Lesson For Malaysian Government In Benazir Murder - Rein In Muslim Extremists Before It Is Too Late
* Benazir Bhutto addresses an election rally at Rawalpindi. The rally turns out to be a success and she prepares to leave the venue.
* She was exiting Liaquat Bagh (the venue) when her vehicle, a Black Lexus bulletproof vehicle, stopped near the venue’s gate where her PPP workers were shouting party slogans.
* Benazir came out from the sunroof of her vehicle to respond to her supporters’ cheers when a motorcyclist armed with a Kalashnikov opened fire on her. The gunman fired five times at her from close range.
* Benazir fell inside her vehicle after receiving bullet injuries on her head, neck and chest.
* The attacker blew himself up after firing the shots, killing 20 Bhutto supporters and wounding many others.
* Benazir lies unattended for sometime before being picked up and rushed to Rawalpindi General Hospital.
* Doctors attempt to resuscitate her for 35 minutes.
* At 6:16 PM (Pakistan time) doctors declare her dead.
* Late evening the body is taken in a coffin from the hospital to her hometown Larkana.
* Bhutto’s 19-year-old son rushes from Dubai.
* The funeral is to take place today, December 28th 2007.
May her soul rest in peace.
***** When the outrage over this tragic incident subsides there will be much analyses on what went wrong on that fateful day and where Pakistan is heading to. The perilous situation there serves as a valuable lesson for Muslim majority countries like Malaysia.
As a consequence of the late Pakistani military despot, Zia-ul-Haq's experiment and flirtation with an 'Islamic republic' there have been over the past decade and more, many reports and worried comments about the changing environment in Pakistan which was fast turning into an exporter of violence and terrorism. The mushrooming of unsupervised madrassahs had laid the ground for the grooming and nurturing of aberrant deviants who were taught to fervently believe that anything done by them in the name of the Supreme Being, even if it be wanton murder, was not only acceptable but indeed desirable and a prerequisite to be looked up to as a true follower of the faith. Part of the turmoil in Pakistan today can be attributed to this unregulated spread of an errant brand of Islam.
Allow me a little generalization/license here. After the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947 and the 'creation' of India and Pakistan, both these countries were more or less on the same footing and at the same level of development or lack of it. Ethnically they were of the same stock and culturally they had more in common with each other than say with other Asians or Arabs. While India until today determinedly maintained its secular credentials despite its overwhelming Hindu majority, the Pakistanis went the way of an Islamic state. Both nations by and large inherited the same institutions of the colonialists and the same federal constitution. Over time India progressed albeit initially in fits and starts and slowly reaped the rewards of pragmatic policies and remained politically stable, in part by firmly ensuring that the state did not meddle with religion which was considered a personal matter between her citizens and God. Now with India at the verge of becoming an economic and military superpower, one is tempted to ask why Pakistan did not follow suit and is hopelessly stuck in the terrible quagmire it finds itself in today?
Looking at and recoiling in horror at the chaos that is Pakistan, we in Malaysia should consider ourselves a fortunate lot. If today we are considered an oasis of peace amidst the gore and violence wracking the world, a large part of the credit should go to the sober policies of successive governments here. No one can deny that. Even if many disagree with unfair policies on a lot of issues which may have made them unhappy they still have to acknowledge the very significant contribution of the government in maintaining uninterrupted peace and stability.
Having said that I must hasten to add that the record of our government over the past few years has brought much discomfiture to Malaysians in general and non-Muslims in particular. The authorities seem to be in an undue hurry to backtrack on the fundamental rights guaranteed to non-Muslims while aggressively attempting to justify and portray our country as an Islamic one with arguments which fly in the face of 'basic structure' provisions in the federal constitution. In an unwise and indeed dangerous game of one-upmanship which the ruling Umno party is playing to keep PAS at bay and their Malay-Muslim electorate and vote bank contented, are our leaders exposing the nation to the risks of a Pakistan-style extremist epidemic and unwittingly rendering the more religiously inclined and 'vulnerable' section of society to the manipulations of fundamentalist criminals in mullah's clothing?
Today Pakistan stands alone as a failed nuclear-armed Islamic state where society is increasingly being radicalized and is indicative of the rapid stride it has taken on the path of extremism under General Pervez Musharraf. If our government insists on going down the same path on the grounds of expediency rather than principle and for a little political gain, it won't take a genius to point out that a similar fate awaits us too.
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An interesting read from The Jerusalem Post: Analysis: The Assassination of Benazir Bhutto