By Senator Rehman Malik
She continued to struggle for democracy at every forum; I remember her long hours, working and travelling from one country to another, delivering lectures and advocating for democracy in Pakistan. I remember there was a conference of political parties from all over the world in Bangkok where she was invited as a keynote speaker where she interacted with leaders across from the world, including Sheikh Hasina Wajid. Shaheed Bibi’s speech was full of wisdom, vision, and was highly futuristic for which she received gratitude from every leader of the world and participants. Ms. Hasina Wajid separately sought a meeting with her and I remember the valuable advices Bibi gave her on the political situation in her country and worldwide. After becoming the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Ms. Hasina Wajid visited Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and thanked her for the political wisdom, which Ms. Hasina termed highly important and a guideline. She was the icon of world politics and all of them were impressed of her and always consulted her.
I remember the invitation of Olusegun Obasanjo, the President of Nigeria, who invited her as a State guest; and during the visit he introduced her to his family. On breakfast table, the President remarked-looking at his daughter, ”I want you to be like Benazir and emerge as a leader like her”.
She was tireless and consistent in her work, and never left today’s work for tomorrow. She used to make her schedule well before time and believed in working for long consecutive hours. She loved her children and always tried to spend most of her time with them. It was worth noticing her interaction with her children, which was inspiring and full of affection. I cannot forget those painful movements when she took the last flight of Air Blue from Dubai to Islamabad on 25th December 2007 to attend a public gathering in Peshawar the next day. I feel pained to think as to how the enemies snatched a mother, and her affection, from, Bakhtawar and Aseefa, who saw their mother off with smiles and a lot of courage, but with sad sentiments of departure on their faces. She hugged both of them and while departing, she waved a hand from the car. For the first time, I saw Benazir Bhutto looking back and waving her hand to her children from the car till the last sight. Those days, Chairman Bilawal was in Oxford for his studies and had no idea that a storm of pains would be hurling on them just after few hours.
How she worked for transition of democracy from dictatorship, is another chapter that I will explain in my upcoming book.
Despite all international political pressure, General Pervez Musharraf had spelled out his mind to not to allow Benazir Bhutto to return to her country. I do remember a conversation between General Pervez Musharraf and Shaheed Benazir Bhutto . General Pervez Musharraf said ” Bibi, I expect you to come on 21 December 2007 after election and we will celebrate New Year together”. Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto replied ”General, I will choose my timing to come and I will not take your dictation of time of my return, I have promised my people to returned to Pakistan and hence will return per my commitment with my people”.
Obviously, it put General Pervez Musharraf off, as he did not like the response. Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto has mentioned in her book a number of incidents where General Pervez Musharraf had shown his resentment on her return. It is now open secret that General Pervez Musharraf has stated that provision of her security will depend on her level of cooperation with him. It was in the background of that mind-set that the regime did not provide her as much security as was provided to the former two Prime Ministers of Pakistan. The inadequate security provided opportunity to the terrorists to finally succeed in their nefarious designs of elimination of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto from the political scene of Pakistan, a conspiracy which dates back to 1993, when the operators of Al-Qaeda had planned first assassination attempt on her in Karachi.
Books on books can be written on Shaheed Benazir Bhutto’s tireless services and sacrifices for democracy and the people of Pakistan but today I would like restrain only to pay a rich tribute to my great leader and sister, whom I witnessed closely, as an unmatched personality with unmatched qualities.
I am still optimistic that those who killed her, conspired the attack on her life, abetted the killers and financed and facilitated the criminals, will go to the gallows soon, meeting their fate .The government of PPP got the dormant case of SMBB transferred from Punjab to FIA. The Case was investigated by a high level of JIT and team was able to identify the conspirators, handlers, financier, facilitators and executors. A thoroughly investigated Case was presented to the court with available arrested accused. Seven accused were mysteriously killed during the investigation of FIA.
The trial was delayed for 7 years and twenty two days. PPP expects Justice as she was not provided adequate security to as per the blue book being the twice elected PM. In the end I appeal to President Asharaf Ghani to deport Ikram Ullah Massod, the 2nd bomber who did not explode and left the crime scene. He is part of the conspiracy of murder of SMBB and his interrogation is very important. He needs to be interrogated as soon as possible as he is also expected to be blown up by the master mind of SMBB murder. I also appeal to the President of USA to inform us as to why the only drone in Khyber Agency was carried out on Ibad ur Rehman, the chief handler of murder of SMBB, a member of TTP and Al Qaeda. I hope the background of this drone attack shall be made public to clear multiple doubts on the only drone used in Khyber where he was the sole target. We had requested earlier to USA authorities but your concerned authorities did not cooperate with the Pakistani government and Pakistani investigators. We are still waiting for the response.
The best tribute to Shaheed Benazir Bhutto today, is that her workers should uphold her legacy and stay united to fulfil her dream of a happy, progressive and developed Pakistan, under the able leadership of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. Let us strengthen our party by strengthening our chairman.
Bibi, we salute you and you shall be remembered forever in the history of the world. You are not with us today but your wisdom will continue to guide us to serve the country.
Pakistan Zindabad and Pakistan People Party Paindabad!
(The writer is a PPP Senator, former Interior Minister of Pakistan, and Chairman of think tank “Global Eye” and Senate Body on Interior and Narcotics.)
By Senator Rehman Malik