Five years after Benazir


And a misconstrued policy of reconciliation
While complex social, economic and geographical forces drive history forward, outstanding individuals play a crucial role in the process. Five years after the death of Benazir Bhutto, many wonder if things would have been better had she still been alive. The present PPP government, with Asif Ali Zardari acting as both the head of the state and co-chairman of the PPP, deserves credit for the constitutional amendments that restored the parliamentary character of the basic document, extended the scope of provincial autonomy and institutionalised a transparent system for holding fair and free elections. It also deserves credit for the NFC Award which considerably increased the share of the provinces. It would, however, be unjust to overlook the supportive role played by the opposition in constitutional amendments and in the formulation of the Award.
Many expectations from the first ever elected government about to complete its five-year tenure remain unfulfilled. The law and order situation in Karachi and Balochistan has continued to deteriorate, causing widespread suffering. There is a perception that the policy of reconciliation with all, dished out as Benazir’s legacy, has been defined somewhat cynically. This has allowed each one of the allies, whether political or in the establishment, to act as it suits them best without disturbing one another. The policy has contributed significantly to the worsening of law and order both in Sindh and Balochistan. Keeping in view how deftly Banazir handled her allies and opponents while in government and during exile, many think she would have done the balancing act in a way that benefited the country rather than only the individual players. What is more, Benazir would not have yielded the civilian government’s legitimate turf to powerful institutions as easily as the present government has done time and again. Her presence would thus have put democracy on a firmer basis. With her outstanding intellect and much better understanding of international relations, Pakistan might have avoided blunders that poisoned its relations with the West while the process of improvement of ties with the neighbours would have been at a faster track.
Many who miss BB today fail to understand why her murderers and those who planned the crime or helped the killers directly or indirectly continue to remain unpunished even after five years. There has been no dearth of investigations ordered into the mystery, including those conducted by the agencies, the JIT, Scotland Yard and the UN Commission of Inquiry. Some provided definite clues. Many wonder if the lack of action is again dictated by a misconstrued policy of reconciliation.