Andrew Buncombe: A brave but arrogant homecoming

Analysis
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Benazir Bhutto could barely have been more aware of the danger she faced when she returned to Pakistan. Yet any fears were outweighed by a single-minded focus on once again seizing power.

Even before she flew into Karachi on that day in October 2007, she had been warned there were many who might wish her dead. For a few hours, at least, she had been able to push such concerns aside. Standing at the front of her open-top bus, as it nudged its way through the endless crowds that had gathered outside the airport, she told The Independent: "Who could have had a better homecoming? I feel overwhelmed by the love and support of the people." Within hours, a massive bomb exploded close to her slow-moving convoy as it passed through the dark streets of Karachi. Ms Bhutto escaped unharmed but many were killed.

The following afternoon, the former prime minister held a press conference in the garden of her home, at which she said she had received warnings about plots to kill her. She also said she had written to the president, Pervez Musharraf, naming four figures within the military and political establishment whom she held responsible. That afternoon, Ms Bhutto was defiant, brave but also perhaps arrogant. She rejected any responsibility for insisting she be driven in a high-profile but vulnerable cavalcade, despite the warnings. She said those who died had done so to defend her "campaign for democracy". "We will not stop our struggle," she said. "Despite the heavy losses we incurred yesterday, we will continue."

Such determination – and perhaps the memory of her first return to Pakistan in 1986 when millions gathered to welcome her – saw her push on with the campaign. And it also fuelled her conviction that she must reach out to the people of Pakistan and speak at that fateful rally in Rawalpindi on 27 December 2007.

Comments