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.

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About mathewi

I'm the chief digital writer at the Columbia Journalism Review in New York, and a former writer for Fortune magazine and the Globe and Mail newspaper.

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