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Shattered Hopes
Weekly Standard ^ | Jan. 30, 2008 | by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross & Nick Grace

Posted on 01/29/2008 9:28:02 PM PST by jdm


IN THE MIDST OF AN eight-day trip through Europe designed to assuage fears that his country is sliding toward chaos, Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf has reaffirmed that parliamentary elections will be held on February 18. Though the last year has certainly shown us that events in Pakistan are always subject to change, the election date should be considered about as stable as anything in Pakistan's political scene. With less than a month before these elections, it is a good time to assess the influence that Benazir Bhutto's assassination will have.

Even when Bhutto returned to Pakistan in October, "reform" (whatever that means in the context of Pakistan) was likely a pipe dream--but analysts thought a power-sharing agreement between Bhutto and Musharraf could bolster his increasingly unpopular administration and perhaps even lend some legitimacy to military action against the terrorist safe havens in the tribal areas. Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) continues to be a critical force because although it is not the country's only secular opposition party (the MQM and Awami National Party are still active), it is the only party of the type with true national reach. Unfortunately, the new PPP leadership faces internal conflicts and is unlikely to parlay public grief over Bhutto's death into positive political change.

THE PPP IS NOW HEADED by what the L.A. Times has described as "a notoriously corrupt husband and a sheltered 19-year-old son." The role that Bhutto's son, Bilawal Zardari, will play in the PPP was announced at a chaotic press conference just three days after her death. There, Bhutto's husband Asif Ali Zardari claimed that her will put him in charge of the PPP--but that "he had decided, with the consent of the executive committee, . . . to pass the baton to his son." Bilawal actually comported himself well enough during that initial press conference, his first real taste of the limelight. He even managed to get off a memorable (albeit completely meaningless) quip: "My mother always said democracy is the best revenge."

Little is known about Bilawal--so little that journalists desperate for insight into his personality raced to a false Facebook page for information. Born in Pakistan but raised mainly in Dubai and London, he studies history at Oxford University's Christ Church College, his mother's alma mater. His most notable accomplishments have come in youth athletics. A recent profile in the Hindu notes that Bilawal "is described as a fitness freak and a keen sports enthusiast. He is a black belt in Taekwondo and also loves swimming, horse riding, squash and target shooting." His public interviews have been rare; when he spoke to a Pakistani newspaper about three years ago, he voiced his regret that circumstances would not permit him to play cricket.

TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: bhutto; musharraf; pakistan; ppp

1 posted on 01/29/2008 9:28:03 PM PST by jdm
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To: jdm

assuage fears that his country is sliding toward chaos

Hasn't Pakistan always been in chaos?
2 posted on 01/29/2008 9:29:53 PM PST by G8 Diplomat (Creatures are divided into 6 kingdoms: Animalia, Plantae, Fungi, Monera, Protista, & Saudi Arabia)
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To: voletti; GOPJ; Tigen; AliVeritas; Grimmy; gonzo; DeaconBenjamin; indcons; sukhoi-30mki; ...
Pakistan ۋﮧ۱م

FReepmail if you want on or off
3 posted on 01/29/2008 9:30:40 PM PST by G8 Diplomat (Creatures are divided into 6 kingdoms: Animalia, Plantae, Fungi, Monera, Protista, & Saudi Arabia)
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To: G8 Diplomat
Thanks for the pings, G8.

FYI, appears that Weekly Standard isn't on the excerpt list after all.

Oh well - just click the link above to read the entire story.

4 posted on 01/29/2008 9:39:30 PM PST by jdm (A Hunter Thompson ticket would be suicide.)
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