Benazir’s 19 year old son, Bilawal, has been named successor to Pakistan People’s Party – to keep the dynastic aspirations intact. And why not? There is no democracy outside of the party, no reason for it to exist within. One can call this a reflection of the feudal structures left untouched by many a pseudo-revolutions; one can point to the long history of the pir/spiritual guide’s extension into the political realm; one can blame lack of political education and access to corridors of power for the members of PPP; and one can acknowledge that the military regimes have sufficiently retarded all venues of political legitimacy, such that there simply cannot be any alternatives to the once-future leaders – Bhuttos, Jatois, Bugtis, Sharifs. Whatever the case you wish to make, reality is that “politics” in Pakistan has, and will, remain a hereditary, charismatic domain built around cults of personalities – until and unless electoral politics takes firm roots.
The PPP will contest the elections on Jan 8th, 2008. If they are held.
The American blogosphere seems obsessed with figuring out how she died: see TPM and Dkos. Someone ought to inform them that there is no reason to even acknowledge official statements on this point. In any event, Dawn News has published photos of the assassin that should end all CSI-ish speculations.
update: Which is not to say that the assassination, the hasty removal of evidence, the lack of investigation and the clumsy attempts to hoist the blame onto someone else doesn’t have precedence in Pakistan’s immediate past.
A dear friend sends chilling words from Karachi:
This is to let you know that I am alright, incase you are wondering about my well being in view of the current situation in Pakistan.
I would like to say that it is a bad dream but it is not, it is a bitter reality. I have lived in Karachi for long but never have I seen anything of this magnitude.
The night of December 27 will remain etched in my memory for some time. After hearing the news about Benazir’s death we shut down office early that evening and left around 7PM. I was with 4 of my colleagues who lived in the same area. After dropping one person in Gulshan-e-Iqbal we proceeded towards Gulistan-e-Jauhar (where I live. It was one of the most affected areas in Karachi which was the most violent place that night). There are 4 entry points to this area, we tried each one by one but were stopped by blaze and angry mobs burning, doing pathrao (stone pelting) and firing. After turninng away from each entry point, I thought of an alternate last option. When we reached there we ran into heavy blaze, turned around to go into another direction but after a couple of blocks stopped by another street-end closed by a heavy blaze. We stopped there just to think about the next step, all of a sudden people started assembling around the fire with batons, glass bottles and other stuff like that. The next 30 seconds were in slow motion, they were eyeballing us and then all hell broke loose. They charged throwing all kinds of heavy stuff at the windshield and hitting windows with batons. My friend started reversing the car and they kept running with the car and attacking. We went back may be half a block or so and then they stopped, may be we had reached a point after which they didn’t want to proceed. It may have lasted a minute or two but man! it seemed like an eternity. As soon as they stopped we turned into the first street we saw and stopped to gather our wits. We spent the next several hours in this unknown street in an stranger’s house (who was nice enough to give us refuge till the situiation got better). I finally got home after about 24 hours. On my way home last night around 11PM, the city looked liked a ghost town. Streets and even main roads were covered with broken glass and burnt vehicles were scattered all over the streets. I have never seen it like this not even under curfew. This was a horrible experience, but it could have been so much worse, they could have shot at us or use petrol bombs which were used that night to torch vehicles.
The faces I saw that night didn’t seem like they were from among us, there was blind fury in their eyes, it felt like we were in enemy teritory in another country. As events have unfolded since December 27 it is definitley not just spontaneous reaction of Benazir’s death; it is a well orchestrated move for anarchy and to destabilze the country. Not all of the news is out, most of the Sindh has been practically razed. Only in Karachi over 600 vehicles were burnt in less than 24 hours, in addition to this widespread looting and arson took place. Hope things get better soon.
Many others have observed that these riots appear to be orchestrated.
Stay safe, my friend. Stay safe.