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What’s the big deal about Benazir Bhutto?

December 28, 2010



I’m watching the thousands of doting followers streaming into Naudero. I’m listening to soundbytes of Benazir devotees describing how she changed their lives forever. I’m reading all the comments flowing into this site, but I just don’t get it: what’s the big deal about Benazir Bhutto?


I’d sworn off writing for The Express Tribune blogs after the negative criticism, but really, has everyone taken off their critical thinking hats today?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Ms Bhutto and the PPP fail to run Pakistan. Twice? Where is the glory in that?

Okay fine – so people tell me it’s not Benazir Bhutto the individual who is such a big deal, but it is the “Bhutto legacy” and the “PPP ideology” which make Benazir (the individual) so precious. But Wikipedia tells me that it was the PPP which lost fair and square against the Awami League in 1970. So technically, it is the same party that (in some part) played a role in us losing East Pakistan and altered the course of the nation forever, not to mention added in a historic chapter so heinous that it does not even appear in our history books. Not much of a legacy there.

Wait, wait I know – Benazir is a big deal because she is Pakistan’s first and only female prime minister. But really, what’s the big deal in that, given that her father was a big-shot landlord, who also happened to be prime minister of Pakistan? Last I checked, no one gets credit for stuff they inherit.

No wait. She was killed by the Taliban, and that’s what the whole fuss is really about people tell me – its a tragedy. Well last I checked, there are thousands who have been killed off by the Taliban, sometimes dozens in a single day. What makes Benazir’s death at the hands of terrorists more special? That she was born rich and lucky enough to get an education abroad and offered the role of leading Pakistan on a silver platter? Her death is horrific and tragic, but I’m simply not convinced guys.

Then there are some arguments based on the (pathetic few) programs and schemes set up by Benazir. Is the First Women’s Bank really that big an accomplishment? What did she actually do for women (or men) anyway? Let’s not even look at a national level; the plight of women in Sindh, and Larkana, her home-town, is just pitiful.

Did she deliver a lot of lectures on women’s right?

Yep.

Did she repeal the Hudood laws when she had a chance?

Nope.

Did she yell “roti kapra makaan” a lot?

Yep.

Did that have any impact on poverty in Pakistan today?

Nope.

I could continue like this for pages and pages, but it all comes back to the same thing. Loving Benazir Bhutto is fine, but let’s not toss in all these (misguided) slogans regarding her ‘guts and glory’ as a leader. She was a human, just like the rest of us. Got a few things right, got a lot of things wrong, but mostly, got lucky (or unlucky?) in inheriting a political dynasty. And just like her father, she has seen to it that the dynasty continues via Bilawal (Bhutto) Zardari.

Posted by Nadya V

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