Pakistan and India have few things in common and some other things otherwise. The two countries are uneasy neighbours; they both have big bombs, nuclear weapons. They have fought each other in wars over disputed Kashmir. But Pakistan and India are different in some other ways. While India is a peaceful large democracy Pakistan is always on the boil politically; the political instability in the country is not helped by military incursions and fears of extremism/extremists/terrorism/terrorists.
Both nations however have produced political dynasties in Ghandi and Bhutto. While Indira Ghandi was assassinated in India by those opposed to her leadership or gender Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Benazir’s father, former Pakistani Prime Minister like his recently assassinated daughter was cruelly hanged by his successor, a dictator Zia ul-Haq who himself was murdered air-borne in unclear circumstances. The Pakistani turbulent polity is in sharp contrast to its big neighbour.
The orgy of naked terrorism and the festival of bloodletting from Palestine to Iraq, Israel to Afghanistan, Pakistan to Sudan (Darfur) make the world a worse place to live in. And with a Bushman in White House in Washington DC determined to root out terrorism and an outlaw, equally determined, Osama Bin Laden desperate to even scores, blood for blood, mankind hopelessly tunes in surrendering to the dictates of war and vengeance.
The year 2007 ran to an end in a horrible manner for the Pakistani people especially those devoted to the politics of two-time Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Though most Pakistanis like Afghans and Iraqis are terribly used to suicide bombings and bombers and other terror elements in their national lives the well-planned assassination of the charismatic Mrs Bhutto days after the Xmas feast drew opprobrium worldwide and sent a dangerous message that much as the civilised world is fighting terorrism to a standstill the terror purveyors are hitting back and revenging hard. The dastardly cowardly assassination caught many PPP party faithfuls napping and when her death was confirmed millions cried for both revenge and blood.
Just seconds after rounding off a campaign rally in the garrison city of Rawalpindi a suicide bomber (that must have been on her trail ever since her return from exile) got near her car on motion and hit her with the bullet hitting target: her neck area. Not done the suicide bomber exploded the horrifying bombs strapped in his body killing over two hundred Bhutto supporters on the spot as he blew himself up. If this was not sheer terror one wonders what would qualify for one.
Ever since she decided to return home from years in exile Mrs Bhutto had been targets of terrorists. On the day of her return in Karachi she had escaped by a hair’s breath a suicide bomb attack that left hundreds silenced horrendously. Much as death was trailing her at every turn Mrs Bhutto refused to be cowed or intimidated. Until they got her finally spilling her blood she had been very articulate and courageous voicing out her opposition to the dictatorship of Pervez Musharraf.
Pakistan is a country of political contradictions. Establishing lasting democracy, like in most African countries, has always posed serious challenges. And with nuclear power the world has come to extend some consideration and respect to this majority Islamic nation. With the Al Qaeda godfather said to be living in some cave off the Pakistan/Afghanistan border enclave America thought it expedient co-opting Musharraf into the terror war strategies in order to be effective from that hot zone. And Musharraf as a good military student has not disappointed the West; he engages the fundamentalists in a battle of wits and weapons sometimes ordering military invasion of sanctuaries and shrines.
Pervez Musharraf is a big beneficiary of the terrorism season after 9/11. Considered as a dogged fighter ‘contre’ terror by the West especially George Bush’s America Musharraf has received huge funds to aid his prosecution of the war on terror from his end. With such millions of dollars the dictator in him has fully bared its fangs. He had declared a state of emergency that saw the Supreme Court Justices muzzled and thousands including senior citizens, opposition figures and lawyers hauled into prisons.
It took the vigorous opposition of late Benazir (at a time confined to her home in a masked house arrest) and the international community before the unscrupulous dictator lifted the emergency rule. But that was after he officially dropped his military uniform as a General in a bid to transform himself into a ‘civilian’ President.
Educated at Harvard and Oxford universities, late Bhutto served twice as Pakistan‘s Prime Minister between 1988 and 1996. She thus became historically the first female Premier of an Islamic state. Her father, who also served as prime minister, was executed in 1979 two years after his ouster in a military coup by General ul-Haq and his band of military coup plotters. Though Benazir was a good daughter of a great father her regimes were all consumed by corruption charges and allegations which implicated her and her husband. She had returned to re-invigorate and re-energise the PPP party for the legislative elections now postponed by the maximum ruler.
With the equally corrupt former PM Nawaz Sharif whose legitimate government Musharraf overthrew in 1999 now safely back in the country (after his first attempt in October from Saudi Arabia was met with immediate ‘deportation’ back to Arabia) Musharraf now knows that every Pakistani cannot maintain silence in the face of evil he’s perpetrating. A hard look at Musharraf’s face reveals a determined despot intoxicated by power.
The South Asia’s political dynasties (from India to Pakistan, Bagladesh to Sri Lanka) has historically endured sustained deadly violence in the hands of extremists. The Bhutto dynasty has had to bury a whole generation eliminated through political connection or involvement. The assassination of Bhutto achieved the ultimate goal of putting the Bhutto dynasty into oblivion. But with the PPP party appointing Mrs Bhutto’s teenager son symbolically as the party Chair then the last of the Bhutto dynasty has not been heard.
Ditto the Ghandi dynasty in India. Having been shot dead by her bodyguards ostensibly unhappy over ordered attacks on a holy shrine against separatist militants Indira’s brutal killing gave impetus to the hitherto apolitical Rajiv to keep the Gh
andi dynasty alive after his elder brother and heir died in mysterious circumstances. Rajiv paid the supreme price for been a Ghandi, marked out for brutal elimination.
In Pakistan presently tension is not only palpable but mounting. The opposition leaders led by the man Musharraf stabbed in the back politically, smarting from the Bhutto permanent exit, are calling on Pervez Musharraf to step down. With America backing the dictator who has postponed legislative polls for February and allegations by Bhutto confidant of possessing evidence of planned rigging of the coming polls by Musharraf and his foreign friends, the stage is set for a political cataclysm that could produce two scenarios: Musharraf digging in and refusing to back off or going the tragic way of ul-Haq. The latter scenario is better!
For the late Benazir Bhutto (54) and late Indira Ghandi it is political dynasties in perpetual peril. May their souls continue resting in peace. Like Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Benazir’s father had said decades ago: “The biggest link of external colonialism is internal colonialism. Military coups d’etat are the worst enemies of national unity. Coupegemony is the bridge over which hegemony walks to stalk our lands”. Adieu Benazir!