Bhutto Assassinated

bhutto.jpgThe news is ablaze; the blogs are on fire; Rawalpindi and Sind are burning. Former Pakistani Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated today at a political rally in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

While few Sikhs will shed any tears for Bhutto as she was personally responsible for the deaths of many Sikhs during the 1980s, the current crisis of the neighboring state cannot be ignored.

The ramifications for the global war on terror are yet unknown. In Pakistani circles, most believed that a Washington-brokered power-sharing agreement had been reached between General Musharraf and Bhutto. Despite the Generals declaration of martial law, Bhuttos criticisms had been muted. However her outcry became shriller as opposition within her political party called for her stronger support towards its beleaguered party members, who were coming under arrest and greater security scrutiny. In recent times the relationship (at least in the media) has soured.

The ramifications for Pakistani democracy may be severe. Many are speculating that Musharraf will use this event to postpone (perhaps indefinitely) the upcoming elections and further trample on any that oppose him.

2007 has not bided well for Musharraf as he has faced two huge crises: one urban and another rural. The urban crisis was kicked off due to his dismissal of the Supreme Court Chief Justice. Last June over 50,000 people, mainly lawyers, came out to protest the action, despite the militarys ban on such rallies. The rural crisis was due to Pushtu and Baluch members of a Neo-Deobandi group took refute in Islamabads Red Mosque seminary. A face-off resulted in a bloody attack leaving many dead. While the Neo-Deobandi groups popularity may have been weak, many Pakistanis were horrified to see a military invasion of a mosque.

Initial reports seem to blame the assassination on Islamist extremists. Others believe that some military or intelligence officials must have been complicit and either aided or abetted the assassination attempt. At this early juncture it would be presumptuous to begin pointing figures.

For the purpose of this blog, what are your reactions? Political dynasties in national-level South Asian politics have often found themselves creating enemies that lead to a premature death (e.g. Gandhi-Nehru family with Indira and Rajiv as well as Benazir Bhutto and her father Zulfiqar Bhutto). In India, still the Gandhi-Nehru family reigns supreme.

Moving closer to our area, what is the view from East Panjab and its diaspora? An unstable Pakistan and increased lawlessness usually increases smuggling over the borders of Panjab. Anecdotal contacts have mentioned that the delegitimization of violence in the name of Islam, amongst some groups of urban elite, has led some to look for other forms of identity, especially regional Panjabi nationalism. What are some other possible outcomes for East Panjab and the world beyond?


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13 Responses to “Bhutto Assassinated”

  1. sizzle says:

    I must first profess my ignorance about B Bhutto and her role in Pakistani history. Thus, I just spent a while perusing hers and related wikipedia articles, as well as other sites.

    So, I ask, what exactly has B Bhutto ever done for Pakistan? She seemed to be a rabble rouser, a constant thorn in the side of the empowered parties. Hitchens has an article at Slate where he discusses just that – that she would go out rabble rousing, even recklessly (sans body guards). She was twice ousted from power on charges of corruption, with an incredible amount of supporting evidence from non-Pakistani sources. Meanwhile, while in power, did she actually accomplish significant change?

    I ask only because I am a cynic. All of the headlines are professing that she is a martyr, a huge loss, etc., etc. Browsing the comments at Sepia, and I am inundated with remarks about her "bravery" and her status as a "role model for women." Yes, admittedly, she had a huge proverbial pair – but to what end? To invoke change? Or achieve power? From all that I've gathered, she was only in the position to accomplish her high status and notoriety simply because of her father….I've found nothing to indicate, that despite her intelligence and charisma, that she would have reached such heights of popularity on her ideas and accomplishments alone.

    So returning to the general question posed at the end of this posting – what is unique about political dynasties in South Asia? They are a byproduct of the massive level of illiteracy, ignorance (especially political ignorance), herd mentality, and corruption in South Asia. She is a Bhutto – she ran on the name. Gandhi was a Gandhi – they ran on the name. The families have an incredible amount of wealth/support, citizens recognize the name, citizens are mobilized by the name, citizens are mobilized by the wealth/backers – the named achieves power. Just as this is an ass backwards way to elect a someone, assassination is an ass backwards way to depose a leader.

  2. sizzle says:

    I must first profess my ignorance about B Bhutto and her role in Pakistani history. Thus, I just spent a while perusing hers and related wikipedia articles, as well as other sites.

    So, I ask, what exactly has B Bhutto ever done for Pakistan? She seemed to be a rabble rouser, a constant thorn in the side of the empowered parties. Hitchens has an article at Slate where he discusses just that – that she would go out rabble rousing, even recklessly (sans body guards). She was twice ousted from power on charges of corruption, with an incredible amount of supporting evidence from non-Pakistani sources. Meanwhile, while in power, did she actually accomplish significant change?

    I ask only because I am a cynic. All of the headlines are professing that she is a martyr, a huge loss, etc., etc. Browsing the comments at Sepia, and I am inundated with remarks about her “bravery” and her status as a “role model for women.” Yes, admittedly, she had a huge proverbial pair – but to what end? To invoke change? Or achieve power? From all that I’ve gathered, she was only in the position to accomplish her high status and notoriety simply because of her father….I’ve found nothing to indicate, that despite her intelligence and charisma, that she would have reached such heights of popularity on her ideas and accomplishments alone.

    So returning to the general question posed at the end of this posting – what is unique about political dynasties in South Asia? They are a byproduct of the massive level of illiteracy, ignorance (especially political ignorance), herd mentality, and corruption in South Asia. She is a Bhutto – she ran on the name. Gandhi was a Gandhi – they ran on the name. The families have an incredible amount of wealth/support, citizens recognize the name, citizens are mobilized by the name, citizens are mobilized by the wealth/backers – the named achieves power. Just as this is an ass backwards way to elect a someone, assassination is an ass backwards way to depose a leader.

  3. sizzle says:

    The Kennedy clan and Bush's are similar and are an interesting analogy (at least in their ease of election and internal pressure to achieve office). It's interesting to note the level of perceived under-qualification in each instance. On platform, experience, ideas, Nixon SHOULD have beaten Kennedy in 1960 if he wasn't all sweaty and uncharismatic. On experience, and, uh, intelligence, Gore SHOULD have won…but he's a robot and was inextricably linked to Clinton. Looking to the successes of those terms – besides averting a missle crisis, Kennedy has a pretty weak legacy except becoming American Royalty alongside his pretty wife and cute children. Bush – well, we all know what that legacy will entail. Back to South Asian dynasties – I Gandhi, despite being an icon for feminists, mainly leaves a legacy of corruption and power plays. Rajiv Gandhi – I guess he left an Italian wife. If anyone can think of a truly successful dynasty anywhere in the world, i.e. repeated successes by elected heir apparents, do share. I'm sure this isn't only a South Asian thing.

  4. sizzle says:

    The Kennedy clan and Bush’s are similar and are an interesting analogy (at least in their ease of election and internal pressure to achieve office). It’s interesting to note the level of perceived under-qualification in each instance. On platform, experience, ideas, Nixon SHOULD have beaten Kennedy in 1960 if he wasn’t all sweaty and uncharismatic. On experience, and, uh, intelligence, Gore SHOULD have won…but he’s a robot and was inextricably linked to Clinton. Looking to the successes of those terms – besides averting a missle crisis, Kennedy has a pretty weak legacy except becoming American Royalty alongside his pretty wife and cute children. Bush – well, we all know what that legacy will entail. Back to South Asian dynasties – I Gandhi, despite being an icon for feminists, mainly leaves a legacy of corruption and power plays. Rajiv Gandhi – I guess he left an Italian wife. If anyone can think of a truly successful dynasty anywhere in the world, i.e. repeated successes by elected heir apparents, do share. I’m sure this isn’t only a South Asian thing.

  5. Reema says:

    Maybe this (sad track record of political dynasties) is reason in itself to be a little wary of Hillary, though I’m not recalling any horrific disasters from the Kennedy dynasty (correct me if I’m wrong) so maybe it’s possible for one to be benign. Indira, Benazir, and George W. all seem to have had horrific ramifications for at least some populace.

    But back to Bhutto, what concerns me is the question of what will fill the vacuum she’s left behind. Though Benazir did not have the cleanest of track records, and wouldn’t have brought any positive change, she was a figure that people could rally behind. And in Pakistan’s current precarious condition, a loss of a leader, no matter the quality of their leadership, leaves fewer choices. And corrupt as she might have been, she was relatively moderate.

    On the other hand, this could be an opportunity. Benazir prohibited other potential leaders within her own party from garnering support (ex: Aitzaz Ahsan). Though Mr. Ahsan has repeatedly expressed that he had no political ambitions for the position of Prime Minister, he might be the most beloved member of the PPP after Benazir, and he might see the need to step up to the plate.

    Because of the time he spent in jail while fighting for democracy under Zia, Musharraf (currently under house arrest), and his role as the lead lawyer defending the Chief Justice this past summer, Ahsan has major credibility amongst Pakistanis. More importantly, his convictions and dedication to the rule of law and human rights are sincere(a founder of the Human Rights Commission, and counsel on several leading human rights cases).

    It’ll be interesting to see who steps up to fill the gap that Bhutto has left behind.

  6. Reema says:

    Maybe this (sad track record of political dynasties) is reason in itself to be a little wary of Hillary, though I'm not recalling any horrific disasters from the Kennedy dynasty (correct me if I'm wrong) so maybe it's possible for one to be benign. Indira, Benazir, and George W. all seem to have had horrific ramifications for at least some populace.

    But back to Bhutto, what concerns me is the question of what will fill the vacuum she's left behind. Though Benazir did not have the cleanest of track records, and wouldn't have brought any positive change, she was a figure that people could rally behind. And in Pakistan's current precarious condition, a loss of a leader, no matter the quality of their leadership, leaves fewer choices. And corrupt as she might have been, she was relatively moderate.

    On the other hand, this could be an opportunity. Benazir prohibited other potential leaders within her own party from garnering support (ex: Aitzaz Ahsan). Though Mr. Ahsan has repeatedly expressed that he had no political ambitions for the position of Prime Minister, he might be the most beloved member of the PPP after Benazir, and he might see the need to step up to the plate.

    Because of the time he spent in jail while fighting for democracy under Zia, Musharraf (currently under house arrest), and his role as the lead lawyer defending the Chief Justice this past summer, Ahsan has major credibility amongst Pakistanis. More importantly, his convictions and dedication to the rule of law and human rights are sincere(a founder of the Human Rights Commission, and counsel on several leading human rights cases).

    It'll be interesting to see who steps up to fill the gap that Bhutto has left behind.

  7. Bobby says:

    Hey, sorry to use this thread, just discovered your site via sepiamutiny and wanted to commend you for it. It's good to have a space where Sikhs in the diaspora can talk about things because so much of the discourse and forums for discussion of diaspora Sikh issues are so cloistered, sectarian, full of religiosity and claustrophobia and judgmentalism. Keep it up people, we need room to breathe.

  8. Bobby says:

    Hey, sorry to use this thread, just discovered your site via sepiamutiny and wanted to commend you for it. It’s good to have a space where Sikhs in the diaspora can talk about things because so much of the discourse and forums for discussion of diaspora Sikh issues are so cloistered, sectarian, full of religiosity and claustrophobia and judgmentalism. Keep it up people, we need room to breathe.

  9. Sajn says:

    Can I ask what you mean by saying BB was responsible for the death of many Sikhs? How many and how was she responsible?

  10. Sajn says:

    Can I ask what you mean by saying BB was responsible for the death of many Sikhs? How many and how was she responsible?

  11. me says:

    Sajn,

    follow the link in the post

  12. me says:

    Sajn,

    follow the link in the post

  13. With every lesson that the teacher teaches to his students, he is giving in a bit of a change into the society. Lesson by lesson he is making the minds of his pupils to undergo change and be the part of greater evolution that is going on in the world.