valid points, Paulus.

Pakistan is at probably the most critical inflection point thus far in its history.

Paulus, become a Desicritic and write for us - mail me at desicritics at gmail dot com

#6
Sanjay
October 19, 2007
02:54 AM

Benazir doesn't care about anybody except herself.

After all, it was her govt which made the Taliban.
When she was in power, it was her interior minister, General Naseerullah Babar who created the Taliban, which were partially comprised of Pakistani commandos.

And now she portrays herself as a liberal who wants to help rid the world of their menace. Kind of like that version of the Pied Piper story, where he was the one to bring the rats to town in the first place.

#7
updike98
URL
October 19, 2007
04:34 AM

India's fatal engagement with the LTTE is a cautionary tale.That took away a bright politician from our political scene.TamilNadu politics still has a hangover.Such was the penetration.Mind you the common man had sympathy for the srilankan tamils but not for the LTTE.Pakistani politics and national life may pay a higher price than India .Let there no self congratulatory thoughts in Indian minds a big"pralaya" possibly nuclear is in the offing for the whole subcontinent.

#8
Zainub
URL
October 19, 2007
06:26 AM

I am not a supporter of Musharraf, I'm not a supporter of Benazir and certainly I'm not a supporter of Taliban, but I do relate with the common men and women of my country (even if I sometime shake my head on the choices they make). And it pains me to see that once again it is us - the common folk - that have to pay the massive price (sacrifice of life, of the sense of security of the city, of millions of rupees in economic losses and much more) for the political games of the powers to be.

I had covered the event live for Karachi Metroblog and later reflected on it on my own blog as well, but it still hasn't sunk in. My mind keeps wondering, why? Why must we think so little of the sanctity of human life so as to so brutally and so audaciously destroy it without any sensitivity for some secondary political gain? I really don't know who's behind this, but what disturbs me the most is the psychology that could allow this to happen in the first place. I'm beginning to feel shame in my own capacity as a human being, that any other fellow human being, can all call him or her self a human being, and conceive something inhumane like this. Sigh.

#9
Ruvy in Jerusalem
October 19, 2007
09:43 AM

Paulus,

I read your well written article and it appears to cover the material well. But no article about the strains of Islam would be complete without mentioning the Sufi on the one side, and the hijacking of Islam by the Salafi/Wahhabi on the other.

To everyone else,

Have there been mentions made of "credit" claimed for this terrible act?

#10
kela
October 19, 2007
10:10 AM

#4"It is always the innocent that suffer and my heart goes out to them. They are caught in an ugly battle between angry seekers for power"

these cronies of BB were only more innocent because they made that lesser money.

#11
Sirius
October 19, 2007
12:41 PM

She is like Lady Nightingale in a wartorn battlefield. Hope she comes out successfully and brings peace to this ailing nation.

#12
Sanjay
October 19, 2007
02:59 PM

She's no nightingale -- she's a vulture. She thinks she was born to rule, because of her daddy. Whatever limited ability her daddy had, she doesn't even have that.

In Pakistan, the vultures are powerful enough, and the people are weak-minded enough, that they all jointly ensure their country's downfall.

When Musharraf took power in the coup, no Pakistanis cared to raise their voice against it, and instead actually defended Musharraf for defeating "the corruption of the elected politicians"

Well, Mushy's honeymoon is long since over, and now the hapless Pakistani masses are once again clamouring for those "corrupt elected politicians" to come back.

Like a fickle person who doesn't know what they want, and instead keeps bouncing from one choice to another, the Pakistanis are now finding they have run out of "saviors", and are now forced to live with the mess they've created for themselves.

#13
temporal
URL
October 19, 2007
05:05 PM

BJ:

Over one hundred killed. For what?

take a pick from the following

(a) who cares
(b) who cares
(c) who cares

#14
temporal
URL
October 19, 2007
05:12 PM

Paulus:

thanks for your comments ... yes the innocents suffer most!

read the articles in the link you provided and it appears when you talk of "middle-east" your aim was "narrow" and focussed rather singularly

wish you success in your endeavours

in time, hope you will broaden your focus

please do consider joining DC as aaman suggested

#15
temporal
URL
October 19, 2007
05:16 PM

sanjay 6 and 12:

Benazir doesn't care about anybody except herself.

true!

the rest of your comments were the usual hotch-potch from a self confessed atheist...e.g. it wasn't babar (try gul)

;)

#16
temporal
URL
October 19, 2007
05:19 PM

updike:

Pakistani politics and national life may pay a higher price than India .

sadly, yes.

#17
Sanjay
October 19, 2007
05:22 PM

Nope, it was Naseerullah Babar, Benazir's Interior Minister. Others only came to control things later. People like Gul only work through cronyist backchannels. He no longer has any authority, he's just a retired guy.

#18
temporal
URL
October 19, 2007
05:26 PM

zainub:

And it pains me to see that once again it is us - the common folk - that have to pay the massive price ..

i will agree with above minus the underlined

you, me...in fact any one who has access to the internet, understands and write in this language most certainly does not fall under that category

yes we do have a lot in common with them...but we are so far removed from them!.. the common man cannot come up for coffee at the second floor...just wanted to make this distinction

#19
temporal
URL
October 19, 2007
05:30 PM

ruvy:

not yet

kela:

hunh?

sirius:

She is like Lady Nightingale in a wartorn battlefield. Hope she comes out successfully and brings peace to this ailing nation.

we are not talkaing about the same person;)

sanjay:

read up on hamid gul...yes both are retired;)

#20
temporal
URL
October 19, 2007
05:35 PM

dee:

t, I can understand your friend's rage-

she was...and is still...extremely upset...and she is not a political person...the senselessness of it all will take time to abate

#21
Zainub
URL
October 19, 2007
06:22 PM

What I meant by common, was some one who was or is not directly involved in this power-struggle and political games, but yes I agree, I don't have much in common with those who died apart from that.

Most of them , I suspect were poor, scarcely educated and disillusioned people (they came out to support BB, after all her crimes against them!), but that's we really ought to have even more sympathy with them.

Many of the mass gatherings we see for these politcal rallies (remember the big pro-Musharraf, PML-Q rally in Islo on May 12, and the same sized if not bigger pro-MQM rally in Karachi on the same day?) are only so mass because these people are poor, and cannot resist, for taking a principle stand, the offer to go attend one of these rallies in exchange of Rs.1500-2000+new clothes and fresh, tasty food the day+free traveling expenses. It offers many of them a unique and rare entertainment experience if anything.

This reminds me of something I was told when I said I wouldn't buy a pirated CD because I considered my self a champion of copyright laws, and any support for privacy hence as crime. Some one answered me by telling, well lucky for you, you're rich, you can afford such principles, not everyone can. After initially finding that a bit offensive, I was able to see the sense behind it.

Poverty and the resulting ignorance is the root of most of Pakistan's problem. If some of these people weren't as poor and better educated, they'd know better then to signal their support for leaders that have looted them with little semblance of regret or shame.

But please don't ask my the root cause of poverty it self, because I don't know! I suspect it may something to do with improper distribution of wealth and how the economic progress isn't making a difference to the lives of these people, and instead just making the rich already richer and the poor more poorer.

#22
anonymous
URL
October 20, 2007
01:25 AM

what sacrifice is benazir talking about?what happened to the so called feeling of patriotism and love for her people when she was away?these politicians flee the country to save their skin and enjoy a life of luxury abroad leaving their country and people in a mess..then they make a comeback when they see an opportunity ..and dont care the the bloodbath that follows!politicians are born dramatists ..they cud outdo the bollywood..!they manage to hypotise the masses for their political gains..!
someone said its illiteracy and poverty which makes people elect a bad leader!but then is there much choice in the genre of leaders..all feathers of the same stock!

#23
Sanjay
October 21, 2007
12:02 AM

Notice that in the US and most developed countries, there is no dearth of candidates to go around. Even in India, there are a zillion and one people who put their hat in the ring for election to the top job. But in Pakistan, they all wait with baited breath for the one Benazir, or the one Nawaz, etc, etc. It shows that the country is only ruled between the army and powerful wealthy families. There is nothing else. There is no other Pakistan. Nobody else there has any ability to organized politically to take a run for the leadership. The country is worthless.

#24
kela
October 21, 2007
01:00 AM

Sanjay weren't you talking about Individual ability on another thread...?

#25
Sanjay
October 21, 2007
04:39 AM

kela, by individual ability, that means there is individual responsibility and individual initiative. Pakistanis are just sitting around waiting for someone else to come save them. They're totally unable to bring forth political alternatives from the mass public. It's pathetic.

#26
temporal
URL
October 21, 2007
12:00 PM

the sad reality is the occupying army and its allies...the MIBF...do not wish to see real democracy come to the fore...

and even sadder .....this cabal has support from the west

#27
left right
October 21, 2007
10:38 PM

Do you think she will win the coming elections?
Was that a baseball hat she was wearing when she stepped out of the plane?

From what I read she seems to have exaggerated sense that she is the only hope for Pakistan.

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