(A story which was published some eight months before first attack on Benazir Bhutto’s life in Karachi, and 10 months before her assasination in Rawalpindi)
By Razzak Abro
Recent attacks on the female parliamentarians of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) have been taken seriously by its leadership that considers them part of an attempt to restrain PPP Chairperson Benazir Bhutto from returning to Pakistan.
Of special concern was the attack on the vehicle of Dr Azra Fazal Pechooho. Pechooho, a party MNA, is the sister of Benazir’s spouse Asif Ali Zardari. Her vehicle was reportedly shot at during the bye-election on PS-71, Kotri, on February 10. The vehicle was a jeep (number plate BB-7777, Sindh) and according to party sources it was used by Benazir when she was in the country. The attack took place near a village in district Jamshoro.
“We believe that the attacks on Dr. Pechooho and PPP MNA Sherry Rehman were aimed at sending Benazir Bhutto the message that she should not attempt to return to the country,” said a central party leader who wished to remain unnamed. He said that he had recently called on Benazir in Dubai and she had made it clear that she would return at any cost soon after the announcement of the election schedule.
“The government has continuously harassed the party’s women leaders in incidents that increased after Benazir announced that she would return,” said the PPP provincial president Qaim Ali Shah.
The PPP’s MPAs in the Sindh Assembly filed a requisition at the assembly secretariat Tuesday to convene a session to discuss the attack on Dr. Pechooho. They also condemned the incident during Monday’s session that was prorogued because of their non-stop protesting. According to PPP-Parliamentarian chief Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Dr. Pechooho could have survived the attack because her vehicle was bullet proof. While talking to Daily Times, he said that they had charged a provincial minister with the attack.
The day after the attack, Feb 11, Pechooho’s brother Asif Ali Zardari issued a statement from abroad condemning the incident and charging a provincial minister of being behind it. It was his first statement after a long time. In his statement, Zardari referred to a tradition of Sindh according to which even an enemy’s women are not attacked. He said in the statement that if they did not feel secure then the rulers’ women would also feel insecure.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007