In 2008, a twenty-five year journey through tragedy and suffering finally ended on a high note of personal triumph for Benezir Bhutto's husband, the so-called "Black Widower" Asif Ali Zardari (pictured) who assumed office on this day as the first President of the newly independent state of Sindhistan.
The War on Terror Plus, Part 1 ~ The Triumph of the Black WidowerResponding to criticism that she had married below her station, Prime Minister Bhutto had separated her personal and professional lives by indicating that "[Asif] will not be involved in my political career at all, and I have no intention of visiting his cement works in Karachi". Zardari himself recognised the even greater gulf in their leadership abilities with the Pakistani proverb that "The camel only finds out that there is something taller than him when he comes beneath a mountain".
Zarari served in his wife's cabinet as the Minister of Investment; accused of bribery and corruption he was unfairly labelled "Mr Ten Percent". And by the time Bhutto returned from exile in October 2007, Zardari had been incarcerated at Karachi Central Prison for eleven and a half of the previous eighteen years. Badly tortured, her husband had collected a sickle-like scar on his tongue, a slashing wound by his jugular vein and severe back injuries from being repeatedly struck by a rifle butt.
When Bhutto's family and supporters buried her, Sindhis chanted, "We don't need Pakistan! We don't need Pakistan!".And that political violence was hardly exceptional - the country that Bhutto returned to was already teetering on the edge of the abyss. Because American actions in Afghanistan had forced the Taliban to regroup over the border in Pakistan. Even worse was to follow. On 27th December, Bhutto herself was assassinated.
Pakistan burned for days with the the worst rioting occurring in the couple's home province of Sindh.
When Bhutto's family and supporters buried her, Sindhis chanted, "We don't need Pakistan! We don't need Pakistan!". And this nationalist sentiment was clear from Bhutto's handwritten will "I would like my husband Asif Ali Zardari to lead my people in the interim period until you [the Sindhis] and he decide what is best. I say this because he is a man of courage and honour. He spent 11 1/2 years in prison without bending despite torture. He has the political stature to keep our people united".
At one of the most volatile and dangerous moments in the country's history, Zardari led a Sindhi revolt, pushing Pakistan over the brink and into the abyss of dissolution. Sixty years after he had founded the "Fortress of Islam", Mohammed Jinnah's national dream for Pakistan ended in a most frightful nightmare.