By Maniza Naqvi
Bibi did you know? Were you just trying to go home? Were you tired of the wilderness and the roaming? Were you fatigued of that long journey ahead? Were you afraid that memories would erase and that history would fade your name from its page? And so, instead, did you court and embrace a martyr’s death? Did you? Were you pumped, and primed and prepped, to play that part? Bibi, the people were out on the streets, yes. They were out in the streets but not calling out for you. You knew, that, didn’t you? You no longer were the lead act for just being you. Benazir will return– Live Benazir, this rallying call, was no longer the main attraction, perhaps even in danger of slipping from their attention? It was now all about restoring the constitution. Could you see it in the rank and file? In their tone and in their eyes that they had outgrown you? That they might even feel they could go it alone without you? Could you sense that something was missing? Were you afraid to be left out in the cold—in that yawning gulf—left out of it all, left shopping in an over air conditioned Mall. Or watching it all, on television over a bowl of ice cream. The children grown and leaving the nest. The husband, let’s just say no longer in jail. So, what was next? Diets and self help books and surfing the internet? Safe bet, that boredom loomed large—the relegation to the irrelevance of a self exile. That sad and silent passing away in the Diaspora. The one hit movie– one time star? Were you afraid of that more than of anything else? An assassin’s bullet welcome to such a terrible end –such a mess? Would you have thought yourself condemned to a fate worse than death if you had not been killed instead? So then Bibi, if this were true, –you obliged them—and they did you.
If this were true. But it isn't. You were murdered.
And the Pakistani people?
The Loss is Incalculable—– Earth Shattering—– Traumatic—-. “It is difficult to overstate the effect on the Pakistani people of the shock—–Of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.”
This, the words of an understated, diplomatic language—-Of the conclusive paragraph two hundred and sixty six of the Report of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry into the facts And circumstances—Of the assassination Of former Pakistani Prime Minister Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto: “It is–difficult to overstate the effect on the Pakistani people of the shock of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and the loss to her country. These events have been variously described to the Commission by Pakistanis as earth shattering and traumatic and the loss as incalculable. This is made worse by the pattern of impunity for political crimes in Pakistan.”
You know how it goes
You deal with a gang of thugs
You’re in for life
For the dealing.
You break with the guys
You get hosed.
No hard feelings.
That’s how they roll.
Says paragraph twenty four
Was vital for
The ongoing war
The Deal that delivered Benazir. Implores, paragraph two hundred and twenty four: “The proper response is for establishing culpability through an unfettered criminal investigation.” —-So concludes the fact finding inquiry that there is a need for an unfettered criminal investigation. — “For, a meaningful search for truth.”— Truth? —-Truth lasts but a moment. Truth does not bear repetition. Repetition can’t bear truth. Repetition can’t bare truth. Repetition lays bare the truth. The nothing bears witness. The nothing bares the truth.
The pattern of impunity must be overturned. There must be an unfettered criminal investigation of the assassination and of the hosing of the crime scene.
To water, drench or wash with a hose. This is the definition from the dictionary. And also this: To attack or kill (someone) typically by using a firearm.
Says paragraph one hundred and twenty seven: Police records show that only 23 pieces of evidence were collected from the scene of the crime,—– in a case where one would normally have expected —–thousands. Power hosed—washed away all evidence of the crime? Left the scene bare. Nothing. A meaningful search for truth. Shed Light on water. Water like that—–Water, shed light on water. What is it about water that makes it the weapon of choice—The instrument of choice–For power——For heinous crimes earth-shattering, For unending impunity? Water—Shed light—On truth. Shed light on water— Like that–Shed light–On Truth.
Only twenty-three clues. Just a handful of clues for the loss incalculable, earth shattering? Such a loss leaves nothing? The nothing bears witness. The silence bears witness. Bares the truth on all that has disappeared.
I hesitate—I falter—I stammer as I read it fast and then piece by piece, slowly—from the Executive Summary–Section I the Introduction—Section II Facts and Circumstances—Section III Threats, Responsibilities and Possible Culpabilities, Section IV—Main Findings—V Concluding Remarks. The concluding remarks try to end on hope. “The Commission Hopes—– that this report will help —– Shed light on the truth—— behind this heinous crime.” —-Shed Light on the Truth.— “And support steps towards ending impunity. It is solely up to the competent authorities—-To make this happen.” ————Competent Authorities.
Of the “Authorities”, says paragraph two hundred and twenty-three The Commission believes—- that the criminal investigation— of both attacks against Ms Bhutto, first in —Karachi and in Rawalpindi—when she was killed, must include a focus on those who may have been involved, not only on the direct operational level, but also in their conception, planning and financing. In this regard, the pertinent authorities —–should follow—– all leads—- and explore—– all reasonable hypotheses—– in this— regard,—–including the possible involvement—– of those who form— part of the Establishment.
Of the ESTABLISHMENT, says paragraph thirteen: It is. “The de facto power structure which has as its core the military high command and intelligence agencies, in particular, the powerful military run Inter Services Intelligence—the ISI—- as well as Military Intelligence—the MI and the Intelligence Bureau—the IB. The capability of the Establishment to exercise power in Pakistan is based in large part on the central role played by the Pakistani military and intelligence agencies in the country’s political life, with the military ruling the country directly for 32 of its 62 years as an independent state.”
The Central Role of the Establishment —-All the conditions of Pakistan that led to Benazir's assassination—– paragraph two hundred and one mentions all the forces created in the Afghan war against the Soviet Union—This paragraph only mentions part of the Gang–the Pakistani ones and it is silent about those other ones –those whose war it was and is; those who paid for it and still do. And those who profited from it and still do and those whose interests are there— and are far too valuable and lucrative to risk—- and at all costs must be protected. Those who at all costs will protect their interests. The silence bears witness to just those ones who hose. Those who attack and kill typically by using a firearm.
Still, they show up in the discussion of the deal. Paragraphs twenty-two through forty-four talks about that deal–the one that brought Benazir back to Pakistan—- its discussions were facilitated by the governments—- of the United Kingdom and the United States, which were deeply involved—– in the process. Both governments gave priority— to ensuring a continued leadership— role for General Musharraf, as they believed—- this was vital for—- the ongoing war against terror.
And so history shows that in that year people were out on the streets galvanizing for change and rallying for the ouster of the Dictator, demanding the restoration of the constitution. While, the US and the UK were dealing, planning and ensuring a continued leadership role for General Musharraf.
The deal that was meant to deliver Benazir. A deal to keep in place the same old deal? A deal to ensure, that the same old deal from before, would appear like the real deal. Hosed, deal makers, dupata, flutters. Nothing, Just Silence. All the sounds and the signatures of —Silence keepers. Nothing makers.
Paragraph twenty-two to forty-three Speaks of the deal, the dealers.
The report reveals.
Names all the names each and every single name,
Part and parcel of the establishment’s game,
Who signed, sealed and delivered
Paragraph twenty-three and twenty-four discuss the deal makers: Benazir and a few close advisers,
Mr Rehman Malik and
Makhdoom Amin Fahim
had ongoing contacts with
and his team: General Musharraf’s team included:
Tarik Aziz, former Secretary of the National Security Council,
General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, then Director General of ISI,
And, in later meetings,
Lt. General Hamid Javed, General Musharraf’s Chief of Staff.
Paragraph twenty-four. “The discussions were facilitated by the governments—-
of the United Kingdom and the United States, which were deeply involved—– in the process.
Both governments GAVE PRIORITY— to ensuring a CONTINUED LEADERSHIP— role for General MUSHARRAF, as THEY believed—- this was vital for—- the ongoing war against terror”.
But General Musharraf was FURIOUS.
Paragraph thirty-three says Musharraf was furious that she was breaching the deal, coming back to Pakistan when he thought she would stay away and lend her name to the elections: He and others close to him believed that he had a firm agreement with her that she would return only after the elections, then scheduled for November. “General Musharraf was furious when Ms Bhutto made her announcement and, according to one source, believed that her action represented “a total breach of the agreement”. Other informed sources said that Ms Bhutto seemed equally stunned by General Musharraf’s reaction.”
To paraphrase paragraph forty-three Benazir broke the deal by returning. She broke the deal by turning— to PMLN, for the election and to those who were rallying for justice and the constitution’s restoration.
Paragraph thirty-five says this about breaking the deal: Throughout——- the negotiations,—– General Musharraf’s principal argument for insisting that Ms Bhutto postpone her return— until after the elections—– was security concerns.
Paragraph fifty-three through eighty-three are on the Security that was denied her.
The security they indulged themselves
But denied her
The Rules they followed for themselves
But not for her.
Continues paragraph thirty-five: General Musharraf and his team emphasized the threats against her by extremist groups ——and the great risks of campaigning. When Ms Bhutto announced her decision to return—–to campaign, General Musharraf’s team reiterated those arguments to her, as they continued to do after her return. Paragraph forty. The relationship between General Musharraf and Ms Bhutto deteriorated further with General Musharraf’s decision on 3 November 2007 to declare emergency rule, suspend the constitution, promulgate a series of measures—— that amounted to martial law, and again sack Chief Justice Chaudhry, together with a number of other high court justices. Paragraph forty-two says: Ms Bhutto increasingly understood that by contemplating plans for governing together with General Musharraf, she risked having to share with him the growing public ire against his government. She feared that her on- going political relationship with him could potentially—— weaken her politically,—– diminish her legitimacy—— and lessen possibilities —–for a solid PPP victory.
Paragraph forty-three. While Ms Bhutto reportedly later re-established contacts with General
Musharraf THROUGH INTERMEDIARIES”,—– while, “she turned more of her energies —–toward her campaign” and supported more vigorously and personally the lawyers movement—she showed up outside the house turned prison of the Chief Justice.
Who else was FURIOUS
What they understood
To be the DEAL?
Signed and sealed.
Paragraph two hundred and eleven states that the US government did not permit the commission—- to meet with US intelligence officers–to question—- the basis Mr. Hayden's— assertions—- that the Taliban had killed BB.
Paragraph eighty-five : “On the evening of 26 December 2007, Ms Bhutto arrived in Islamabad by road from Peshawar in the North West Frontier Province. She had a campaign event in neighboring Rawalpindi scheduled for the next day. “ So, she campaigned and held a public rally in Mardan and she traveled from there through Peshawar all the way back to Islamabad by road——safely through. No Taliban? No Bait ullah Mesud to easily attack on an open long road of opportunity ? No attacks. Until, a stones throw away from the GHQ, the very next day.
A deal that she thought would only bring her back to where she wanted to be. Full stop. She must have thought she would, that she could manage to maneuver her way out of the rest that it entailed. Naïvete, from one so needed most. That deal and all its clauses, left her dealt with. It ran contrary to her rank and file. A deal that confused whose side she was on. She broke ranks with her side and then the other side. Afraid that her ranks were breaking with her. She broke away trying to correct her direction. Too late. Naïve, not a player. And so was left alone—completely-exposed—completely isolated.
Bibi were you so tired? Were you so fatigued? Were you so scared? That you left yourself no choice but to be so brave? If saint was the best role you every played—they let you play it to everyone’s advantage. So then Bibi, if this were true, –you obliged them—and they did you.
The angle of the camera is from the back of her head as she appears in the sun roof of her vehicle in that moment just before her murder. The dupatta comes up in paragraph one hundred and seven— . The Commission examined video footage taken from a back angle, which shows Ms Bhutto’s dupatta, her white head covering, and her hair flick upwards after the second shot. Paragraph one hundred and six notes that at 17.14 hours the first shot was fired.
How the dupatta floats—-Up–and down. It too has disappeared with all the other facts.
The dupatta bears witness—-Bares the truth—-In how it flutters and floats—Seconds before the blast. Washed away with all the other evidence—–Or disappeared? But there it is in the film—in all the videos. A white diaphanous scarf floats up and settles down,—In the instant that she is dying,—
As Bibi drops back under into the car,—-
The white dupatta, rises—It flutters.—It bears witness. In that instant,—In that fluttering, it bears witness. In its movement the dupatta makes its presence known, becomes a symbol—-
Of Security non-existent. Security breached. Security:
The security they indulged themselves
But denied her
The Rules they followed for themselves
But did not apply to her.
Who are these they?
Who were there
Responsible for her
Taking up space
Paragraph one hundred and ten is composed of only one sentence.
No one else in her vehicle was seriously injured.
Only the most precious goes?
Only one precious cargo,
In that car,
Only one precious cargo
Only, she goes?
Paragraph sixty-seven pays tribute to those who were ready to place their own bodies between Benazir and dangers. Ready to lay down their lives to protect her. They were the Jaan-nisar-e-Benazir. They were with her on October 18m 2007 in Karachi. More than two hundred of them perished. The Jaan-Nisar- e-Benazir–Who on that day, December 27, 2007, had been turned back and weren’t there. Why?
Paragraph one hundred and four: “There is some dispute as to whether Ms. Bhutto stood up on her own or was urged to do so.” The back of her head As she appears in the sun roof of her vehicle in that moment just before her murder. The only one. Unassisted? Unadvised? On her own? Exposed? The One and only. All alone. The rest, inside, cozy, fine?
All their possessions intact?
All their valuables?
All accounted for?
Their shoes, wallets, all their clothing intact?
Of course there’s blood to be cleaned out of clothing
But all intact?
No one in the car phoned out
To ask for help?
No one in any other car
Phoned in to ask?
No loved one?
Phoned to offer help?
No brother to a brother?
No lover, no friend,
No comrade-no follower
No husband, or wife or child.
No record of that?
She is waving to the crowds.
Her signature white dupatta covers her head.
Then the shots—
How the dupatta lifts—
And floats up from her
As she drops back down
Through the sun roof.
The dupatta rises
Lifts the veil
The dupatta rises
I rewind and watch it again.
How the dupatta floats
It too has disappeared with all the other facts. The dupatta bears witness in videos. Bares the truth. In how it flutters and floats—-Seconds before the blast. Washed away with all the other evidence? Or disappeared? Its disappearance evidence of its importance.
How it flutters.
How it disappears.
To the tradition of
Dupatta or Pug.
The symbolic humiliation—–Of—-Stripping heads of cover—In an ambush—By a gang of thugs. The making of silence the making of heads naked —–By a Gang of Thugs—Of grinding this cover, this security beneath their all powerful feet—-into the dust into the ground. And by doing so—-Publically in full view of the bazaar, —-The gang of thugs tear away
And obliterate hope.
The Gang—– in an ambush
Yet paragraph two hundred sixty-six— Ends on hope.
Paragraph one hundred and forty-three to one hundred and fifty-two—talks about the decision for not having an autopsy on the body of Bibi. The report does not bring up or discuss the question of why there weren’t post mortems for any of the other twenty four bodies. Paragraphs one hundred and fifty-three- to one hundred and fifty-nine discuss if whether Ms. Bhutto was shot. Paragraph one hundred and sixteen says Benazir’s dupatta remains missing. The doctors had not seen a dupatta. The doctors haven’t seen a bullet. The doctors are silent. The silence bears witness. The disappearance bears witness. The bodies that were buried bear witness. The dupatta bears witness. The Nothing bears witness.
Paragraph one hundred and forty-two notes that the vehicle Bibi rode was taken to Police Lines after midnight of December 28th a few hours after the event and the car was cleansed. And what about the car in which she was brought to the hospital? Nothing mentioned. What happened to it? Nothing left as a clue. Except the nothing. Except the silence. Accept the nothing? Accept the silence?
The UN Commission fact finds and restores the Imperative for a Criminal Investigation. And it provides a road map to follow.
Follow the thirst,
Follow the hosing
Follow the water
Follow the flutter
Follow the silence
Follow the nothing
Follow the dealers
Follow what’s missing
Follow everything disappeared
Follow all that has been left unexamined, buried.
Follow because you must the thirst for meaningful truth and justice.
The main body of the report begins at paragraph One with the count. The beginning begins with the dead. The counting of the dead. The counting of the wounded. Twenty four died, outside the car. Twenty five if you count Benazir, who fell inside the car. Ninety-one were injured that day. Incalculable loss. Traumatic. And that way, if you count the whole country millions injured and died that day. Millions. Earth shattering.