The Feudal Ms Bhutto

William Dalrymple writes in the Guardian:

[Benazir] Bhutto was no Aung San Suu Kyi. During her first 20-month premiership, astonishingly, she failed to pass a single piece of major legislation. Amnesty International accused her government of having one of the world’s worst records of custodial deaths, killings and torture. […]

Benazir had a reputation for massive corruption. During her government, the anti-corruption organisation Transparency International named Pakistan one of the three most corrupt countries in the world.

Bhutto and her husband, Asif Zardari, widely known as ‘Mr 10 Per Cent’, faced allegations of plundering the country. Charges were filed in Pakistan, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States to investigate their various bank accounts. […]

Benazir Bhutto was a courageous, secular and liberal woman. But sadness at the demise of this courageous fighter should not mask the fact that as a pro-Western feudal leader who did little for the poor, she was as much a central part of Pakistan’s problems as the solution to them.

Also, Bhutto did not revoke the Hudood Ordinance during her stints as prime minister, and was alleged to have supported the Taliban. She was also shrill on the subject of relations between India and Pakistan. All her recent stands struck me as nothing more than positions of convenience.

And speaking of feudal, guess who became chairman of the PPP after her will was read out. She’s handed her political party to her 19-year-old son. Heh.

Bhutto’s assassination is certainly a tragedy for Pakistan, but the reason for that is its impact on the political landscape there. They haven’t lost a great leader.

Also read: Karan Thapar’s moving tribute, My Friend, Benazir.
A 1993 New Yorker profile, Bhutto’s Fateful Moment.

(Guardian and New Yorker links via email from Manish Vij.)