SUKKUR: “Whenever I visit Bibi’s grave, I feel she is asking me, ‘Why are my killers still at large?’” said a devout Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) follower Nazir Shaikh.
“I often visit Garhi Khuda Bakhsh and while offering fateha I feel this irrepressible guilt,” another PPP supporter, Ghulam Ali Mirani confided. “Our party is in power today but we are still so helpless that we have not been able to arrest the murderers.” When asked what he thought of the UN inquiry report, he said, “I don’t know about the UN and its report. But I do want her killers arrested.”
“Her murder has become a mystery, which remains unsolved even three years later,” added Shaikh.
Meerani and Shaikh left for Garhi Khuda Bakhsh on Monday along with a host of companions. Thousands of PPP supporters reached Garhi Khuda Bakhsh to pay homage to Benazir Bhutto on her third death anniversary. Buses, wagons, Suzuki vans and private cars were arranged for the workers by local PPP leaders. PPP MPA Dr Nasrullah Baloch led a big convoy from Lab-e-Mehran Sukkur, while the federal minister for labour, manpower and religious affairs, Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah, who according to the programme was to lead the convoy, left on his own in a hurry. Similar convoys were also arranged from other cities in upper Sindh, including Ghotki, Jacobabad, Shikarpur and Kashmore.
In Sukkur, the gathering point for the PPP supporters was Lab-e-Mehran, where a Quran khwani and Fateha was held for Benazir. After the ceremony, the workers milled about waiting for the labour minister to lead their convoy. However, the minister zoomed out of Circuit House, Sukkur, in a sleek Land Cruiser without a number plate and left Sukkur city without a glance at the surprised workers.
The programme might have been ruffled but morale remained high and shouting their love for Benazir, the crowd moved to their many vehicles and left for Garhi Khuda Bakhsh on their own. Shouts of “Zinda hai Bibi zinda hai”, “Jab tak suraj chand rahe ga, Bhutto tera naam rahe ga” [As long as there is the sun and moon, there will be your name] and “Jeay Bhutto” [Long, live Bhutto] accompanied the procession, which included MPA Nasrullah Baloch, Sukkur district president Mushtaq Surhio and general-secretary Dr Arshad Mughal.
Emotions ran high on Monday, with tears giving way to anger and hopelessness.
Elderly Niaz Ali, who was wearing a black shalwar kameez, was sure that Benazir’s murderers would be caught. “No matter how powerful they [assassins] might be, one day they will be brought to justice and on that day I will be able to breathe again,” he said.
He felt that had Benazir been alive, things would have been much better. “Her only fault was that she wanted to help the poor,” he said.
Rafi Mirani reiterated this. “We would not have been in this poor condition had Bibi been alive. I’m going to her grave with a heavy heart,” he said in a choked voice.
“Sometimes we still can’t believe she is not among us any more,” said Mohammad Bakhsh, who was holding onto a PPP flag. “Time is passing by so quickly, it’s already her third anniversary.” For Akram Shaikh, who claimed to be a diehard worker of the PPP, “Bibi’s murder was the murder of the PPP”. These were the only words he uttered stonily before walking off.
Another high-strung worker, Ali Murad, said if he could get his hands on Bibi’s murderers, he would kill them. “Because we have not just lost a leader but we have lost a loving mother and a caring sister.”
Many of the supporters were of the view that the reconciliatory policy was good to some extent, but Benazir’s murderers should not be spared at any cost.
Sindh Revenue Minister Jam Mehtab Dahar led a big convoy of PPP supporters from Ubauro, Daharki and Mirpur Mathelo, while Kashmore district president PPP Mukhtiar Sorhiani and general-secretary Noor Ahmed Dayo led workers from Kandhkot and Kashmore. Jacobabad district president Mohammad Pannah Odho and others led supporters from Jacobabad and Thull to Garhi Khuda Bakhsh.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 28th, 2010.
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