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Benazir Bhutto accused by critics in brother's death


Troubled Bhutto family reunites after tragedy

September 21, 1996
Web Posted at: 10:35 p.m. EDT (0235 GMT)

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Benazir Bhutto's political opponents Saturday rushed to condemn her in the death of her estranged brother Murtaza, and a high court judge was appointed to investigate the bizarre gunfight that took his life in the posh Clifton Road neighborhood of Karachi.

Opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, in a speech in parliament, accused the government of "state terrorism" against its political opponents. Leaders of the Lahore High Court Bar Association in Punjab were quoted as describing Murtaza Bhutto's killing as a murder.

Murtaza's killing "is part of a conspiracy to make Pakistan a police state and crush democratic freedom," said Qazi Hussain Ahmad, Pakistan's fundamentalist party leader.

According to police, the trouble started after Murtaza and his supporters refused to allow their vehicles to be searched as part of security checks imposed following recent bombings.

Suddenly, the scene was ablaze in gunfire.

Police said they were fired on first. In the ensuing battle Murtaza and six of his supporters were killed.

Family with a troubled history

Murtaza Bhutto had long been a political opponent of his sister Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan's Prime Minister, and his death is another twist in a tragic family history.

Benazir Bhutto's father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a former Prime Minister and wealthy landowner, was toppled in a coup in 1979 and hanged two years later.

Another of her brothers, Shanawaz, died in suspicious circumstances in France in 1985.

Murtaza Bhutto lived in exile in Syria for 16 years following the 1977 military coup that ousted his father.

Murtaza was thrown in jail after returning to Pakistan, accused of masterminding the 1981 hijacking of a Pakistani Airlines plane that left one passenger dead.

During the 1993 elections, he campaigned as an independent candidate and won a seat in the assembly governing Sindh province.

Last year, Murtaza Bhutto led a group that split from the ruling Pakistan People's Party.

Although few observers considered him a serious political threat to his sister, he was a constant thorn in her side, accusing her government of widespread corruption.

Bhutto family reunites in tragedy

Her mother, Nusrat, had sided with Murtaza in the public dispute, but that didn't stop the family from reuniting after the latest Bhutto death.

A weeping Benazir Bhutto -- barefoot, as a sign of mourning and respect -- visited the hospital in Karachi where her brother died.

As the Prime Minister and her mother attended Murtaza's funeral in the Bhutto family home in Larkana, north of Karachi, the atmosphere seemed to be one of reconciliation, rather than domestic and political wrangling.

Hours before he was shot, Murtaza held a press conference that seemed to foreshadow his final clash. He accused police of targeting his organization, and denied any role in the recent spate of bombings in Karachi, a city plagued by political violence.

"I have denied from the beginning we are a political party," he said. "We will face this present government politically. I am not ordering anybody to go underground, arrest anybody you want from my people, we will face you politically."

His Palestinian born wife Ghinwa appealed to his supporters to remain calm and pursue his goal of political reform peacefully.

"I hope to God that the blood we sacrifice we have made for Pakistan and for all its problems," she said.

"I hope to God that the blood we sacrifice we have made for Pakistan and for all its problems."

-- Ghinwa Bhutto
icon(29 sec./255K AIFF or WAV sound)

Benazir, Ghinwa, and Nusrat -- sister, wife and mother, mourn their loss while the rest of the country waits to see what will unfold.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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