Pakistan Needs A Grand National Compromise That Restores Constitutional Rule

Pakistan is a nation in need of healing. The last one year has highlighted the many fissures that have festered below the surface for years. Unity of command, so effective in running a disciplined force like a military unit, has ended up dividing the Pakistani nation.

The first opinion poll, conducted by Gallup, after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto showed that nearly half of the sample suspected government agencies (23 per cent) and government allied politicians (25 per cent) of killing Bhutto.

The response to such widespread mistrust of the government is not dismissive statements by the country’s rulers. A serious effort is now needed to bridge the gap between Pakistan’s state and society.

General (retired) Pervez Musharraf has repeatedly shown that he lacks the ability to heal. He could end the controversy about Bhutto’s death by accepting an international inquiry. But Musharraf thinks like an administrator and insists that since he, as boss, knows there is nothing wrong therefore there is no need for a wider investigation.

At a time when the new army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, is trying to restore harmony between the army and the people it is imperative that the perception of the military favouring or opposing any political faction or leader is completely erased.

The Citizens Group on Electoral Process (CGEP), in its recent report, has termed the pre-poll electoral process in Pakistan highly unfair, giving it a score of 26 on a scale of 100 in respect of overall fairness of the pre-poll environment spanning over 12 months.

Not free

The judiciary is not free to pronounce on the fairness or otherwise of the election. When Musharraf alone is the decider of what the people want, how will the people ever be able to tell him that they no longer want him?

The thoughtful US politician, Senator Joseph Lieberman, understood the problem with the election process in one visit to Pakistan, something Musharraf is unable to do after running the country for eight years.

Lieberman said, “Opposition parties have little trust the polls will be fair… If there are some bases after the elections for concluding that they were not fair and credible, the consequences, I fear here in Pakistan, will be more division and not the unity that the country needs at this critical moment in its history, facing a serious external threat, now increasing, from Al Qaida.”

A politician would know when some of his staff and officials have become a liability for him. But Musharraf insists on retaining intelligence operatives who are widely despised by the opposition and who are only exacerbating hatred against the government. The political role of intelligence services must end immediately. Pakistan is not a company to be managed. It is a nation that must be brought together.

The need of the hour is a “grand national compromise” that brings to an end the vilification and demonization of some politicians, restores the military’s prestige and ends its political role, limits the intelligence agencies to external security functions and results in a government that unites the Pakistani nation against terrorism and disintegration.

Musharraf can become part of the Grand National Compromise, salvage some respect, and voluntarily give up on issues relating to a free and fair election. Or he could remain the major wound that must be dealt with before the healing of Pakistan can begin.

Husain Haqqani is Director of Boston University’s Centre for International Relations and Co-Chair of the Hudson Institute’s Project on Islam and Democracy. He is the author of the Carnegie Endowment book “Pakistan Between Mosque and Military”. He served as an adviser to Benazir Bhutto. This article appeared in The Gulf News.

Musharraf, Highly Unpopular, is battling on Many Fronts and Needs to Change Course

By Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi

Almost all groups and parties have strong reservations about the impartiality of the Election Commission that appears helpless in checking the excesses of pro-Musharraf political leaders. Musharraf has repeatedly dismissed these complaints

The January 10 suicide attack in Lahore is the latest reminder of the growing challenges to Pakistan’s political and civic stability and the inability of the Musharraf-led power structure in Islamabad to effectively address these challenges. The government can always present the standard explanation that there is no foolproof defense against a suicide attack. That may be partially true, but suicide attacks are not the only threat to Pakistan’s internal harmony.

Pakistan faces a crisis which has become acute with the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and, especially, with the government’s inept handling of the incident. This present crisis will haunt the rulers even if general elections are held on schedule.

The roots of the present crisis can be traced to the government’s policy of seeking politically expedient solutions to hold on to power rather than working towards enduring solutions. Another strategy was the denial of the existence of the problem, or the refusal to accept responsibility. While such a strategy does not change realities, the government and its allies have preferred to live in a state of deception and delusion. Now, these policies are unraveling because the situation on the ground has become too intense to be kept under wraps.

Take the example of the counter-terrorism policy. The government’s policy of keeping three diverse elements on its side served its immediate needs but now it is faced with criticism from them all. These three elements are the United States; Islamic parties (i.e., the MMA) that often functioned as the political front for Islamic militants; and those in the official circles who sympathized with Islamic militants.

The government took some counter-terrorism measures to satisfy the Americans but did not push these measures to their logical conclusion in order to avoid total alienation from the MMA, which extended critical support to the government in certain domestic issues. Extremist sympathizers inside the establishment were also happy because the government was leaving enough space for the militants to function in a low-key manner.

This policy ran into trouble when the Lal Masjid militants could not be tamed through the intervention of militant sympathizers from the official circles. The government then used force to expel the militants from the complex. Militants based in the tribal areas and elsewhere viewed this incident as the beginning of a direct government assault. They were already fighting security forces in the tribal areas, and decided to launch retaliatory actions in settled areas. The Lahore incident shows that the militants retain the capacity to hit the Pakistani government any time at a place of their choosing. The direct confrontation with the militants also alienated the MMA and other Islamist elements from the government.

Military action in the tribal areas created tensions between the army and the civil administration in the tribal areas headed by the governor of NWFP. As the military authorities established their primacy and pushed aside the civil administration, political channels with tribal chiefs and the militants were undermined. This strained the relationship between the army authorities and the governor, who wanted to protect the autonomy of the civil administration as well as the political channels with the militants.

Another side of the present crisis is the growing economic pressure on the common people despite official claims of impressive economic development. Federal ministers and advisors continue to harp on about the resilience of the Pakistani economy. They cite aggregate data on economic growth, not realizing that such data, even if it is reliable, cannot save the government from the wrath of the people if their economic insecurities are not addressed. Official statements about economic well-being are meaningless for people hit hard by price hikes of food items, and who have to stand in line for hours to get wheat flour. Gas shortages and electricity outages add to the misery of common Pakistanis.

The irony is that the government refuses to take any responsibility for these problems. It accuses others — Islamic militants, political opportunists, greedy business people etc — of causing these problems. This persistent refusal to accept any responsibility for anything going wrong was most visible in the aftermath of the Bhutto assassination. Musharraf’s official spokesperson blamed an Islamist militant based in the tribal areas for the assassination, and also mentioned carelessness on the part of Benazir Bhutto. Moral of the story: the government cannot be blamed for Bhutto’s assassination, or anything that goes wrong in the country.

Yet another dimension of Pakistan’s current crisis pertains to the coming general elections. There have been numerous complaints about flaws in the electoral process from all opposition political parties. The PPP released a dossier on election malpractices prepared under instructions from its slain leader. The PMLN has also issued detailed data on pre-poll manipulation in favor of the pro-Musharraf PMLQ. These complaints include the partisan role of the president, the caretaker federal and provincial governments, district nazims and other local government officials, as well as the misuse of government personnel and resources.

Some international groups and independent Pakistani organizations have pointed out the flawed pre-election process that gave a clear advantage to the PMLQ. The latest comments from the Citizens Group on Electoral Process (CGEP) and the Pakistan Institute for Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) show that they find the pre-election processes to be deficient in many respects. Almost all groups and parties have strong reservations about the impartiality of the Election Commission that appears helpless in checking the excesses of pro-Musharraf political leaders. Musharraf has repeatedly dismissed these complaints.

Recently, the PMLQ published ethnically biased election advertisements in newspapers. Like the IJI in 1988, the PMLQ is endeavoring to play the regional card (Punjab vs. Sindh) in Punjab to sustain its appeal to voters.

These developments have to be examined against the backdrop of how Musharraf secured a second presidential term through a suspension of the Constitution, restructuring of the judiciary and restrictions on independent media. These moves greatly reduced Musharraf’s popularity within the political circles and civil society.

While Pakistan needs political reconciliation, Musharraf does not have enough credibility to initiate dialogue with the opposition, which considers him unacceptable. If the opposition parties, especially the PPP and the PMLN, win a majority in the elections, they will work towards restricting the role and powers of Musharraf. If they get a two-thirds majority, they are expected to seek Musharraf’s impeachment. Therefore, Musharraf cannot afford to lose these elections. However, it may be difficult for him to ensure success for his favorites. Given these circumstances, the present crisis is expected to persist in the post-election period.

Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi is a political and defense analyst

Army’s Respect Can Only be Restored by Reversing Musharraf’s Actions

By Kamal Matinuddin

General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s direction to the army officers to refrain from meeting politicians and that the prime role of the armed forces is to carry out their professional duties is indeed a very welcoming statement and the need of the hour. It gives us hope that we have now a professional soldier at the helm of the army. According to newspaper reports army officers deployed in civil departments are being recalled to their units. This will help in reducing the criticism of the army, which we so often hear in civilian circles. It will also keep the army officers away from certain corrupt practices, which come their way when heading lucrative appointments in the civil sector.

Earlier while addressing the corps commanders he rightly pointed out that it is the harmonization of the socio-political, administrative and military strategies that will usher in an environment of peace and stability in the long run. Ultimately indeed it is the will of the people and their support that is decisive. This is a major shift from the policies so far being pursued where the views of the populace were not given any weight—where we were made to believe that only those at the helm of affairs knew all the answers.

Kayani knows full well that the strength of a nation does not depend on the armed forces alone, even if it be a nuclear power. Internal harmony, a wise foreign policy, sustained economic growth and justice for all are the other ingredients that bring about progress and prosperity in a country. It is only when the military concentrates on maintaining the highest standard of discipline and training and keeps away from activities, which brings them in contact with the civilians, that they would not be the target of their criticism. This does not mean that they should not assist the government in the maintenance of law and order or help the government during emergencies, but only when they are asked by the government-in-power to do so. If they deliberately get involved in politics they then must be prepared to face the onslaught from the civilians at some point of time.

While many in the country welcomed another military take over in 1999 they too got disillusioned with the army shortly thereafter, when the desire and the decision to remain in power, come hail or shine, became the main objective of a military-led government. Those in uniform began to believe that except those who supported their rule, others were unpatriotic and must be kept away from the corridors of power. But when expectations were not fulfilled and promises made were broken. When joining the war on terror had adverse domestic fall out the army’s popularity receded. Credibility of the army was lost when the military spokesmen entered into denial mode.

What damaged the army’s image most was when an army unit surrendered meekly to lightly armed militants. Civil-military relations took a downward turn when they did not see the armed forces giving up their self-assumed political role even after many years of military rule had elapsed

I recall my days as a second lieutenant in Multan in 1948. We were members of the Multan Club where we often had the occasion to play tennis with the commissioner Multan Division, Mr I. U. Khan and DIG Alam (father of the well known late General Rafi Alam). Despite being very senior to us in age and appointment they made us feel quite important because we were members of the newly created Pakistan Army. We hardly ever visited the city in uniform, but when ever we did the shop keepers were eager to serve us first. One could see that they too believed that these officers are the guardians of our borders.

The owner of the only cinema in the cantonment used to receive us at the gate of the cinemas, not because of fear of any punishment if he did not do so, but because of the respect he held of the army then. With every martial law the armed forces got more and more involved with the civilians. The black sheep amongst them brought a bad name to the army. Even those who performed their duties honestly were criticized for initiating policies, which were not appreciated or did not produce positive results

Frequent toppling of elected governments; treating the constitution as a piece of paper, which has been heavily mutilated or amended to suit individuals or a particular political party. Destroying democratic institutions, using unfair tactics to remain in power infiltration into all major civil departments are some of the reasons why the image of the army has gone down.

The reaction of the people working in civil departments to the preponderance of military officers heading their departments can be gauged from an anecdote, which I personally experienced. Some years back my telephone remained out of order for nearly a week. Despite registering my complaint and speaking to the SDO telephones of my area and then raising the level to the superintendent telephones my telephone remained dead. So, in sheer desperation I rang up the office of the Chairman PTCL. When the PA picked up the telephone I enquired from him the name of the chairman. He told me that it was Bajwa. Assuming that he must be a general I asked him to connect me to General Bajwa. He spontaneously answered, “Ye bach gia”. Needless to say not only was my telephone put in order but Mr Bajwa rang me up after a few hours to enquire if the telephone had been repaired. Nice of him to have done so.

Another cause for frustration with the army is the closure of roads during VIP movement. Some days back it took us two solid hours to reach the airport from the Defense Society in Karachi. The inordinate delay was, we were told, because of VVIP movement. Some travelers missed their flights and naturally blamed the army for their loss. Hopefully this matter too will be looked into by the new military set-up. Security officials could be directed to keep the closure of the roads to the absolute minimum, while maintaining the much-needed security during VIP movement.

The days of the army removing elected governments are over. It can now be expected that the army would restrict itself to the maintenance of law and order in the forthcoming elections and not connive with the former ruling party to ensure that they win the elections. Let the army truly and sincerely remain a-political. The statement of the president about not allowing the newly elected parliament to change his policies, if quoted correctly in an Urdu newspaper was not appreciated. Although it has come from a civilian resident, but the fact that he is a retired general the public will blame the army for not allowing the functioning of true democracy in the country.

Since military officers retire early in life it is necessary to provide some alternative employment when they shed their uniform. They are in that stage of life when they need to support the education of their grown up children, save money for their marriage expenses and generally prepare themselves to lead a comfortable retired life. The armed forces are indeed within their right to demand their 20% quota in various civilian departments. As long as the postings to civil departments are according to existing rules the civilians would not feel bitter

The politicians have welcomed the statement of General Kayani. The civil society considers it a good move. Retired officers opine that it is a step in the right direction. Hopefully the directions given to the officers will also be adhered to at the highest level.

What will now be expected from General Kayani is that he will enforce his directives strictly and sustain it through out his tenure as the Chief of the Pakistan Army.

The writer is a retired lieutenant general. This article appeared in The News (Pakistan)

If Most Pakistanis Mistrust Their Ruler, How Can He effectively Fight Terror?

The first opinion poll, conducted by Gallup after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, showed that nearly half of the sample suspected government agencies (23 per cent) and government allied politicians (25 per cent) of killing Bhutto.

Seventeen per cent suspected Al Qaida or the Taliban, while 16 per cent suspected external forces — principally the United States (12 per cent) and India (4 per cent).

The poll raised a fundamental question. If so many people mistrust their own government, how can that government be an effective partner to the US in fighting terrorism and winning hearts and minds against Jihadists?

The suspicions of the Pakistanis about their government can’t be good news for those in the Bush administration who still consider Pervez Musharraf their best bet for keeping Pakistan stable.

For their part, Musharraf and his Western backers offer a simplified thumbnail history lesson that paints Pakistan as a tribal and feudal backwater that can only be held together through military rule.

According to this account of Pakistan’s history and politics, as recounted by retired Colonel Ralph Peters of the US military, “From its founding, Pakistan has been plagued by cults of personality, by personal, feudal loyalties that stymied the development of healthy government institutions (provoking coups by a disgusted military)”.

Thus, Bhutto’s loss is not huge for Pakistan from the point of view of those who think only of managing Pakistan — under military rule and with Western support.

But Pakistan is not a company to be managed. It is a nation that must be united and that is where politicians such as Benazir Bhutto came in.

With Bhutto gone, Pakistan’s faultlines are looking more exposed than ever.

Musharraf, who knows little about winning hearts and minds, and sees politics as an inconvenience in his “sound” administrative approach, is only aggravating Pakistan’s divisions.

He just does not have the healing touch that Pakistan needs. For example, he could end the controversy over who killed Bhutto by accepting an international investigation without any limitations.

His refusal is keeping rumours alive and, as a consequence, the gulf between the government and the people is widening.

Pakistan’s problem has not been the paucity of good civilian leaders. Pakistani politicians are flawed, but so are politicians all over the world.

Pakistan’s problem is the complicated relationship between politicians who cannot be wished away, a military that has a strongly politicized component and successive US governments that seem to prefer military-intelligence control for strategic reasons than to allow the normal functioning of a constitutional democracy.

Created in a hurry under difficult circumstances at the end of the British departure from India, Pakistan inherited a larger army than it resources allowed to maintain.

In the eyes of some, conflict with India necessitated the retention of that army.

Britain and the US were lured to support the military because of strategic concerns during the Cold War. Pakistan became a strategic rentier — a country living off international (mainly American) subsidies.

It remains so under Musharraf though with diminishing internal strength.

The transactional relationship between Pakistan’s military and the United States that Musharraf’s rule has accentuated started soon after Pakistan’s independence — primarily at the initiative of the military leadership.

Pakistan’s military served as an ally in America’s fight du jour (the Cold War, the anti-Soviet Jihad in Afghanistan and now the war against terror) in return for large amounts of aid.

Since 1954, the US has given Pakistan about $21 billion in aid, of which $17.7 billion was given under military rule and only $3.4 billion to elected governments.

In the course of all this, Pakistan also developed its capacity (including nuclear weapons) to compete with India.

But the army could not rule unless it had a fig leaf of domestic legitimacy. For that, it turned to Islam and, at one point, radical Islam.

This is where the Bhutto family comes in. Benazir Bhutto’s father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was the first Pakistani leader to call for an end to military rule.

His slogan “Bread, clothing, shelter” resonated with the unwashed masses. His Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) became the country’s largest political movement.

The military could not keep him out of power, especially after Pakistan’s disastrous defeat in the 1971 war with India.
While Bhutto Sr. got power, he did not have full control.

The army, and its intelligence services, continued to conspire against him. He made his share of mistakes, but then, which politician doesn’t?

In 1977, he was removed from power in a military coup and sent to the gallows. Benazir Bhutto, who had never desired a political career, stepped into his shoes.

The struggle against military domination of Pakistan’s politics continued.

One third of Pakistan’s 160 million people live below poverty and another one-third are considered vulnerable to poverty.

These people loved Bhutto — both father and daughter — because they symbolized their hope of inclusion in the State of Pakistan instead of being marginalized from it.

The views of Musharraf’s supporters have been shaped by a small clique of international diplomats, parachute journalists and elite Pakistanis.

These people have always liked Pakistan’s generals better than politicians.

Third World dictators have often benefited from “playing” people in the US by painting their own societies as inherently dangerous and themselves as the only people who can save a particular country for the United States.

But now concerns about Musharraf being able to continue his difficult juggling act are making even his supporters somewhat jittery.

Contrary to the view of some in the US, Pakistan’s Islamist problem is a creation of its intelligence service, the ISI.

Like India, Pakistan could also have developed a moderate, democratic state if politicized generals (such as Musharraf) had not wanted to sideline politicians and rally the nation under their command.

The political generals’ refusal to submit to civilian control has resulted in a policy paradigm in which the US is the source of military hardware, India is the eternal enemy and Islam is the national unifier and ideological motivator.

Coup makers’ excuse

Opposite Pakistan’s politicized generals (distinct from professional soldiers who want to defend the country as well as its constitution) are the country’s politicians, often feudal or from the business community.

They would run the country a bit like the US was run in the 19th century or Italy for many years after the Second World War — through compromises among competing factions.

There is corruption under both but in case of the civilians, corruption is invoked as an excuse by coup-makers to thwart the constitutional order.

Politicians are never flawless. To many Pakistanis, and people everywhere, the alleged flaws of popular leaders are just the cost of the business of politics and democracy.

That realization appears to have dawned on most officers of the Pakistan military.

The new Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Kayani, is responding to the national mood by calling for the military’s withdrawal from politics.

The only remaining question is: at what point does the military withdraw support from Musharraf, who, after all, is now only a widely discredited, faltering politician and not the army chief.

The Bush administration would most likely continue supporting Musharraf a little longer but if, as seems likely, Musharraf’s domestic credibility hits such new lows that he cannot sustain himself in power, Washington’s withdrawal of backing would also follow.

Of course, Musharraf has an honorable way out but he seems disinclined to take it.

He could agree to a transparent international investigation of the Bhutto murder, remove his cronies from top positions as intelligence chiefs and ensure that the February 18 election is totally above board.

Then he could negotiate with Pakistan’s elected leadership and save Pakistan prolonged crisis.

The two leading political figures in post-Bhutto Pakistan — PPP Co-Chairman Asif Zardari and PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif — have both shown remarkable maturity in their words and deeds since Bhutto’s tragic assassination.

If only Musharraf could also rise to the occasion.

Husain Haqqani is Director of Boston University’s Centre for International Relations and Co-Chair of the Hudson Institute’s Project on Islam and Democracy. He is the author of the Carnegie Endowment book Pakistan Between Mosque and Military. He served as an adviser to Benazir Bhutto.

The Grief Over Benazir Bhutto’s Loss is Felt All Over the World

I have been scouring the Internet, looking for a poem that Benazir wrote on her 50th birthday. I did not find it, but I found much else, posted by people who never met her, never saw her and yet they felt devastated by her death

Few people have been mourned with as much feeling across the world as Benazir Bhutto. Poems have been written about her from Indonesia to Spain and across the seas, in America and Latin America. The savage act that cut short her incandescent life at a moment when she stood at the threshold of a new era, when she would have made up for the failings of the past, has moved many to tears. She had this strange quality about her. Long after you had left her company, you kept feeling a certain glow that was hard to explain. She made you feel good. She was a woman of immense good humor and she never wished anyone ill, which makes death at the hands of an assassin indescribably tragic.

I have been scouring the Internet, looking for a poem that she wrote on her 50th birthday. I did not find it, but I found much else, posted by people who never met her, never saw her and yet they felt devastated by her death. That was her magic.

A Pakistani, living in Spain, writes in Urdu — and his words are so simple and eloquent as to be poetry:

“Wherever you look in Spanish newspapers, there is just one headline/Those who look at us, know that we are Pakistanis/They are the ones to whom we were always saying, ‘This is how Pakistan is; that is how Pakistan is.’/ But now, the more we try to show Pakistan in a good light to them, the more we fail/There is just on everyone’s lips today, given what the newspapers carry/But they ask it not/They say nothing/ They only look at us in a strange way/They say nothing and yet they are saying much/What can we say?/How can we explain why what has happened has happened?/ There are bomb blasts every day/Why?/How do we explain it to them?/We no longer have words to speak or things to say/Our only refuge is silence/We must bear what has come to pass/That seems best/People can speak ill of Pakistan and Pakistanis but we say nothing/It’s painful but we have to bear the pain/It isn’t easy to go out/Not easy after the news we’ve heard/Not easy to talk to anyone/Please tell us what to say for we can find no words.”

Someone else, an American, writes, “I really felt that Benazir was a leader that would not only bring peace to my brothers and sisters in Pakistan, but also aid in the war on terror. The war on terror must come to an end, and to do this, we as human beings must care for our peoples and the well-being of their souls. We must stop killing one another, our Creator demands this, the Creator of all beings. I believe she will lead many from this day on, in her passing. She has inspired change! I wrote this as tears fell from my eyes upon the terrible news! May we all live to usher in peace!”

Another person, who signs himself Shaer or poet, writes, “As tears rolled down my face (I believe in peace) and I felt the damage that was done to world peace, I felt saddened to feel the loss in my heart. She was beautiful, and caring of the situations that needed attention. She was brave! May God bless Benazir Bhutto, and may you find peace in this poem.”

The poem reads: “A woman/with three young children/putting her life on the line for a cause/I wonder how a mother could put her life on the line/Again/With three young children/I always thought/a mother’s instinct is stronger than anything/Benazir indicated that her country is a greater cause/Brother, she is in the hands of God/Now let’s pray for her soul/But brother/I grieve for those children.”

One short poem dedicated to her goes: “The children are motherless/Let’s hope that her sacrifice will be an offering/for a better Pakistan/In the eyes of God/blood sacrifice supercedes life itself/Go in peace, Sister.” Someone signing herself as Anna writes: Benazir Bhutto was assassinated today/she expired at 6:16/I have no poetry for you/words have no meaning sometimes/and the poet is gone/absent from all reason/all choked up/with nothing to say.”

A young woman named Mehnaz Malik, whom Benazir befriended, dedicates a poem by David Harkins, written in 1981, to “Bibi”:

“She is gone/You can shed tears that she is gone/Or you can smile because she has lived/You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back/Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left/Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her/Or you can be full of the love that you shared/You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday/Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday/You can remember her and only that she is gone/Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on/You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back/Or you can do what she would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.”

Mehnaz writes, “Her critics say she was a pampered princess, and yet I never saw her rest. Bibi was a workaholic glued to her computer. She was extremely efficient with answering emails, and reading copious amounts of paper. Bibi kept her staff to the minimum, there was no entourage of assistants or professionals, just the bare minimum. I often sent her the odd intern to ease her workload because she was so overstretched. Contrary to what people think, she was not living in a palace with a large staff. Her HQ was always a few computers with various volunteers helping out. At the very centre of activity was Bibi working away, until we would drag her to take that much needed break. More recently, with her lecture circuit, we used to discuss how much we had to travel just to earn a living.”

But I would like to end this in Bibi’s own words, “I don’t fear death. I remember my last meeting with my father when he told me, ‘You know, tonight when I will be killed, my mother and my father will be waiting for me.’ It makes me weepy but I don’t think it can happen unless God wants it to happen because so many people have tried to kill me.”

Khalid Hasan is Daily Times’ US-based correspondent.