December 27, 2022 marks the 15th death anniversary of Benazir Bhutto, a popular leader with great vision, who courageously resisted the agenda of Late Neo-colonial forces—pushing Pakistan towards a toothless nuclear State. In recognition of her great services, she posthumously honoured with the prestigious UN Human Rights Award on December 10, 2008, given every five years. It was special as coincided with 60th anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Dr. Ikramul Haq
Professor Amin Mughal, a doyen of humanistic thinking, in his paper,After Benazir Bhutto: Some reflections, noted, “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”. This is the perhaps the best tribute to Benazir Bhutto until today.
The act of great courage by Benazir Bhutto, praised by Amin Mughal and many others, changed the entire political scene of Pakistan, unfortunately for the worse. She sacrificed her life to save the country from forces, working on the dictates of Late Neo-colonial masters. The killing of Bashir Bilour, senior minister and prominent leader of Awami National party and nine others in Peshawar on December 22, 2012 was continuity of ‘Grand Design’ of Late Neo-colonialists. The latest official disclosure by the federal interior minister about Indian continuous sponsoring of terrorism in Pakistan testifies to what Benazir was actually fighting against.
The analysts/scholars/historians have so far ignored Benazir’s assassination from the perspective of ‘New Great Game’, propounded by Dr. Sachithanandam Sathananthan in his paper, The Great Game Continues. The main objectives of New Great Game are containment of China, sabotaging Road & Belt initiative (BRI) and capture resources of Middle East through Israeli-Indian nexus, besides creating rifts among Muslim states leading to wars.
The events after assassination of Benazir, such as, ghastly massacre in Peshawar Army School, blasts in Quetta and elsewhere, latest terrorist attacks in Lucky Marwat and Bannu, and continuous ambushing of our armed forces and civilian law enforcement agencies—continuing till today from cross-boarders—prove the deadly tentacles of New Great Game.
Benazir in RECONCILIATION: Islam, Democracy & the West, the book she completed days before her assassination, elaborated true vision of Islam as “an open, pluralistic and tolerant religion”. She emphasised “Islam and the West need not to head toward clash of civilizations”.
Benazir quoted extensively from holy Al Qur’an highlighting: “Islam is a religion of peace, though abused by extremists to create chaos/disorder”. She traced the factors behind “Militant Islam’ and exposed the agenda of Late Neo-colonialists to create secretariat divisions and other discords among Muslim states. These views and her determination to counter them annoyed the Late Neo-colonial forces that want to keep the Muslim World divided and engaged in armed conflicts. These forces used their proxy (militants) to assassinate her at 54.
The events after her assassination—still shrouded in mystery—prove the thesis presented by Dr. Sachithanandam in The Great Game Continues. He rightly argued that removal of Benazir paved the way for Late Neo-Colonialists to implement their agenda. Blackwater and others of their alike infiltrated into the country and helped militant outfits to undermine our national security.
Dr. Sachithanandam also highlights: “The earliest foreboding surfaced in the backroom manoeuvres by United States 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”. It was, he claimed, “Washington’s renewed interest’ in Zardari and Rehman Malik and not Benazir that forced Musharraf—once a close ally 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—were utterly incapable of comprehending the geo-strategic context in which “Musharraf maneuvered 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. In reality, the purpose was to ouster him and bring Zardari in.
In this background, it is understandable why Benazir decided to join hands with General Musharraf to resist Late Neo-colonialism. American discomfort with Musharraf was palpable by late 2003, after he refused to send Pakistani troops to assist in 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 again for succumbing to US demands—in reality, he nimbly sidestepped American demand. Therefore, Pakistan did not participate and he was 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, which the West—led by the US—has been manoeuvring to contain growing Russian and Chinese influences in Central and West Asia.
Benazir decided to work with Musharraf, precisely for resisting the above agenda of Pakistan-hostile forces. Thus, she became the prime target of these forces and was eliminated—interestingly the blame of hiding the real hands was shifted to Musharraf. Since then events show and prove that under the “chosen” leadership, Pakistan is moving towards disorder/disaster.
Benazir became victim of ‘New Great Game’ in which her own party stalwarts betrayed her. Benazir’s legacy has been that of continuous struggle. There is a need for recognition and continuation of her mission of resisting New Great Game aimed at controlling South Asian region through the bogey of militant Islam and Hindutva with the ultimate aim of containing China and muzzling the strong army of Pakistan. An army, equipped with nuclear arsenals, courtesy Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, is a formidable challenge for them in their bid to increase Israeli influence and power to destroy another strong power, neighboring Pakistan having support of Russia. Only a bloc of China, Pakistan, Russia, Iran and Turkey can counter their ‘Great Design’. They removed Benazir from the scene knowing she could be the main catalyst for such an alliance. ____________________________________________________________________
Dr. Ikramul Haq, Advocate Supreme Court, is Adjunct Faculty at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) and member Advisory Board and Visiting Senior Fellow of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE)