Benazir Bhutto is dead: That’s a fact, Jack. The rest is of the story is like the inside of Stephen Harper’s brain: Cloudy, confused and cold.
The latest version of reality is that she hit her head on the handle of the sun roof of the SUV she was standing up in. Not a suicide bomber, or the gunshots, just an unfortunate bump on the head and that’s the end of the story, everybody go home.
That’s like saying JFK died from heart failure. Technically, it is true, in that JFK’s heart did fail, as there was nothing to pump against: He was short a few litres of blood from a dinner-plate sized gunshot wound to the back of his head. ("No, no no, it was heart failure that killed him. We don’t need the Warren Commission…")
The latest smokescreen, aside from the "Single Bump On The Head" theory, is that al-Qaeda and the Taliban ordered Bhutto’s execution. The bullets that didn’t hit her had the Arab text for "God is Great" inscribed on the tips, so everyone would know it was a religious killing, not a political killing.
Look at the recipe. There are leftovers of colonial rule, partition from India, predominance of the military caste and a slick coating of religious intolerance to bind it all together.
Mix in two teaspoons of baking powder, a porous border with Afghanistan, the CIA supporting the current dictator, nuclear weapons aimed at India and an economy that wobbles like a one-legged wallpaper hanger.
You get something indescribable and inedible. You can’t ignore it for fear it blows up; it just sits on the countertop, with little burned bits sticking out all over and steam issuing from the crust. It’s not pizza, that’s for sure.
In a previous post we took a run at the background to Pakistan’s political history trying to make sense of it all. As much us Western folks would like to see some mythical Jeffersonian Democracy in all the countries of the world, having been fed that high-powered cough syrup for generations, it isn’t going to happen.
Was Benazir Bhutto the last great hope for Democracy in Pakistan? Not in this world. Her father was about as corrupt as Musharraf, until he was deposed in a military coup and executed for various high crimes and misdemeanours. Benazir Bhutto’s two runs at governing Pakistan showed the same level of power hungry insanity and systematic corruption that anyone else showed in the same office.
Which brings us back to Musharraf. He’s a dictator who has promised general elections after declaring emergency rule, tossing most of the lawyers in jail and beating the crap out of any judges who dared defy his ways. Done correctly, now that Benazir Bhutto is gone, Pervez Musharraf will hold elections, win all the votes and declare emergency rule again, as the Bhutto supporters will riot in the streets to protest the results of the election.
Naturally, the Pakistani Military will feel threatened by all this activity and declare martial law over and above the emergency rule of Musharraf. There will be a bloodless coup whereby Mr. Pervez Musharraf is deposed by the military and replaced with, (wait for it), General Pervez Musharraf, back in uniform again.
The CIA of course, is very quiet on all this. Musharraf is beholden to the CIA and President JoJo The Idiot Boy. "He might be a beast, but he’s our beast." would seem to be Washington’s take on it. The same attitude prevailed under US Presidents regarding Panama, Argentina, Viet Nam, Nicaragua, Chile, Iraq and Iran at various times. As long as the person in the big chair is playing along, they don’t get involved.
Which leaves us exactly where? Almost exactly in the same place we started from. No democracy in Pakistan, a corrupt government and half the population angered at being shut out of the money and power. Benazir Bhutto’s 19-year old son may take up the leadership of the Pakistan People’s Party, and with any luck, he’ll make it to his 20th birthday without hitting his head on the sunroof.
If he can hang out for two years, he might actually be able to vote for Musharraf in the elections in 2010. We know he won’t be able to vote for his own party.