Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bhutto assassination: a different take on “martyrdom”

Earlier today, Blue Girl blogged just below about the “martyrdom” of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

While trying to honor the spirit, at least, of speaking no ill of the dead, I might be a little less hagiographic, myself.

A few months ago, I blogged about how Bhutto didn't have a lot of popularity behind her when she was forced out either time, especially the second time, in large part because her husband was known as "Mr. 5 Percent" due to the degree of his graft. And, let's also not forget that a Swiss court, not a power- or corruption-influence one in Pakistan, found the two of them guilty of money laundering.

See Wiki for her bio on this and other details of her political life.

Over at AmericaBlog, they note how BushCo basically tried to push her down Pakistan's throat.

In terms of policy implications, this is reflective of a massive US foreign policy blunder, in that the Bush administration, in a monumentally stupid move, shoved Bhutto down the throat of Musharraf (and the rest of Pakistan) as a savior, despite her lack of broad popular support and general reputation as corrupt. In making someone who didn't necessarily have the ability to deliver the savior for democracy in Pakistan, we simultaneously set up our own policy to fail and offered Musharraf a return to (or continued) total power in the event that our little power-sharing arrangement didn't work.

Yes, she was getting large turnout at her rallies. But, would it have held up in a, say, semi-free election?

That said, if she's martyred, she's martyred to let another round of stupidity in Bush foreign policy as much as anything. She’s martyred to a Pakistan that has a history of withdrawing one foot, at least, from a fully democratic stance. She’s martyred to a country that, although not Afghanistan, has its own degree of tribalism. She’s martyred to a country that may well have as much corruption as any in Asia. She’s martyred to a country that saw all three of these elements intersect in her two terms as prime minister, some of it out of her control and some of it certainly inside.

And, Sharif has political reasons to blame Musharraf (assuming parliamentary elections are allowed to go through). Beyond trying to boost his candidacy, let’s not forget he’s a client of the late former Pakistani President Zia ul-Haq.

Bottom line: yes, let's remember Bhutto for working for women's rights and other issues. But, let’s not forget her ethics issues, nor let us forget that, in her second term as Prime Minister, she supported the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Again, she changed her mind later, but that was after the horse was out of the barn.