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'I thought she would survive this time too'

Advani expresses a sense of personal loss and grief at Bhutto's assassination since she enjoyed close ties with his family and had common interests, reports Shekhar Iyer.

india Updated: Dec 28, 2007 03:59 IST
Shekhar Iyer

Leader of the Opposition LK Advani expressed a sense of personal loss and grief at PPP leader Benazir Bhutto's assassination since she enjoyed close ties with his family and had common interests, besides their common Sindhi background.



"When I heard the news first, I thought she would survive this time, too," a shocked Advani told

Hindustan Times

. "Just as she survived a bid on her life in Karachi on the night of October 18 when she arrived in Pakistan, I thought she would survive again. But that was not to be. My hope was belied. Pakistan High Commissioner Shaid Malik told me that the suicide bomber shot her before he triggered the blasts that claimed many lives."



In 2003, Benazir enjoyed a typical two-hour Sindhi lunch at Advani's residence. He was then the deputy prime minister. The two leaders used to exchange books. In 2002, she sent a book by Robert D Kaplan as a gift, writing a note saying she thought of him when she saw the book. In June 2005, Advani lunched at the residence of Hakim Ali Zardari, Benazir's father-in-law, in Karachi's Old Clifton.



A deeply upset Advani called up Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who is in Goa, suggesting that he call a meeting of Opposition leaders to brief them on "deeply worrisome" events in Pakistan as he feared "that country is not only in the throes of instability but a far more dangerous process of Talibanisation."



Advani said Benazir had become a martyr to the cause of democracy and the global war on jihadi terrorism. "I send my heartfelt condolences to her husband, Asif Zardari, and their children. She was a friend of our family and she sincerely desired friendly and peaceful ties between India and Pakistan."