Benazir Bhutto - Through the eyes of India

December 28, 2007 Diary

Benazir Bhutto – Through the eyes of India

Since the tragic assassination of Benazir Bhutto, I have been glued to the TV in India – listening to different channels, some Indian (NDTV, etc.), and some multinational (BBC, CNN, CNBC).  Right now, I have been watching her funeral live in Lakrana.

India and Pakistan has have had long torturous history, with a common past, common mistrust, and also common culture. Somehow, I have found information content regarding Benazir Bhutto in Indian TV channels more nuanced including her own sense of entitlement, corruption charges, mass support among poorer people in Pakistan but also evoking equal mistrust, and Pakistan as a whole currently in a quite a precarious position spiraling into anarchy as a part of complete discussion.  It is because Indian media shares with Pakistan a common language, culture, and also easy access to informed Pakistani viewpoints, especially as Urdu speakers than their western media counterparts.

Two things stuck me listening to Indian TV channels that were palatable – a) genuine feeling of loss by the assassination of her by India as a whole, b) and sense of panic that it is not out of realm of possibility that the Talibanization of Pakistan could spill over to India at some point, if left unchecked.

Benazair’s baptization to international affairs happened in India, when as a Radcliffe-Harvard coed, she accompanied her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto during the Simla accord in 1972. Even though, as a Prime Minister of Pakistan, India and Pakistan had an acrimonious record with respect to mutual relationship, and she continued making various monsters, like the future Taliban, and AQ Khan. I remember her going on anti-India tirade at her extremely well spoken talk at Cornell in early 90s.

She was in last few years a regular visitor to India who talked to Indian media very often for her future vision of Pakistan, and hinting at also creating a new paradigm for relationship between India and Pakistan, if she came back to the power again. Well, they all will be pipe dreams. Or, out of power politican's unrealistic talk with no serious thought behind. Or, perhaps, she had new ideas with respect to India.

Indian subcontinent has seen a number of political assassinations in 60 years, and so there is a sense of empathy across the continent. More importantly, Indian leaders rightfully know that the assassination of Benazir Bhutto emboldens the Islamist extremists in the subcontinent and beyond, and this is not good news for everyone – Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and even rest of the world. No doubt, Pakistan has lost a popular mass leader, had a streak of a liberal politician (or perhaps a promise of being one, one day), and a very brave woman.

Maybe, as Imran Khan puts it, Pakistan should immediately form a national consensus government formed from different mainstream political thought.