Last night we went for a opera performance. It wasn’t actually a opera, but an opera gala night where various pieces from different operas were presented. It was almost like the best from various different operas. It was great. The orchestra was excellent, as were the soprano and the choir. The tenor made up in the end after a shaky start. I loved the music and the drama of it all. It was nice to see the hall almost full and people all well dressed for the evening. Although I did think that a majority of the audience were much older than me.

As i was listening to the opera, my thoughts were somehow directed towards Benazir and her recent assasination. I had all sorts of thoughts in my head, no doubt all motivated by the music and the singing. My first thought was on the ghastly assasination and how no one deserves to be eliminated like this. I thought that the way Saddam Hussain was disposed off was bad but this is worse.  I also for the first time in her life felt a tinge of respect for her, for standing up to her murderers. My other thoughts about her about why did she go back to Pakistan in the first place and why is she being idolised by Western countries.  These 2 thoughts are interconnected.

The western media is full of eulogies for Benazir. Some call her a fearless crusuader for democracy, other call her as the saviour for Pakistan and yet others call her as devoting her life for her country. I am not sure how can anyone attribute all this to her. There is little understanding of the subcontinent in the western media and any little knoweldge than does exists is dangerously outdated. I say dangerous because decisions are made using this outdated information and are then imposed on countries to bear with the consequences. I am not sure what Benazir has done that affirms her democratic credentials.  She was after power like anyone else. There are only two ways to get to power in Pakistan, either through the army or by spinning off a family political party and by appointing yourself the leader for life, removing all obstacles within and outside the party. Benazir because of her father had the latter line chosen for her. To be fair to her, she didnt make these rules but was quite happy playing by them. She came back to Pakistan not to promote democracy in the country, but to become Prime minister of the country. If elections was the best way to do it then so be it.

The western powers instead of supporting the process and letting everyone  run for power, decide to support one person, cut a deal with the president cum chief of army and plant her at the helm of affairs. She in turn foolishly agreed to follow whatever the West asked her to as long as she gets to be the Prime Minister. For all her public statements I didn’t hear anything from her on any development issues. I don’t remember anything of note that she did when she was in power twice. So why did the west chose her ? Because she is Western educated, a so called liberal, and can tell the West what they like to hear and yes also the head of one of the two biggest parties in Pakistan.  But to me she represented the problem that is standing in the way of Pakistan’s development. She belonged to one of the big landowning families which still control most of the resources in Pakistan.

Its disturbing how seemingly different incidents in different places seem to mirror each other. Whats even more disturbing is that these incidents are spread over a long period of time. Which tells me that we are not learning from history. So what’s new ?