Dec 28, 2007

[World Affairs] Benazir Bhutto (1953 - 2007)

Flickr: AnnaEA - Banazir Bhutto
Benazir Bhutto
by AnnaEA.

It still seems so hard to accept the fact that Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister and advocate of democracy efforts in Pakistan is actually dead. Ultimately it was a shot to the neck that killed her, with the shooter killing himself with a bomb immediately after that took the lives of dozens of Pakistanis as well.

The world mourns her passing.

Already people are calling her a martyr, and I certainly can't agree more. She knew very well what kind of dangers she was facing upon returning to Pakistan in the name of democracy. Obviously she had many enemies given her stand on democracy and her general appeal with the West as a moderate politician.

But beyond everyone condemning her assassination and mourning her passing, there are serious questions left to us. First on everyone's mind is trying to figure out who organized this and there's no shortage of suspects around. In an email sent a few months prior, Bhutto already pinned the blame on Musharraf in the event of her death - a clear sign she knew how real the possibility of death was given her return from exile.

And still there are the extremist groups - the remnants of the Taliban and Al-qaeda who have challenged her left and right given her efforts to promote democracy. They would stand to gain a lot from her death given the current political turmoil and unrest.

That leads us to the next question - the long-promised Democratic elections in January. With Bhutto dead and her party left without an immediate successor, the only real opposition voice against military rule is Nawaz Sharif. With him also being a former Prime Minister like Bhutto, he also returned to Pakistan from exile in the hopes of participating in the renewed democracy efforts. However with the death of his chief political rival, he's now calling for a boycott of the elections unless Musharraf steps down, claiming that the ruling administration will clearly doctor the results and of course there's the general security situation to consider.

Bhutto has become a martyr, a symbol larger than life representative of the struggle for democracy in her country. But then what happens after that? To what ends will this symbolism be used? As the country will continue to struggle to pick up the pieces and somehow restore its faith in even just the possibility of a democracy process being in place in the future, the rest of the world is left to watch and twiddle their fingers, wondering if they should have acted sooner.

Many feel that the US has a share in the blame given their flip-flop support of the democratic process while still tiptoeing around their post-9/11 ally President Musharraf. With the US pretty much owning the mantle of champion of democracy in he Middle east, this is a striking blow for what they've been shouting about at every nation's door.

Long story short - the world is certainly a dark place with Bhutto gone and it'll be a fairly long tie before the world recovers. It's interesting to note the power that one person can have over the political climate not just of a single country, but even the region and the world at large as well. That's how striking the legacy of this one women will forever be. I just hope her death triggers the kind of change that Pakistan needs and not just more chaos. That last thing we need is for a nuclear-capable country like Pakistan to go unstable.

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