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February 4, 2008

 

Burning cars and empty streets

 

By Sana Ali

 

KARACHI, Pakistan  — Tears of sadness poured in Pakistan as news of the appalling murder of the much-loved politician Benazir Bhutto spread across the world.

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Benazir Bhutto  

While leaving a campaign rally in Rawalpindi on Dec. 27, where she had gone to address her party’s supporters, Bhutto was murdered. After waving to her supporters from the sunroof of her vehicle, she was shot at three times by an unknown individual. Immediately afterwards, a bomb blew up, killing 20 people.  

I was at a sleepover at my cousin's house in Karachi when we found out. My aunt came rushing into the room after receiving a message from her husband announcing the horrible news.

I panicked because I had a flight to Dubai the next morning  — and not only was I far from my family, but the thought of driving back to home to get my luggage at such a perilous time scared me.

Terrible unrest spread moments after the announcement of Bhutto's assassination. Bhutto's supporters ignited like a match on fire. Riots emerged in all forms — from angry mobs setting cars and buses on fire to rock-throwing at innocent bypassers on their way back from work or school and damaging property such as gas stations and stores.

After my grandfather and uncle came to get me, as we drove back home, I saw several cars burning in the corners. The streets, which were usually jam-packed with traffic, were empty. Patrol stations and grocery stores which guaranteed 24-hour service were closed.

Arriving at the airport in time was itself tricky. With gas on the low side, we barely made it, arriving just in time.

At the airport, the majority of the staff had stayed overnight since it was now officially dangerous to be on the streets and public transport was no longer available. People were scared about what would happen to them  — and so was I.

Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf declared a three-day mourning period to honor Bhutto and Pakistan wept over the loss of one of the greatest women in Islamic history.

The assassination of Bhutto left the entire world shocked.

A symbol of both power and leadership, Bhutto was the first woman in history to be elected as a prime minister of a Muslim country and she chaired a popular political party in Pakistan, the Pakistan Peoples Party.

In the end, Bhutto will always be remembered as the beloved woman who gave her most to her country and to her people.


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