May, Bhutto and Terrorism

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By Wajid Shamsul Hasan

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s address to the 72nd Annual session of UNGA in New York was music to my ears. In an emotional speech Ms May-her country becoming victim of frequent acts of terrorism-reminded the world of her friend Benazir Bhutto who was martyred by terroristsĀ a decade ago.” This year is the tenth anniversary of the death of the woman who introduced me to my husband, and who was known well to many of us in this United Nations. Benazir Bhutto was brutally murdered by people who actively rejected the values that all of us here in this United Nations stand for.”
Recalling Bhutto, who was killed in a terrorist attack in December 2007, she stood aloft against terrorism “in a country that has suffered more than most at the hands of terrorists.” She was “murdered for standing up for democracy, murdered for espousing tolerance, and murdered for being a woman”. May’s speech should serve as an eye-opener for the overly biased, anti-Bhutto PML-N leadership, including the establishment and others in cahoots. By mentioning about the colossal Bhutto tragedy, Ms May encapsulated ugly manifestations of terrorism and its catastrophic impact on human beings world over. There could not be a better exposition of the evil that threatens every one where ever one is.
Pakistan’s run-away (called bhagora in Urdu) General Pervez Musharraf avoiding his arrest for murders of Benazir Bhutto and Akbar Bugti–has exposed his devil’s workshop and his epileptic thinking. There is not enough space to respond to his recent outbursts, one would suffice to repeat to him words of British Prime Minister that Benazir Bhutto was “murdered for standing up for democracy, murdered for espousing tolerance, and murdered for being a woman.”
And this is all that General Musharraf stood against. He had subverted democracy and committed act of treason by violating the Constitution in October 1999. He told Benazir Bhutto not to return to Pakistan, opposed her participation in elections and threatened her life with “horrible consequences”. Moreover, he is the one who had closest links with the Jihadi terrorist networks. His defence of Hafiz Saeed shows how deeply involved he is with such elements.
One single act of having the crime scene washed by fire tenders under his orders within minutes of her assassination-is enough proof to indict him for her murder. Brigadier (retd) Javeid Iqbal Cheema, former director general of National Crisis Management Cell (NCMC) had told the Anti-Terrorist Court (ATC) that he had received orders direct from the Presidency to have the area washed immediately. It was, indeed, an intriguing co-incidence that in Karachi (Oct 18, 2017) too when her cavalcade was attacked by suicide bombers, fire tenders-as if they were standing nearby–reached the scene of the crime first much before ambulances could pick up dead bodies and take injured to the hospitals. She narrowly escaped in the attack aimed to kill her while over 150 of PPP jiyalas were martyred.
Significance of the washing of the scenes of crime both in Karachi and Rawalpindi -according to experts-holds the key for tracing those involved in the dastardly acts or the master minds behind it. This could be judged from the fact that General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani as DG ISI investigated the attempt on President Musharraf’s life, got to the bottom of the case through a telephone chip recovered from the scene of the blast. In Bhutto’s case, the all-powerful master mind destroyed all the evidence. The desperate urgency shown in hosing the entire area instead of following mandatory standard procedure of cordoning off the scene of crime identifies the murderer explicitly. And it were under General Pervez Musharraf’s orders that the scene of crime in Rawalpindi was washed.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s reference to the mother of all victims of terrorism-Benazir Bhutto-instantly got the global issue into focus with all its ugly manifestations. And if Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqqan Abbasi or Pakistan’s Permanent Representative too had mentioned about the murder of Pakistan’s only iconic and internationally recognizable face, it could have been the most appropriate response to American President’s recent canard against Pakistan.
Any way, it was definitely a momentous occasion for Prime Minister Abbasi for his maiden speech at the highest international forum. It was also an opportunity to set the record straight over President Trump’s diatribe against Pakistan followed by threats of all sorts. He had accused Pakistan of hosting safe havens for terrorists who constantly destabilize ever tottering regime in Afghanistan. Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif got so pressurized that he blurted out that Pakistan will have to do something more to eradicate this hostile perception. However, Prime Minister Abbasi put it right that Pakistan would not allow itself to be made scapegoat for failures of others.
In this back ground Prime Minister Abbasi’s speech in the UNGA was awaited anxiously. It offered him highest podium to defend Pakistan’s case, to counter allegations of it running with the hare and hunting with the hounds and to draw attention of the international community to the colossal losses in men and material in the global war against terrorism.
Usually such occasions are ceremonial, ritualistic than realistic, rhetoric is the order of the day, and substantively there is more of repetition of past speeches since no old issue is resolved. Only top of the order world class statesmen make a difference. Unless one is a leader of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s stature, one cannot expect anything worthwhile. SKA’s speech was drafted by the Foreign Office experts and it reflect issues related to Pakistan such as Kashmir, Afghanistan, Palestine and currently genocide of Muslims in Myanmar.
Regretfully Pakistan’s foreign office lost its glory after General Ziaul Haq’s coup against Prime Minister Zulifikar Ali Bhutto. As we all know during Zia’s ten years followed by General Pervez Musharraf’s with interregnum of quasi-democratic governments-Foreign Office lost all its professionalism. It became an extension of ISI, foreign policy got usurped by the intelligence and security apparatus. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif brought the cat out of the bag. It was an intelligent move by him not to have a foreign minister. Foreign policy became glaringly a reserve of the military. He acknowledged this Praetorian suzerainty by offering space to the army chief by not appointing a foreign minister for four years. Through out, foreign policy was handled by General Raheel Sharif who had assumed the role of a powerful foreign minister as well. Prime Minister Abbasi’s speech was more of routine than anything extra-ordinary. Its criticism that it was hastily drafted is matter of opinion. However, if a Kashmiri leader of repute such as Dr Syed Nazir Gilani says that there was much amiss in the Kashmir portion of his speech, then it must be. His presentation was as good or as bad as could be. He strongly criticized India for its human rights violations in IOK and increasing cross-border skirmishes. Any false flag incident could get converted into lethal conflagration-to say the least-both the countries being nuclear.
(The Author is former High Commissioner of Pakistan to UK and a veteran journalist.)