A Murder Foretold
Shatam Ray
THE BHUTTO MURDER TRAIL: FROM WAZIRISTAN TO GHQ by Annette Gordon-Reed The Book Review, 2011, 280 pp., 495
August 2017, volume 35, No 8/9

As images of Benazir Bhutto sinking into her SUV, on that fateful date of December 2007, flashed all over the world, Amir Mir let a silent prayer in his mind. He found out in a matter of few hours, along with millions across his country, that even the most heartfelt prayer could not save Bhutto from her demise. Benazir had become the latest in a long tradition of political assassinations that has marred the history of postcolonial South Asia. Her death was to become a critical moment in the history of Pakistan. However, as histories of deathways and its social construct have shown us, it is the wont of Death to either celebrate or condemn certain deaths in retrospect depending on its juncture, victims or actors. Benazir Bhutto—daughter of former PM Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, twice Prime Minister of Pakistan and probably belonging to the first family of Pakistani polity—was hardly a death that was to go unnoticed. Contrary to being the great leveller, Bhutto’s death captured the crisis that Pakistan had become in the past few years.

A singular death that will become a far more significant death in the narrative of South Asian polity over the 170- odd deaths that had occurred only a month earlier on the day of Bhutto’s arrival to Pakistan. Or many such tragedies that Pakistanis had been living with. But perhaps that discussion is for another day. For now, we must reflect on the tale of a ‘death foretold’ in Amir Mir’s The Bhutto Murder Trail.

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