A separate reality
The Press Trust of India reports Pakistan's government has backed off from an earlier claim Benazir Bhutto died from a concussion.
In a dramatic U-turn, Pakistan government has "apologised" for claiming that former premier Benazir Bhutto died of a skull fracture after hitting the sunroof of her car during a suicide attack.
Caretaker Interior Minister Hamid Nawaz Khan has asked the media and people to "forgive and ignore" comments made by his ministry's spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema which were slammed by her Pakistan People's Party as "lies" and led to an uproar at home and abroad.
The Interior Minister made the apology during a briefing for Pakistani newspaper editors on Monday. Punjab province on Tuesday issued a front-page advertisement in newspapers that offered a reward of Rs 1 crore for information about a gunman and a suspected suicide bomber seen in the photos and video footage of the assassination.
Truth is an infinitely malleable quantity in the Third World because corruption has put every fact up for sale. Driver's licenses, diplomas, identities, deeds of sale, sworn testimony -- all of it can be bought and sold for a fee. The ultimate consequence of a culture of corruption is the destruction of the belief in objective truth. A fact becomes an inconceivable thing. Reality itself becomes negotiable.
The idea that everything is negotiable was perfectly expressed in Mario Puzo's novel, The Godfather. When Don Corleone visits the hospital in which his lieutenant, Genco Abbandando lies dying of cancer and facing damnation, Genco asks the Godfather to "fix" things with God.
With a tortured superhuman effort, Abbandando lifted his head of his pillow, eyes unseeing, and pointed a skeletal fingre at the Don. "Godfather, Godfather," he called out blindly, "save me from death, I beg of you. My flesh is burning off my bones and I can feel the worms eating away my brain. Godfather, cure me, you have the power, dry the tears of my poor wife. In Corleone we played together as children and now will you let me die when I fear hell for my sins?"
The Don was silent. Abbandando said, "It is your daughter's wedding day, you cannot refuse me."
The Don spoke quietly, gravely to pierce through the blasphemous delirium.
"Old friend," he said, "I have no such powers. If I did I would be more merciful than God, believe me. But don't fear death and don't fear hell. I will have a mass said for your soul every night and every morning. Your wife and your children will pray for you. How can God punish you with so many pleas fr mercy?"
The skeleton face took on a cunning expression that was obscene. Abbandando said slyly, "It's been arranged them?"
How Bhutto died is not a matter of how it happened, but how it's been arranged.