To Benazir, in the heavens - By Ghazala Minallah
The News, January 02, 2008
Following a statement by Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto regarding the judiciary in early December, I had written an open letter to her and also sent it on her email address. My letter came in several newspapers and is on the Internet. Mohtarma, much to my amazement, replied the next day. Her response had some information which made me not to reveal it. Now that she is gone, it can be made public but I have to do it with another open letter, which may reach her in the Heavens, if so.
My Dearest Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto,
Somewhere in the Heavens
It has taken me three days to muster up the courage to write to you. When I wrote to you on December 2, it was because of the belief I had in you and the unrealistic expectations I had from you. When you returned on October 18 I truly and honestly felt that you would join and lead us in the struggle we began on March 9 for an independent judiciary. I believed that since you and your family had suffered in the past due to another dictator and a corrupt judiciary, you would be the first to raise your voice. Your statement that individuals were not important made me feel betrayed. I considered you to be a kindred spirit and I reacted emotionally because I lacked your ability to look at things in their broader perspective.
Bibi, I turned to you then and I turn to you now. I did not make public the reply you sent to me on December 3 for obvious reasons. You did me the honour of replying promptly despite your busy schedule. The few lines you wrote were so powerful and had such depth, that other than a few close friends, I did not reveal the contents. But now I feel that I owe it to your memory to reveal what you wrote to me.
I was touched by the fact that instead of being angry at me, you took the trouble to try and explain to me the reason for your unpopular statement. You wrote: "Dear sister Ghazala, I had to force my tears back while going through your letter. It pains and saddens my soul to see that such perceptions are still held about me, in spite of what I and my family have gone through and the personal sacrifices. I still remain committed to the freedom and vitality of democracy, as the great Quaid-e-Awam had dreamt of. Yes, it is true that you have to deal sometimes with the Devil if you can't face it, but everything is a means to an end. I have great respect and admiration for the judiciary both bench and bar". My lips were sealed after that because obviously this was sensitive information. I feel that now it is important to share this with my fellow Pakistani's for whom your ultimate sacrifice has immortalized you. Your reply reveals your maturity and compassion. You could have ignored my letter, or sent me a scathing reply, or snubbed me for jumping to conclusions. But you chose not to.
Bibi, how will the wounds caused by your departure ever heal.? It breaks my heart when I recall the last days of your beloved father. When I reminded you of your last meeting with him, when the tyrants did not let you hug him, it was actually a desperate attempt on my part to jolt you into reality. But how naïve I was to imagine that you could have forgotten those dark days. If that terrible injustice still makes my blood boil, I should have realized what it must have been for you. There was a time when our lives were intimately intertwined. Due to a tyrant you lost a loving father and the nation lost a brilliant leader. Due to the same tyrant we were forced into exile and my father took to his grave the fact that an innocent man had been hanged and he and the other two dissenting judges could do nothing to stop that terrible injustice.
My dearest Bibi, you and your family have suffered for the sake of this country more than your fair share. I was told by someone close to you that you had spoken of a sniper and that you knew 'they' were out to get you one way or the other. Yet you still carried on, saying as always, that you were ready to sacrifice your life for the sake of this country. It was this very bravery which led to your untimely death on that fateful day, when you stood up to wave to a supporter and offered yourself as an easy target to the awaiting sniper.
My heart goes out to your beloved children and your husband. My heart goes out to Sanam who has just buried her third sibling, all victims of the same enemy. My heart goes out to your beloved mother, who I am glad is not well enough to know what is going on. Perhaps it is a blessing for how much more a mother can endure? Bibi, I pray that you find eternal peace wherever you are. This world was not meant for you. Life has not been fair to the Bhutto family, although the name of this family will go down in history in golden words, as icons for the struggle for democracy. As a nation we are extremely unfortunate, since we are not able to protect our heroes. How many more Bhuttos is it going to take to rid our ravaged country of the cancer of dictatorship? How many more innocent lives will it take to satisfy their lust for power? I ended my last letter by saying that you owed it to the nation and your children to fight for the restoration of the judiciary and the future of this country. Bibi, how I wish I had not been hasty in doubting your intentions. As you can see, even in death I turn to you. Why don't I write to those responsible for this cowardly act? Why don't I write to those who are determined to destroy this country? I don't because, my dearest Bibi, one pours one's heart out to those you have faith in. It saddens me that this time I will not see your email address in my inbox. As a nation we have lost one of the most valuable assets we had, and I have lost a compassionate sister who could help me see reason. My dearest Bibi, the least we as a nation can do is to carry on what you and your beloved father before you had started .I vow today that now the entire nation owes this responsibility to Bilawal, Bakhtawar and Asifa. We owe it to Fatima and Zulfikar junior. We owe it to your beloved sister Sanam and we owe it to your tormented beloved mother. We as a nation have to shoulder the responsibilities we so unrealistically expect from others. The entire nation is now the mother, the sister and the father you and your family have lost in this struggle. We will not rest till your killers are identified and brought to justice. I end by bowing my head before you and begging for forgiveness for anything I may have said that upset you. Even though your reply will always be a great solace to me, I still mourn the fact that now there is no one I can turn to.
With all my love, respect, and prayers
Eternally your sister
The writer is a freelance contributor. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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