Monday, December 31, 2007

The Bewitching Benazir Bhutto

I am sorry to say that I never had the opportunity to meet Benazir Bhutto. When I was In Asia she was in prison. Years later, we were both living in London, but she was in a self-imposed exile. I knew someone who had been her Public Relations Advisor. It seemed tactless to ask him to introduce me to her when she was “ Not Receiving,” So; a series of events prevented us from meeting.

That is not to say I did not know a great many things about her family. Attorney Mario Lana, political and spiritual heir to the late Socialist Senator Lelio Basso had a profound love and respect for her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. According to Mario he was a spiritual man even if he espoused the separation of Religion and State. We could say he was a secular man, which is not to say, I repeat that he was a Godless one.

The Founder of Pakistan, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, a philosopher, an erudite and elegant man was deeply secular. It’s true he had a visceral hatred for all things Hindu, including Gandhi himself, which is why India was partitioned after Independence from the now crumbling British Empire. Gandhi was so full of tolerance and love. He was ready to grant unheard of concessions to prevent what he perceived correctly as the dismemberment of Planet India. Ali Jinnah was adamant. Nothing except partition was acceptable. I think Partition was a mistake. In the politics of hindsight many political savants and Leaders have come to believe this as well.

For those of you who don't know - the name Pakistan is an acronym. Muslim nationalist and Cambridge scholar Choudhary Rathmat Ali coined the name in an inflammatory pamphlet he wrote in 1933 “Now or Never.”

The P stood for the Punjab. A was Afghania- the Northwest frontier. K for Kashmir. I- meant Iran. Most Afghans speak and/or understand Farsi. The mysterious Sind gave them the S. The T stood for Turkmenistan or the Central Asian republics, then under Soviet domination. A was Afghanistan and N for Baluchistan. Since the Vedas or even before the Vedas we are told that all of these provinces belonged to India.

Granted India is still a Universe, but imagine an India pre-1949? Churchill detested Gandhi even more than Ali Jinnah did. Empires can often be vindictive losers. What better way to ensure India was off to a so-called “good start” than to allow partition?

Millions of Hindus died, starved and trapped in Pakistan. The Hindus retaliated and hundreds of thousands Muslims perished in India. Millions more were displaced. Hindus fleeing to India and Muslims to Pakistan. It suited the Money Masters perfectly. Mankind witnessed chaos of epic proportions. Most of us would be prostrate at the immense human tragedies, which unfolded in India, if You Tube had then existed.

The Bhutto clan’s bailiwick was and is the Sind. Her father Zulfikar was a good Leader who knew the art of politics almost to perfection. The poor and huddled masses loved him. The military did not. America was ambivalent. His policies seemed more Socialistic than they liked. It wasn’t exactly a secret. Bhutto, like another Leader who would share his fate, Salvador Allende of Chile trusted his military Chief of Staff. They did not delve into Macchiavelli deep enough. An unstable Pakistan was more desirable to their military interests than keeping the people fed.

The charges and the trial of Benazir’s father will remain in the annals of kangaroo courts for years to come. To be sure, the judges, lawyers used due process of law or what passed for law to sentence him to death. Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Oriana Fallaci together with most of the leaders of the European Community as it was then called pleaded for Bhutto Pater to be set free. Most of us today consider his hanging nothing more than a well-conceived plan of judicial assassination.

Eight years of solitary confinement in a Pakistani jail can be a sobering experience for a young woman. In its own way, solitary confinement either turns you stark, raving mad or molds you into a lucid, serene and accepting individual. I speak of Acceptance as in choosing one’s own fate.

Her two brothers suffered assassinations as well. One, most probably suicided in Montecarlo and the older brother was cut down in Pakistan. Islamic militants are the probable culprits. Can we rule out false flag operations? I would venture to say “No”.

Where immense fortunes are concerned, expect blood feuds, bad blood, betrayals, accusations and counter-accusations. I have witnessed it repeatedly in my own clan. The Bhutto clan followed the same script. The world is littered with the skeletons in the grave as well as in the closet of these feuds whose common denominator is Money.

What about the accusations of raking in money from pay-offs? Right here in Italy Diogenes would suffer a nervous breakdown looking for an honest man or woman in politics. He would find them eventually but at great cost to his health because of the stress involved. I don’t think the other countries would glow in the eyes of Diogenes either. All the world’s continents are afflicted with these inordinate love of money and rapacity.

I think Benazir Bhutto returned to her country to die. No person more than she knew the risks. No person more than she knew with certainty that her enemies would never stop trying. Sooner rather later, one of the many determined suicide bombers would succeed. How many died along with Benazir was of no importance to her killers.

Benjamin Disraeli, one of England’s greatest Prime Ministers said “Assassination never altered the course of History.” He was right in the sense that as time goes by, the ideas expressed and lived by the assassinated individual take on a life of its own. They are dangerous to the ruling elite. At this point not even genocide can stem the tide. Ideas fly over oceans, mountains, seas and rivers. They criss-cross vast metropolises, and tiny hamlets, in the short-term assassination can and does alter events. More chaos will come out of this before order is restored. In due course, every oppressed people come to know that it is better to die with dignity than to live in slavery. That was the most portentous message that her death carried to the entire people of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Benazir had three bright and brave children. They will pick up the torch when it is time to do so. Her brother who was cut down by a hail of bullets also left a son, with a resolute and unafraid Syrian-Arab mother who reminds me of Cornelia, the mother of the Gracchi of ancient Rome.

I watched with fascination the interview Benazir granted to David Frost. No one in the mainstream media has deigned to comment on what she said so effortlessly, almost as a Shakespearean aside. This may have been her last interview to a journalist in the West.

“Osama Bin Laden is dead. It’s his son Hamza who may have been behind the bomb explosion on the day I arrived killing 158 people. Another one we suspect is Saeed Sheikh.’’

Saeed Sheikh is considered the killer of Daniel Perle. It will take eons to capture him, if ever. He might end up like Abu Nidal, the killer for hire, killed in Iraq by Saddam Hussein’s Mukhabarat or by Israeli agents. He might also be captured twenty or thirty years from now when men like him have outlived their usefulness. Remember Carlos the Jackal? He is in a French prison. I never understood the reason why the Media dubbed him the Jackal. Many of his actions appeared stupid to me.

In the end, the vilest forms of torture will not prevail. The tortured slaves will never reveal Saeed’s hiding place. They don’t know. Seneca once said “No slavery is more disgusting than that which is voluntary.”

In her interview with David Frost, Benazir Bhutto’s face was serene. No signs of stress marred her flawless skin. She had never looked more beautiful, bewitching is the word I used in the beginning of this essay. Her hands remained steady and sure throughout. Her demeanor was one of confidence in Life and even in Death. The world will miss her and if they don't – they should.

To God, the Merciful and the Compassionate.


  1. Tiberius GracchusMay 22, 2008 at 11:57 AM

    I am afraid it is not accurate to that Jinnah - who you've rightly described as erudite and elegant man- had visceral hatred for Hindus.

    Jinnah is still the only politician in South Asia to be known as the best ambassador of Hindu Muslim Unity.

    Nor did he want partition of India. It was the intansigence of Gandhi (read his collected works) that forced the most secular of Indian politicians to choose Pakistan.

    Jinnah chose a Hindu as his law minister specifically to ensure that Hindus would remain in Pakistan.

    Also the violence - from all accounts- started in Gurdaspur in India where Muslims were subjected to genocide.

  2. Thank you for your comment. I like dissent when it is presented in an intelligent and lucid manner.

    You are using an illustrious name, one of the Gracchi of the Roman Republic.

    I inherited a large drawing made in the Baroque period in Rome. It features Cornelia showing off her two 'Jewels" Gaius and Tiberius"

    There are several schools of thought regarding the tragic partition of India. Since I was a child both Indian Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs as well as Parsees of prominence have always held to the belief that Ali Jinnah was uncompromising and unbending.

    Gandhi had several hunger strikes to ensure that Muslims and Hindus would stop killing each other.

    The tragedy of War is that supposedly one side begins a genocide and the other side finishes it. I do not see any real Victors in any war except those who manufacture the armaments and those financiers and bankers who finance both warring sides.

    Please come and visit again.

    I have written an essay on the Ides of March.

    Grazie di nuovo.

    Contessa Isabella Vacani


Isabel Van Fechtmann

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