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:
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.