Soniah Kamal

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'Islam is not Pakistan's religion; Marriage is'

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Democracy Within, Democracy Without

In the wake of BB's assassination, per her will, her (not too popular) husband Asif Zardari was to be the chairperson of PPP, however, Zardari then bequeathed the role to their 19 yr old son, Bilawal, who will become chairperson (for life, I presume...) as soon as his studies at Oxford end. So continues the Bhutto legacy in Pakistani politics. If democracy is PPP's ideal for the country, then why is it not ideal within the party itself? Why Bilawal rather than a 'democratically' elected chairperson? Whither the actual chances of democracy within Pakistan when political parties are run as dynasties. Mr. Married Me reminds me that, sadly, political parties in Pakistan are entirely personality/dynasty based instead of ideals/policy based. Yet here was a perfect opportunity to change this status quo and make the PPP indeed a party of the people and not a Bhutto fiefdom...

I hear the media and people in general telling me that this is how it is, that Pakistan needs this as a symbol of unity, that this is the great and holy concept of tradition : well this is not how it should be. Tradition and all its traditional entrapments have never been valid arguments for me in any sphere and never will be. What I find most ridiculous is when people I think perfectly intelligent, or whom at least pretend to wear the mantle of thinking beings, inform me with the most serious of faces and the most educating of miens about the sacrosanct status of tradition in politics pertaining to country or family and how I really must get with this program.

William Dalrymple gives this insight into BB's reading material:

Benazir's favourite reading was royal biographies and slushy romances: on a visit to her old Karachi bedroom, I found stacks of well-thumbed Mills & Boons lining the walls; a striking contrast to the high-minded and cultured Indira Gandhi, in some ways her nearest Indian counterpart in their flawed centrality to their respective nations' histories.
romance and the royal biography on your bookshelf is no sin for a leader of a country, but for it to be your sole reads....hmm....here's to hoping Bilawal's tastes are more eclectic and in tune with his newly bequeathed responsibilities...


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