Bhutto and the lure of easy solutions

This isn’t a political blog, so I’m not going to go into a huge amount of detail on the completely unsurprising (but still saddening) assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto. But I will note that I found out about it first from Twitter — where online friends such as Muhammad Saleem, as well as Rob Hyndman and Steve Rubel posted updates and news links almost minute by minute.

I find that kind of thing happening on Twitter more and more, and it’s one of the fascinating things about what amounts to a combination IM client/group mini-blog (Dan York has some thoughts about Twitter and “micro-publishing”). In any case, one of those links was to Hot Air, which had a great running update with lots of links, including one to a short take on the assassination from Mark Steyn, a former neighbour of the Harvard-educated Bhutto.

I don’t know a lot about Pakistan’s troubled political scene, apart from what I read in my newspaper and others, but I have a sense that Mark’s take is right on the money. In many ways, Bhutto was a prime minister right out of central casting: an attractive and Western-educated woman, a prettier, Muslim version of Maggie Thatcher. That made her hugely popular in the West, but to the people of her own country she seems to have been a much more troubled figure, as far as I can tell.

From most reports, she sounds like someone who promoted democracy and populism, but while in power was distant and somewhat autocratic; someone who trumpeted openness, but was tossed out of office amid a long trail of corruption allegations, not all of which could be explained as a government plot against her. The Telegraph’s obituary has a fairly comprehensive look at the woman and her legacy.

9 thoughts on “Bhutto and the lure of easy solutions

  1. In the article you linked, there is this sentence, which is the heart of the differences of opinion surrounding Bhutto's leadership in Pakistan:

    “…ever more radicalized generation of young Muslim men Miss Bhutto was entirely unacceptable as the leader of their nation…”

    I see it in the Twitter feeds as well. To drop corruption accusations while unseating a government elected by the people is laughable. This is all about gender, and offended sensibilities at being led by a woman. It is about someone who would not and could not travel in the circles of men who wished to retain and consolidate power.

    Gender was her handicap.

    I am NOT saying that this assassination was because she was a woman at all. What I am saying is that much of what you read about her ability to lead in Pakistan and the allegations of corruption had much to do with her gender and offended sensibilities.

  2. Yes Mathew, it probably does say something that news of the Bhutto assassination first broke to you on twitter (I would have figured your all wired up to the Globe's newsroom… wouldn't they get a fast breaking story like this first?) But respectively, I think I am more enlightened when the news breaking on these new media sources like twitter and your blog are the stories that CNN or CBC isn't also breaking into 5 minutes later and covering for the rest of the day like the Bhutto story. The stuff we ordinarily wouldn't be hearing about from “old” media.

    • I agree, Richard — and the only reason I didn't pick it up earlier
      from the Globe's newswires is that I wasn't in the newsroom 🙂
      Technically, I'm still on vacation.

  3. I just realized that John Dickerson, Slate's exceptional political correspondent, is twittering as he follows the candidates on the road. It's another fascinating application, and had never occurred to me.

  4. I just realized that John Dickerson, Slate's exceptional political correspondent, is twittering as he follows the candidates on the road. It's another fascinating application, and had never occurred to me.

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