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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.

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