Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Making of a Modern Day Martyr

The world watched carefully as the drama of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination unfolded before us. Video of the incident shows a person beside Bhutto’s car shooting a handgun three times towards her, followed by a bomb blast. Immediately several first hand accounts – including doctors, American journalists, bystanders, Bhutto’s aides and even her husband - witnessed to the world the death of Bhutto from gunshot wounds.

The Pakistani Interior Ministry also confirmed that Bhutto had died - from a gunshot wound to the neck.

Then, in rapid succession, the Interior Ministry issued conflicting statements regarding Bhutto’s death. They first claimed that she was killed by shrapnel from the explosion rather than gunshot wounds and then that she died merely from a skull fracture suffered when she fell into the car - and not as a result of any attack. Finally, after all the explanations offered seemed to create some controversy, the Pakistani Interior Ministry stated simply "It is immaterial how she died."

However - it is precisely the importance of how and why she died that has created this desperate attempt to sow doubt and confusion around her death.

"They're trying to deny her a martyr's death" CNN national security analyst Ken Robinson said. "Her torch burns bright now forever. She's forever young; she's forever brave, challenging against all odds the party in power and challenging the military and Islamic extremism."

Bhutto's detractors, including members of the Pakistan government, would seemingly control that legacy if successful in minimizing the attacks role in her demise.

But Benazir Bhutto will become even more influential in her death than she was in life.

Silencing a living opponent might seem easy enough - but silencing a martyr?

Not likely.

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