Monday, November 20, 2006

You go, girl

Guess who Newsweek magazine interviewed this week? Benazir Bhutto. Every time I watch/read her interviews, I'm even more inclined to support the PPP. Now before you get all jumpy and tell me she didn't do anything for women or she supported the Taliban or it's all rhetoric, I ask you to just consider this: even if it is all rhetoric, don't words carry weight? Isn't it important that someone is at least saying these things? I mean, no other Pakistani politican is this enlightened with their public views - doesn't that count for something? Anyways, here are my favourite bits from the interview:
When I look at the rise of the religious parties, the reorganization of the Taliban and the persistence of the militant groups, I worry for Pakistan’s future.

A democratic society will also create tolerance among the young people in Pakistan who are confused by conflicting messages. On the one hand, they hear about the beauty of an accountable, transparent governance system that empowers ordinary people. But their reality is that power flows from the gun. We need to reverse the culture of violence and replace it with a culture of law and tolerance.


These corruption charges have been made to tarnish my image and deny Pakistan a democratic alternative. Since 1950, corruption charges have been made against every civilian prime minister—I believe it’s to divert attention from the institutionalized corruption of the military.

Irrespective of the differences on Kashmir, India and Pakistan have to move forward. One of the key ways that we can move forward is by copying Europe’s example. Europe was torn apart by war until it decided to build a common market. I’ve spoken to Indian leaders on this, and within Pakistan and India there’s an emerging consensus that while we have differences, these differences should not stop us from economic development and cooperation in terms of trade and travel.

The time has come when we within the Muslim world need to realize that each of us has a right to interpret religion as we wish, and we do not need clerics or the state to tell us how to worship.


When I was first elected prime minister of Pakistan, a leading Saudi cleric said that it was un-Islamic. At the same time, the religious leaders from Yemen, Cairo and Syria all came out in support of a woman leading an Islamic nation. [There is] tremendous debate and discussion between those who would take us to the past, and those who look to the future.


Farooq said...

"even if it is all rhetoric, don't words carry weight? Isn't it important that someone is at least saying these things?"

Dude i will rememeber this quote of yours so that you dont weasle your way out of future arguments.

Its an extremely weak way to support Bhutto - she doesnt do jack but at least she is important and talks about it.

I know there are a million other politicians who do the same and one of these days ure going to complain about them and I will have this quote up my sleeve.

It is an extremely weak point to make. Arent all those "politicians suck" jokes based around the theme that all the do is talk without any action?
I guess uve turned it into an asset.

And dont come back with a "beggars cant be chosers" argument for politicians in Pakistan. Even Imran Khan talks out of his ass.

Ahsan said...

no no no. my point is the direction and substance of the public debate in pakistan is MUCH better off with the PPP's point of view in it than not. am i excusing benazirs failings? OF COURSE NOT. what i am saying is: imagine if she/PPP DIDN'T say this stuff: then the public debate would consist only of the MMA types, the PML types and the nationalist party types. it is important that this type of point of view is out there if only to "secularize" the content of discourse in pakistan to an extent. thats all im saying.

NB said...

Thats cool. But you said that when you read this kind of stuff, your inclined to support the PPPP. Welcoming the contribution they make in expanding the spectrum of the debate is understandable, but you'd have to beleive their conviction in their own rhetoric on some level to want to support them.

Ahsan said...

well of course the "supporting" part comes from a belief (hope?) that they mean it this time. and they definitely meant it over the last 3 months with the WP bill. besides, we all know that BB was never allowed to govern the way she wanted to, esp during her first stint. not an excuse, merely a fact.

like i said in an earlier post, i have low standards bro. if nobodys doing anything right, and all but one party are saying nothing right, who am i going to support? the party thats saying something right, obviously.

NB said...

Then why not support the MQM? They're saying the right things too, they have some substance in karachi to back up their rhetoric, plus a huge womens and mens march in support of the WPB, and theyre cheif minister is pretty cool.

Ahsan said...

because they're a mafia organization although if we take kabirs word for it, they're cleaning up their act. look, the mqm, no matter how hard they try, is never going to be a national party, ok? you know this, i know this, everyone knows this. so why bother supporting a party thats restricted to one city/province? although i will concede they handled themselves very well with the whole WP bill, i was very pleased.

Alien Panda said...

There's a speech that Benazir gave to the Oxford Debating Society when she was the President of the OXford Union (the first woman to be elected as such) in which she defended her right to have sex outside wedlock and not be sent to prison.

So her liberal credentials, with regards to social issues at least, aren't really in contention. But she's just never been a strong enough leader to follow an ideology that is true to her own views, in fact when in power, she's mostly been concerned with trying to simply stay in control. The obvious blame for that goes to the bloody Army; but a lot of responsibility falls on the members of her party who view her as the face of the party rather than its leader. Sadly Benazir herself is not too convinced of her own leadership credentials and has always tried to placate the unruly members of her party (hard core feudals) and therefore has never been able to initiate social reforms in the very areas that voted her in. The problem for her isn't the lack of intellect or having a liberal outlook, its an inability to lead.