Did Benazir Bhutto earn the death of a fool or the life a martyr?  Was she predestined to be cursed to an early grave from birth?

Was Benazir merely a puppet of the United States as some in the
mainstream news media are suggesting — or did she have real meaning in
her life and a purpose in her death?

Is the punishment of any forward-thinker in the world an early grave?

Does Bhutto’s death propel democracy forward in Pakistan — or is that movement irrevocably harmed in her demise?


  1. I always admired her – a woman leading a Muslim nation is an achievement from whatever standpoint you view it. AN achievement which was enough for her to pay the ultimate price.
    As with other political dynasties such as the Kennedy’s or the Ghandi’s there does seem to be an element of self fulfilling prophesy about it all.
    I think Pakistan is in for a period of considerable instability – whether the democratic process is killed or forwarded all depends on how the powers that be react to that. It is how we deal with issues as they arise that mark us.

  2. That makes a lot of sense, Nicola.
    When Bush spoke yesterday about her death, he looked sickened to me — as if his mighty plan in Pakistan has been demolished before his eyes.
    That sort of tempering of hope against despair has been missing from this administration and, perhaps, in Benzair’s death, some remorse and humility will come out of it in our Middle East foreign policy.
    I think there is a very fine line between foolishness and being cursed.

  3. Benazir Bhutto has been buried in the grave she dug for herself. She managed to enrage just about every group in the Pakistani region who had the will and the power to kill her, so her death was foreordained. Running a fiscally corrupt regime didn’t help her cause either…
    Benazir Bhutto attempted to do a lot of social improvements and some of that legacy will continue, so her life had meaning. We’ll have to see how politicians and the media spin her death in order to see what if any meaning her death will have. 🙁
    Since people are already “jumping to” draw the correlatives between Bhutto and Hillary, I’m morbidly interested in seeing how Hillary capitalizes on this.

  4. Hi jonolan!
    I heard Hillary on the radio this morning saying how she know Benzir for 11 years and how close they were.
    I agree there does seems to be some kind of strange entitlement in the Bhutto family that suggests they are the only clan that can bring peace and a calm democracy to the Middle East.
    I think that sort of national arrogance can be dangerous and it makes a lot of enemies in the process — especially when you’ve been living in the USA in exile for a long while.
    I think her death was more about thwarting the influence of the USA in the region than just killing her for being born into a name.

  5. I think that sometimes to lead one has to take risks and be a little *foolhardy* perhaps?
    Unfortunately choosing the wrong *bed partner* ie the USA was a choice she has now paid the ultimate price for.

  6. Nicola —
    You’re right the USA is not popular in the world right now and our blatant friends become enemies of the world. That’s what you get when a foreign policy is unilateral and not inclusive.
    I thinki “foolhardy” is a good word. Bhutto returned to Pakistan because her safety had been promised by friends of the USA. She walked into a trap from which there was never an escape and always an end.
    On a similar note, I heard a new word yesterday to replace the fundamentalist — “Neo-Con” — label indicating hardcore “new conservatives” who love war in the name of God: “Theo-Cons.” Pretty apt, eh? 😀

  7. David,
    Just a clarification to an earlier comment of yours, Benazir spent the bulk of her self-imposed exile in Dubai (UAE).

  8. I think it is a great shame she believed them – actually it is a great shame she gave them too much credence in the first place and walked towards their path – rather than her own.
    “Theo- Con” is a pretty scary concept – but very accurate.

  9. Nicola —
    When I heard of her death, the first thing I thought was, “Where was Blackwater?” You’d think with so much blood and money and treasure already spent in our need for her to rule Pakistan, the USA would’ve had our most hardcore soldiers there by her side protecting our figurehead just as they protect our American business interests in Iraq.
    Well, “Neo-Con” is now ruined thanks to Rumsfeld and Cheney and Wolfowitz and Bolton and the rest of the horrible lot of them — so a new label was needed to anoint the new power structure and I guess, for now at least, “Theo-Con” is the current catchphrase.

  10. I hope you stick around with us, neelofer! You’d be a great addition to this blog as a commenter or even an author!
    Thanks for that outstanding timeline. It’s the best I’ve seen so far!

  11. It fascinates me, Nicola, that the cause of her death is “in doubt.” It seems such an easy thing to check! Bullet holes in her body? Or no bullet holes in her body?
    Why do I have a feeling her body is going to go missing from her grave forever soon… ?

  12. I suspect you may be right.
    The BBC is still carrying an earlier statement from the Pakistani authorities (Interior Ministry) blaming al-Qaeda – they have now amended the initial story to incorporate the “banged her head on the sun roof gov” story – but rather tellingly they still carry the headline “Bhutto killing blamed on al-Qaeda”.

  13. Yes, I heard on the news just now about the”intercepted” message from the al-Qaeda chief congratulation the dirty deed. I laughed a little bit and rolled my eyes a lot as “Here We Go Again!” starts to ring in my ears.
    Now I begin to wonder if Ms. Bhutto may have been a pawn in the whole thing — her death is so perfect and convenient to serve awful interests as another reason to invade Iran or Pakistan to “avenge” her death and to “fight terrorism” wherever we may decide we need to find it!

  14. Theoconnery – tricking people into supporting the wars based on “what G-d wants” – now that’s a fun expression I just made up. People in this country are getting theoconned. I hear that drum as well as the flute – let’s hope it doesn’t happen.

  15. Gordon!
    Love the wordplay! Well done!
    Her killing does not appear to be a “ramp up for retribution” now that we see the allies aligning and sharing the same syntax and vocabulary.

  16. I could hear the warmongers fife and drums before she was laid to rest.
    I tend to start looking around at other countries in that area and see where they sit – Kashmir, India – a very volatile situation.
    So where do you draw the line between terrorist and freedom fighter?
    If you get a chance to watch a copy of this DVD do so ……..
    Mark Thomas Live – Serious Organised Criminal.

  17. Right, Nicola — there is a bloodthirst for war and power and control of the Middle East on all sides. Oil is at stake. It’s as simple as that.
    The difference between Freedom Fighter and Terrorist depends on which side of the bullet you’re on…
    I will look for that DVD. What does it include?

  18. “The difference between Freedom Fighter and Terrorist depends on which side of the bullet you’re on…”
    David, I have to disagree on this point. A “freedom fighter” can be differentiated from a “terrorist” by his choice of targets. Legitimate guerrillas do not
    target civilians. While the guerrilla or freedom fighter may kill civilians with collateral damage, he does not specifically target them; the terrorist does. That is the distinction for me.

  19. I am not from Pakistan so I don’t know too many details but I know she had both widespread praise and hatred in her country (revolving around her attempt change a normally militarized country to civilian rule [which is how she initially was elected as well] and also corruption charges). Either way, assasination was wrong because it undermines rule of law and supports vigilantism to initiate change. As for jonolan, I agree but would further propose that it seems altogether easier to simply say(or to add to your definition that) freedom fighters are more likely to use bullets and placed explosives while terrorists often prefer to make themselves the explosive. Whatever the outcome maybe I hope it is for a safer and more stable future for Pakistan and its neighbors.

  20. I feel pity for this woman.
    I also guess she probably didn’t have any other choice except following the slippery slope – it’s easy to enter the game but there is no looking back.

  21. This is the blurb from his website
    “Comedy that really makes a difference! This is Mark’s true story of cake icing as a political weapon, of demonstrations to Defend Surrealism and getting to like the police. Mark turns an 18 month battle over Parliament Square and the right to demonstrate into bizarrely brilliant stand up. This is how Mark fought the law … with the law’s permission! It is a laugh out loud funny world inhabited by anarchists, Goths, artists and a chap called PC Paul McInally, in which Mark becomes a Guinness World Record holder, organises 2,500 protests in one day and changes the law in the process.”
    He found a way to use the government to fight itself using its own silly law about the rights to protest outside the Houses of Parliament.
    He is a political journalist/ anarchist/ comedian who sometimes writes for the guardian.

  22. jonolan —
    In my experience “freedom fighter” nations claim they don’t target civilians but we all know they actually do because if they refused to target civilians then the bad guys would just live among them and never be touched.
    The USA bombed civilian targets in Berlin during WWII and we all know about the terror reigned down upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki’s civilian population.
    In Vietnam there are scores of documented reports of civilian village massacres by USA forces in the field. My favorite politico of all time — Bob Kerrey — has been accused of leading one such terror hunt.
    In Iraq, we know Fallujah was a mess in killing civilians. There are many reports of USA and UK forces shooting at ambulances and mosques and other instances of “indiscriminate civilian” killings.

  23. I think you’re right, Katha.
    She was tugged back to be a puppet head for democracy and I’m certain she was guaranteed money, support and protection if she did the bidding of “the free nations.”
    Look what it got her in the end — and I agree she must’ve known her demise was imminent and inescapable.

  24. Thanks for the info, Nicola! I will have to keep searching for that particular performance. I see a few of his albums on iTunes but not the one you mention.

  25. I read the link provided by Nicola. Love the bit on how she responded to a question on her weight.
    David, I think I must agree with you that brutal death like that is linked to her family name.
    I just found this that relates to her actual cause of death: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/12/29/wbhutto1329.xml
    It seems, according to her husband, she also had left instructions on the future of her party, in the event of her death. Could it be possible that she had envisioned on how she would meet her death?

  26. Hanie!
    I loved her response about her weight, too!
    I saw an interview on the news today where a woman, who was with Benazir in her moment of death, say that she was “covered in blood.”
    In fact, her friend said, “She was so bloody we had to switch cars to take her to the hospital. So we took my car. Her neck was pouring out blood even in my car. I watched her die.”
    It seems pretty clear she was shot and didn’t “bump her head on the sunroof” as the government claims.
    I’m sure she knew if she returned to Pakistan she would either live in grace or die in despair. It’s always better to face the worst and run to the best.

  27. Benazir Bhutto tried to hire British and American security experts (Blackwater) to protect her, The Sunday Telegraph is reporting this Sunday morning in the UK.
    But the plans failed because President Pervez Musharraf refused to allow the foreign contractors to operate in Pakistan, according to senior aides.

    “She asked to bring in trained security personnel from abroad,” said Mark Siegel, her US representative. “In fact she and her husband repeatedly tried to get visas for such protection, but they were denied by the government of Pakistan.”


  28. Thanks for that great link, jonolan!
    The fact that Pervez Musharraf denied her request for private security is telling — though I can’t imagine Blackwater protection for her would’ve played well with most Pakistanis.

  29. David,
    That is patently obvious – especially after the Iraq debacle – that Blackwater wouldn’t have “played well with most Pakistanis” actually makes Musharraf’s denial of their visas somewhat less telling.
    The question becomes did Musharraf deny the requests because he didn’t want Blackwater walking the streets, or did he use their reputation as an excuse to deny Bhutto independent security?

  30. Nicola!
    I heard something on the radio about Benazir having kids in college — but that they were too young to come back to Pakistan to be elected in her place.
    So now they’ve been “elected” in absentia for the future? How ridiculous and cruel!
    Is there no one else to lead Pakistan but a single family? I am reminded of the Bush/Clinton/Clinton/Bush/Bush/Clinton?/Clinton? cycle that threatens the USA.
    Benazir’s kids should change their last name and never return to the Middle East. Enjoy a life. Live from the fruits of a family in perpetual sacrifice: You’ve already given enough blood.
    That’s why, if nothing else, Obama brings such fresh hope. He’s rather new and unbeaten and not yet beaten down into submission by the status quo of the political process.

  31. jonolan —
    It’s telling because it reveals Musharraf’s political shrewdness in knowing Blackwater was really more interested in finding out about secret Pakistani military plans, insider protection routes, infrastructure spreads and the like — all in the name of “protecting” Benazir.
    If you grant Blackwater visas, you then must give them the architectural keys to your military kingdom or else her blood is on your hands — but then magically you’d find yourself dead on the street instead of her.
    I would’ve denied her request in the same situation as well.

  32. It is a sad legacy, Nicola. Someone in that family needs to stand up and say, “That’s enough for me, thanks. I’ll pass on the torch-passing and construct and then live my own life.”

  33. As I understand, the Pak Mil/Gov informed Benazir that she was in mortal peril should she return to Pak. She returned, ‘rode the streets’, and was nearly killed – saved by armoured vehicles supplied by Gov. Many died(I was angry at Benazir).
    I have seen a photograph of Benazir with her head projecting from the top of a vehicle? Say what? Did she think she was a tank turret? Many more died. (Now I am BEMUSED AND ANGRY)
    Her voice is now gone.
    She has no influence now.
    She is now just a shadow within this box of mirrors.
    We cannot blame everyone else, always, for everything. If she did not know her dire peril, then she was not grounded- we all know there is no defence against suicide bombers amongst a teeming nameless crowd.
    The world needs leaders who see things truly.
    I am deeply disturbed by the unfoldments of modern times but I fear she has gifted her life(sacrificed queen) cheaply based on naive assumptions.
    I am quite angry with this woman whereas I usually feel very deeply for those who suffer.
    I fear she abdicated her great responsibility by being vainly foolish.
    Benazir – a star in the nite, or a drop in the tide?

  34. I like how you think, davey!
    She is, indeed, now a shadow in a box of mirrors. Where once she was a star, she is now merely a drop.
    Yes, she was reckless. Her final walk to her car on the day of her death was prolonged, opportunistic and ridiculous! The height of the silliness was, indeed, sticking her head out of her car to wave at the commoners. That was certainly not smart in any feigned concern for her life.
    That’s the penalty mortals pay when they claim immortality.

  35. Thanks for those great links, Nicola!
    Doesn’t most of the world believe her killing was an inside, state-sponsored, job? I thought we all sort of felt the terrorist angle was too easy and overplayed?

  36. “Doesn’t most of the world believe her killing was an inside, state-sponsored, job?”
    I don’t think so; I’m undecided because I don’t see where Musharraf stood that much to gain by killing her – compared to what he stands to loose in the wake of her killing.
    I wonder who had the most to gain from either Bhutto’s death, the destabilization of Musharraf’s reign, or general chaos in Pakistan.

  37. If I were being very cynical I would think it was an inside job made to look like a terrorist job and that it all went a bit wrong ……………

  38. jonolan —
    Musharraf gains the loss of his biggest emotional competitor and the cancellation of the election. He got both of those and now only has to sit back and hold thumbs that the terrorist link is not only believed, but swallowed whole as he tries not to look grabby in his want to hold on to the reins of power.

  39. Nicola —
    That is definitely my sense of it too. The coverup began with the state denial that she was ever shot — which immediately countered every eyewitness report out there.
    That gun must hold some golden clue…

  40. Something very strange is going on over there.
    Who cares if she was shot, head bumped, or blown up — and killed — unless the gun is some sort of shining indicator of guilt?

  41. It has to be the gun, the type of gun or the bullet.
    She was buried rapidly according to custom and without a post-mortem ( again not uncommon for those of the Muslim religion – especially for women) – what I can’t understand given her position in that society, is why the importance of the event did not override those religious rulings.
    One can only wonder as to why. Was it to de-stabilise Pakistan, was the husband just obstructive , was he paid to be obstructive – is religion being used to cover up a political murder?

  42. Nicola —
    Yes, I think they’re afraid of the bullet and its ballistics in that it can be traced back to the government. If they were unable to recover the bullets from her body that means they’re all “out there” somewhere waiting to be discovered despite their clean up effect.
    I’m sure they thought everyone would think the bomb did her in and when the reports of a shooting surfaced, they panicked.
    They had no idea eyewitnesses would survive and there would be so much videotape of the killer before he struck. They’re in dire need of salvation, methinks because they were betting on grease spots and not living witnesses.

  43. I’m going to cloud the issue here – on a couple of points.
    1) While it is customary not to violate the body with a autopsy in Muslim (and Jewish) cultures, it is Pakistani law that an autopsy is performed if their is any thought that the death was a homicide. This definitely lends credence to the thought that this bullet is important.
    2) Almost all armed groups in Pakistan are supplied by just a few arms manufacturers. They may have different actual suppliers, but the weapons and ammo are made by the same profiteers. This makes the bullet / weapon less than conclusive as evidence, while allowing the government’s detractors to use the information – right or wrong – against them.
    3) The ISI and the Police may well have been compromised by any of several militant groups. Government weapons may have been used without the sanction of Musharraf. This is not something that Musharraf would want publicized.
    There…clouded enough? This is going to be a messy situation. Happily I guess, it won’t be a long situation in the West because we’ll become bored fairly quickly unless there’s new “breaking news” – preferably involving something or someone being “broken.”
    Yeah – I”m in one of my more cynical moods.

  44. Nicola —
    Yes, I think they anticipated charred remains in a 50 foot circle that would obliterate all evidence and even bodies. They didn’t want a Bhutto body to bury.

  45. jonolan —
    My feeling is the bullet is not Pakistani — but something else, something unique, something especially lethal — that will undeniably attach her killing to another foreign entity that will shock the world.
    That’s why they’ve been so insistent there was no bullet.
    Would I be surprised if they exhumed her body and the truck carrying the body to the examiner’s station exploded? No. I would expect it to be so in that the job would finally be finished as they hoped it would’ve been in the first place.

  46. I further reviewed the available footage of Bhutto’s killing. The pistol used looks a like a Tokarev TT-33 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TT-33) , which is a standard sidearm for the Pakistan Rangers – a paramilitary force based out of Lahore.
    But that same pistol is manufactured in numerous small shops across Pakistan. 🙁

  47. Most Pakistani weapons have a Soviet-Bloc heritage. Many today are imported from China, but Pakistan also produces its own. Both the factories in Darra Adam Khel and other small shops across the country produce the TT-33, though it’s now deprecated in favor of 9mm and .45 ACP sidearms.

  48. It changes the nature of things if it was Asif Ali Zardari, not Musharraf, who refused to have Bhutto autopsied.

  49. How does it change things, jonolan? It’s like Ted Kennedy taking charge and burning — without anyone’s permission — the dead bodies found under the ocean after JFK,jr. killed them all. Payments were made to the grieving. Palms were greased. Promises were forged to keep secrets. The peace in the public family was kept intact.

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