Home Contact Us
Search :
   

Pakistan - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#2469, 14 January 2008
 
Benazir's Assassination and the Future of Pakistan
PR Chari
Research Professor
e-mail: prchari@vsnl.net
 

Munir Ahmed Khan, former Chairman of Pakistan's Atomic Energy Commission, had a unique explanation for why Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was hanged. "Not for the reasons people keep talking about," he said, "but because he stopped being a wadera." In Sindh, he explained, the waderas - the large landowners - are uncompromisingly feudal, arbitrary in their dealings with others, brutal with their serfs, extravagant with their wealth, and profligate in their ways. All perfectly excusable; indeed, expected of waderas. What the establishment - Pakistan's Army, landlords, and some business houses, all interlinked by marriage and self-interest - found inexcusable in Bhutto was his socialist pretensions. His efforts thereafter to exercise personal control over the Army after its debacle in East Bengal in 1971 completely alienated the establishment and catalyzed his march to the gallows.

Much the same sequence of events has led to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto who was essentially also a wadera. The establishment's angst regarding her was fuelled by her ultra-closeness to Washington, and her pledges to curb fundamentalism and to let the Americans interrogate A Q Khan, which would have unraveled the Pakistan Army/ISI role in running its nuclear Walmart. Most likely, renegade elements in the establishment, in collaboration with jihadi elements, committed the foul deed. But the complicity of the establishment is clear from their cover-up operations including no postmortem and hosing down of the crime scene, the mystery of why no flanking cars or security personnel protected her vehicle leaving the Liaquat Bagh, and the contradictory versions of how she died - gunshot, skull fracture or bomb blast - all very suspicious circumstances. The truth may ultimately emerge; but, equally possibly, the truth may remain buried forever like many other political assassinations in Pakistan.

That Benazir was no democrat is clear. She had anointed herself lifetime Chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), and retained an iron grip over its organization, even during her long years in exile. The party functionaries left behind faithfully carried out her dictates in her absence. These party faithful have been easily bypassed, and the PPP's leadership now stands transferred to her son Bilawal, aged nineteen years, through a handwritten will, with Benazir's husband Asif Ali Zardari - also known as Mr. Ten Percent - becoming the effective regent. All this has been accepted without demur by the PPP, it seems.

All this needs retelling to show that Benazir, leaves behind a vacuum in the PPP's political structure; this could affect its fortunes in the upcoming elections, currently rescheduled for 18 February. On the contrary, Benazir's killing could work to PPP's advantage if the empirical history of subcontinental politics is appreciated, since the Party is bound to use the "democracy's martyr" slogan to garner votes. Will this work? Only time will tell. Nawaz Sharif, leader of the rival Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) party, stands disqualified on several counts. His party, therefore, is also bereft, but enjoys the shining image of having confronted President Musharraf and the Americans. Nawaz Sharif also enjoys the support of the Islamic parties. Will this work for him? Again, time will tell. The establishment's hope is that a rudderless PPP and the loyalists in the Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid) will be able to cobble together a parliamentary majority. That this combine will not have any credibility is wholly irrelevant for Musharraf and the Bush administration; consequently, it might be too much to expect free and fair elections being held in February.

This throws into high relief the next question: how does Benazir's assassination affect the plans of the puppeteers in Washington with this unforeseen discontinuity affecting those plans? Washington favors the reconstruction of the troika that has always ruled Pakistan, namely a President enjoying untrammeled executive powers, an Army Chief to carry out his fiats and maintain domestic order, and a pliable Prime Minister. Benazir Bhutto had admirably served this purpose earlier as, indeed, had Nawaz Sharif, during their two brief terms in office. Both lost power when they tried to assert themselves - read, make the Pakistan Army accountable and submit to a modicum of civilian control. This continues to suit Washington given its dependence on Pakistan for prosecuting its war on terror in Afghanistan. It will support Musharraf's efforts to establish a semblance of civilian government in Islamabad, but Washington's unhappiness with the Pakistan Army's distinct lack of enthusiasm to continue the war of terror is ominous. Indeed, its extolling the merits of Gen. Ashfaq Kayani suggests that a Plan B is ready for replacing Musharraf.

India's solicitousness, therefore, about democracy being established in Pakistan is quite misplaced. It should, instead, closely watch how growing instability in Pakistan may affect Indian security, noting that the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, harboring the leadership of both the Taliban and al Qaeda, has now become the epicenter of tensions and insecurities in the world.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary

D Suba Chandran
Across the Durand Line: Who is in Control Now? Will That Change?
Taliban Talks and the Four Horsemen: Between Peace and Apocalypse
Pakistan: Talks about Talks with the Taliban, Again
Dateline Islamabad

Salma Malik
Pakistan and TTP: Dialogue or Military Action?
The Musharraf Trial & Beyond

Dateline Kabul

Mariam Safi
Afghanistan, US and the Peace Process: A Deal with the Taliban in 2014?
Dhaka Discourse

Prof Delwar Hossain
Bangladesh: Domestic Politics and External Actors
Bangladesh Post Elections 2014: Redefining Domestic Politics?

Eagle Eye

Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
US in Asia: A 'Non-Alignment' Strategy?
Indo-US Strategic Partnership Post Khobragade: The Long Shadow
East Asia Compass

Dr Sandip Mishra
North Korean Peace Gestures and Inter-Korea Relations
Japan: Implications of Indiscriminate Assertiveness
China, Japan, Korea and the US: Region at Crossroads

Himalayan Frontier

Pramod Jaiswal
Chinese Inroads to Nepal
Constituent Assembly-II: Rifts Emerging
Nepal: The Crisis over Proportional Representation and the RPP Divide
Maritime Matters

Vijay Sakhuja
Increasing Maritime Competition: IORA, IONS, Milan and the Indian Ocean Networks
China in the Indian Ocean: Deep Sea Forays
Iran Navy: Developing Long Sea Legs

Middle Kingdom

DS Rajan
China in the Indian Ocean: Competing Priorities
China-Japan Friction: How can India Respond?
Nuke Street

Amb Sheelkant Sharma
Nuclear Security Summit 2014 and the NTI Index
Nuclear Power: An Annual Report Card

Red Affairs

Bibhu Prasad
Maoists in the Northeast: Reality and Myth-Making
Surrender of Gudsa Usendi: Ominous beginning for the Naxals?
South Asian Dialectic

PR Chari
Federalism: Centre as Coordinator and Adjudicator
Limits of Federalism

Spotlight West Asia

Amb Ranjit Gupta
Saudi Arabia-US Estrangement: Implications for the Indian Subcontinent
Syria Today: Is Regime Change the Answer?
The Arab World: Trying Times Ahead
Strategic Space

Manpreet Sethi
US, China and the South Asian Nuclear Construct
Responding to Pakistan’s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: A Strategy for India

The Strategist

Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Strategic Non-Nuclear Weapons: An Essential Consort to a Doctrine of No First Use
 

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


 

Browse by Publications

Commentaries 
Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 
China 
Myanmar 
Afghanistan 
Iran 
Pakistan 
India 
J&K  

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Indo-Pak 
Military 
Terrorism 
Naxalite Violence 
Nuclear 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Modiís Tryst with Abe

Thinking the Unthinkable: Promoting Nuclear Disarmament

The Enigmatic Case of Bowe Bergdahl

India-Pakistan Relations: Modiís Options

India and No First Use: The Doctrinal Conundrum

The Hague Nuclear Security Summit: Evaluating Major Achievements

India and Nuclear Terrorism: Meeting the Threat

Federalism: Centre as Coordinator and Adjudicator

The Yasukini Controversy: Global Implications

Can India be Cunning?

Limits of Federalism

Ten Years of Ceasefire along the LoC: An Evaluation

Technological Change and Security: Implications for India

India and the Failed States Index

India, Sri Lanka and the IPKF Debacle: Remembering 29 July 1987

Why Berlin is not Prague-II

Carnegie Nuclear Policy Conference 2013: Deterrence and Disarmament

Pakistan Elections 2013: Will things change?

India, Pakistan and the Nuclear Race: The Strategic Entanglement

India and Pakistan: The Kargil Redux

India and Pakistan: Political Fallouts and Larger Questions of the LoC Violations

Book Review: Implications of Asia's Rising Powers for the US

Obama-II and the Indo-US Relationship: Old Issues, New Opportunities

India: Double Speak on Nuclear Disarmament

Antony and Panetta: A Shakespearean Drama?

ADD TO:
Blink
Del.icio.us
Digg
Furl
Google
Simpy
Spurl
Y! MyWeb
Facebook
 
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2014
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September
 2013  2012  2011  2010  2009  2008  2007  2006
 2005  2004  2003  2002  2001  2000  1999  1998
 1997
 
 

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

 
Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map | IPCS Email
B 7/3 Lower Ground Floor, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi 110029, INDIA.
Tel: 91-11-4100 1900, 4165 2556, 4165 2557, 4165 2558, 4165 2559 Fax: (91-11) 41652560
Email:
© Copyright 2014, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.
        Web Design by http://www.indiainternets.com