Friday, December 28, 2007

Death Of An Icon

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto is tragic but hardly surprising. The Bhuttos are streaked with fatalism. Their history reads like a Greek tragedy. Benazir’s father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged by President Zia ul-Haq on bogus charges, purportedly to get rid of a potential rival. Both of Benazir’s brothers, Murtaza and Shahnawaz, are dead: the former in a police altercation, and the latter on the French Riviera, under mysterious circumstance, presumably through poisoning. The only Bhutto remaining is a younger sister, Sanam, but there is little information about her except that she’s married and has two children. Will she carry the torch for the PPP, a party founded by her father?

Many critics are saying that this will be a blow for democracy in Pakistan. Really? I don’t think so. The democracy practiced in Pakistan has been a half-hearted affair, at best. Democratic institutions were never allowed to mature beyond what their power hungry leaders—and the military—wanted. Benazir Bhutto was equally guilty of this, and she was Prime Minister not once, but twice. In fact, Bhutto was no more democratic than her rival, Nawaz Sharif. To say that democracy in Pakistan is in danger is utter foolishness when democracy was never there to begin with.

The only thing that an assassin’s bullets and bombs accomplished was to splinter the PPP, which was essentially a cult of personality for the Bhutto clan. Who will lead them now? Party workers are already on the prowl, looking for the next Bhutto to lead them to the promise land. Benazir’s children, perhaps? Doubtful. Since they’re not only young but are half-Bhuttos, and their father, a likely candidate, is not only unremarkable, but a grafting charlatan to boot.

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