By Rana Ajit, IANS
New Delhi : For millions of Indians, the assassination of former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto brings alive the haunting images of the May 1991 killing of their own former premier Rajiv Gandhi.
Both Gandhi and Bhutto died similar horrific deaths, falling prey to determined killers — both at election rallies.
Security experts point out that both leaders fell prey to militants, for whose misplaced causes their respective countries had found it expedient to support at some point of time.
Both Bhutto and Gandhi died when they were out of the power.
Bhutto had returned to Pakistan only two months ago to fight elections amid attempts in Pakistan to usher in civilian democracy. If her Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) had won the January election, there was every possibility of Bhutto taking the reins in Islamabad.
Gandhi was assassinated when he was campaigning in the 1991 elections. If his Congress party had won the polls, it would have again catapulted him to the country’s top post.
Ironically, the two young leaders shared other similarities too.
Bhutto became the first and the youngest women to head the government of an Islamic state at the age of 35 – in 1988.
Born in 1944, Gandhi too had the distinction of becoming the youngest prime minister of the world’s largest democracy at the age of 40. That was in 1984, after the assassination of his mother and predecessor Indira Gandhi.
Both scions of ruling families, Gandhi and Bhutto both had education in the West and were widely perceived as the harbinger of a new age and modernity in their homelands.
By unwittingly transmitting the dream of modernity, both had become the heartthrobs of the millions as they headed the governments of their respective countries.
After the Simla Agreement in July 1972, followed by nearly two decades of strained ties between the two countries, it were Gandhi and Bhutto who broke the ice holding a summit in Islamabad in 1988, on the sidelines of a South Asia summit.