Editor’s Note : FOUR YEARS AGO, MRS. BENAZIR BHUTTO WAS MURDERED. Who was the Man in the Brown Jacket? Newspapers around the world featured an emotional man in a brown jacket walking among the splattered human remains in the aftermath of the suicide bomb and gun fire that took her life and the lives of twenty-four other people.The photo captions speculated that he was a Bhutto follower, but the journalists present at the assassination scene never asked him his name. The grisly images on the Associated Press website have incorrect time stamps. Why? Our six-part special investigation, to be published during the weeklong anniversary of Mrs. Bhutto’s death, explores these questions and more.
Malik Ayub Sumbal, iMediaEthics reporter : I am thankful that you came here. Please let me know how does it feel to be back here 4 years after that terrible day?
|Malik with Sardar Muhammad Yaseen Khan at the site of Bhutto’s murder that happened 4 years ago.|
Muhammad Yaseen Khan: First of all, I am really thankful to the iMediaEthics who has given me a chance to speak here at the murder place of Mrs. Bhutto. I am feeling a lot of sorrow and grief while here after four years that today our great leader Benazir Bhutto is not among us. We have had been associated with the Bhutto family since my father, Sardar Ali Muhammad Okaha, was a party worker in the tenure of Benazir Bhutto’s father, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. We were with the Pakistan People Party (PPP) in every hour of happiness and sorrow.
She talked to me before her murder and then in a sudden there was a huge blast…there was a huge blast and a horrible situation all around the crime scene.
Malik : What do you remember most from that day?
Yaseen: Everyone was weeping and it was a horrible day in my life. After the incident I am still shocked and tense. I cannot sleep and rest properly. I pray that I should also have died in that incident because I cannot bear the loss of Bhutto. We cannot forget the memories of Mrs. Bhutto, the whole nation is grieved.
Malik: Immediately after the blast and for significant time afterwards, photographs show you were followed by photographers as you walked around the scene. Did you notice that you were being photographed?
Yaseen: No I did not notice the photographers as we, all the party workers, were totally senseless at that time and all were mourning the murder of Benazir Bhutto. No one was noticing the movement of cameramen at that time. I don’t even know who the photographers were because it was a tragic incident of the murder of our beloved leader.
Malik: Why do you think the photographers picked you to feature in photos around the world? Were you surprised when you were feature on page one of numerous newspapers?
|An unnamed man in a brown jacket–that we discovered was Yaseen –appeared in media around the world.|
Yaseen: I have no idea about it as I was not seeing them when they were making the photos. No I am not surprised about it, as people told me that my pictures have been published in the newspapers and magazines.
|Yaseen (left) and iMediaEthics’ Malik Ayub Sumbal at Yaseen’s Islamabad residence Oct. 31, 2011.|
Malik: We notice that you have a photo album of press clipping that you say were sent to you from people in the media? Who sent you the press clippings?
Yaseen: Yes it has been sent by my relatives who are abroad and some other people and journalists here in Pakistan or when the next day I see it I purchased these newspapers and magazines here locally from Islamabad where all these news were published at that time.
Malik: Did you ever contact any of the media about the photos? Did people you know comment on the photos? Did authorities ask you about your involvement that day?
Yaseen: No, I have not contacted to any media person for the clipping and photos.
|Yaseen with Mrs. Bhutto–photo hangs in Yaseen’s home.|
Malik: After all the photos of you were published around the world, did your presence in the photos in any way impact your life?
Yaseen: No. it has not because I was and I am the party worker and a loyal and devoted for the Bhuttos throughout in my life…No it doesn’t matter about the comments of the people as I am famous for my affiliation with People Party. Now I pray for her a great place in the heaven.
Malik: How did that make you feel to be so out in the public with your emotions?
Yaseen: It was the love and affection with Benazir Bhutto and Pakistan People Party which make me so emotional because I am for the Bhuttos as I have devoted my life for the Pakistan People Party and Bhutto family.
|Newsweek article featuring photo of Yaseen in Yaseen’s keepsake album|
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Malik: How many times were you around Mrs.Bhutto do you approximate? We see photos in your living room of you walking with Mrs. Bhutto or standing with her. Tell us about the photos. Tell us about your work with her and for the party over how many years?
Yaseen: I was with Mrs. Bhutto for last 40 years. I was brought up I was with People Party and Bhutto. It’s a long time as my father was also very close to the father of Benazir Bhutto and we were associated with this party when I was came in to existence by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who was the father of Mrs. Bhutto. When she was tired, she used to sit with us. She sends gifts for my children and exclusively asked about them.
Malik: They say in America that time heals all wounds, is time healing yours?
Yaseen: Yes it might but I cannot forget Bhutto and that horrible day even I have believe that after death her memories and the moments which we have passed will be remarkable for us.
Malik: Tell us what happened that day. You were walking by a vehicle when the explosion occurred. What else do you remember? Show us approximately where you were on the road that day at the moment of explosion.
Yaseen had showed us the exact place and the cameraman taken a shot of the road where the violence occurred and he is telling us his own position. He said that he was on a second vehicle which was following the Bhutto vehicle. Mrs. Bhutto vehicle had not yet taken the turn when the blast went off.
|Google map shows locations of Bhutto murder crime scene|
|Google map shows crime scene locations–closer view|
Malik: Since media sent you the articles where you were pictured, why didn’t any media identify who you are, your name and affiliation to Mrs. Bhutto? Did this bother you?
Yaseen: No I did not know any media person and photographer and were busy in the party gathering arrangements.
Malik: Did any of the media present at the scene try to talk to you? If so, who?
Yaseen: No one tried to talk me.
Malik: We have written about America photojournalists having a different standard of showing blown up bodies, detached limbs, horrible blood and gore in news photos only when the people are foreigners–never their own people. How does this make you feel?
Yaseen: I have no idea about this…But how people will know about the news of the murder of their beloved in such kinds of incidents if media will not publish such kinds of scenes?
Malik: What did you think of the photos featuring you also showing highly detailed images of dead and mutilated Pakistani victims in slicks of blood and gore?
Yaseen: It’s really horrible to see these images and it’s really sorrowful. I cannot sleep properly after this incident as it has long lasting effects on my memory and I am always in tense situation when I remember that day.
Malik: Do you think this different treatment of foreigners should change?
Yaseen: We have recognized some people who were died in that incident from the pictures that were published in the newspapers.
Malik: Would you have felt better if media would have asked your name after you settled down (as shown in photos) so you could have been proper identified instead of them guessing you were a “Bhutto supporter who lost colleagues”?
Yaseen: It doesn’t bother me whether they have asked or not, but I am a People Party worker. The photographer doesn’t know me and my name and I also don’t know them.
Malik: Did you know anyone killed or injured that day besides Mrs. Bhutto?
Yaseen: Yes, one of my cousins. named Bashir from Azad Kashmir, and two other persons I knew were killed in the incident.
Malik: What and how do you feel today about having been there that horrible day?
Yaseen: I cannot forget that horrible day and cannot forget Mrs. Bhutto.
*interview has been edited