28 December 2007

Peace Be Upon Her

How fortunate we are. We live in a relatively democratic society, where the rule of law holds sway and we even witness peaceful, stable transitions of power from one political faction to another, as Scotland saw in May.

Yesterday in Rawalpindi, the most credible figure in opposition to Pakistan's dictatorship and likely Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, was shot by two assassins wielding AK47s. To ensure that the job was finished, a suicide attack was then launched, and Pakistan's greatest hope for a way out of its current predicament expired.

It speaks volume that Nawaz Sharif was willing to put aside past hostility with her to work alongside her, and lead the grief at this time. It also speaks volumes that she herself was targeted, while a Nawaz Sharif rally in the same town was attacked, leading to the death of four bystanders while Sharif himself was unharmed. Is he next, or was she the threat in the eyes of the perpetrators?

The only certainty now in Pakistan is that there are no certainties. Pervez Musharraf has lost the main threat to his authority as President, but also lost the only potential source of legitimacy for him to hold that title. If she, a main opposition figure, could have taken the Premiership following scheduled elections, it would have shown him in a positive light: she would have her mandate to overn, and he as President would have been able to abide by that, thus presenting him no longer as a tinpot dictator, but as a growing democrat. His cack-handed attempts to dismiss the Supreme Court undermined that image, but Bhutto could have saved him. What happens to his regime now? Is a nuclear power really on the brink of full-on civil war?

Benazir Bhutto: peace be upon her.

But more importantly, peace be upon her nation.

1 comment:

Ted Harvey said...

Such terrible catastrophes can be a catalyst for either good or evil, perhaps as a setback lasting decades for progressive forces or as a rude awakening for all forces of good, or more or less good, to combine, oppose barbarity and force through the reforms and change needed.

Let’s hope that the Bhutto tragedy is at least a catalyst for the latter.