28-Dec-2007

Flawed Politician

Courageous but flawed:
Benazir Bhutto was rather more complicit in encouraging and tolerating Pakistan’s many pathologies (Faustian bargains with the Islamists that included tolerating anti-woman laws, state sponsorship of cross-border terrorism in Kashmir, and self-enrichment — her husband was widely known within Pakistan as “Mr. 10 per cent” based on what people alleged was his share of any government contracts); while Mr. Sharif tried to curb some of them and made some effort at reconciliation with India.

The fascination with Ms Bhutto by the people and governments of the West remains a mystery. Perhaps it is due to her charisma and Western education. She certainly knows how to press the right buttons when speaking to Western audiences through the mass media. Clichés of female empowerment, democracy, poverty eradication, human rights and war against the terrorists trip readily enough off her tongue. But they are all at odds with the actual record of her rule as Prime Minister, not once but twice.

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