ISLAMABAD: Our politics has changed today. Benazir symbolised democratic hope, colour, and energy for the people of Pakistan. Whoever killed Benazir has wreaked such utter horror on our polity that perhaps even they cannot fathom its consequences.
What have they achieved by killing her? Unable to tolerate her politics and its response amongst people, they have tried to erase a legacy of anti-establishment politics, demoralise all progressive elements in the country, weaken the federation, frighten any meaningful opposition in the country ñ and bring terror into the heart of every citizen of Pakistan.
The impact of her assassination is going be immense on the national psyche and it will be apparent in the weeks to come. The government of the day has to bear responsibility for a state of insecurity that has led to today’s brutal deaths. To say that suicide attacks cannot be stopped is not an acceptable excuse any more.
We are living in an era in which the state and the anti-state elements have raised the ante to a level where killing and assassinating those espousing views different from them is now normal. Unfortunately the impact of their action comes back to haunt the ordinary citizen and her political leaders.
Killing, however, has never solved anything. Benazir was only 26 when Bhutto was hanged by Zia but it did not end the party ñ more importantly, it did not end the aspirations and the demands of the people that his party represented.
Benazir herself, despite her class interests, could not ignore those demands, could not disregard what essentially her party stood for. She will not be there now ñ and one cannot comment on how quick the party leadership organises itself ñ but those short-sighted people who killed her forgot that she represents the aspirations of a huge chunk of Pakistani voters. The demands of the voters will stay, will continue, and cannot be assasinated by any suicide bomber.
There is a pall of grey over the country today ñ a ‘security state’ that has failed to bring any security to its people. Living under an insecure establishment, the citizens of Pakistan have been trying to create an uneasy peace for themselves. Every spate of killing, whether by nonstate actors or otherwise, has made them question the poor equilibrium of the society. This continuing violence was a factor in prompting the comfortable civil society’s response to the judicial crisis.
Pakistanis no longer accept a version of truth that does not corresponds to their reality. And the reality is that today political parties cannot take part in electoral process without harm. How could this have been the third phase of General Musharraf’s transition to democracy? How can this be democracy in which a twice-prime minister of the country is killed during a peaceful electoral campaign in a garrison town?
Today as riots break out all across the country with despairing PPP supporters venting their anger and horror, there is no voice in the government that can soothe their pain. Where will hope emanate from? If Pakistan is to survive, if the federation has to live, with all units of the federation and all individuals of the federation feeling they have a stake in it, we have to find hope from somewhere. Benazir Bhutto was the hope for millions, one hopes her memory and legacy will allow some hope to some people ñ and they will bear these wounds but find the courage to go on. But today, we mourn our fallen leader: the daughter of the East, the daughter, sister, mother and leader of Pakistan.