Shocked son, hurt nation bid final farewell
Bhutto is buried next to the grave of her father and former PM Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, reports Kamal Siddiqi.world Updated: Dec 29, 2007 00:15 IST
Tears rolled down Asif Zardari’s face as the coffin containing the body of wife Benazir Bhutto was lowered into the grave. Their eldest son Bilawal stood by in a state of shock, like much of Pakistan.
The coffin was draped in the green, black and red flag of the Pakistan Peoples Party. She was buried next to the grave of her father and former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto at the Bhutto family mausoleum in Garhi Khuda Baksh in Larkana, Sindh.
Zardari reached Pakistan on Thursday night from Dubai where he lives. Son Bilawal and daughters Bakhtawar and Aseefa accompanied him at the prayers. Most national leaders, including President Pervez Musharraf, stayed away.
Nawaz Sharif said Zardari asked him not to come for the funeral, as the security arrangements were not adequate.
As the former PM embarked on her final journey, the firestorm of violence continued to sweep through the country on Friday. At least 32 people, including four policemen, had been killed in several Pakistani cities so far prompting the authorities to deploy the army and issue shoot-at-sight orders. Angry supporters went on a rampage looting banks, torching vehicles, burning railway stations and clashing with police in Sindh, Bhutto’s home province which was worst affected by the violence.
Days after surviving a suicide attack on her homecoming parade in Karachi on October 19 that killed at least 139, Bhutto visited Garhi Khuda Bakhsh to pray at the tomb of her father, buried there after being overthrown and hanged three decades ago.
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan's first popularly elected prime minister, lies alongside his sons Murtaza and Shahnawaz in the white-domed mausoleum Benazir Bhutto ordered to be built.
On Friday, an Islamic cleric led mourners in prayers as Bhutto's plain wood coffin was placed in a grave inside the vast, white marble mausoleum.
Some of her supporters wept, others chanted "Benazir is alive," as her body was laid to rest. One man sobbed uncontrollably, crying, "My sister has gone." Another fainted as several thousand people jostled to get a last glimpse.
A vast crowd congregated outside, lined up in hundreds of rows for the prayers and began filing in to throw sand on the grave. They had arrived by tractors, buses, cars and jeeps that were parked in dusty fields surrounding the mausoleum.
Some Bhutto supporters shouted "General, killer!" "Army, killer" in apparent reference to President Pervez Musharraf, who recently retired as army chief after eight years of military rule.
Party leaders tried to pacify the crowd and urged them to stop. The coffin was carried in a white ambulance on the five-kilometer (three-mile) journey to its resting place.
On the road, the ambulance passed a railway crossing where a passenger train had been set alight by rioters enraged by Bhutto's assassination Thursday had gone on a rampage. The engine was still burning.