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An Account of Assassinations in Pakistan

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Assassination is an ancient device to eliminate an "undesired" person, usually a political opponent. While it may require decades to emerge as a public figure, it takes only a moment to become history. Pakistan's political history has had numerous patches of flux and turmoil. While there are several contributing factors behind that, repeated shocks of violent eliminations have been an important element. The most recent being the assassination of Ms. Benazir Bhutto. The section that follows outlines some key personalities assassinated over the past 60 years. This of course is not an exhaustive list.

Benazir Bhutto

The Chairperson Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and a former Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto was killed on Dec 27, 2007 while she was returning from an election rally at Liaqat Bagh, Rawalpindi, as part of her election campaign for the coming 2008 elections. Several bullets were fired at her, followed by an explosion which killed many people. There are however conflicting reports concerning the exact cause of her death and motives behind her murder. She had been elected twice as the Prime Minister of Pakistan and was the first woman Prime Minister in the Muslim world.

Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti

Akbar Bugti a tribal leader, founder of the Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP), and ex-Chief Minister of Balochistan was killed in a military operation on August 26, 2006. Bugti had also served as Minister of Interior and as ex-Governor, Balochistan. The military operation was part of Pervez Musharaf's drive across the tribal belt to maintain "government's writ", which is widely criticized for use of brute force for matters that are essentially political.

Hakim Muhammad Said

Hakim Muhammad Said, ex-governor Sindh, a renowned philanthropist, educationist and entrepreneur was shot dead on Oct 17, 1998, outside his clinic in Karachi. His killing is cited as a politically motivated murder. He was also the chancellor of Hamdard University.

Murtaza Bhutto

Murtaza Bhutto, the eldest son of Z. A. Bhutto and brother of Benazir Bhutto, was killed yards away from his residence, when a police contingent opened fire at him and six others that accompanied him. The incident took place on Sep 20, 1996. Ironically, the incident occurred while his sister, late Ms. Benazir Bhutto served as the Prime Minister of Pakistan. The case is still a mystery.

General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq

General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, a military dictator (and later the president), died in a mysterious plane crash on Aug 17, 1988 along with many other top army officials. Zia played a pivotal role in the Afghan war against the Soviet Union and was considered an important American ally during that period. After the Afghan war however, he no longer enjoyed that position and it is argued that he along with his team, were eliminated from the scene to realize the "new world order" in the region, with minimal resistance. Numerous controversies surround the investigations of the plane crash and it is widely held that the evidence gathered does not point to a mere accident.

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto

Z. A. Bhutto, a charismatic and one of the most popular leaders in Pakistan's history was hanged on Apr 04, 1979, after a death sentence in a highly controversial and politically motivated trial. He was deposed from the office of Prime Minister and tried under the military regime of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. His death is widely known as a "judicial murder". Z. A. Bhutto was the founder of the Pakistan People's Party.

Nawabzada Liaqat Ali Khan

The first Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawabzada Liaqat Ali Khan was shot dead on October 16, 1951 in a public meeting, at Municipal Park, Rawalpindi. He was scheduled to make an important announcement in the meeting when he was assassinated. Ironically, the security personnel immediately shot and killed the assassin.

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"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron."

[Dwight D. Eisenhower]