The creed of the PPP — “Islam is our faith, democracy is our politics, socialism is our economy, all power to the people” — consists of three calculated lies followed by a howler. A more honest creed might be, “Government of the Bhutto, by the Bhutto, and for the Bhutto.”
I have been reading much rubbish in celebration of Ms Bhutto’s life. A number of my fellow pundits have further provided personal memoirs: it seems dozens of them were her next door neighbour when she was studying at Harvard or Oxford or both.
She was my exact contemporary, and I met her as a child in Pakistan, so let me jump on this bandwagon. I remember her at age eight, arriving in a Mercedes-Benz with daddy’s driver, and whisking me off for a ride in the private aeroplane of then-President Ayub Khan (Bhutto père was the rising star in his cabinet). This girl was the most spoiled brat I ever met.
I met her again in London, when she was studying at Oxford. She was the same, only now the 22-year-old version, and too gorgeous for anybody’s good. One of my memories is a glimpse inside a two-door fridge: one door entirely filled with packages of chocolate rum balls from Harrod’s. Benazir was crashing, in West Kensington, with another girl I knew in passing — the daughter of a former prime minister of Iraq. They were having a party. It would be hard to imagine two girls, of any cultural background, so glibly hedonistic.
Faced with the actual problems of Pakistan, she twice made a disastrous prime minister. Her death obviates a third term. But the legacy creates as large a mess. She tutored her supporters to blame President Musharraf for any harm that might come to her, so that when Al Qaeda pulled off the murder, they scored twice. In addition to killing a hated symbol of Westernization, they set the mobs not against themselves, but against Musharraf. As I have argued before in these columns, for all his visible faults, Musharraf has been dealing to the limit of his abilities and opportunities with the actual problems of Pakistan.