Benazir Bhutto was only four years old in the winter of 1957.
One fine morning she was sitting with her father Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto on the terrace of Al-Murtaza, their home in Larkana. The father had a double-barrel gun in his hand. Without thought, he shot a wild parrot sitting on a nearby tree. When the parrot fell to the ground near the terrace little Benazir started crying for the death of a wild parrot. She buried the parrot in the compound of her father's home. She refused to have her meals and wept for hours.
21 years later, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto wrote a letter to his daughter Benazir on her birthday from the Rawalpindi district jail on June 21, 1978 and reminded the death of parrot. He said: 'A dead parrot in the winter of 1957 in Larkana made a little girl weep in sorrow. Twenty-one years later, that little girl has grown into a young lady with nerves of steel to valorously confront the terror of the longest night of tyranny. Truly, you have proved beyond doubt that the blood of warriors runs in your veins". Ten months after he wrote that letter, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was hanged by the United States-backed General Zia ul Haq's military regime.
Benazir saw much more hangings and assassinations after the loss of her father. Death is dancing around her from last 28 years but she is no more a little girl of 1957. Half a century has passed and the little girl is now a mature woman who was the prime minister of Pakistan twice and still hopeful for a third term.
Also by the same author: How Benazir played into Musharraf's hands
Just few weeks ago, she announced in London [ Images ] that she will return to Pakistan on October 18. President Pervaiz Musharraf was not comfortable with this announcement. He wanted her to delay the return by just a few weeks. He sent two top Generals in uniform to meet her in Dubai [ Images ] but she declined to change her program.
She wrote a letter to Musharraf just one day before her departure and expressed concern about some threats to her life and named some people within the establishment who she thought would be responsible for creating problems for her in Pakistan.
She made a dramatic return to Pakistan on October 18. Many followers and friends were of the view that she should not have come back after entering into an understanding with a President in uniform but she was convinced that only reconciliation with the military can save the future of Pakistan.
She was happy to see all the faces of those friends who were against reconciliation with General Pervaiz Musharraf. She was in tears as she descended the steps of the plane that brought her from Dubai to Karachi. She never gave any impression of weakness after these tears and once again showed courage by refusing to sit behind the bullet proof glasses despite all the threats to her life known to everyone.
She started a new journey from Karachi airport to the tomb of Qauid-i-Azam in an open truck with more than a million people. She gave a message to masses that she is not scared of terrorism. Her husband Asif Ali Zardari [ Images ] sent her at least 10 messages from Dubai on the truck that she must take care of her life and stand behind the bullet proof glasses but Benazir ignored all these requests from a very much concerned husband watching her welcome on television with his kids in Dubai.
Merely hours after she had landed, two suicide bombers targeted her vehicle. More than 140 people were killed and 550 injured.
The PPP leadership pointed their fingers towards the head of the Intelligence Bureau Brig (Rtd) Ejaz Shah as the person responsible for the bombings.
Even Benazir mentioned his name with displeasure few days ago in London and claimed that Ejaz Shah is trying to sabotage a reconciliation between the PPP and Musharraf.
Now the big question is why does the PPP think that the head of a civilian intelligence agency is the mastermind of the great tragedy in Karachi on October 18? Asif Ali Zardari told this writer that Ejaz Shah have old links with Islamic radicals.
He claimed Ejaz Shah was the person who managed the surrender of Omer Sheikh in 2002, a suspect in the killing of American journalist Daniel Pearl. Asif Ali Zardari is sure that people like Ejaz Shah have encouraged Islamic radicals to attack Benazir.
Ejaz Shah was the home secretary of the Punjab [ Images ] province in 2002. He belongs to Nankana Sahib area of Punjab. Mother of Omer Sheikh was also from Nankana Sahib. When security agencies raided the house of her mother's parents in Nankana Sahib, Ejaz Shah contacted the uncle of the alleged terrorist who was a session judge at that time.
Uncle convinced his nephew through Ejaz Shah to surrender and that was how Omer Sheikh was arrested.
Some PPP sources have said that Ejaz Shah was the person who created the Pakistan Mulsim League-Q in Punjab. He was also a key figure in breaking more than 20 members of the national assembly from the PPP after the election in 2002. This is why the PPP leadership has problems with him.
People like Abida Husain who left the PML-Q and joined the PPP due to the disliking of Ejaz Shah are also trying to poison Benazir against their old enemy. Ejaz Shah is being considered a trusted confidant of General Pervaiz Musharraf but he is also very close to chaudhries of Gujrat.
According to reliable sources, Benzair Bhutto have declared not only Ejaz Shah but also Chief Minister of Punjab Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi as the enemies of her life in a letter to Musharraf recently.
Top government sources are not ready to agree with Benazir. They think Benazir should make an alliance with Musharraf against terrorism instead of fighting with the old allies of Musharraf. One source claimed that Ejaz Shah, who was the head of anti-narcotics force in 1998, refused to do Nawaz Sharif's [ Images ] bidding when the then prime minister tried to involve Asif Ali Zardari in a norcotics case. The Nawaz regime later booked Zardari in the same fake case with the help of the Punjab police.
It is also viewed by some government circles that head of a civilian intelligence agency is a soft target for the PPP and the real target is the boss of Ejaz Shah, who is, no doubt, General Pervez Musharraf [ Images ].
The PPP is trying to pressurize Musharraf by targeting people like Ejaz Shah and Ch. Pervaiz Elahi for getting some more concessions. It is also believed that this mistrust between the PPP and Musharraf is not good for both of them.
Musharraf called Benazir on Thursday and condoled the death of her workers in suicide bombings. Musharraf conveyed a message that we must be united against terrorism and not fight with each other. Musharraf also asked the leadership of the PML-Q not to make statements against the PPP. Both the PPP and the PML-Q will face a big challenge in the coming months.
All the intelligence agencies are concerned about is the coming general election. Not only Benazir, but also many leaders of the PML-Q are on the hit list of suicide bombers and it would be difficult to organise public meetings and rallies during the election compaign. The differences between the PPP and the PML-Q will only help the opponents of Musharraf.
Pakistan is going through a very critical time today. It needs reconciliation not only between some individuals but also between political parties having adverse views. 40 years ago Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto wrote a book The Great Tragedy just six months before the disintegration of Pakistan.
He started his book by saying: 'Pakistan is passing through a terrible ordeal. This country, born in pain, is experiencing its gravest crisis. The nightmare of Pakistanis killing Pakistanis is not yet over. Blood is still being spilled. The situation has become greatly complicated by the aggressive involvement of India' [ Images ].
40 years after, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's daughter is blaming not India but some Pakistanis for the great tragedy in Karachi. The nightmare of Pakistanis killing Pakistanis is still not over.
Musharraf should at least investigate who was actually responsible for shutting down the street lights on Shahra-e-Faisal just few moments before the bombers struck.
He owes it to Benazir.