Benazir Bhutto: Like Father, Like Daughter

Benazir Bhutto’s assassination reminds me of an earlier post on the subject:

Most people don’t realise that Musharraf is one in a line of military leaders who have dominated Pakistan since Muhammad Zia-al-Haq overthrew Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1977. The year before that, I had as downstairs neighbours a pair of Texas A&M students, one cowboy and one Pakistani. The cowboy lamented the fact that his apartment mate, a Muslim, wouldn’t eat fatback in his beans. The Pakistani griped that the law of his country was based on British law and should be replaced by one based on Islamic (Shar’ia) law. Sure enough, Zia-al-Haq did just that, executing Bhutto to round things out in 1979. (Note to college students: listen to your Muslim classmates and neighbours, you just might learn something!)

Westerners who pine for democracy to appear in places such as Pakistan need to understand that a place like Pakistan is not for "moderates," and hasn’t been since it separated from India to become an independent nation.  Neither should we confuse moderates for slick politicians either:

Islamic law, with the madrassas to teach it, have become embedded in Pakistani society ever since. But Musharraf, possibly the slickest politician in the world (more so than even Bill Clinton, and in a lot more dangerous political arena) did a remarkable volte-face to support Bush’s “war on terror” after 9/11. His idea is primarily to keep the “balls up in the air” and not to get crushed by the U.S. (to say nothing of India) on one side and the Taliban/Islamicists on the other.

Her assassination, like her father’s execution, is a tragedy.  But given the arena, it’s not unexpected.  She doubtless knew this and we should stopped being shocked and start living in reality about Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s brainchild.

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