Reflecting the true hierarchy of power in Pakistan, General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani got an extension of three more years to serve as army chief. The announcement was made by Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani.
A week after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the political dust has settled sufficiently for us to hazard some analysis of the situation Pakistan faces and where it might go from here. The announcement that elections have been postponed until February 18, and the appointment of Benazir’s husband and son to lead the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) – confirming it to be a family fiefdom rather than a political party in any real sense – have established some of the parameters of Pakistani politics in the post-Benazir era. And yet, in perhaps the most important ways, her death really changes very little.
Benazir Bhutto’s assassination has revealed a facet of Pakistani politics that is not generally known to people in the West: the extent to which Pakistani politicians act as agents of the West. Tens of thousands of Muslims are killed in political violence each year, most of of it sponsored by the West. Few are mourned as deeply as Benazir. Her assassination has been condemned by US President George Bush, the UN Security Council and a long list of other western leaders. Why should the death of one Pakistani draw so much attention in the West, when those of other – such as the girls killed in the Lal Masjid in July – are regarded with disdain?