Where were you when Benazir died?

Three years after December 27, 2007, a cross-section of Pakistanis recall the day Benazir died.

December 26, 2010

Three years after December 27, 2007, a cross-section of Pakistanis recall the day Benazir died.

Dr Ishrat Hussain, former governor State Bank of Pakistan

“I was in Karachi watching television when red breaking news alerts began to fill the screen. First came the report about the attack on her rally… and then, bit by bit, came the news that Benazir was critically injured, and finally came the biggest blow… Benazir was dead. I had believed firmly that her return to power would have been the best thing for this country. No one can replace Benazir, and the shock and dismay of her death will never leave me.”

Deepak Perwani, designer

“When Benazir died I was at work on Karachi’s Zamzama avenue. My first emotion was fear… within ten minutes I saw the entire Puma store near my outlet being plundered and destroyed in front of my eyes. I also remember walking out in the middle of the night to the corner roundabout near my house where an armoured personnel carrier stood. I asked the police what was happening and they told me they were as scared as I was. As for Bibi, Pakistan will never be the same without her. The Diana of the Muslim world is dead.”

Mohammad Qasim, shopkeeper and resident of Mochi Bazaar, Sukkur

“I was sitting at my shop when a friend of mine told me about the murder. I remember there was no electricity at the time, so I immediately called one of my friends in Lyari in Karachi, who confirmed the bad news. First I thought that she was killed by terrorists, but then it came to my mind that other people who had vested interests could be behind her murder. It was very hard to believe that she was no more.”

Ayesha Tammy Haq Host of 24/7 on Business Plus

“I was at a studio in Korangi judging the TV show: ‘Who Wants to be Prime Minister,’ when Kim Barker of the Chicago Tribune came in and said that Nawaz Sharif’s rally had been attacked. Moments later Azhar Abbas came in with the real story: the attack had been on Benazir and she was critically injured. Then the news broke that she had been killed. All I could think of was that I had to get to my friend Tariq who was her cousin.”

Taimur Hassan, cost accountant

“I was at The Marina in Dubai when my father called to tell me about the bomb at the rally. Benazir was injured at the time and I thought, oh no, is she still alive? Five minutes later I found out she was dead. I was devastated because in her moment of death she was transformed from a monstrous corrupt leader into a mother.”

Awab Alwi, blogger at ‘Teeth Maestro’

“Ten minutes after I had reached my home I received an sms that said Benazir had been critically injured. I panicked as my two young sons were on their way home accompanied by the maid and driver. A few hellish hours later the driver called, saying that disaster had narrowly been avoided. A raging mob of teenagers had come running to the car in an attempt to burn it, but our driver pleaded with them, pointing at the fact that there were two kids in the car. The mob moved on, but others were not as lucky. After four hours, the maid and driver arrived home in a total state of shock.  The kids, sheltered by their youth, excitedly told us stories of fires and mobs… in their innocence they did not realize the gravity of the disaster they had survived.”

Zafar Hilaly, former ambassador

“I had accompanied BB when she met Afghan President Hamid Karzai earlier that day. When we returned to Bilawal House she told me about her meeting with US Senators in the evening. “I’ll talk to you about that later,” were her last words to me. I was sitting in Rawalpindi, with a friend, when I heard the news that her rally had been bombed. This was followed by a report saying she had been hit. I ran to the car. I was driving with the radio on when the news of her death was broadcast. I pulled over, stopped the first car that was passing and asked the driver if the news was true. Yes, he said, he had also heard the news.”But she cannot die,” was what I said. ‘’She cannot.” And then I started sobbing. Others were doing the same — grown, wizened and seemingly strong men.”

Shahzad Roy, musician

“I was in a meeting at the Fatima Jinnah School operated by the Zindagi trust when an sms came in saying Benazir had been killed. I didn’t believe it because I did not want to, but then my phone started ringing and the truth could no longer be denied. We tried to leave but the roads were jammed with panicked people all trying to get home. I did not see any rioting myself but the threat of violence was in the air… The only female prime minister of Pakistan had been killed and the sorrow of that day will stay with me forever.”

Nauman Ghani, fashion designer, Lahore

“I was at home when my sister called, crying. She told me about the assassination and I was upset and sad. I am not into politics at all, but I always respected Benazir as a leader and an educated woman.”

Salman Uppal, creative director, Lahore

“I was at home and my colleague got a text about the incident which we took as a joke. Then we started getting more texts and I called a friend at a news channel to confirm the news. She was hysterical. But I felt nothing.”

Iftikhar Ahmed, veteran host and analyst

‘I was in my office when the news came and I immediately broke down in tears. She was the kind of leader that comes only once a generation and I had so many hopes that were linked to her. She had matured as a political leader and when she spoke of her vision for Pakistan, I could sense the conviction in her voice. All the trials, tribulations and challenges she had gone through and overcome... all that she could have done for this country... all was gone in an instant. Benazir was dead and all hope was lost forever.’

Published in The Express Tribune, December 26th, 2010.


Syed | 10 years ago | Reply Well I was supposed to be at my friends place to study for exams, but I overslept. (Thank God). And my first reaction to the news was ! Really :D!!!
AZHAR MASOOD | 10 years ago | Reply killers did not kill Benazir Bhutto they also killed very spirit of Pakistan people's Party. Now the PPP in government is bunch of opportunists,fortune seekers and have no love for BHUTTO philosphy
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