RIP Benazir Bhutto

"Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilayhi Raji-un"


When my mom called me just right after 1 am on the morning of the 27th, fear crept all over my spine. My mom calls me daily wherever she is and it's not uncommon for here to call me at the oddest of hours but on this particular date, I knew something was wrong because we just spoke a few hours back.

Upon picking up the receiver, the first thing my mom asked me was if I’ve heard the news. Confused, I asked “What News?” and my mom replied “Benazir was killed!”

After our brief conversation, I then switched on CNN and true enough, news of Benazir’s assassination just started trickling in.

Ya’ll probably think “so what?”

It’s really sad to hear when someone gets murdered but the thing is, some of you may know this, some won’t but I have a strong bond with Pakistan. I was there from 1987-1989 and even finished High School from the International School in Islamabad, the country’s capital city.

My dad was posted there as Chief-Of-Mission of the UNIC and it was there that I learned and grew to love sports such Cricket and Hockey; sports that till today I would get up for to watch on telly.

It was also in Pakistan that I learned to speak the Urdu language that has benefited me until today. It was also in the greenery of Islamabad that I further learned about the great Islamic minds of the previous eras.

Simply put, I learned a lot when I was there. Even though we lived like spoilt brats with diplomatic immunity and all - typical of any diplomat children – I did learn a lot in my 2 years there.

You’ll probably think, “Fine. So you lived there. So, what does Benazir’s assassination have to do with you?”

Well, for starters, I know her. I mean, I don’t know her as in she’s a friend of mine but I have met her numerous times when I was in Pakistan. I first met here when she became the PM in 1988. In the diplomatic world, it was customary for any Ambassador to hold one-on-one talks with the newly-elected leader and my dad was no exception. She hosted a closed-door dinner for our family and I was 16 then and in my final year of High School.

Moments before she was assassinated in Rawalpindi

In the course of the year, she invited the family numerous times and even when I finished HS and ready to go to Princeton, she again feted us with a dinner and told me to become whatever I wanted in life but make sure that I worked hard for them. She was only in her mid-30’s then and I couldn’t help but be tremendously impressed with her caring attitude.

And last night, when my mom informed me of her assassination, I felt a bit of sadness because though she’s not a friend per se, she was someone I looked up to when I was young. And it’s ironic that she died on the year when I was 35, the same age she was when she first became the PM of Pakistan.

May her soul rest in peace. . .

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