Thursday, December 27, 2007

Benazir Bhutto - making of the assassins, the poor choice to die

1948—Jan. 30: Gandhi, 78, shot dead in New Delhi, by Nathuram Vinayak Godse
1959—Sept. 25: Prime Min. Solomon Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka, by Buddhist monk in Colombo
1984—Oct. 31: Prime Min. Indira Gandhi shot and killed in New Delhi, by her body guards
1991—May 21: Ex Prime Min. Rajiv Gandhi killed in election rally, by a female suicide bomber
1993—May 1: Ranasinghe Premadasa, pres. of Sri Lanka, killed in a bomb blast in Colombo
2007—December 27: Benazir Bhutto shot dead in election rally in Rawalpindi

South Asian history has many assassins. From Hindu extremist to Budhist monk. From own security guards to female suicide bomber. From cyanide tablet worshipers to Islamic extremists. What makes them an assassin? What makes them loose everything they have in life in return of precious blood? Loose their spouses, loose their children and loose their family time around the dinner table? The reasons are plenty. But the underlying thread is the same. The poor choice to die for a cause than to live for the loved ones. Both the assassins and the assassinated!

This happened during the 90s in a 100% literate state of Kerala in a country when half of the country did not read or write. We were playing marbles or some thing like that in our courtyard. We had loud cries and commotion from a farm land a shout away. We all ran towards the field and what we saw was beyond narration. We saw pools of blood spilled all over the field while attackers chased one of my very distant cousin to death. People who reached before us told that he was lying in the middle of a drainage trench, carved in the middle of the field, soaked in blood. They saw 10-15 people running away from the scene with blood dripping weapons in their hands. He had 30 or so deep cuts all over him from knives, axes and other rudimentary weapons. His limbs were hanging off his body while people scurried him away to the hospital. Doctors spent hours in the operation room but could not save his life. Soon after his death, he became a 'Martyr' to his party and thousands thronged at his funeral. He was killed for an angry exchange with his opponent party workers some time in the past, 'I don't fear death for speaking out against your tyranny'. He died at the hands of the tyrants.

The people who killed the man belonged to a different political party. Thats is right. No ethnic cleansing, no religious riot, no communal violence. Political killings! Some past accounts of frivolous rivalry turned into a brutal killing. Those who got sentencing spent years in Jail. But they get heroic welcome by the party men when they came out on parole. Very young men, with simple desires like any other young men in the rural life. Watch a movie from a local theater, play cards with friends, get drunk over the weekend and find ways to get laid, which is forbidden until one is married. But they lost every thing in a jiffy. They lost precious years of their prime life inside the walls of the central jail. And they thought they were destined to be the heroes of the party which they foolishly served like herds. Martyr lost his life for nothing. But the party gained a 'Martyr'. The story repeated many times over. With parties trading places, some times creating martyr and some other time gaining one.

Every society celebrated martyrs. Martyrs who gave up their life for a cause larger than their life. Larger than their love for their spouse. Larger than their desire to hold their children's hands. Larger than their desire to get back home and share a meal with family after a day of back breaking chores of the day. People were told that their life is worth sacrificing for their religion. It is better to die for their country than live for their kids. The martyr's life after death is more tantalizing than a living man's struggle to live.

Societies do this to recruit volunteers to advance their organizational goals. When you need volunteers to kill, the reward can not just be monetary. Because you cant put a price on a man's life which will be taken away from him after he kills. So the price has to be higher. Something that is abstract and intangible. Something that can not be quantified. So the martyrdom is born.

The killed also contributes to the sense of dying for the cause than living for survivors. Three attempts on Gandhi's life in 1946 and 1947 did not mean much to Bappu. Indira Gandhi famously said, 'If I die today, every drop of my blood will invigorate the nation'. Rajiv Gandhi ignored threats to his life when he desperately tried to get back to the rank and file of ordinary people after loosing touch with them after the Bofors scandal. Benazir Bhutto told reporters few months before her death that she does not fear death and no one kill any one until his or her time to die. She almost got killed on her day of return to Pakistan. But she considered her life worthless put against the larger scheme of things. She preferred to be killed than watching Pakistan election on a TV screen from exile.

It took 78 years to make a Gandhi. Bhutto is no Gandhi, but she represented the best of Pakistan. With all the corruption charges against her and her family, she represented the moderate liberal and peace loving Muslims in a country where extremists thrive to impose a Wahhabi version of Islam on to its people. 54 years made into the making of the promise of Pakistan's democratic aspirations. All that years of work is shattered with her desire to emerge through the sun roof of her Land Cruiser or so says Pakistani establishment. Is she better off dead than alive with all her flaws and missteps? Is PPP better off now than before? Is Pakistan better off now than before? No. But she didn't see it when she was alive. But the assassins could see it. The sad part is that assassins were just living the fake glory of martyrdom, created by the society so that it could dispense some cheap lives to take away some pricey ones. Alas, the assassins doesn't see that trap.

Has death ever been better than life? Is there any cause that is worth trading one's life. If you ask me, I will say NO. Not only that I hate to be survived by wife and son but I hate to be survived by the cause!

Musharaf and Sharif - You shall not become the Law;Law is Blind!

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