The massive outpouring of rage that has followed the assassination of Benazir Bhutto is threatening to run completely out of control. Already, within hours of the tragedy, trains and railway stations were set alight, government buildings burnt, incidents of firing and a number of deaths occurred and the army and paramilitary troops deployed in a number of towns and cities with shoot-at-sight orders. It is also expected that curfew may be imposed in many areas. The situation is, as would be expected, most volatile in Sindh — where there is a real fear of the unrest intensifying. The fact that the reaction to the murder has been countrywide, with a deep sense of shock and outrage visible everywhere, underscores the fact that Benazir was genuinely a national leader — and the PPP a party that linked provinces. It can only be hoped that the fallout following her death does not create new national fissures, which would only inflict damage to federal integrity.
The immediate question though is how to control the intensifying violence now breaking out across the country. As the jail breakout in Sindh and the chaos seen everywhere underscores, there is a real danger of events bubbling out of control, and of criminal elements taking advantage of the situation. As is natural, the rather lame calls for peace made by leaders who are being perceived by many PPP supporters as being at least indirectly responsible for Benazir’s death, have fallen on deaf ears. PPP leaders have made attempts to call for order, but are unable to rein in the flood of emotions that has overtaken the people.
As a step towards reintroducing calm and averting large-scale disruption, several steps can be taken. One is to request PPP leaders, in particular Asif Ali Zardari, to make a public call for order, preferably over national television and radio networks. His words will carry more weight than those of the country’s current rulers. Another is to ensure that a just and above board inquiry is ordered into the murder. The judicial inquiry ordered by the Punjab government under a Lahore High Court (LHC) judge does not necessarily meet these requirements. The PPP must be permitted to participate in deciding on an inquiry commission which has its trust and confidence, so that there is no sense of a cover-up. The authorities must keep in mind that any attempt to hide facts or avoid a full, impartial investigation, will only add to the prevailing sense of rage.
This wrath has already created an immensely dangerous situation in the country. Life in all cities has been badly disrupted, a sense of insecurity prevails everywhere. In Larkana, fires have blazed even as Benazir was being buried. The question of how, and to what extent, these emotions can be brought under control in the coming days will largely determine the immediate course of political events in Pakistan, as the country faces yet another crisis and another period of violence which for now threatens to grow and engulf the entire country.
United4Jusitce: Government and opposition should sit together and find a way out and specially Musharraf should now think for Pakistan, his blind support to American War is damaging Pakistan and his action against the judiciary has damaged the unity of the society (it’s a real need of time to reinstate the judiciary and form an independent commission to assess the situation under CJP Iftikhar because majority of the nation trust him).
May Allah be our guide.