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Commentary Last Updated: Jan 3rd, 2008 - 01:03:11

Bilawal and the Bhutto curse
By Dr. Marwan Asmar
Online Journal Guest Writer

Jan 3, 2008, 01:01

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The choice of Bilawal, Benazir Bhuttos' son, to head the Pakistan�s People�s Party (PKK) as if it�s an organization that belongs to the Bhuttos reflects a cynical malaise existent in developing countries that the issue of linage and heritage refuses to go away and is accepted as a prima facie fact.

In this time of anguish and grief, the issue of succession should be the very least worry of the Bhutto family, who should understand the issue of politics should not be seen as a crusade all about justifying the end. On their own personal human angle, there is hardly an end to justify to, except family survival or what is left of it

They need now to put politics at the very back of their minds, and try to pick up the pieces of what happened to them as �political family� that has lost everything in the search for elusive ideals where politics has a tough price.

If anything, leading the party as it were, and as they clearly insist on, should now very much be left to the cadres, activists and long-time organizers of the PKK who have fought hard to keep it going all those years, and have the right to decide who rules through democratic means and participation.

While true the Bhuttos may still think of themselves as the rightful airs to the PKK, having been established by Ali Bhutto in 1967, who was Pakistan�s president between 1971 and 1973, and then prime minister from 1973 till 1977 and then hanged by General Mohammad Zia Al Haq in 1979, now is the time to let go and let the other party faithful take over.

Unfortunately, the PKK could have been seen as a carbon copy of other political parties in the developing countries, dominated by the few cliques and families like the Bhuttos, nurtured on political ideologies that had every bit to do with nationalism and independence as well as power and getting to the top.

This should no longer be the case It�s time people in the developing countries, including leaders, politicians, statesmen, take stock of their lives, and starting thinking, behaving and acting in rational, responsible ways and away from the dogmatism of the clan, kin, brother and son.

Political leaders, including those in the Arab and Islamic world, have, however, missed countless opportunities to build proper, effective and functional societies by refusing to accept the winds of change and instead persisted in their tunnel-vision thinking where �its my son that is the rightful successor,� and where leaders spend years grooming their sons to take over the party and/or leadership.

Clearly in this part of the world, the West looks upon us with considerable disdain, while we shamelessly and willingly continue to be dogged by parochial thinking and dictatorial points of views, unwilling to submit to true pluralism, participation, representation and transparency and openness.

Benazir�s will wish for a continuation of the Bhutto linage for the PPP must stand to the contrary of what the Bhutto family have stood for in building a society based on socialism and the poor. Her will and testament must stand to the contrary to what she stood for, unless she felt deep in her heart of hearts that a state and society like Pakistan can only be run by strong, dedicated individuals who know was best rather than what is best collectively.

It is also clear politics, running in their veins, and which wiped them out from the father, Zulfaqer Ali Bhutto, to the two sons, and the daughter, has been and continues to be the very curse that led them to their murderous deaths and will not go away, ready for its next victim.

Regardless of choice, Bilawal, a 19-year-old Oxford student who is yet to experience the hard knocks of political machinations, is clearly being thrown into the deep end for the survival of the family dynasty.

There is too much ideological baggage, bloody history and political recrimination that will continue to haunt. There is the militaristic culture, the Islamic fundamentalism, the traditionalism of Pakistani society as well as the traits of modernization and the nuclear issue to consider for a party leader.

It would be like fighting with the political and military wolves not to say anything of Pakistan�s international strategic relationships with the USA, Europe, Afghanistan, Iran and the Arab world. These issues need a strong party leader rather that someone who came from a political family

For the party handlers in the PKK, it should be time to take an effective decision rather than hide behind sorrow and emotional grief, it should be a time to build where the Bhuttos, and whatever is sadly left of them, become part of the building process.

Dr. Marwan Asmar is an Amman, Jordan-based writer.

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