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Benazir’s Legacy Of Resistance

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Professor Amin Mughal, a doyen of progressive humanistic thinking, literary giant and ingenious scholar, in his remarkable paper, After Benazir Bhutto: Some reflections, read at a meet organised by Campaign against Martial Law, Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS, London on 15 January 2008, commented, “I confess, in the least uncharitable terms, that I was never fond of Benazir Bhutto. In fact, I was inimical to her politics. In death, however, she has redeemed herself. In the imagination of the masses she has acquired a mystical significance that is destined to be a never-ending source of inspiration in their struggles ahead. Most authentic martyrs in history were reluctant to die. All of them were, however, prepared to accept death. Benazir went further. Her detractors have accused her of being foolhardy. That is not true. She only embraced what she had in the last days of her life come to perceive to be her destiny. Hers was an act of courage steeled in deliberation and schooled in the imagination. It matters who killed her, but what matters more is that she knew she would be gunned down. Had she escaped death that day, the suicide bombers would have done her in sooner than later. Yet, she decided to take the risk. Again, it matters whether she died of the gun wound or was later levered down into death. But what matters more is that she was there, facing a possible killer. She did not flinch”.  

The above lines are, undoubtedly, the best tribute to martyr Benazir Bhutto till today. The valiant act of courage demonstrated in 2007 by Shaheed (martyr) Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, praised by Amin Mughal and many others changed the entire political scene of Pakistan, unfortunately for the worst. For resisting the agenda of forces of obscurantism—working on the dictates of Late Neo-Colonial masters—she lost her life. Her removal from the political scene paved the way for the United States to get rid of General Pervez Musharraf (late) and install elected elements more keen and willing to both toe and implement their agenda. 

December 27, 2023 marks the sixteenth death anniversary of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, the great visionary leader, who resisted with extraordinary courage the agenda of neo-colonial forces—pushing Pakistan to a theocratic State incapable of progressing towards an egalitarian and democratic polity. In recognition of her great services, she was awarded posthumously the prestigious UN Human Rights Award on December 10, 2008. The UN Human Rights Award is given every five years. The 2008 award was special as it coincided with the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

A very few analysts and scholars have tried to view her assassination from this perspective. In her last book, Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy & the West, she tried “to trace the roots, causes, and potential solutions to the crisis within the Muslim world and the crisis between the Muslim World and the West”. 

Benazir, in this book, has painstakingly unveiled the agenda of Neo-Colonialists, bigots, terrorists and the obscurantist. She has quoted extensively from Al Qur’an to prove that Islam is a religion of peace, but it has been brutally abused by a handful of extremists throughout Muslim history to create chaos and disorder. She traced the factors behind militant Islam and exposed the colonial and neo-colonial forces behind it. These views must have hit hard and annoyed the forces that want to keep the Muslim World in dark ages for their nefarious designs.  They used their proxy—Islamic militants—to get rid of her.   

In the wake of her brutal and ruthless assassination—still shrouded in mystery—there was great euphoria among Pakistani liberals over the presumed ‘return to democracy’. Dr. Sachithanandam Sathananthan, a Visiting Research Scholar at the Jawaharlal Nehru University School of International Studies, in his paper, The Great Game Continues, noted with concern that “they are yet to discover ‘Late Neo-colonialism’.  He argues that removal of Benazir and thereafter, easily manoeuvred victory for Asif Ali Zardari in the presidential election “brought to a high point the tortuous process of regime change in Pakistan. Anyone who has followed the ‘colour revolutions’ that installed pro-American rulers in Georgia (Rose Revolution, 2003), Ukraine (Orange Revolution, 2004) and Kyrgyzstan (Tulip Revolution, 2005) could surely not have missed the tell tale signs”.

The theory propounded by Dr. Sachithanandam gets credence in the wake of events taking place after the assassination of Benazir and culminating in the Mumbai carnage.   It is rightly highlighted by Dr. Sachithanandam that “the earliest foreboding surfaced in the backroom manoeuvres by United States (US) and British intelligence services to engineer panic about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear assets. It was a repeat of the duplicitous hysteria they generated over non-existent weapons of mass destruction that Iraq allegedly possessed. 

The phenomenon of fundamentalism is complex and riddled with many puzzles. It cannot be understood without studying the foreign policy of the United States in which terrorism, drugs, arms and war play a pivotal role. This is not a recent phenomenon. From the early part of the twentieth century, US leaders have been using arms, drugs and war hysteria as tools to advance their foreign policy objectives. 

A carefully worded article, co-authored by former State Department officials Richard L. Armitage and Kara L. Bue, signalled the shift in US policy. After formally acknowledging then President Pervez Musharraf’s many achievements, the authors continued: ‘much remains to be accomplished, particularly in terms of democratisation. Pakistan must…eliminate the home-grown jihadists…And…it must prove itself a reliable partner on technology transfer and nuclear non-proliferation.’ And the denouement: ‘We believe General Musharraf…deserves our attention and support, no matter how frustrated we become at the pace of political change and the failure to eliminate Taliban fighters on the Afghan border.’ Translation: Musharraf has to go”.

It was ‘Washington’s renewed interest’ in Zardari and Rehman Malik and not Benazir that forced Musharraf—once a close friend of Bush—to offer firm opposition to US Late Neo-colonialism to ravage Pakistan. According to Dr. Sachithanandam, “politically challenged Pakistani liberals — a motley crowd that includes members of human rights and civil liberties organisations, journalists, analysts, lawyers and assorted professionals—are utterly incapable of comprehending the geo-strategic context in which Musharraf manoeuvred to defend Pakistan’s interest”. 

So they slandered him an ‘American puppet’, alleging he caved in to US pressure and withdrew support to the Afghan Taliban regime in the wake of 9/11 although in fact “he removed one excuse for the Bush Administration to ‘bomb Pakistan into stone age’, as a senior State Department official had threatened”.

In view of the above, it is understandable why Benazir decided to join hands with Musharraf to resist US Late Neo-colonialism. American discomfort with Musharraf’s government was palpable by late 2003, after he dodged committing Pakistani troops to prop up the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. When he offered to cooperate under the auspices of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), naïve Pakistani media and analysts lunged for his jugular, condemning him once again for succumbing to US demands. But in fact he nimbly sidestepped American demands: he calculated that diverse ideological stances of the 57 Muslim member-countries would not allow the OIC to jointly initiate such controversial action and therefore Pakistan’s participation could not arise, which proved correct.

Benazir was fully aware of the fact that Bush Administration had been becoming increasingly hostile to Musharraf’s determination to prioritise Pakistan’s interests when steering the ship of the state through the choppy waters of the unfolding New Great Game, in which the West—led by the US—has been manoeuvring to contain growing Russian and Chinese influences in Central and West Asia. She decided to work with Musharraf, precisely for resisting this agenda of Pakistan-hostile forces. She became the prime target of these forces and was hence eliminated. Since then events show and prove that under the “chosen” leadership, Pakistan would side with the US and Britain. 

Benazir became a victim of this New Great Game in which her own party stalwarts betrayed her.  Hers has been a legacy of continuous struggle and resistance against the enemies of Pakistan and Islam. Pakistanis need to continue her legacy of resisting the ongoing Great Game of US Late Neo-colonialism—controlling the South Asian region through the bogey of Islamic militants and Hindutva with the ultimate aim of containing China and getting hold of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenals.

Dr. Ikramul Haq
Dr. Ikramul Haqhttp://www.thescoop.pk
Dr. Ikramul Haq, Advocate Supreme Court, specialises in constitutional, corporate, media and cyber laws, ML/CFT, IT, intellectual property, arbitration and international taxation. He holds LLD in tax laws with specialisation in transfer pricing. He was full-time journalist from 1979 to 1984 with Viewpoint and Dawn. He served in the Civil Services of Pakistan from 1984 to 1996. He established Huzaima & Ikram in 1996 and is presently its chief partner as well as partner in Huzaima Ikram & Ijaz. He studied journalism, English literature and law. He is Chief Editor of Taxation. He is country editor and correspondent of International Bureau of Fiscal Documentation (IBFD) and member of International Fiscal Association (IFA). He is Visiting Faculty at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) and member of Advisory Board and Visiting Senior Fellow of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE). He has co authored with Huzaima Bukhari many books that include Tax Reforms in Pakistan: Historic & Critical Review, Towards Flat, Low-rate, Broad and Predictable Taxes (revised & Expanded Edition, Pakistan: Enigma of Taxation, Towards Flat, Low-rate, Broad and Predictable Taxes (revised/enlarged edition of December 2020), Law & Practice of Income Tax, Law , Practice of Sales Tax, Law and Practice of Corporate Law, Law & Practice of Federal Excise, Law & Practice of Sales Tax on Services, Federal Tax Laws of Pakistan, Provincial Tax Laws, Practical Handbook of Income Tax, Tax Laws of Pakistan, Principles of Income Tax with Glossary and Master Tax Guide, Income Tax Digest 1886-2011 (with judicial analysis). The recent publication, coauthored with Abdul Rauf Shakoori and Huzaima Bukhari is Pakistan Tackling FATF: Challenges & Solutions available at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08RXH8W46 and https://aacp.com.pk/product/pakistan-tackling-fatf-challenges-solutions/ He is author of Commentary on Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreements, Pakistan: From Hash to Heroin, its sequel Pakistan: Drug-trap to Debt-trap and Practical Handbook of Income Tax. Two books of poetry are Phull Kikkaran De (Punjabi poetry 2023) and Nai Ufaq (Urdu 1979 with Siraj Munir and Shahid Jamal). He regularly writes columns for many Pakistani newspapers and international journals and has contributed over 2500 articles on a variety of issues of public interest, printed in various journals, magazines and newspapers at home and abroad. X: (formerly Twitter): DrIkramulHaq

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