Mansoor Ijaz on Benazir Bhutto: Idealism, to Debasement, to Return, to Tragedy

With all the misinformation out there on the assassinated former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, I thought I’d post this item from National Review Online’s instant Bhutto symposium, penned by close Bhutto associate and well-respected commentator on all things Pakistan, Mansoor Ijaz. It’s clear from Ijaz’s piece: whatever her intentions on returning to the country this fall, she was a highly flawed personality with a disgraceful past record, and had no groundswell of popular support:

Mansoor Ijaz
She was a beautiful and idealistic young woman who came to Pakistan’s rescue in 1988. Her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, encouraged her as an up and coming politician to study the lives of history’s great women leaders, from Joan of Arc to Indira Ghandi, so she could prepare to lead her tumultuous country. Benazir would become an imperious, venal, and corrupt leader during her two terms in office, bringing Pakistan to the brink of financial ruin on more than one occasion. Her death now brings this teeming, nuclear-armed nation to the brink of complete state failure.

I knew Benazir well. I am often blamed by her supporters for having helped bring her government down in 1996 by exposing her hypocrisy and corruption in two Wall Street Journal oped pieces. We remained in touch over the years after she went into exile, even developing a grudging respect for each other over time. She was a terribly conflicted person who deep in her heart wanted to save Pakistan from its evils, but was unable to put her personal lifestyle choices aside in doing so. And she — God Bless her — married the wrong man.

I remember asking her in a meeting in Islamabad at the prime minister’s residence in early 1996 as I presented her with evidence of her family’s corruption why she didn’t go and spend three or four days a week living in the villages of Pakistan with its suffering people so she could show her commitment to healing their pain. Her answer was typically imperious — “prime ministers don’t do that…”

But I firmly believe that she loved Pakistan, and for all her faults, had returned there this time to turn a new page in its troubled political history. We should remember her for her courage to stand up in the face of incalculable odds against her to bring some semblance of sanity to the disaster that Pakistan has become.

Gen. Musharraf must immediately call for an independent international investigation into her assassination, led by a blue ribbon panel that determines the extent or not of complicity from Pakistan’s police and intelligence services. This is the most critical decision he can make to avoid appearance of conflict to his ongoing service as president, and to prevent Pakistan’s descent into civil war, or worse, an Islamist coup by army generals who view this moment in Pakistan’s history as their chance to seize the reigns of power, and control of the country’s formidable nuclear arsenal.

Mansoor Ijaz, a New York financier of Pakistani ancestry, jointly authored a ceasefire plan between Muslim militants and Indian security forces in Kashmir in 2000 and met with Prime Minister Bhutto on more than a dozen occasions in Islamabad, Dubai, and London since 1994.

I post this only as a caution to those who listen to simplistic analyses of the situation in Pakistan, and to those who believe the propaganda that Bhutto was some sort of returning liberator ready to move Pakistan into the modern world. Bottom line: Pakistan is a Nuclear powderkeg with no history of true liberal democracy, and no popular support for pro-Western progress.

Welcome to Pakistan, the only country ever specifically created as a Muslim homeland. The record speaks for itself.



Filed under Murder in the name of Islam

3 responses to “Mansoor Ijaz on Benazir Bhutto: Idealism, to Debasement, to Return, to Tragedy

  1. Terry

    Well I admit I didn’t question too deeply Benazir’s background and history, anything seems better when looking at a military style dictator (or at least priming for that, seemingly) or an islamic terror-led government, right? But thanks for this article, it was something I needed to read. There’s also this one that I thought spoke volumes too:

    I hope you don’t mind the link drop, not sure what the rules are here.

    Somehow out of nowhere it seems, Pakistan seems the most volatile, dangerous, brewing, stewing place on earth right now. I love the Pakistani people, they seem so sincere and gentle (those I’ve met). It’s very troubling that 46% of Pakistanis approve of bin Laden and hunger for fundamentalist Islamic rule.

    Whether we get round to admitting it or not, in Pakistan, our quarrel is with the people. Their struggle, literally, is jihad. For them, freedom would mean institutionalizing the tyranny of Islamic fundamentalism. They are the same people who, only a few weeks ago, tried to kill Benazir Bhutto on what was to be her triumphant return to prominence — the symbol, however dubious, of democracy’s promise. They are the same people who managed to kill her today. Today, no surfeit of Western media depicting angry lawyers railing about Musharraf — as if he were the problem — can camouflage that fact.

    If we are true believers of democracy and will of the people, how do we reconcile ourselves to the fact that large populations do not want “our” perception of freedom? That they want a violent, fundamentalist, fanatical leadership that offers no peace to those within their country and around the world who believe differently than they do?

    I wouldn’t have such a problem with leaving them be if they just stayed out of my country, out of my face, and quit threatening my peace (and my family’s and countrymen). But then–they could say the same for us, no? But dollars to donuts, it’s the rights of women, children, those of different faiths and the poor that get trampled in these “holy-led regimes”. And that then breeds more ignorance, intolerance and hatred toward the West. Vicious circle.

  2. Chris

    Some simple mulitiple thoughts here. We know the US financed and supplied Iraq with arms during the ‘cold war’. We know the US financed and supplied Pakistan with nuclear capabilities as well.
    We know that in Canada, there were over 100 terrorist cells active in the 1980s.
    If democracy promotes competition and growth in business, is it safe to say that North America has created its own competition in world democracy?
    I mean, if the major players in the middle east are western educated (with exception of that nut in Iran), it stands to reason that they would apply their understanding of North American culture and practices to thier own imperatives and use that to gain the upper hand.
    With the imminent failed state of a nuclear power, and Al-Queda currently increasing it’s activities in northern Africa, it appears they’re looking to establish a foot hold to further their means.
    What are these radical muslim militants trying to achieve? Irradication of Israel and western culture. Jihad.
    So never mind what’s happening with the US, and let’s look at how this mid-east mess affects Canada. Canada’s biggest security concern during all this the Atlantic and Pacific seaboard…why? Nuclear IEDs transported in sea containers by ship into a port of entry and detonated by remote.
    We’ve known for years that Pakistan has been a hot bed for terrorist training. Surprising that that very attractive, well educated lady was murdered. Surprising that we knew a spring offensive by the Taliban in southern Afghaistan is going to happen in 2008.

    …Pakistan – failed nuclear power, capabilities now accessable by Al-Queda and Taliban (with ties to Iran).
    …Increased activity in northern Africa – ports and tactically to surrounding Israel…?
    …US doesn’t have the resources to continue battles on multiple fronts.
    …Canada, although has more military might than the US, cannot sustain long term fighting without help from other NATO countries.
    …the next Twin Towers…Olympics in Vancouver?

    Too bad the US didn’t secure Pakistan and its weapons of mass destruction 5 years ago…

  3. Pingback: Karachi stampede kills up to 20 women, children - Pakistan Defence Forum

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