Mehbooba had one regret: Benazir was not there

3 April 2008
The News International
Qudssia Akhlaque

ISLAMABAD: Kashmiri leader Mehbooba Mufti, who arrived here on her maiden visit to Pakistan last week, returned to New Delhi on Thursday with one deep regret: that she was not able to meet Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto in her life time, something that Mehbooba considered very unfortunate. 'I regret that Benazir Bhutto was not there. I would have loved to meet her and I could have never thought of visiting Pakistan and not being able to meet Benazir Bhutto,' she lamented in an exclusive interview with The News. 'A country that you had looked forward to seeing and meeting its people all these years does not seem to be in a very comfortable position and I regret that Benazir Bhutto is not there anymore,' she added. Mehbooba Mufti, who is the President of the Peoples Democratic Party, repeatedly declared she had never imagined that her first visit to Pakistan would have gone without her meeting the country's twice-elected prime minister and the PPP's charismatic chairperson Benazir Bhutto. 'I had never visualised this situation. Whenever I thought of going to Pakistan I always had this in mind that I am going to meet Benazir,' she said. Noting that although she may not have entirely agreed with Ms Bhutto's policies, Mehbooba said she admired the PPP leader's courage and determination in the worst of times. 'As a person the struggle she (Benazir) went through when her father was hanged and she was put under house arrest, we used to listen to the news very closely. So there was a feeling about her,' she observed. The PDP president recalled she was in Madina when she learnt of Benazir Bhutto's tragic yet 'glorious' death. Her friend from Jeddah had telephoned her to share the sad news. Mehbooba, who has had a couple of narrow escapes herself, remembered that the next frantic phone call she received was from her daughter, a student of a college in New Delhi. Her daughter urged her to abandon politics. Mehbooba, who has two daughters and has been a single parent since 1989, pensively recounted: 'My elder daughter called me and said 'Ma please give up politics, we don't want you to be killed. Look what happened to Benazir.' Expressing her concern about the volatile security situation and 'chaos' in Pakistan, Mehbooba noted: 'Of late violence level is going up and there is a sense of insecurity in many areas of Pakistan which reminds me of what Jammu and Kashmir was like some years back.' Kashmiri leader Mehbooba Mufti, who arrived here on her maiden visit to Pakistan last week, returned to New Delhi on Thursday with one deep regret that she was not able to meet Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto in her life time, something that Mehbooba considered very unfortunate. 'I regret that Benazir Bhutto was not there. I would have loved to meet her and I could have never thought of visiting Pakistan and not being able to meet Benazir Bhutto,' she lamented in an exclusive interview with The News. 'A country that you had looked forward to seeing and meeting its people all these years does not seem to be in a very comfortable position and I regret that Benazir Bhutto is not there anymore,' she added. Mehbooba Mufti, who is the President of the Peoples Democratic Party, repeatedly declared she had never imagined that her first visit to Pakistan would have gone without her meeting the country's twice-elected prime minister and the PPP's charismatic chairperson Benazir Bhutto. 'I had never visualised this situation. Whenever I thought of going to Pakistan I always had this in mind that I am going to meet Benazir,' she said. Noting that although she may not have entirely agreed with Ms Bhutto's policies, Mehbooba said she admired the PPP leader's courage and determination in the worst of times. 'As a person the struggle she (Benazir) went through when her father was hanged and she was put under house arrest, we used to listen to the news very closely. So there was a feeling about her,' she observed. The PDP president recalled she was in Madina when she learnt of Benazir Bhutto's tragic yet 'glorious' death. Her friend from Jeddah had telephoned her to share the sad news. Mehbooba, who has had a couple of narrow escapes herself, remembered that the next frantic phone call she received was from her daughter, a student of a college in New Delhi. Her daughter urged her to abandon politics. Mehbooba, who has two daughters and has been a single parent since 1989, pensively recounted 'My elder daughter called me and said 'Ma please give up politics, we don't want you to be killed. Look what happened to Benazir.' Expressing her concern about the volatile security situation and 'chaos' in Pakistan, Mehbooba noted 'Of late violence level is going up and there is a sense of insecurity in many areas of Pakistan which reminds me of what Jammu and Kashmir was like some years back.'