December 30, 2007


After the tragic death of Benazir Bhutto, her party had no qualms in granting her son and her husband power.

NAUDERO, Pakistan (Reuters) - The 19-year-old son of assassinated Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, Bilawal, was on Sunday appointed chairman of her Pakistan People's Party (PPP) along with his father, party officials said.

"It has been decided that Bilawal will be the chairman and Mr (Asif Ali) Zardari will be co-chairman," one of the party officials said in the southern town of Naudero, where top officials of Bhutto's party were meeting.

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Some years back it was apparent that her power had come from being the daughter of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, which had founded the Pakistan People's Party. This post is not in any way trying to diminish her role in the party, but there had been some that had put their hopes in her being able to help create a democracy in Pakistan. I do not know the beliefs of her party, but I believe that creating leadership from family descendants is not too compatible with democracy.

I also feel this way about the existence of George H W. Bush and George W. Bush, and the fact that Senator Clinton is running for president. Family members in the past have been elected president; John and John Quincey Adams, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, both 24 years apart. It didn't seem then to disrupt our government, but it wasn't a trend or close to the next succession. Now there is only 8 years between the Bushes and possible 8 years between the Clintons. This is too soon and too often, it is almost an expectation, like when Bobby Kennedy and Ted Kennedy ran for the Democratic party's nomination. Yes, I would like a woman to run for president, but there should be other women to consider. After 2008, will we see another Bush run for president?

Do people ever think that if we get into the habit of choosing our presidents like this, that abuse of power isn't far behind, when candidates know, they only need the name? What of the opposition, you say. They have a candidate that had a father as governor, another type dynasty. In a few years all the successful candidates could be descendants of governors, senators and presidents. It becomes the family business and the other 300 million people will become inconsequential, because they know that their name is more important than their policies.


Anonymous said...

Muslims Against Sharia condemn the murderers responsible for the assassination of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and her supporters.

Our prayers are with the victims of this atrocity. We send our condolences to their loved ones.

May the homicide bomber rote in hell for eternity. May his accomplices join him soon!

Submariner said...

Hathor, thank you for citing my blog entry in the links to your post. The January/February 2008 issue of The American Interest has a review article by Phyllis E. Oakley and Robert B. Oakley which asserts that during her term as prime minister Benazir Bhutto enabled A.Q. Khan to trade nuclear enrichment technology with North Korea in exchange for missiles to deliver warheads. They also write that Bhutto's partnership with Jamiat-ul-Ulama-i-Islam, a Pakistani political Islamist organization, gave rise to the Taliban.

One thing that the article makes clear is the limits of US power and unforeseen consequences. The Pakistani transaction with North Korea came at a time when the US imposed an embargo on sales of F-16s. Because of what was considered to be a gaping cavity in their conventional defense against India, the Pakistanis pressed assiduously on the nuclear front.

Ms. Bhutto's appeal probably had much to do with the fact that she was so nonthreatening. Indeed, she makes a brief cameo in Richard Parker's biography of economist John Kenneth Galbraith as an undergraduate staying with the Galbraiths during the Christmas holidays. Her style was very comforting to Anglophiles.

The appointments of Ms. Bhutto's son and husband to the leadership of the PPP is fairly disheartening. But I wonder if Pakistanis see it the way you and I do. In that part of the world tradition and hierarchy based on kinship is entrenched. Maybe her son isn't free to be apolitical or choose another path. Regardless, any legitimacy that the PPP gains will most likely come from a combination of popular support and the assent of other power-holders, namely the military elite of Pakistan.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Hi Hathor,

I wrote a post about the Bush-Clinton dynasty not too long ago. I agree that is would be unacceptable to continue down this path.

And we should not forget that whether Hillary Clinton wins or loses, Jeb Bush is waiting in the wings.

Hathor said...

Not knowing all the players, I couldn't guess who would emerge, but I do have the feeling the US will not find the kind of ally its wants.

mes deux cents,
I was thinking that Jeb's son will be of age in another eight years. I don't remember what, but there is something in Jeb's background that could readily sink his candidacy.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me to be a step towards a new form of a royal family.

Hathor said...

I think many Americans are fascinated by royalty.

If this is a step toward forming a royal family, it is also done on the local level. This past election, our last four mayors' sons were running for city council, two for re-election.

Maybe there is some predilection for the familiar or a belief that certain virtues run in families.