Benazir Bhutto…Welcome?

So a date has finally been set. Fireworks have crackled and mithai has been distributed among the more eager PPP stalwarts. It’s as if Eid were already here. Our ex-prime minister is finally on her way home.

Benazir Bhutto is a name that has done nothing short of creating waves across the media. Whether we love her or hate her, we can’t ignore her. That, and she has no qualms about making herself heard. Whether it was stridently announcing that Musharraf should make a public apology to the Chief Justice back in April, or recently denouncing the ban on Imran Khan’s return home, Benazir has never been afraid to express her opinion. Clearly, she doesn’t need to hold office of Prime Minister to make her presence felt.

And now, the ex-Prime Minister is homebound. But if we have learnt anything from recent events, we should know to be skeptical. How do we know Bhutto won’t be turned away by the Government once she arrives? Yes, the Government has pledged it won’t oppose her arrival. But it doesn’t take a cynic to know that that pledge has no guarantee. Zia-ul-Haq similarly ‘pledged’ to hold transparent elections within 90 days of imposing martial law back in the 70’s. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto ‘promised’ the poor food, clothing and shelter when he took power. Even President Nixon promised the people of America that he would end the Vietnam War upon his election in 1968. None of these promises were met.

“Politics,” minister Chuadhry Shujaat Hussein is quoted to have said, “is like a game of cards in which sometimes you have to call bluff.” Yes; politicians lie. Governments can lie. Are we to blindly trust the Government to hold back this time? Certainly not.

But what about the general populace of Pakistan? Do we want her back? Some do trust Bhutto’s shrewd insight. We admire her dedication to a true democracy. But in today’s day and age, democracy is a vague ideal. Our first democratic Constitution in 1973 has systematically been amended, clipped, chopped and refuted. In our third world country, we no longer know what democracy is. She says she will commit herself to restoring democracy. But let’s not be naive. The only thing Benazir seems keen to restore back to position is her self. In a ‘you-scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours’ political maneuver, Benazir pledged to support Musharaff’s re-election…if he promised to withdraw all cases against her. But if she upholds Democracy as she claims, why would she consider negotiating with a military dictator?

And then of course, are the allegations that she has been corrupt. But then corruption, like democracy, is yet another vague term. It is used so lavishly – and readily – with politicians that we’ve become desensitized to the word. What does it mean to be corrupt? As with democracy, we just don’t know anymore.

The return of Benazir may be a God-send for many factions of Pakistan. Musharaff’s time bomb is ticking and is set to explode any second. As his popularity decreases, hers rises. As he fails to keep his promises, the people look increasingly towards Benazir to grant them the ideals of democracy and freedom. Yes, the word ‘Bhutto’ seems almost to be synonymous with the word ‘corruption’. But that certainly hasn’t stopped them from being popular!

“Fashion is a bourgeoisie pastime.” Benazir once said icily to an Indian reporter. Yes, Benazir has given us her share of memorable quotes. But will she give us democracy? Only time will tell.

Minal Khan

  1. #1 by Rehan Usmani on September 17, 2007 - 1:47 am

    yar please tell me the secret of ur writing. im serious.

  2. #2 by Minal Khan on September 17, 2007 - 4:14 pm

    Hey I wrote this article… Why is it signed under Shaharyar?

  3. #3 by Asher Gilani on September 17, 2007 - 4:38 pm

    Well Shahryar forgot to mention that to me, I’ll change it.

  4. #4 by Mustafa Ibrahim on September 17, 2007 - 8:45 pm

    I disagree with your views regarding benazir for the simple reason that her popularity and legitimacy is decreasing because she has been cooperating with the government. if in fact musharraf popularity does fall Nawaz Sharif has the most to gain as he is wehmently opposed to the government. it is for this reason that many in the PPP like aitzaz ahsan were opposed to such a deal. however if this deal can result in true democracy and a civilian president then BB will rise in popularity

  5. #5 by Rehan Usmani on September 18, 2007 - 3:00 am

    haha and i thought it was shahriyar’s !

  6. #6 by Akbar S. Ahmed on September 18, 2007 - 5:54 pm

    I agree with Mustafa. Big Ben may spout out quotes and defend democracy as much as she likes, but, in the end, actions speak louder than words. Her thirst for power has obviously triumphed over her dedication to democracy, and she is losing both popularity and legitimacy is the eyes of the masses because of it.

  7. #7 by shahroze haider on October 17, 2007 - 5:32 pm

    benazir arrival to khi can be compare with a sight before twister.darkness start spreading rapidly before the real twister come with its impressive but terifying entrance,
    i may b wrong but her presence in pakistan’s economy and politic can add more worst scenarios .more slogan will come up such as “benazir will remove poverty and will bring jobs “.but these will curtail till she get the seat.the seat by which pakistani citizen’s life comes to danger and insecurity .

  8. #8 by Sohaib Hashmi on October 19, 2007 - 5:37 pm

    I think a major issue is how much economic loss the city of Karachi is going to suffer during this welcome period. According to estimates, Rs. 20 million were spent simply on her travel and security arrangements. In addition to this, every supporter who turned up had all his expenses paid for as well as receiving a stipend of Rs. 5000. BB calls herself a leader of the poor but how can she justify this outrageously extravagant spending on her welcome?? This entire episode is a classic example of hypocrisy and double standards. The huge sums of money spent on this event would have been a significant contribution in alleviating many of the current economic crises facing the poor of Pakistan today. Also the fact that the entire city of Karachi has been brought to a standstill for at least four days means that businesses will suffer massive losses. In addition, Karachi port will also be non-functional in this period which will have a detrimental impact on the entire country’s economy. But then again, did we really expect anything less from the woman who swindled her country out of at least a proven 11 million rupees during her time in power, let alone the many millions more that we are not even aware of?

  9. #9 by SEO on December 22, 2007 - 6:00 pm

    this is a very nice blog that you have here. keep up the good work.

  10. #10 by Josh on January 25, 2008 - 3:39 am

    Great post. You may be interested in this too:

Leave a Reply to Akbar S. Ahmed Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: