Benazir Bhutto: Not the death of a Tyrant, but nothing much to cry about.

I did not intend posting on Miss Bhutto’s demise and some may feel my comments are a bit harsh considering the woman has only just been laid to rest, but I have not read the type of sycophantic drivel that has been published in the media about Miss Bhutto death since Diana Windsor fell off the twig, so I thought I would make an attempt to balance things out with this piece.

For me Benazir Bhutto represented every thing that is wrong and rotten with Pakistani politics; and not only Pakistani I might add. Opportunist to the core she drifted towards power elite’s, whatever their political values and justified her craven behavior by claiming she could not be on the wrong side of history.

When socialism was on the rise in the West she toyed with it, but once the USSR imploded she worked hard to become the USA’s favorite daughter in the East, unfortunately for her the US administration already had a favorite son in Pakistan. Although when President Bush due to domestic disquiet needed Pervez Musharraf shady election victory painted with a shiney coat of democratic paint, Benazir became useful once again to the US administration and willingly accepted the job of being the Bush administrations paint brush, for which she has now paid with her life.

Dynastic to such a degree that personal ability was not a factor in her rise, an accumulator of great personal wealth gained in the long run at the expense of the peasants and the urban economically poor, who were the very people her party the Pakistan Peoples Party claimed to represent and wished to empower. In her personal behavior and life style she was a third world bourgeois to the core, greedy, arrogant, haute, and contemptuous towards those who did not belong to her class.
Her husband Asif Zardari was known throughout Pakistan as Mr 10% and not without good cause, however she was always the chair/CEO of the family business whilst he was merely chief accountant.

To those on the left who have shown sympathy towards Miss Bhutto I would remind them that she and her ilk since the State of Pakistan was first formed have worked hard keeping power in the hands of small cliques, whether military or civilian. In the process they have built a nightmare State in which human life is cheap and what revenue the state possesses is used for private gain and what is left is syphoned off to the military or on vainglorious project like the Islamic Nuclear Bomb. The economically poor in Pakistan live a short life in poverty and ignorance, education is little more than a dream for their children who are set to work at a very young age. Perhaps the writers of those rosy obituaries of Miss Bhutto should consider that such poverty does not come about due to an accident, but because people like Miss Bhutto will it. One should also consider it is almost impossible to attain and retain great wealth in Pakistan without acting corruptly.

So I say to hell with the theoretical maybes and the this and that’s, for in their hearts all of these leftist know full well that Miss Bhutto had no intention when she returned to Pakistan of fighting against the vested interests who create such appalling poverty. To praise a women, as one known leftist has done, who ended her life as the willing tool of the most reactionary US President in decades was a disgraceful act. Have the left slipped to such a low level of consciousness that we no longer rejoice in an exploiters demise, whilst I did not wish her dead, I see no reason to be a hypocrite now she is. She was not courageous, simple vain and over confident, one only had to see this silly woman waving from the sun roof of her car to understand that she believed the great satan would protect her. She never gave a thought to those of her supporters who would be killed if she were attacked, she simply epitomized the me, me, me, age we live in.



Filed under Benazir Bhutto, Islam, Musharaf, Organized Rage, Pakistan, Terrorism, UK, USA

8 responses to “Benazir Bhutto: Not the death of a Tyrant, but nothing much to cry about.

  1. El Ch�

    And the petit-bourgeois Left will roundly condemn you for speaking the truth here.

  2. WorldbyStorm

    Well, I certainly wouldn’t condemn, and I’m not certain I’m petit-bourgeois either… however a couple of thoughts… Firstly, the PPP, for all its faults is generally recognised to be the largest political formation in Pakistan that can be termed even slightly progressive. It’s a member of the Socialist International, not a lot in itself, but still better than a lot of other positions parties can take to the right of there. It contains within it self-proclaimed Marxists. Many of those decrying this murder include staunch socialists and leftists. Whether she was as you characterise her a willing tool of the US is open to question. She had already articulated on the campaign trail that it was up to Pakistan to deal with various issues as Pakistani’s see fit. That she wasn’t going to be a ‘socialist’ President is hardly a surprise. But then, the political and social structures in Pakistan predicate directly against any serious class development in that direction and while she was indeed a part of the problem the same could be said for pretty much all political formations there and arguably the PPP was wedded to at least some sense of a populist or leftist narrative that might be – in the long run – of some utility. So, if one acknowledges that a full throated ‘socialist’ road isn’t a genuine option if only because neither the army nor the Islamic cohort will permit it what is left? The messy business of trying to make compromises in a divided society, one divided between urban and rural, religious and somewhat less religious, left and right, and so on. That she was more than likely corrupt is hardly a surprise, who isn’t there? How do such parties come into being without corruption? How seriously can such parties exist without being mired within it? how much of that is societal? How does one avoid it in the short term? And we in Ireland (and actually in the UK or US) are in a poor position to lecture on corruption at any level in society, albeit such corruption is often masked.

    Worth noting as well that there were improvements for women under her rule although not enough.

    As for being an exploiter, I’m not sure. She was of her time, her class, her nation, but she was somewhat open to other influences. She certainly was the least worst serious option on offer, which isn’t saying much. And in the absence of the opportunity for any significant change that actually meant something.

    But above and beyond that is not merely her death, but the impact that has on a polity already reeling from arbitrary military led rule for the best part of a decade, one where semi-independent centres such as the judiciary have been marginalised or excised. There still is a ghost of a Pakistani democracy. It’s not much, but the status quo isn’t going to help it one bit. To destabilise it further is simply criminal, whatever one thinks of Bhutto (and I’d be highly highly critical of much that she did and didn’t do). To do so in the context of a nuclear armed country is worse than criminal. No one, least of all the oppressed and exploited gain from this.

  3. Mick Hall

    Your correct a number of socialists and leftist are decrying Miss Bhutto’s murder, in public at least, but this leftist and socialist is not, I’m not sure about you, but I welcome the fact that we socialists have ceased talking with one monotone voice when a big issue arises.

    For me the most interesting thing about the PPP is what it will do now, will it split along left-right lines, will it following Benazir’s line as supposedly laid down in her will? We will have to wait and see.

    I’m unsure how you can claim the question of her being a willing tool of the Bush administration is open to question, for her behavior in the last few week points to this clearly. Until she returned home Musharraf was in a hole and he was having great difficulty digging his way out of it. He had been forced to reveal his true dictatorial attitude, when he arrested the lawyers etc and called marshal law, he was exposed to the world as the satrap he was.

    By coming home as she did she gave him the space to maneuver, not least because the international media took the spotlight off of Musharraf and placed it on the poster girl Miss Bhutto, something she must have known was inevitable if she came home when she did, If she was not a pawn of Bush etc who negotiated her safe passage and amnesty? I have also been very interested in watching the parade of US sponsored politicians going in and out of Bhutto’s door, the last one she saw on the morning of her death was Afghanistan President Hamid Karsi, a man who is so far up Bush and Musharraf,s arse that his cloak is permanently covered in their shit. Finally I found it extremely indicative that she refused to call the membership and supporters of the PPP out onto the street to defend the lawyers, Chief Justice etc, that alone places an enormous question mark about where her loyalties actually lay..

    As to her being open to other influences, I mentioned this, but unfortunately for someone like her she only saw only the influence of the power elite, thus when she told
    Tariq Ali that she must be on the side of history, I concluded far from having an open mind she had made her mind up and had chosen the side of the exploiters.

    You have lost me on the nuclear point for are you saying that we should not criticize people we regard as satraps if they live in a nation that has NW, I think not but it does sound a bit like you are.

    The question I asked myself before writing this peace is would she have made any attempt to improve the most poverty stricken section of the Pakistan society, or would she have further demoralized the masses if she came to power as the USA’s pliable tool. I concluded the masses would not benefit economically and she would have simply left the masses even more demoralized than they are now, the fact they have not been out on the street in any great numbers, tells me they regarded Bhutto and Musharraf as having been playing footsie, and he got the better of the game..i e she played and lost and it is sod all to do with them and I’m with them on this..

    All the best

  4. Mick Hall


    Funny you should write that, it has already started as I have already received emails pointing out the error of my ways.

  5. WorldbyStorm

    Mick, this is purely a point of political disagreement between us and one of interpretation at that. I think you’re being harsh – understandably so by your perspective, because you’re overemphasising a number of things. Firstly the response to Bhutto’s death and the feting in the media. Well, she’s not responsible for that, whatever else she is. If political halfwits want to big her up that’s their problem. She did pay many prices for her politics long before the other day, prices most of us have never had to pay. That doesn’t make her a saint, but it is worth considering. Secondly, I think you’re vastly overemphasising her links to the US and moreover overemphasising the malign role of the US which leads to an underestimating of the agency of those including Bhutto in Pakistan. Considering how unpopular the US is in Pakistan (let alone the rest of that part of Asia) it’s hard to see how she could have been a willing or pliant tool in the way you suggest and lasted. As for improving the lot of the poor, if not her, who else? At the very least the PPP was very slightly more than rhetorically wedded to a degree of social liberalism that had genuine impacts on people. It’s not socialism, as I keep saying, but so what? You and I both know there is no serious left alternative.

    I would roundly criticise her for her approach (i.e. quietness) as regards Musharraf… politicking of the worst sort. But again, this is Pakistan, this is a brief opening after effective military rule. Would you or I act differently in those circumstances in that particular political environment? There is an obvious counter argument that she wanted to keep her powder dry to achieve state power.

    I also think you’re somewhat misinterpreting the Tariq Ali comment (as he does too – although in the context of an actually rather more sympathetic article than he wrote in the LRB earlier in 2007 – but then he, like Hitchens actually met and knew Bhutto, something neither you or I, AFAIK, have the advantage of – and he certainly doesn’t brand her an ‘exploiter’). She saw what way the wind was blowing in the early 1990s when the US hegemon was on the rise post Soviet. That was the then tide of history. Worth noting that it was also a much more liberal and arguably less invasive US (at least under Clinton initially), that too might have coloured her thinking. And here is the problem. We can paint Bhutto in the worst possible colours but only by avoiding local and global contexts, by suggesting she was nothing more than a puppet, when in fact what she was was very mildy socially liberal, a Pakistani patriot and someone wedded, as many many people are to familial connections, etc, etc. Neither particularly bad nor particularly good, but far far from a truly malign person or influence.

    BTW, I’m disgusted that people would attack you for stating a valid opinion.

  6. WorldbyStom

    Sorry, meant to say about the nuclear issue, I’m not saying you shouldn’t criticise, but I am saying that the act of assassination was beyond criminal in the context of an unstable nuclear armed state.

  7. Mick Hall


    As I said my purpose in writing the piece, [another hundred lines from anon for misspelling that word previously;) was to balance out the sycophantic drivel that has been published in the media about Miss Bhutto’s death. What the piece was not! was an analyzes of the PPP, as I am far from an expert on Pakistan, or even very knowledgeable, but I know a class enemy when I see one.

    The thing with Miss Bhutto, is we have been here before, so one does not need to be that knowledgeable as we have a yardstick to measure what she may have been like in government this time around. In my judgement over the recent past she has moved further to the right and without US help she could never have returned to Pakistan.

    Nawaz Sharif attempted it without the USA’s blessing and he was turned back at the airport, it was only after he agreed to jump through the US administrations hoops that Musharraf allowed him to come back home. Incidentally it will be interesting to see if Musharraf attempt to recruit him to fill Bhuttos shoes as a pliable PM who is willing to work in tandem with President Musarraf.

    Tariq’s relationship with Miss Bhutto is interesting, as they both come from the same some what narrow class background and thus they had a great deal in common. This probably colored his take on her to a certain degree, although he has still been quiet harsh, especially about her recent relationships with the USA.

  8. Anonymous

    Well we have this great piece but heck we will never know if she was going to be better for Pakistan or not she’s dead. All said and done who the hell is going to be better, thats the problem.

    She cheated she was a fraud ,and for a while she backed Bin laden, all said and done so did the USA and the UK.

    The fact is we have to many people blowing themselves up for some kind of better life in heaven, while we have to stay in this place and fight to put it right.

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