Benazir Bhutto's Unprincipled Politics

In the violent turbulence that has engulfed Pakistan for over a year now, the one bright feature was that the nation witnessed the first appreciable stirrings for democracy within the country. Notably, the struggle for restoration of democracy within Pakistan was not spearheaded by Pakistan's political parties but was generated and led relentlessly by the legal fraternity of Pakistan in the wake of the suspension of the Chief Justice of Pakistan by General Musharraf in March this year. 

Pakistan's legal fraternity despite the violence launched against them by the state apparatus valiantly struggled for restoration of the rule of law and constitutional propriety. It provided a spark for the suppressed feelings of Pakistan's civil society to clamor for restoration of democracy in Pakistan. In fact this popular upsurge rode piggy-back on the lawyer's movement who were careful not to allow the political parties to hi-jack their movement and dilute their cause. In the end the legal fraternity prevailed and General Musharraf under pressure from the United States desisted from ignoring the judgment given by Pakistan's Supreme Court's Special Judicial Panel, that the case against the Chief Justice had no merit and that he should be re-instated. That has been done since.

In marked contrast to the high moral contours of the movement of Pakistan's legal fraternity, the leader of Pakistan's main political party (PPP) led by former twice Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has stabbed in the back the political movement for restoration of democracy in Pakistan. Last year, Benazir Bhutto joined hands with former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (who was displaced by General Musharraf in the 1999 military cong) to sign a 'Charter for Democracy' along with other political leaders. The avowed purpose of this 'Charter of Democracy' was to mobilize the people of Pakistan towards restoration of democracy in a united manner. There was also a specific commitment that none of the political leaders signing the 'Charter of Democracy' would enter into any negotiations with Pakistan's military ruler to strike a personal deal.

Sordidly, Benazir Bhutto despite the above commitment has precisely done what was feared all along. It appears now that for the last two years. Benazir Bhutto had been in secret negotiations with General Musharraf, sponsored by the United States using a former senior British diplomat who had served in Pakistan. That the deal is now virtually through is evident from General Musharraf condescending to fly to Dubai for final discussions with Benazir Bhutto who lives in exile there.

Under this deal, General Musharraf has agreed to share power with Benazir Bhutto in that General Musharraf takes over as a civilian President with Benazir Bhutto as the Prime Minister. While such a power sharing arrangement serves the strategic interests of the United States, it is a betrayal by Benazir Bhutto of the 'democracy movement' in Pakistan that was picking up steam.

Such an arrangement that this deal has worked out, and the United States and everyone else knows it is unconstitutional, General Musharraf when he gives up his position as Chief of Army Staff is not permitted constitutionally from standing for any office for two years. Further, the present Assemblies are not empowered to re-elect him as President, even minus his uniform.

Benazir Bhutto has a whole long list of corruption causes against her and was liable for arrest on return to Pakistan from exile.. Also as per the existing Constitution, she is not eligible for a third term as Prime Minister.

But then everything is possible in Pakistan when Pakistan Army's interest and those of the United States are at stake. The corruption cases are being withdrawn, her bank accounts frozen in Pakistan have been consequently de-frozen and the Constitution will be amended to enable her to be Prime Minister for a third time.

While one could not expect much from the Pakistan Army in terms of principled behavior and the United States can excuse itself on the grounds of 'realpolitik', Benazir Bhutto has no viable excuses for the betrayal of democracy in Pakistan.

She has emerged as an 'accomplice' of the Pakistan Army in thwarting the emergence of democracy in Pakistan. By becoming an 'accomplice' of the Pakistan Army, Benazir Bhutto dishonors her father the late Prime Minister Zulfiqar Bhutto who was executed by the Pakistan Army on questionable grounds.

All in all, Benazir Bhutto emerges in this drama as a unprincipled political leader, unworthy of the trust that the people of Pakistan had placed in her as the leader of Pakistan's leading political party and claiming to be the scion of Pakistan's prominent political dynasty.

Further, for those who fawn over her in India, let it be reminded that it was Benazir Bhutto who brought Kashmir as an emotional frenzied issue in Pakistan's electoral politics, it was during her prime ministerial tenures that proxy war and terrorism against India was heightened in Kashmir and it was she again who was instrumental in launching the Taliban which emerged as a scourge in Afghanistan and in Kashmir.

The United States has made a wrong choice in foisting Benazir Bhutto as the Prime Minister of Pakistan or the power alternatively to nominate one of her lackeys as Prime Minister.

Pakistan sadly, is once again set to be in turbulent times generated by unprincipled politics and unprincipled vested interests sacrificing the democratic aspirations of the people of Pakistan.  


More by :  Dr. Subhash Kapila

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