The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in her hometown has upped stakes for heart and soul of volatile Pakistan
"I don't mind being the icing on the cake, but I don't want to be the icing on a cake which is poisoned," Benazir Bhutto on Frost on the World with host David Frost on November 2 - Al-Jazeera.net/English
The further we move from an object the smaller it appears; the object is not moving, we are, the subject is not shrinking, distance distorts our perception. Or so it seems.
This is also true for the killing of Benazir Bhutto, would-be three-time Prime Minister of Pakistan, as the days pass, and the moment, fixed in time, moves further away, from when three shots rang out and a bomb exploded, fading from the common memory, retained on celluloid, committed to digital storage, so many bits and bites.
We would want to believe that our life is written in a book, only to be opened by G-d, the acts of kindness given point value, somewhat like a government BEE bid, sort of like matric results, where we are finally appraised, told we'd done a good job and given special dispensation for acts beyond the call of duty.
Once we are gone though, we do not control how others will portray us, not for John Lennon, nor the Right Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, both of whom the US government had under surveillance and hounded to their graves, nor Jimmy Carter, still well among the living, villified for calling the Israeli barriers (walls, ravines and roads), what they are, the new Apartheid.
The mainstream media (MSM), required to produce content 24/7, will weave and spin a tale to suit their own agenda, in the case of Bhutto, to maintain the perception of stability in Pakistan, a nuclear-tipped nation with a reported 60 warheads, capable of hitting India or Israel.
This is not true on the ground in Punjab or Sindh, where emotions run high, and Bhutto is a name held by as many as 700000 people, and they will write her story, one of almost mythic heroism, guts without glory, the first female Muslim leader, liberal, for a country of 150-plus million.
You see "Bhutto", it is not only a name, but a dynastic tribe; and from this long lineage rose a man who would eventually assume the leadership, her father, shortly thereafter deposed, then hanged. He was the first to serve.
His daughter, Benazir, educated in England, imbued with class and style, cut a sharp image and by 1979, she had assumed the mantle her father left incomplete, the Pakistan People's Party. Struggle and challenges with other family members hounded her throughout her political career, still suspected at her death, of being somehow involved in the murder of her own brother, such is the state of tribalism and feudalism.
She went to the grave with this debt and burden, and for those who believe in re-incarnation, she will have much to make up for in her next life. On the other hand, no life is without conflict and there remains some confusion between what is, what was, and the perception of both, regardless of the reality.
The New York Times ran an op-ed on Friday, laying the blame for a resurgent Al-Qaeda and Taliban in the tribal region called Wazeristan, between Pakistan and India - at her feet - for decisions she made, or not, 25 years ago when she used their predecessors in the disputed Kashmir region to sow conflict and fight Pakistan's proxy war with India.
There is an implication that this benign neglect, if not active promotion, turned to fateful karma, as the same people came back later to take her down. If one were not suspicious, there would be reason to think an effort is under way to discredit Benazir's memory and legacy, when many see Musharraf as beleaguered and besieged, and the 'West', gripped with fear that the situation could spiral out of control, breaks down along feudal, familial lines, more resembling Yugoslavia, and true weapons of mass destruction fall into the wrong hands - which needless, implies there are right hands for such harnessed destruction, which is illogical and irrational.
This fear is real enough that press reports not long ago detailed meetings with Musharraf to change the protocols required to authorise a launch. The Pakistan approach, attributed to Russian theory, was to store missile components in separate facilities, thereby delaying a precipitous decision, and requiring increasingly higher levels of authorisation. The US approach is more code-based and, they believe, more secure.
Bob Baer, the retired CIA agent whose life was the basis for the movie Syriana, starring George Clooney, wrote an op-ed piece questioning whether it was time to stop experimenting with democracy in Pakistan, admit defeat, and re-assert an anti-terrorism stance, putting desires for democracy on the back burner.
They forget who is attributed for coordinating her return to Pakistan, who supposedly flew to see her in Dubai and London, told her Musharraf would drop the corruption charges, lingering for years, and form an alliance government - Condi Rice and her State department team of Burns, Negroponte, Boucher.
"The one who brings you the deal, he's the traitor," The Godfather, Mario Puzo.
The deal was relatively straight forward, Bhutto, and her husband, would return from an eight-year, self-imposed exile, corruption charges would be dropped, she would stand as a candidate, again, for Prime Minister.
Asked in an interview shortly before she was gunned down last week, what she would have done, if "take over again" was an option, like a school test, what she would have done differently in the 1980s and 1990s when she had her two short terms? She answered, "take down the Taliban."
She could also have added "dismantle the Madrasses", an archaic educational system which stresses dogmatic religious study over maths and reading, choosing proselytising over promoting the general economic welfare, supporting secular society and transparent institutions.
She promised this time would be different, which formed the basis for an alliance with Musharraf in what she believed would be a transition back to democratic rule. It was not meant to be.
Her first major rally in eight years, last October 16, timed close to her triumphant return, was marred by a violent suicide bomb attack in which she said 158 supporters were killed, the press claimed 138.
Either way, they were innocent men, women and children and deserved to die of old age, in their beds, asleep, but concern over perception prevented the hiring of British or American private firms, and her party allegedly rejected suggestions by the US State Department of "half a dozen names" of Pakistani security companies which American firms in Pakistan had used before.
In effect, she is accused of using her supporters as human shields, many dedicated and committed and willing to be martyred in her name.
Between the first and second attack, came an interview with TV show host David Frost, on Al-Jazeera, 14-minute long, remarkable for its frank and honest dialogue in which Bhutto reflects on past goals and mistakes.
In one segment, when asked whom she thought might have wanted to kill her, she referred to a list she'd prepared for Musharraf, with four names including the leader of Al-Qaeda in Pakistan, a man named Mehdsoud, who many now blame, after intercepting a call he made, though it has not been provided to the press and Mehsoud himself has denied involvement in her killing.
Stranger than fiction, in the next moment, she says "and Omar Sheikh, the man who killed Osama Bin-Laden", yes, you read right.
The BBC in London was so shocked, a reference they said was so "unexpected", and one which they thought was a "misleading reference", that when posting to the BBC's website, they deleted any name, including Hamza Bin-Laden, son of Osama.
When confronted with their censorship, and after taking nearly three days to formulate an answer, the BBC, in a rare moment of humility, admitted their mistake and promised to restore the original footage, uncut.
On the day of her assassination, Benazir Bhutto, who had scheduled a political rally on her home turf, the city of Rawalpindi, ended her life murdered close by where her father had been hanged, decades before, by Zia Ul-haq, the first of Pakistan's self-proclaimed saviours, though nothing more than military dictators.
Numerous amateur and professional videos have now emerged, each showing somewhat the same thing, Benazir rising above the sunroof of her bulletproof and bomb proof SUV, and a well-dressed man, beige suit, Ray Ban sunglasses, arm outstretched, pointing a handgun.
It is also clear that there is more than one man, standing behind our Mr. Bond, wearing traditional Arab garb.
In the next instance, you can audibly distinguish three gunshots, while you see her hair rise up and to the right, while her head shifts as well, then a blast, red flash, and finished. Her last 30 seconds indelibly seared in peoples' minds, frozen in time.
On her schedule for later in the evening, 9pm, was a meeting with two US Congressmen, one a longtime friend, Senators Arlen Specter and Patrick Kennedy.
They were to be joined by the US ambassador to Pakistan, at which Bhutto was to give them a 144-page document entitled Pre-Poll Vote Rigging, which has now surfaced, detailing widespread official corruption, ballot printing, police complacency, the compromising of ballot tabulation machines and security agency deceit and even murders of volunteers.
For now, the body of Benazir Bhutto will not be exhumed, the family does not trust a government autopsy, particularly now, after they claimed she'd died by hitting her head on the sunroof knob, and then a lawyer affiliated with the doctors, "but not a government employee" disclosed that they had been forced to sign the falsified documents.
The election has been delayed until mid-February and Scotland Yard investigators have arrived to offer their assistance, at Musharraf's request. The Bhutto family are not satisfied, asking instead for a UN-style probe. - D.P. Lang, Editor, Publisher Internet TV News