Benazir doesn’t need a monument - Kamran Shafi - September 14, 2010

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IT was almost beyond belief to read only the other day that the federal government was going to build a monument to honour Benazir Bhutto of most fond memory, slated to end up costing up to Rs1bn after the inevitable cost overruns. And this while the floods are not yet done wreaking their havoc across our sorry country.

Whilst I count myself among those who have the utmost respect and affection for Benazir, not least because I knew her to be a good woman, a most bright and gifted politician, and most of all a lady with immense courage and guts, I have to say that it is a very bad idea indeed. An idea that needs to be scrapped immediately if not sooner.

The reasons are many: popular political leaders such as Ms Bhutto simply do not need a huge and fancy and expensive monument for people to remember them by. Political leaders live in people`s hearts, not in lifeless concrete and stone. Case in point: do the people vote for the PPP because there is a monument built in Zulfikar Ali Bhutto`s honour?

More critically, does this country have the funds to spare for such an expensive venture when we are tramping the world, begging bowls in hand asking for handouts? Especially at this fraught and most difficult time?

Monuments are hugely wasteful projects which are no good to man or beast and serve only to satisfy the ego of the person who comes up with the bright idea of building one. Recall please, the ugly structure raised by the Commando “to the Pakistani who has given up his today for a better tomorrow” nonsense in Islamabad. What good has that huge waste of money done to anyone? All it has really done is to add another ugly structure to the many others that grace our capital, and to spoil the natural beauty of Shakarparian Hills.

No less a person than the president himself should announce that the monument will not be built and the funds set aside for it will be used to provide building material to those who have lost their homes in the floods, and for other flood relief measures.

The finest way to remember Benazir is to find and prosecute her murderers to the full extent of the law. No better monument could be raised to her memory than to lock up for all their days on this earth those who conspired to have her killed; and those who, by their acts of omission and commission, helped the criminals in their vile enterprise.

It is important too, of course, that our succeeding generations know how and where another politician was heartlessly killed in the Citadel of Islam by installing a simple black granite slab at the site of her murder, inscribed simply: `Benazir Bhutto 21st June 1953 – 27th December 2007. Assassinated after addressing a public meeting in Liaquat Bagh`. Under this inscription should come the names of those who also lost their lives on that fateful day.

So then, whilst the disgraced trio has slunk back to the Fatherland under cover of darkness lest they be set upon by the fans they have let down so badly, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) goes on defending them stoutly to the amusement of the rest of us. We are now told that the money found in Salman Butt`s room was fees for him participating in the opening ceremony of a business (a barber`s?) somewhere or other in England. Really, we must be taken for complete fools by the PCB.

As if the disgrace brought by the three accused were not enough, bowler Wahab Riaz will be questioned by the police today (Tuesday). He bowled seven wide and 13 no-balls in two innings, which are the likely subject of the probe. As if that were not enough wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal is also under investigation by the International Cricket Council “in relation to” Pakistan`s matches during the T20 tournament in the West Indies during April and May this year!

What the devil we are still doing in England I, for one, simply do not know, losing every single match that we are playing. Are these `fixed` too? As suggested earlier we need to get out of international cricket for some years and clean up our act, otherwise there is more disgrace in store for us as a dispirited and undermined team struggles to find form.

Let me end this bit with another unbelievable piece of PCB news. Mr Ejaz Butt, the head honcho of the PCB knew of and himself announced the police questioning that Wahab Riaz will be subjected to, but the manager of the team Mr Yawar Saeed was the last one to find out that one of his players will be so questioned — surely more irrefutable proof that Pakistan cricket needs an urgent overhaul.

And yet another mind-boggling statement from Prime Minister Gilani: instead of simply saying that Musharraf is a citizen of Pakistan who can return whenever he so wishes, at which time he will not only be produced in the Balochistan High Court which has already issued a summons for his production, he will also be properly charged under Article 6 of the constitution, Gilani says that when he arrives in Pakistan the chief justice of Pakistan will receive him. I ask you! n

Or is it that the prime minister is so unnerved by rumours of an impending change that he makes these outlandish statements at quite regular intervals? As said before, the only hope of saving democracy which is under assault from many directions is for the major political parties to get together on one platform over the heads of their respective attack dogs. I have to once again appreciate Mr Nawaz Sharif`s firm stand against any undemocratic attempt to undermine the system.

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