THE onset of the New Year came with the thud with the assassination of Benazir Bhutto last December 27 at the rally of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), the largest political organization in the country, which she chaired. The incident sent shivers to the While House that must change gear if only to undo decades of erratic intervention to “save” Pakistan or else face a most likely scenario where Pakistan’s jihadis must now become unstoppable in its campaign to “Talibanize” the country.
More than the grief over the death of her predecessors in the Bhuto line of politicians who ended up with the same fate, Benazir’s killing summoned a deluge of grief, protests and violence from the masses. To thousands of moderate Pakistanis, her demise has dashed hopes of a reformed Pakistan that came short of portraying her as the “last chance” savior that will catapult the country at par with the better-off Asian neighbors.
Expectedly, she will be raised a martyr. But for what cause? She might have crooned the slogans of democracy, but her track record never measured up. In her two terms of office, albeit short-lived, her administration was convoluted with human rights abuses, abductions and killings of rival party members by government death squads—including her very own brother, Mir Murtaza—and, graft.
In 1995, Transparency International named Pakistan one of the World’s three most corrupt countries. Both she and her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, now co-chair of the PPP, were accused of stealing tens of millions from state coffers. Graft and corruption became bywords of her stewardship—and inefficiency defined her rule.
But then somebody shoot her. Whether by reason of strategy or folly, that indeed made the difference.