The unsung hero

  • By Rauf Klasra

    ISLAMABAD: Amid turmoil and mourning over the shocking assassination of Benazir Bhutto, an unbelievable story of bravery and courage of an unsung hero—a common car driver Zahid Rehman from Murree—has surfaced. How desperately he tried to save the life of critically injured Benazir Bhutto on the crowded roads of Rawalpindi, while her security adviser Rehman Malik was sitting at the Zardari House in Islamabad!

    Zahid is one of a few eyewitnesses to the killing of Ms Bhutto who kept his senses when all of Benazir’s personal bodyguards were killed and her damaged car was running on burst tyres on the roads of Rawalpindi to the horror of onlookers.

    An alternative bullet-proof car under the use of Rehman Malik had already reached the Zardari House in Islamabad instead of being used at the scene of the tragedy. The bewildered and desperate Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Dr Safdar Abbasi, Naheed Khan and Major Imtiaz, standing in the middle of the road, had to solely rely on the car offered by Zahid Rehman to shift the critically injured Benazir to hospital. Questions are already being asked why Rehman Malik, the chief security adviser of Ms Bhutto, was absent at the time when she needed him the most.

    Zahid Rehman, who is the driver of PPP leader Sherry Rehman, was driving the Prado jeep behind Ms Bhutto’s vehicle when she came under attack. Zahid showed extraordinary bravery, wisdom and courage, qualities that were otherwise expected from someone with the title of CSO to Benazir Bhutto.

    Although Zahid’s boss Sherry Rehman too badly needed him, but his spontaneous reaction was to take a dying Benazir to hospital by making his way out of the crowd who had no idea that Benazir was taking her last breath in his car.

    Zahid usually keeps the car with the security escort of Benazir Bhutto, in case Sherry Rehman may need it. Sherry Rehman travelled in a separate car with party leaders that day. Earlier, Zahid was standing outside the gates of Liaquat Bagh, when he saw Ms Bhutto’s car leaving. To his horror, he first heard three gunshots aimed at Benazir followed by a bomb blast. But Major Imtiaz who was driving Ms Bhutto’s car kept his senses too even in chaos, as he did not stop there, fearing she might come under more attacks. Zahid felt the danger to the life of Ms Bhutto after he witnessed the damage caused to the bulletproof car in which she was travelling.

    The tyers of the bulletproof vehicle had burst as a result of the massive blast but Major Imtiaz kept on driving the car. Zahid wondered how far the damaged car could run. He along with one guard of Sherry Rehman decided to take the car out of crowd and follow Benazir’s car. The damaged car finally stopped, as it was not in a position to move an inch further.

    Zahid immediately stopped his car behind the car of Ms Bhutto and hurriedly opened the door of her car. He saw an unconscious Benazir Bhutto lying there, blood oozing out of her head. Dr Safdar Abbasi, Naheed and Major Imtiaz held the injured Ms Bhutto and shifted her into the Parado jeep. An unconscious Benazir was put on the back seat of the Prado.

    Zahid realised that he had to rush and reach the hospital soon as Benazir Bhutto’s life was in danger. For a moment he forgot about his own boss, Sherry Rehman, who too needed help. He knew his mission was to take the bleeding Bhutto to hospital at all costs. He knew his car was not bulletproof and so he must be very careful, so that Ms Bhutto did not come under any further attack on her way to the hospital.

    Sherry has paid rich tributes to Zahid Rehman for his sense of duty, bravery and for remaining alert in the most difficult moments of his life. Zahid remained in the hospital till midnight along with hundreds of PPP leaders and workers, who could not believe their leader had passed away. Alas, all his efforts ended in smoke, as Benazir’s life could not be saved.

  • Where is Rehman Malik now and what is he up to?