The practice of karo kari allows family, especially fathers, brothers and sons, to take the lives of their daughters, sisters and mothers if they are accused of adultery. This volume examines the central position of karo kari in the social, political and juridical structures in Upper Sindh, Pakistan. Drawing connections between local contests over marriage and resources, Nafisa Shah unearths deep historical processes and power relations. In particular, she explores how the state justice system and informal mediations inform each other in state responses to karo kari, casino Play Fortuna 777 and how modern law is implicated in this seemingly ancient cultural practice.
Dr. Nafisa Shah is the Vice Chairperson of the Executive Committee of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA). She is a Member of Pakistan National Assembly, Chair of the National Commission for Human Development (NCHD), General Secretary of the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus and a member of parliamentary standing committees on Finance, Minorities, Economic Affairs and Statistics.
She frequently writes for publications such as The News and represents Pakistan at international conferences. Formerly, Dr. Shah was the Nazim (Mayor) of Khairpur district. Her reporting on environmental problems, development and gender issues won her acclaim at home and abroad. In 1993, Dr. Shah received All-Pakistan Newspaper Society’s Best Article of the Year award and was included on United Nations’ Global Roll of Honour. In recognition of her ground breaking research work, Dr. Shah was admitted as a Chevening Scholar to the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Oxford University. After completing her Masters in Social and Cultural Anthropology, Shah enrolled in a doctoral program in anthropology at Oxford University.
Upon returning to Pakistan in 2000 for her field research on Karo Kari (Honour killings) in upper Sindh, Dr. Shah was drawn into active politics. She contested Khairpur’s local body elections and won. From then on, she has worked as a committed public representative. After spending 10 years in conducting research, Dr. Shah completed her doctoral thesis on “Honour, Violence, Law and Power: A Case Study of Karo Kari in Upper Sindh”, at the University of Oxford in 2010.
The Pakistani Parliamentary delegation led by Dr. Shah who arrived to Sri Lanka to participate in the 58th CPA Conference paid a courtesy call on Speaker of the Sri Lankan Parliament Chamal Rajapaksa while the CPA deliberations were put in place at the BMICH on Wednesday.
Dr. Shah in an interview with the Sunday Observer commended the speech made by President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the opening ceremony of the 58th session of the CPA conference and described it as a very bold and forthright speech made by a state leader. She said the President spoke of the Sri Lankan experience of waging a very difficult war against terrorists. The President outlined how democracy helped him to successfully fulfill that task of eradicating terrorism. Dr. Shah also said that she genuinely appreciated what the President said about the politics of human rights that some countries should not be allowed to use human rights as a “buzz word” to impose their agendas on other countries.
Dr. Shah said Sri Lanka’s reconciliation and the post conflict development are commendable. President Mahinda Rajapaksa is extremely charismatic and has done well for Sri Lanka. The development in the North and the East is transparent. She said the process of reconciliation in progress and she believes Sri Lankan nation pays best to carry forward that process. She also said President’s speech was very impressive and also extended an open invitation to the Commonwealth delegates to visit the North to witness the development drive launched by the Government.
She said Pakistan needs to learn how Sri Lanka manages its nation-building program while strengthening democracy. She also said that they are happy to tell that Pakistan has democratic sensation now. We tell the world that despite the challenges, democracy has been firmly restored in Pakistan now. What Pakistan needs more than anything else is to stabilize democracy on its soil. It would provide space to Pakistan and the means to confront this with the support of its true neighbours specially, Sri Lanka. Pakistan is contemplating as to how the Sri Lankan experience could be utilised to build a vibrant democracy and restore political stability in Pakistan.
Q: How do you view the deliberations of the CPA conference and its outcome?
A: I think it went very well and I have to congratulate President of the 58th CPA Conference Speaker of Sri Lankan Parliament Chamal Rajapaksa. I also want to congratulate the CPA staff primarily its Secretary General and the Chairperson of its Executive Committee for holding an excellent conference in Sri Lanka. The General Assembly sessions of the CPA went very well and one of the objectives was the setting up of the office of the Association and Primarily the Chairperson was to review the status of the CPA and that was done successfully. Very important decisions were also made at the General Assembly. We held a number of good workshops which showed the concerns to the communities in the Commonwealth. As a whole, I think the conference went very well and the topics were relevant to the present day needs. The excellent arrangement and the hospitality displayed by the Sri Lankan Government and the Sri Lankan people will be long remembered. We will remember the wonderful moments we had and even in the small way the services rendered by the staff and those in the protocol division and the security arrangements and also those who provided us various services. Therefore, all these turned out to be a very wonderful experience to us.
Q: Most of the countries opposed the resolution to appoint a Commissioner for Human Rights. Is there a key need to appoint such a Commissioner at this particular juncture?
A: I personally think that there were arguments both for and against the appointment of a Human Rights Commissioner. There were several views in between. From the Pakistan’s viewpoint and in my capacity as the present Vice Chairperson of the CPA, I think it is important that the Commonwealth values such as democracy, rule of law, separation of powers and fair elections should be upheld.
These are central to the Commonwealth. At the same time it is the Commonwealth way to work through consensus and to ensure that every part of Commonwealth and every country no matter how large or small should be comfortable and agree to the decisions reached.
At this stage, we need to promote democratic values within the Commonwealth where we work together in a spirit of partnership and mutual cooperation. If there is no consensus, individual concerns have to addressed. There could be different concerns, and opinions and perhaps different methods too.
Q: Cannot the Commonwealth be reoriented as a dynamic body to help direct member states beset with terrorism or foreign instigated anti-Government movements?
A: Of course, I think terrorism must be condemned. Pakistan is a victim of terrorism. We face terrorism from within the state and from anti-state factors. As a Pakistani, I would say we need a very strong voice from all global bodies against terrorism. Similarly I believe countries such as Sri Lanka which suffered under terrorism had it eradicated. The world community needs to understand that the ordinary people are very badly affected by terrorism. The affected communities need to start from the scratch. We all need to be concerned about the growing terrorism and address its root courses.
Q: The role of Parliament in conflict resolution specially in multicultural societies is paramount. How could the CPA extends its patronage to make it a more effective instrument?
A: Definitely, I think the CPA is probably the most diverse global association of Parliaments, as it tries to reach out to the provincial and the regional parliaments. It is an organisation that addresses the issue of diversity. Commonwealth can only be enriched by more diversity and recognition of diversity at every levels. It also reflects the aspirations of different segments of populations such as women, youth and elderly people. So we also need to specially look at different sections. I am happy to report that we have also agreed to ensure that there is an yearly Youth Parliament for which we train young people. We are also looking at seriously on how to promote the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) Association though provision of bigger budget and better support to enable them to carry out the programs across the regions.
Q: Did the CPA in its deliberations lay key emphasis to get more women representation in Parliaments?
A: I think it is very important to have more representation of women. In Pakistan what we have a quota. There are positive discriminations and the states have to drive a mechanism by which affirmative action can be put in place. There are several countries across the world such as Europe an, African and Asian who have successfully implemented affirmative action. I recommend that initially as a temporary measure, affirmative action may be put in place to accommodate women in parliament. First and foremost, political parties have resolve whether they would give more seats and select more women candidates at General Elections.
Q: What is the outcome of the discussions you had with the Speaker of the Sri Lankan parliament Chamal Rajapaksa?
A: We consider Sri Lanka a close and true friend of Pakistan. We have close ties with each other and helped each other in our difficulties. We had a very cordial meeting with Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa and we discussed how Sri Lanka can assist Pakistan in strengthening democracy. The Sri Lankan experience on democracy is vital for Pakistan. Pakistan has now successfully completed its first term of democratic Government. We would like to see more political stability and democracy in Pakistan. Therefore, the CPA conference will be extremely important to the two Parliaments. We spoke how two Parliaments can engage with each other at multiple levels and strengthen the democracy in Pakistan and the democratic culture in the two countries.
Q: If Sri Lanka has a good record and responses, will it be an impetus for other nations to come and influence us?
A: I describe President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s speech at the opening ceremony of the CPA conference, as bold and forthright. He spoke of the Sri Lankan experience of waging a very difficult war against terrorists. The President also spoke how democracy in his country helped him to eradicate terrorism. At the same time, we appreciate what the President spoke about the politics of human rights. He said some countries should not be permitted to use human rights as a “buzz word” to impose certain agendas on other countries. I don’t think any country needs to be told about these values. We want to promote rights according to our constitutions. There are lots of global organizations, and global partnerships on strengthening the right agendas. There is a UN Human Rights Commission which is quite strong and all the countries in the world endorse it. There was an appreciation of Sri Lankan President who has done well for his country.
Q: What are the Sri Lankan experiences that you can absorb to strengthen democracy in Pakistan?
A: The common experience between Sri Lanka and Pakistan is the very painful conflict. Sri Lanka had experienced it for three decades. Sri Lanka resumed negotiations and attempted to get the support of international mediators. But eventually the nation came together and decided to ward off the peril. This is the best way for Pakistan as well. We are facing internal and regional war situations and I think we need to learn how Sri Lanka manages its nation building program and strengthening democracy. We are happy to tell you that we have democratic sensation now. We tell the world despite all the challenges, Pakistan has firmly restored democracy. What we need more than anything else is to carry forward democracy uninterruptedly and ensure the democratic stability. I am sure that will provide us space and the means to confront this with the support of our true friends and neighbours specially, Sri Lanka. Pakistan is concentrating on how the Sri Lankan experience could be obtained to build a vibrant democracy and restore political stability.
Q: How do you view the post conflict development and integrated reconciliation which is in progress in Sri Lanka at present.
A: President Mahinda Rajapaksa is extremely charismatic and has done well for Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s post conflict development is commendable. The development in the North and the East is transparent. I refer to the President’s speech as very impressive and also make an open invitation to the delegates of the CPA conference to visit the North and witness its development. I know that the IDPs were a big challenge to the Sri Lankan administration. However, issues are solved successfully. I believe the Sri Lankan Government has a big majority.
What Sri Lanka’s efforts are transparent because there is an open invitation to the world to visit the North. President Rajapaksa spoke to the world community and invited them to witness the reconciliation being implemented in Sri Lanka.
SUKKUR: PPPP MNA Dr. Nafisa Shah has said Hakimullah Mehsud was declared a terrorist by the Government of Pakistan and carried Rs 50 million as head money.
Talking to media men at the Jilani House, Khairpur, on Sunday she said the US had also announced head money on him. She said drone attacks were against the sovereignty of Pakistan and should be stopped.
She said that the government is not sincere in talks with the Taliban. She said even after the passage of four months the PML-N government had neither prepared any strategy in this regard nor sought recommendations from the National Assembly.
She said the government also did not prepare the agenda for talks on the issues. She said the talks with Taliban were held 14 times but there was no output. Talking about the LB election, she said the local bodies elections should be on party basis.
She criticised the delimitation process in Sindh. She said the PPPP had given sacrifices for democracy, so it will not to be a part of anti-democratic effort to destabilise the Nawaz regime.
Source: Daily Times
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) lawmakers hit out at the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) during the National Assembly session on Thursday.
PPP MNA Nafisa Shah demanded a judicial commission for a comprehensive investigation into the black economy.
“Probe estate agents of Dubai before investigating into the alleged black money worth Rs230 billion in Sindh. They (the realtors) are directly associated with the lawmakers sitting in this house.” Nafisa asked the government why it wasn’t investigating into “black money being used by banned outfits in Punjab”.
“Why is the PPP alone being associated with corruption in Sindh? There is black money in Punjab, some separatists and RAW agents in Balochistan, and some terrorists and Afghan agents in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.”
She said the next fiscal year’s budget was meaningless because “for the past seven years, Pakistan has been at a standstill and its economy is trapped in a low-growth cycle”.
Referring to criticism on PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari’s recent remarks against the security establishment, Nafisa said her party had always stood by elected governments whether they were threatened by a dictatorial regime or a “container movement”.
“The [PML-N] tigers were about to head to the caves as [the PTI’s] ‘container revolution’ seemed inevitable. But the PPP stood by the government for the sake of democracy.”
To support his colleague’s point, PPP MNA Ayaz Soomro said that all Zardari had meant to say was that all state institutions must work within their parameters.
Source: The Express Tribune
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ISLAMABAD: The Opposition in both the houses of the Parliament—Senate and National Assembly—has decided to lodge a strong protest against the government for invoking Article 245 of the Constitution to call Army for the security of Islamabad for three months in the upcoming session of both the houses expected to start by next week.
The National Assembly session scheduled to start from August 4 and Senate session is scheduled to begin from August 8.
According to sources, the major opposition parties in the National Assembly—Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf have made informal contacts to make a joint and strong protest against the government decision of calling the army in aid of civil law enforcement agencies under Article 245 of the Constitution for the security of Islamabad for three months.
Sources said Opposition leader In the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah after Eid will contact the opposition parties in the National Assembly to make a joint stance in the Parliament against the government decision that all the opposition parties believe aims against August 14 Freedom March of Imran Khan.
To take up this issue in the National Assembly Secretariat, the PPP has submitted the adjournment motion in the National Assembly on Monday against Government’s decision to impose Article 245 in the capital territory of Islamabad.
The adjournment motion was moved by PPP Parliamentarians including Dr Nafisa Shah, Ms Shazia Atta Marri, Syed Naveed Qamar, Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, Syed Ghulam Mustafa Shah & Mrs Beelam Hasnain.
Through the adjournment motion, the PPP wanted to discuss the Government’s decision to impose Article 245 in the capital territory of Islamabad as it reflects the failure of the civil administration, involves the total suspension of the jurisdiction of the high courts and setting up of military courts. “This is a serious issue with grave consequences and requires immediate discussion on the floor of the house,” the adjournment motion stated.
Similarly, the PPP has also decided to file a similar adjournment motion in the Senate secretariat after Eid to discuss the issue in the upper house of the parliament.
The government will have to face tough opposition in the Senate on its decision of invoking article 245 of the Constitution to call army in aid of civil government for the security of Islamabad for three months as the PPP led opposition had a clear majority in the upper house of the parliament.
The Pakistan People’s Party had already opposed the government decision of calling army to aid in civil under article 245 of the Constitution saying that the decision is pregnant with serious consequences for the people and country as it means not only failure of the civil administration but also total suspension of the jurisdiction of the High Courts. “Worst still, in practical terms it also means setting up of military courts which cannot be permitted,” PPP spokesman Senator Farhatullah Babar said giving his official reaction to the government decision.
Senator Farhatullah Babar said the PPP has always opposed invoking Article 245 for calling army in aid of civil power whether it was in Karachi or other parts of the country. “The situation in Islamabad is not any worse that in any other part of the country to warrant inviting security establishment by vesting in them judicial powers,” he said.
He said the government fails to recognise that if today it is Islamabad tomorrow Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta, Lahore, indeed the whole country, may have to be handed over to the army under Article 245 and practically dispense with the high courts. “Bad as it already is the human rights situation in the country will get even worse as the doors of high courts are shut on the citizens,” he added.
He said that the decision to hand over federal capital to the army will also send disturbing signals to the world about the prevailing security situation in the country.
Senator Farhatullah Babar said the decision reflects the penchant of PML-N government to lean on the security establishment for everything be it meter reading or tracing of ghost schools or appointing monitors and is most unfortunate. “And let us not forget the security apparatus once called in aid of civil power under this Article might want to linger on even after it is no longer needed. No one wants to relinquish power or abdicate a position of authority and influence in which their actions are not called into question in the courts,” he added.
He said the four articles of the Charter (articles 32 to 36) call for concerted actions to address distortions in civil-military relations. “The decision to hand over Islamabad to the army will, instead of correcting the existing huge imbalance, further tilt the balance against the civilian, political and judicial structures of the country,” he said.
Source : The News
The visit of the Women’s Parliamentary Caucus led by Speaker Fehmida Mirza to the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) women’s police station drew attention to a long neglected and potentially central area to police reforms. The intention of the visit was to generate debate on the role of policewomen and to show parliamentarians’ commitment to the gender gap in policing being addressed.
In the short term, this visit helped in ensuring registration of crime in the women’s police station in Islamabad which had been halted since 2007. On a specific level, women parliamentarians’ meetings with officials of the police have called for higher budgetary commitments for women police stations; setting up of women’s desks in every police station and in every civil hospital in order to monitor and report women-related crimes; and immediate recruitment of women to make them more visible in the police force. A detailed report has been prepared by the Parliamentary Caucus as women parliamentarians’ contribution to the focus on female police as a comprehensive subject and integral part of police reforms.
It was Mohtarma Shaheed Benazir Bhutto who institutionalised female police, by setting up separate women’s police stations in Pakistan. This is a concept that now has widespread support in many countries. Several countries have set up women’s police stations with a view to addressing issues of gender and domestic violence, including India, Brazil and the Philippines. India has also sent a first all- women police unit of the peacekeeping force to Liberia in 2007.
The concept of dedicated space to and for female policing by setting up women’s police stations, women’s desks and family support units could make policewomen mediators between society and the law enforcement.
Despite Mohtarma Shaheed’s focused initiative, little thinking has gone into policymaking to enhance the role of women in the police and her dream of empowering women by raising their own force in the police has yet to be fully realised.
One of the most concerning aspect is a negligible presence of women in the police sector. In Sindh, out of a sanctioned police force of nearly 87,000, women’s sanctioned strength is 1,740 against which there are 558 policewomen working, a mere 0.62 percent of the total. In Balochistan, out of a total sanctioned strength of 46,873, there are around 76 sanctioned posts against which 56 are working. The case of Islamabad police shows that out of the about-10,000 police force only 157 are women. In Punjab the sanctioned strength of the police is 166,900 against which women account for only 840 posts with the working strength much lower than this figure. In the Frontier women’s sanctioned strength is 262. (These figures are obtained from multiple sources and there may be a slight margin of error in them.)
One of the reasons given for such poor numbers is that women do not show interest in police as a career. One District Police Officer who had served in Balochistan said that when he advertised in his district, he got 6,000 responses, out of which only one woman applied!
This state of affairs will only change once the state and police shows absolute commitment to recruiting women and offering incentives such as shorter-duration duties, a career path of promotions and better working conditions, giving women a good maternity cover and organising crèches in the police. One of the reasons for poor recruitment of women is a discriminatory system within the police department. The law enforcement area is conventionally considered a no-go area for women as those who dare have to face backlash at home and problems at work. Compounding societal practices, law too does not help. The police laws and rules have for the most part been gender-blind, and the much-touted Police Order 2002 of the last regime does not mention female police at all.
One of the aspects that needed to be taken up after Shaheed Benazir Bhutto’s initiative was enactment of rules and procedures that created a legal framework for women policing. This was not done in subsequent governments.
The prospects of women policing in Pakistan are enormous, despite, and perhaps because of, the structural discrimination against women in our society. The social side of policing in Pakistan has always been neglected and the discussion of involvement of women in policing also calls for a greater need to create a community and service oriented police system.
Police is the most interactive face of the state and is the place where law is most physically seen to act. The very presence of women police will provide access of the law enforcement system to the discriminated, the weak and the marginalised. The problems of street children and child delinquency will also find different and innovative approaches. Indeed, crime control is just one part of policing duties. Crowd- and event-management, security cover, protocol are functions that women can perform as well as men, especially in cases where such functions concern the female population.
Women’s involvement in the community policing model can be extremely rewarding to the police service and to law enforcement. Hence, the police as an institution must take up the case of recruitment of more women for better image and for a public oriented force. For example, family vigilantism, domestic violence and family violence can be effectively checked by policewomen. Again, where most of the violence, both against men and women, is within the home, women can be invaluable investigators and detectives. The community-oriented approach to policing would help women assist recovering missing women and children, recording statements of distressed women and in interactions with crisis centres and other welfare institutions, such as child protection centres and women’s shelters.
The most significant way of promoting female policing is to encourage and diversify the involvement of women at all levels in the police departments. At a more technical level forensic expertise, police record maintenance and police research which male police may find tedious and not to their liking can be effective fields for women. The assumption that women will not be able to take up tough duty of policing is a false one. Studies in the US have found that women patrolling is effective in preventing violence. In fact neighbourhood patrolling can be a domain of women. Women have also contributed significantly to strengthening community policing concepts in the West.
With a PPP-led coalition government, there is greater emphasis on gender justice and therefore it is imperative that women law enforcers are construed as a solid category of state service, as it is a commitment of the manifesto of the party. It is an excellent opportunity to add depth to policing in Pakistan and to create new models of community and service-oriented policing in Pakistan. However, I hope also that civil society activates its advocacy networks and works closely with the police in creating an essential space for the women in police.
For decades, Benazir Bhutto mesmerized the people of Pakistan. Her beauty, charisma, exuberance, and intellect gave her a string of qualities that rallied people around her. But more than all this, what gave her a mass appeal, were the circumstances under which she took on the mantle of Pakistan Peoples Party, her father’s Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s most important legacy. A young woman in her mid-twenties took on the challenge to lead Bhutto’s party after he had been hanged in a farcical trial by a military dictator. General Zia’s coup brought a repressive regime, when many People’s Party workers were incarcerated, hanged, lashed, and several thousands went underground for years. The young and fiery Benazir Bhutto, leaving her own suffering aside, became a source of strength for her party, which she would lead from the front henceforth.
The Bhutto persona has been the backdrop to all of my life. I experienced Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s rise and fall as a child, and then Benazir Bhutto’s powerful presence, through my father, who has been on the PPP landscape ever since its inception and has remained a central political figure in the party. My own relationship with Benazir Bhutto was formal, with few communications, but I always awaited her occasional assignments for the party that she would send out from time to time. Of course, Benazir also gave me the first major push into Pakistan’s murky politics by nominating me for the position of Nazim of my home district.
Benazir adeptly transformed tragedy, oppression and threat into opportunity. She withstood arrests and exiles with admirable courage. Her contributions towards strengthening and evolving Pakistan People’s Party are impressive. As a party head, she sang praise for those workers who suffered during the Zia regime, and those who gave their life. She managed to string together dissenting groups and individuals, and manage the conflicts within the party, and yet be cohesive force. There were important continuities of the organization from Bhutto’s time. The concept of the ‘PPP worker’ continued to be its defining feature. Under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the PPP worker, called jiyala, was defined as a vocal, highly emotional, full of fervour, aggressive, straight speaking party activist, who would tell it straight to the higher leaders of their weaknesses. The PPP worker did everything from raising slogans, to participating in meetings to mobilizing people on the ground, to resolving the day-to-day issues. And most importantly the worker was fearless, immune to government pressures, threats, arrests, and FIRs. This highly stylistic PPP worker has survived all trials and travails.
If I were to choose one enduring legacy in all of these aspects – it would be of her role in defining the shape and agenda of popular politics in Pakistan. From Movement for Restoration of Democracy to Alliance for Restoration of Democracy, Benazir Bhutto’s politics could simply be summed up as a struggle for restoration of a democratic order in a country that is increasingly perceived as a failed and fragmented state hostage to a cartel of greedy and roguish commando generals reeking of US dollars, arms, nuclear and drug trafficking, conspiracies of terror, sleazy deals– and bloodshed.
As she landed from her Dubai flight, we all noted that even physically she had become larger than life itself. She seemed to be caste from marble, and she seemed invincible, standing out as a surreal image, as someone descending from the skies. She was the quintessential heroine, a mythical character, and the stuff of a Greek legend.
In her election rallies, the tone and tenor of Benazir’s speeches riveted the crowds, and her voice echoed far and wide. She continued to voice the needs of the dispossessed and the poor. Her language was simple and crisp, but she spoke a fairy tale script, a classic battle of good against evil. “I have come to save Pakistan,” she repeated often. These made the entire nation believe that she would conquer and rescue their country from the forces of evil. Of course she knew very well that the road was rive with dangers, that there were conspiracies to end her life. But even at her most vulnerable, see seemed the most invincible. Her last images show her fighting posture, her confidence and her will.
Eventually her idealism and her belief that good will prevail over evil killed her. And of course, her love for her people killed her. She said in one of her interviews, that on Oct 18th, her procession was bombed because “They don’t want me to meet my people – but I will meet my people.”
On that fated evening, she came out of her Toyota sunroof, to meet the people she loved and who loved her. She raised her hand and said, ‘Jiye Bhutto’ “Bhutto lives,” as her final answer to her snipers, as they ended her life… And so, Benazir’s family narrative of dramatic and heartrending sacrifices endures in her own death.
In her twenties, Benazir buried her father at Garhi Khuda Bux, Bhutto ancestral graveyard. She then began to build the mausoleum, where she buried her younger brother Shahnawaz, and later Murtaza Bhutto both killed by the similar conspirators who took the life of the elder Bhutto. When she returned to her ancestral home two months back, her first visit was to Garhi Khuda Baksh, where she sat and recited verses from the Quran in front of her father’s tomb for a long time. She surveyed the work on the mausoleum, and paid homage to her elders. Who could tell then, that what she was examining in detail, would be the place where she would permanently rest in a few weeks time. Garhi Khuda Baksh would, from now on be not only the country’s most important political shrine, but one which treasures its history of political struggle and sacrifice.
We, the people, instinctively know the insidious and shadowy killers of Benazir Bhutto. We can sense them. We know it’s not Taliban or their mutants. They are far more sinister. We have seen them attack us before, by attacking those we have raised to pitch battles against them. But we don’t know yet how to name them.
But Benazir Bhutto’s shadowy killers must know that physical death does not stop history from taking its course. And Benazir has already set the terms of history in this region. In this Benazir was always a step ahead of her killer’s plans. Her prophetic words that echoed in all her later speeches were: “How many Bhuttos will you kill, a Bhutto will come out from every house” – and “Yesterday Bhutto lived; today also, Bhutto lives, already showed that Benazir had already moved beyond life, and become an icon.
In her death, she is even more powerful a symbol of strength and resistance than Benazir who lived among us. And the People’s Party is more entrenched than ever. As I overheard a PPP worker, “PPP is now more than a political party, it is a fiqh.”
If people loved Benazir Bhutto on the eve of her death, they worship her now. All over in the country, her photographs have been put up as garlanded shrines. If people cheered and followed her before her death, they have now become her devotees. The enemies of the populist politics have created a cult called Benazir, which will continue to fight the shadowy dark forces in this miserable land. Siyasi murshid siyasi pir, Benazir, Benazir.