Pakistan: Benazir Bhutto's legacy

The news of Benazir Bhutto's death seems to have finally settled in. Bloggers are now focusing their attention on what Bhutto's legacy might be. Bhutto comes from a powerful family of sorts, and as is often characteristic of politics in South Asia, a lot of the controversy ow is directed towards discussing the consequences for the family and the Pakistan Peoples Party.

Baithak points out that that Bhutto's last will shows a hint of nepotism.

While there are more eligible candidates in the Bhutto clan, she did not mean them, but her own son Bilawal Zardari, 19 who promptly and publicly consented to change his name to Bilawal Bhutto Zardari…. Today, greed won – injustice won – nepotism won- once again – and you, me and Pakistan lost.

Chapati Mystery takes this line of reasoning further, and talks of the element of fedualism in the political realm in Pakistan. Where powerful families ensure that they remain in power, without letting leaders from other backgrounds emerge.

There is no democracy outside of the party, no reason for it to exist within. One can call this a reflection of the feudal structures left untouched by many a pseudo-revolutions; one can point to the long history of the pir/spiritual guide’s extension into the political realm; one can blame lack of political education and access to corridors of power for the members of PPP; and one can acknowledge that the military regimes have sufficiently retarded all venues of political legitimacy, such that there simply cannot be any alternatives to the once-future leaders – Bhuttos, Jatois, Bugtis, Sharifs. Whatever the case you wish to make, reality is that “politics” in Pakistan has, and will, remain a hereditary, charismatic domain built around cults of personalities – until and unless electoral politics takes firm roots.

The death of Bhutto in such violent circumstances also seems to have resulted in selective memory. People appear to have forgotten about the corruption charges against her, and there is the assumption that she was better than the other political leaders in Pakistan. Crow's Nest has more on this issue.

But more than that whenever someone dies he or she is always cast into a very heavenly light forgoing all their misdeeds and misgivings in their life. Benazir and her husband plundered this nation during her rule in the 90's, but when time came of her death 144 million people of this country forgot everything bad about her and started showering all kinds of praise as if she were an angel bestowed on this country.

As stated in Bhutto's will, her son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has been appointed the new chairperson of the Pakistan Peoples Party, preferred over other experienced politicians in the party. Bilawal is a nineteen year old boy, studying at Oxford in the UK. All Things Pakistan says

More that that, I wish (even though I know it was unlikely) that the Party would open up its leadership and internal democracy process. Also, there is the fear that if he is anointed many will try to manipulate him and he will be turned into a “puppet prince.” I do hope that none of this will happen.

Meanwhile, what of the other aspects of Bhutto's legacy. Bhutto returned to Pakistan after a period of eight years. The Pakistan she knew had completely changed. Her death resulted in violence on the streets, looting and rioting. Metroblogging Islamabad talks of these consequences and loss of public property.

We, the people of Pakistan, murdered around 50 humans in last 3 days. We burnt 170 banks. We completely destroyed 18 railway stations. And the list is long. And we say we are mourning. Is this the way to mourn? Its good being emotional, but we should not let the reason get out of our way. Apart from the loss of lives, which cannot be measured for cost, we caused monetary loss to the national exchequer, we have destroyed businesses and private property.

Further, why did these riots start? Who were people angry with? Who are the ones actually responsible for killing her? There is also strong evidence of a cover-up, as the Pakistani government insists that Bhutto didn't die of gunshot wounds, but that she died trying to duck the gunshot, and hit her head on the lever of the vehicle's sunroof. Pakistani Spectator discusses why riots erupted after Bhutto's death.

This is simply un-believeable that lever of sun roof of her vehile took her life. And mourning statements of ex-MNA Kashmala Tariq of PML(Q) and Altaf Hussain (MQM) are just rubbish.Surely people had that badly that a leader is killed publically but the situation created by the news of her assassination worked as a pressure relief valve for economically distressed nation and gave a chance to loot some money and grains for days to come. So people started looting ATMs and banks and then setting them on fire to eliminated proof of looting. This scenario also created the environment to ignite old enimities as no rule of law exists.


  • Arif

    Mistake is the part of the system in that part of the world. There were not enough security when she was assasinated though she knew or Government knew that she was the target for assasination.Nobody received any lessons from Rajib or Indira Ghandis assasination. After few days everybody will be forget,what was happend. Mosharaf never leaving power.This is his big mistake. Peoples party doing mistake by giving power to Bhuttos son who is total unexperienced about politics.
    The mistake is a part of relegion.

  • This is a great tragedy with pakistan and pakistna has lost a great and well educated political leader that also has been declared on of the top 10 most influenced personality 3 or 4 days before her death.

  • My question is this: How democratic was Bhutto? I find it quite un-democratic that her 19 year old son has been appointed the head of the party. “A Bhutto must always be the head of the party”, I have read. I also ask myself, what kind of a woman would go back to Pakistan knowing her life was in so much danger? Was she driven by ego and and thirst for power, or a more pious driver? Would she be any better than Musharif? I am not certain.

  • Naveed

    kul bhe Bhutto Zinda tha
    Aaj bhe Bhutto Zinda hey
    kul bhe BB zinda thi
    Aaj bhe BB zinda hey

    Bhutto Treay Jannisar Bashmar Bashmar

  • Thge name Bhutto is a political brand just as the names Bush and Clinton are political brands in the US.

    Democracy is supposed to be about open communication, representation, transparency, and accountability.

    Democracy is weakened when it becomes a marketing campaign between political family brand names.

  • Arif Kundun

    The state of pakistan has created based on ignorance of the Indian muslim fundamentalist. There is no doubt that Zinnah misled Indian muslim to distroy muslim Indian culture which were created by the interaction of Indians buddist and hindu communities for almost thousand of years. People are going to realised in time that the creation of Pakistan was the dangerious mistake.
    In few years, we will see that these two countries Indian and Pakistan will join together and will be one nation.

  • Baghwandas

    Death of Mohatarma Benazir bhutto Shaheed is a great Loss.She was very Good in political and all pakistan is don’t forget her.

  • dileep kumar kohistani

    shaheed Mohatarma Benazir bhutto was the sign of peace.
    Democracy is supposed to be about open communication, representation, transparency, and accountability.kul bhe Bhutto Zinda tha
    Aaj bhe Bhutto Zinda hey
    kul bhe BB zinda thi
    Aaj bhe BB zinda hey

  • mohsin ghotki

    asalam o alaikum GHOTKIS.i m working in media..i am requesting to tehsil ghotki and khanpur that please vote to ppp candidate to sardar fiaz ahmed lund for MNA and sardar baber khan lund for MPA on khanpur….thease lund server our district ghotki..i hope that that make ghotki as a pairis…and these are candidates of shaheed benazeer bhutto…from warar wango

  • Benazir Bhutto has left behind a legacy of corruption. I refuse to believe even for a second that she was a democrat. Had she been a democrat she would not have bequeathed the leadership of her party to her husband. She came to Pakistan not for the love of democracy or for doing something for the people of the country. She came after hobnobbing with the General whom she had been opposing. She facilitated Pervez Musharraf’s second term of presidency by remaining in the parliament.

    Those who say that she was a democrat must keep in mind her two stints in governments which were total failure. She herself admitted of the gross mistakes that her party committed.

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