Pakistan After Benazir's Tragic Assassination

The airwaves and Internet are filled with commentary, praise, criticism, hyperbole and punditry after the tragic assassination of Benazir Bhutto. This video from News Hour with Jim Lehrer (Done By Judy Woodruff) struck me as an objective, no-nonsense commentary from both Pakistani and US perspectives.

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Comment by Riaz Haq on November 14, 2020 at 1:54pm

As normal, she stood on the back seat, her head and shoulders sticking out of the emergency hatch above the roof. It was ten past five in the afternoon. Having waited all day, Bilal saw that his moment had come. He moved first to the front of the car and then to the side where there were fewer people, took out his pistol and pointed it at Benazir’s head. One of the guards clawed at the young man but, although he touched his arm, he was slightly too far away to get a firm grip. Bilal fired three shots in less than a second. As the second shot rang out, Benazir’s headscarf, or dupatta, moved away from her face. After the third, she fell like a stone, through the escape hatch, into the vehicle. As she did so, Bilal set off his suicide bomb. ‘I turned my face and she was on my lap,’ recalled Naheed Khan, who had been sitting on the car’s back seat, beside Benazir. ‘And her blood was oozing like I can’t explain to you. I have no words to say. Her blood was oozing. My hands, my – she was soaked in blood. My whole clothes were soaked in blood.’ Naheed Khan’s medically trained husband, Dr Safdar Abbasi, was also in the vehicle. ‘You know, I was trying to see her pulse and I was finding it very difficult, you know, to get to her pulse. But naturally, we had to take her to hospital. By that time, you know, the Jeep was all alone. There was no police car. There was no

Bennett-Jones, Owen. The Bhutto Dynasty (p. 11). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition.

backup car.’5 There was no backup car because, inexplicably, Benazir’s security chief, Rehman Malik, had driven away. He later gave a bewildering number of different accounts of his actions in those moments. In a TV interview shortly after the blast he said his car had been just 4 feet away from Benazir’s vehicle when Bilal had blown himself up. He claimed he then led Benazir’s car to the hospital and remained there. In a different interview shortly afterwards, he said that his car was moving in front of Benazir’s and that immediately after the bomb went off they accelerated, fearing another attack. Initially Benazir followed, but, after some time, they saw that Benazir’s car was no longer behind them; so they did a U-turn and returned. Both accounts – and other versions he gave – were completely untrue. In fact, Rehman Malik, together with others who were sharing his car, simply left the scene and headed for Islamabad. A decade later, when asked why he had done this, Malik said he had been following police instructions. Another occupant of the car, Benazir’s longstanding and famously loyal spokesman, Farhatullah Babar, gave a similar account, although he added that allowing himself to be driven away that day was the greatest regret of his life.6

Bennett-Jones, Owen. The Bhutto Dynasty (pp. 11-12). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition.

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