Who is to be blamed for Pakistan's continuous tragedy?


The lines from Shakespeare's Macbeth, which is also about political assassination, go "Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble". The cauldron has been bubbling indeed for some time in Pakistan and the witches have been at it!

In the wake of the assassination of opposition leader and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, there are genuine concerns about Pakistan deteriorating further into anarchy and civil war. These concerns are valid and have been there all along for the last several months on account of the political tug-of-war that has been going on between the army and the politicians. Events came to a head with the involvement of the judiciary when Gen. Musharraf summarily dismissed the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Political assassinations are not new to Pakistan. The first Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan was killed soon after Pakistan came into being. Later Gen. Zia ul-Haq who had taken over in a military coup deposing Benazir's father Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was killed when his plane was blown out of the sky; earlier Zia had hung Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto on various charges. Benazir's brother who had just embarked on his political career in opposition to his sister Benazir's policies was also killed by unknown gunmen. The recent assassination of Balloch leader Nawab Akbar Bugti is yet another example. The common thread in all of these is that no one is actually sure of who is responsible for these crimes. Following these acts there are always any number of analysis and theories. This may not be that unusual. Even to this day the Kennedy assassination continues to generate new scenarios about who actually killed him and why.

Pakistan's highly polarized, personality-dominated political culture is even more susceptible to these attitudes. The trauma from this assassination has expectedly generated much grief and anger.

All of the anger is being directed at Musharraf and the tendency is to hold him solely responsible for this heinous act. With the elections scheduled for early next month - some doubt if these will be held now - the leaders of the opposition parties may see this as an opportunity to garner votes by tapping into the raw emotions of the masses using anti-Musharraf rhetoric and slogans. Yet again this act of political opportunism will not serve the long-term interests of Pakistan.

This is not entirely new about Musharraf but about Pakistan.

What has just been splashed across the face of Pakistan is the distillate of corrupt political practices mixed with an aberrant religious ideology and individual avarice and ambition.

It is quite easy to put the entire blame on Musharraf's lap because this happened on his watch and because of his recent political blunders. Every analysis by the so-called experts, especially Pakistanis, who are in academia and think tanks in this country, is overwhelmed with the notion of giving Musharraf the entire responsibility for what happened. Yet this is neither accurate nor in the best interest of Pakistan and its people.

It must be clearly understood that the safety and survival of not just Pakistan but the entire region rests on joining together in a war against a common enemy - extremism - and to defeat it decisively. This is the major priority, not just winning elections. All parties in Pakistan and their leadership must rise above partisan politics and blame game to see the face of the real enemy and engage the attention of their constituencies on this critical issue. Pakistanis can no longer dismiss this merely as "America's war on terror". It is indeed a war for their survival as a nation.

A verse from another of Shakespeare's tragedies, a drama of political assassination says, "I have come to bury Caesar not to praise him". In this critical hour it is not about Musharraf only, it is about Pakistan and peace in the region.

 

- Dr. Nazir Khaja is a founding member of Council of Pakistani-American Affairs. E-mail at: [email protected]


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  11 Comments   Comment

  1. Mustafa Aziz from USA

    I have to say I am disgusted at most of these comments. "The majority of Pakistani people are munafiq?" Really? I'd like to see your statistical analysis through which you reached such a profound conclusion. The Pakistani people are victims. Benazir Bhutto was no saint, she was not campaigning to bring true democracy to Pakistan. She had two opportunities to do so and failed miserably. The West found her pliant, so they pushed her back to Pakistan to try to keep the Musharraf situation from boiling over. you people talk as if it is so easy, if only the Pakistani people would do A-Z, everything would be ok. You don't seem to understand what power actually means. And by the way, nobody knows who killed BB, there is no proof for any group, and there are many with the motive. I think the commenters here should try understanding, reading the history, assessing the big picture, before they condemn a beautiful nation of 180 million. The Pakistani people are just like everyone else, they long for freedom as we all do, and they deserve our support. The last few years should be proof enough of the struggles the Pakistani people have been carrying on. While you sit on your computers and insult them, they are out on the streets, giving their lives for freedom. Shame on you for blaming the victims.

  2. Abu Rahim from USA

    I totally agree with this article; but the people of Pakistan need to look very carefully at their history and world history if it truly desires democracy. Who is responsibility is not as important as why it continues to happen. If Pakistanis new choice for democracy is a monarch/dynasty- good luck. Of course they will have to wait at least 6 years until little Bilawal reaches the ripe old age of 25. Then he will qualify to rule the great Pakistan.

    Throughout history heredity monarchs have failed. Military rule have failed. So where is the choice for a viable government? Countries that have turned away from such charismatic personalities in the form of dynasties and allowed their constitution to evolve, have prospered and are politically stable.

    The formal US president John Kennedy and his family were charismatic, charming and cared for the American people. But America had a great and beautiful constitution and was in no need for a particular family to rule. The Kennedy brothers were about to succeed to the thrown one after the other. That would have been a mistake. It would have focused America away from the written law and into the charismatic spell of "the family" and their despotic personalities.

    Why keep allowing the same people to rule? Whether by Military rule or civilian dynasty it's still the same despotism and will ultimately fail.

    A great constitution will allow anyone from among the people to lead. Bush didn't invade Iraq alone. He had the full authorization of the Senate and Congress, otherwise it would not have happen. America do not have a dictator. We, the people of America vote our leaders into office and suffer the consequents their action. That is democracy. Nevertheless, if the Bhutto family are able to entrench themselves into the absolute rule of Pakistan they will have been ironically placed there by the people themselves, the democratic way. Despotism by free and fair election.

  3. Kris MacPherson from Malaysia

    Instead of blaming the Pakistanis, let us pray for them. I have never been to Pakistan but I feel this strong connection to them as they are fellow Muslims.

    Yes, I condemn the murder of Bhutto, as in my earlier post in other articles, but let us ask ourselves one more thing, does blaming and branding our fellow brother and sister Muslims do any good ? We should pray for them, if we believe in the brotherhood of the ummah. And the majority of Pakistanis are decent people who just want to get on with their lives, but suddenly find their shops looted, houses burnt, trains and railways destroyed, source of livelihood. Why don't we ask ourselves how many Pakistanis are hungry and miserable tonight because of this turmoil.

    Instead of blaming Pakistanis why don't we blame their leaders that had exploited their emotions and support ?! This Bhutto dynasty went far back in the history of Pakistan but ask ourselves " are they really of the leadership stock ?" or just exploiters of the poor people. Why not trace why Zulfikar was toppled by Zia-ul-haq ?

    And this madness for dynasties in this part of Asia is something that has always baffled and amazed me, why is it that Asians in this part of the world adores dynasties and the prefix to the name ? For instances, Bhutto dynasty is so adorable to the Pakistanis and Nehru's dynasty of the Ghandis are to India ? Why and what on earth for ? But then I am not at all blaming some of the Pakistanis for this rooted admiration or obssession I would say, for the Bhutto dynasty.

    But that deep emotions and attachment was something that cunning politicians like Benazir Bhutto exploited, for her own personal interest. Pakistan and all that it has to offer are just for personal thropies of Benazir Bhutto. That's why I look upon her in disdain. But enough is enough. She has died and may ALLAH have mercy.

    It's time we pray that the nation of Pakistan and it's people be healed from the wounds. Wassalam,

  4. Dawood Haq from USA

    Pakistanis are to blame. When the people decide their culture would be Civilization and not a Culture of Death then a change in circumstance would avail itself. It is hard to believe that so much terrorists are hiding amongst the society and their families, friends or neighbours are unaware of them.

  5. Norman Pearce from USA

    Corrupt opposition has succeeded in diverting the public anger due to assasination from the real culprits (militants, terrorists and religious fanatics) to one man, Musharaf, who himself has been a target of militants.

  6. Sarah from USA

    pakistanis are the ones to blame for their own misery . majority of them are munafiqs , people who would do anything for their worldy benfit form killing to, cheating robbbing decieving even if it their own muslim bretheren.

  7. Stu from Australia

    The assisination of Butto further demostrates that Musharraf is an incompetent leader, who is incapable of bringing peace and stability to his country.

  8. SMH from USA

    Good analysis, wrong conclusion Dr. Khaja. Ask the common people in Pakistan what their number one issue of concern is. It is NOT "extremism". Pakistanis want a decent livelihood for themselves, a brighter future for their children, honesty and elimination of corruption from their government and they want to adhere to the basic values of their religion Islam. The latter means the elimination of crude obscenity and crass pop-culture parading as "enlightened moderation". Most of all Pakistanis, like all the world's people want to be FREE. Free from the stifling domination and attempted control of alien powers and their willing local agents so that they can live their lives in accordance with their own principles, values and ideals. We west-based holier-than-thou Pakistanis and our western friends should leave them alone; give them the chance to FREE themselves.

  9. Romesh Chander from USA

    Who is to be blamed for Pakistan's continuous tragedy?.

    I will say, Pakistan itself and its people. It is odd that out of 180 million people, they can come up with only 2 leaders, both most corrupt. One (Ms Bhutto) imposed by US and the other one (Nawaz Sharif) by Saudi Arabia. Pakistani civil institutions are very weak because politicians like it that way. Musharaff packed the Judiciary twice, once in 1999 and now in 2007. And Musharaff can constitution without going through the parliament -- there is another name for it -- Monarchy, where the word of King is the word of God.

    Pakistan cannot blame the Hindus for this mess.

  10. ahmed asgher from bahrain

    I am giving my opinion, this time, hoping you will choose to publish it. Looks like the whole recent Bhutto piece has been removed.

    What is needed is for a wide number of Muslim scholars and wise men to come together and denounce this terrible idea of suicide bombing. They should take their collective stand across the world capitals, create websites and invite interviews with a wide range of TV networks. Money will be well spent if it saves one innocent life. Besides, Islam might be viewed as the religion of peace that many of us profess it to be.

    Cut the political correctness and promote sleeping majority of Muslims who believe that such suicide is totally against our belief and has no foundation in Quranic teaching. We must not blame America or its allies for invading our lands. A weak body invites viruses. If we stand strong in unity, we will be strong and seen as equal in the world. Look at what is happening in Iraq/Afghansitan: Muslims killing muslims and we keep blaming others.

    The odd scholar making remarks against suicide bombing is not enough. Only a united, collective and repeated roadshow denouncing extremists is what is needed. It will stop young gullibles from becoming fodder for such a crazy idea believing that they will go to Heaven. Such a belief must be refuted by those who have the respect of majority Muslims.