Thursday, December 27, 2007

Benazir Bhutto, the Good and the Bad

B/W of Meryl Yourish, here is an article by Fatima Bhutto, a neice of Benazir Bhutto who alleges that rampant corruption and assasinations were part of Bhutto's tenure as Prime Minister:

And I am suspicious of her talk of ensuring peace. My father was a member of Parliament and a vocal critic of his sister’s politics. He was killed outside our home in 1996 in a carefully planned police assassination while she was prime minister. There were 70 to 100 policemen at the scene, all the streetlights had been shut off and the roads were cordoned off. Six men were killed with my father. They were shot at point-blank range, suffered multiple bullet wounds and were left to bleed on the streets.

My father was Benazir’s younger brother. To this day, her role in his assassination has never been adequately answered, although the tribunal convened after his death under the leadership of three respected judges concluded that it could not have taken place without approval from a “much higher” political authority.

I will concede I know very little about the Pakistani situation, but I am led to believe that she and other moderates in Pakistan are infinitely better alternatives to the brutal rule of Islamic radicals. In my estimation, this kind of overanalyzing is pointless, when dirt can be dug up on any figure largely accepted as courageous in the face of overwhelming odds. Martin Luther King was a serial adulterer, Malcolm X was a former hoodlum, Gandhi had a tense relationship with his son, and so on and so on.

For a contrasting viewpoint from the one above, read Christopher Hitchens' article, "Daughter of Destiny," published today in Slate:

The sternest critic of Benazir Bhutto would not have been able to deny that she possessed an extraordinary degree of physical courage. When her father was lying in prison under sentence of death from Pakistan's military dictatorship in 1979, and other members of her family were trying to escape the country, she boldly flew back in. Her subsequent confrontation with the brutal Gen. Zia-ul-Haq cost her five years of her life, spent in prison. She seemed merely to disdain the experience, as she did the vicious little man who had inflicted it upon her.

Benazir saw one of her brothers, Shahnawaz, die in mysterious circumstances in the south of France in 1985, and the other, Mir Murtaza, shot down outside the family home in Karachi by uniformed police in 1996. It was at that famous address—70 Clifton Road—that I went to meet her in November 1988, on the last night of the election campaign, and I found out firsthand how brave she was. Taking the wheel of a jeep and scorning all bodyguards, she set off with me on a hair-raising tour of the Karachi slums. Every now and then, she would get out, climb on the roof of the jeep with a bullhorn, and harangue the mob that pressed in close enough to turn the vehicle over. On the following day, her Pakistan Peoples Party won in a landslide, making her, at the age of 35, the first woman to be elected the leader of a Muslim country.

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