The PPP observed the eighth anniversary of the Karsaz carnage on Sunday. Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari along with his two sisters and Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah visited the memorial erected at the site where two bomb blasts ripped through a welcoming procession for Benazir Bhutto returning from nine years of self-exile, killing 160 innocent political workers and bystanders and causing injuries to countless others. Whosoever wanted to eliminate Benazir did not give up after she survived the Karsaz attack. Two months later, she was assassinated along with at least 24 supporters and sympathizers outside Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh. It is difficult to imagine the loss of so many lives in any other democracy going unpunished. Unfortunately eight years on, a veil of mystery envelops the horrendous crime.
PPP co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari also issued a statement on the Karsaz anniversary from his Dubai home, saying on this day in 2007 battle lines were clearly drawn between the forces of democracy on the one hand and militants and extremists on the other hand. Sadly, he has little to show for his efforts to fight the battle. At the time, the PPP was still out in the political wilderness, and hence was not in a position to bring the perpetrators to justice. Shortly afterwards, however, the party came to power both at the centre and in Sindh. It did next to nothing about the Karsaz massacre. An expensive UN inquiry was launched into the Liaquat Bagh massacre, but that did not help either as the mandate of the inquiry mission was restricted to fact-finding. Besides, the inquiry team was not given access to all the individuals it wanted to interview. Even so, the UN report could have served as the basis for a follow-up criminal investigation. Nothing of the sort happened. The party’s top leaders seemed to be content raising the slogan “democracy is the best revenge.” And as part of a policy of ‘reconciliation’ some of the people named by Benazir herself as suspects in the event of her assassination were made part of the ruling alliance.
Observing a remembrance day to pay homage to the Karsaz atrocity victims and the brave PPP leader Benazir Bhutto who had struggled long and hard for the restoration of democracy in this country is important, indeed. So is the need to unmask the killers. To this day, those who lost their near and dear ones in the two attacks, and party workers as also general public await answers as to who did it. The PPP as well as the present democratically-elected government owe it to the slain leader and the others who laid down their lives in the cause of democracy to bring both the Karsaz and the Liaquat Bagh cases to a proper closure.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2015