By Gurmukh Singh, IANS
Toronto : People of Pakistani origin in Canada woke up to the tragic assassination of Benazir Bhutto Friday morning, fearing for the future of Pakistan.
They spoke out on local radio and TV channels and to IANS, saying they saw its descent into “mindless violence, civil war or clamping of martial law”.
The Canadian wing of Benazir’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) – the second oldest after Britain and the largest in membership – suspected the role of the Pakistani establishment in their leader’s assassination.
Baji Suraiya Khan, who founded the party’s Canada chapter at the behest of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto when he visited Toronto in 1976, told IANS: “Benazir’s assassination is the handiwork of the military. She was in the military-controlled area, wearing bulletproof uniform and inside a bulletproof vehicle. Only a sharpshooter could kill her. Our suspicion is that the military killed her.”
She said she had spoken to Benazir before left Dubai for Pakistan in October. “As there were obvious fears about her safety, she had given three names to Musharraf who she feared might try to eliminate her. That letter is in government files. Once an investigation gets under way, these names will come out. One of them is Musharraf’s right-hand man,” said a sobbing Suraiya Khan, who is also president of the woman wing of PPP in Canada since 1977.
“Musharraf allowed Benazir and Nawaz Sharif to return under pressure from the US, but he never reconciled to their presence in Pakistan,” she said, adding, “He tried to get Sharif killed four-five days ago. Benazir is gone and you will see the same fate befalling Sharif. Pakistan is heading for chaos because of Musharraf. We are finished. Who will replace Pinky (Benazir)?”
Added Iffat Javed, co-convener of the party, “There is no adult in the Bhutto family to replace her. Husband Zardari is not very popular. Younger sister Sanam is not into politics. No one will ever be able to replace Benazir. She was so eloquent, charismatic, and well versed in world affairs.”
Fearing civil war and martial law in Pakistan, Toronto’s well-known media face Raheel Raza said the tragedy didn’t bode well for Pakistan. “It has thrown us back into dark ages. Her killing is a shut-up call to all liberal Muslims and women. Pakistan has become the hotbed of Wahabis, and she spoke bravely against them. That voice has been silenced today.
“Her gender went against her, and this is a tragedy for womanhood. What a role model she was! Pakistan is becoming an increasing dangerous place to live in. Worse still, it is a nuclear nation.”
Ruling out the military’s hand in the killing, Raza said, “Whom does her elimination benefit? Terrorists. Because she had promised the West that she will root out them once she came to power. She was the darling of the West, and jihadis abhorred her for that.”
Sonia Ahmed, a Toronto socialite who pioneered Miss Pakistan World beauty pageant, said Benazir’s assassination was “a tragedy for strong, liberal Muslim women all over the world”.
She said Islam forbids anyone from attacking women. “Have these thugs read the Koran? From anywhere in the world, they land in Taliban camps and start calling themselves Jihadis. Jihad does not kill innocents. We pray that Musharraf finishes them off. They are a threat to the whole world – Pakistan, India, the US. We are paying a price for what Zia-ul-Haq started in the name of Islamisation of Pakistan.”