There’s a lot of discussion, a lot of it political and a lot of it nonsensical, about the murder of Bhutto and the dangers in Pakistan as an election issue in the USA.
I mean, when the NYTimes, Joe Biden and the adults like  Christopher Dodd blast certain candidates you know that some things are more important than winning an election…and the Republicans aren’t much more informed.

So your reading lesson for today should be the UKGuardian, which has an article discussing the various faultlines in Pakistan: tribal, business, religious fundamentalists, and the Pakistani military/intelligence communities.

Musharref, short of dismantling the Army, could never get complete control of the Islamicist sympathizers in the Army, so probably will catch a lot of the blame for Bhutto’s death because he supplied faulty security.

Yet one wonders why Bhutto, who is rich, didn’t hire professional outside security guards.

I mean, it doesn’t take a specialist from Blackwater to remind a headstrong politician that standing up with your head sticking out of a bulletproof car when there are people out to shoot at you is not exactly a safe practice.

Bhutto for all her faults was brave, yet how “democratic” was the westernized Bhutto?

Bloomberg reports: Bhutto’s will appointed her 19 year old son as head of her family’s political party. Since he is too young to run for office, her crooked playboy businessman husband is now expected to act as “reagant”.

Huh?

Bhutto may have been a convent trained and European educated elite, but in reality she inherited her position as Prime Minister from her father (who was executed for corruption). Think Lady of the Manor: beautiful, gracious, and entitled to do what she wants.

Such goings on are not limited to Pakistan: such things are politics as usual here in the Philippines, and similar political families exist in the West, as the Bush, Kennedy and Clinton clans have proved.
But will the leadership of her party obey Bhutto’s passing of the torch to her son? Maybe not:

a new leadership that has coalesced of late around the high-profile lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan, who has been imprisoned in recent months and enjoys growing credibility within the party…

Ah, but into this mix of despotic shadow governments, tribal fueds, rabid fundamentalists, and feudal politicians comes another group that receives little attention: The middle class.

Again, the UK Guardian reports:

One key reason may be that, despite all the chaos, the voice of the ‘moderate majority’ of 173 million Pakistanis is barely audible. It is the voice of the shopkeepers, labourers, businessmen and other members of society who, in the midst of the recent state of emergency, simply got on with trying to improve their lives…. For one common desire uncovered by…(polsters)… is a ‘profound popular wish for reconciliation’.

… Other polls show declining support for suicide bombers and militants such as Osama bin Laden, for whom support was strong in the wake of the start of the war in 2001 in neighbouring Afghanistan.

StrategyPage echoes this hope:

Attacks on mosques and female politicians only makes more civilians willing to inform on the terrorists. The generals want to go ahead with the January elections, because they believe their guy, Musharraf has the best chance to win. Civilian politicians would rather delay the elections, so they can organize behind a civilian candidate who might win. The Islamic radicals have always been a violent minority, and now they are following the classic pattern of letting that violence turn them into an even smaller minority.

As the Guardian points out, the hope is that the middle class will triumph. So despite all the talk of riots and chaos and dictators and military and religious fanantics, the ultimate fate of Pakistan depends on whether or not the stuffy middle class prevails.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket. 

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