Monday, January 28, 2008

Pakistan After Benazir Bhutto

I was in Pakistan on December 27th, the day Benazir Bhutto was assasinated in the garrison city of Rawalpindi. I watched the television screen in utter disbelief as the initial news of the murderous attack on her was soon followed by the confirmation of her death. Those who have read any of my political musings know that I took a dim view of her time as Prime Minister, was not a fan of her frequently opportunistic politics and thought her murky dealings with Musharraf at Amercian behest were a singularly bad idea.

However, since her assasination I have felt no desire to write a political analysis, provide a prognosis or even comment on the tastelessly quick backlash against her that started in the wake of widespread sympathy after her death (e.g. Dalrymple's piece). I continue to feel that this event has such large scale repercussions for Pakistan's future that the punditry still does not fully comprehend its dimensions. Never having been a supporter of the People's Party, the unique place of such a national party led by an ethnic minority has become clearly evident to me only after Benazir's death. If PPP disintegrates as a party or retreats into the Sindhi heartland, the institutional harm to Pakistan will be incalculable. In the short term, like everybody else, I am awaiting the outcome of the February 18th elections to see how Pakistan may find a way out of the current Musharraf-engendered political paralysis. However, even after the inevitable day that Musharraf leaves office, I only see compounding problems for those who follow him. Musharraf, like all of Pakistan's military dictators before him, will leave his successors a country riven with far greater problems than he inherited in 1999.

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