Pulse Media


Now that the dust has settled: Benazir Bhutto

Robert Fisk


So let's run through this logic in the way that Inspector Ian Blair might have done in his policeman's notebook before he became the top cop in London.

Question: Who forced Benazir Bhutto to stay in London and tried to prevent her return to Pakistan? Answer: General Musharraf.

Question: Who ordered the arrest of thousands of Benazir's supporters this month? Answer: General Musharraf.

Question: Who placed Benazir under temporary house arrest this month? Answer: General Musharraf.

Question: Who declared martial law this month? Answer General Musharraf.

Question: who killed Benazir Bhutto?

Er. Yes. Well quite.

You see the problem? Yesterday, our television warriors informed us the PPP members shouting that Musharraf was a "murderer" were complaining he had not provided sufficient security for Benazir. Wrong. They were shouting this because they believe he killed her.


You want some breaking news?!


But an old friend of Ms Bhutto, Salman Tassir, told the BBC World Service he did not think criticism should be directed at the government.
"There have been suicide attacks on Gen Musharraf also," he told Newshour.
"I mean it is extremism and the fanatics who are to blame."

What makes the security failure all the more startling is the fact that it comes just weeks after the first assassination attempt following Bhutto's return to Pakistan from a lengthy political exile.
This being 'breaking news', this is just my on-the-spot knee-jerk reaction. I have to wonder, if the extremists opposed to democracy are to blame, and, that their enemies are just as much Musharraf as Bhutto or Sharif, why is the ex-General, or 'our man in Islamabad', still among us?

On a sadder note, I wonder aloud : will this be a moment of history as was the Kennedy brothers' assasinations, or just a footnote? Sure, she was but another 'democratic leader', whom the West would no doubt have found a creative way to cuddle up to. However, like my ten-year-old future mother in 1963, today I feel like crying. Not only for Benazir but for the scores of 'innocents' who died along with her.


The fantasy of endless consumption


In an earlier day and age, the middle class' craving for consumption was satisfied by foreign trips, and by dowry. No more. No more do you have to wait for a rich uncle to return from London or Dubai with flashy goggles, a Walkman, and a bottle of Johnny Walker. No more is extortion through marriage the only way to acquire a Bajaj scooter of dubious fuel-efficiency. Not that these avenues, benign as well as benighted, are no longer in use. Just that these are no longer the only ones available. Your bank calls you on Diwali-eve to give you a pre-approved loan of half a million rupees. What for, you ask. The call centre employee at the other end is incredulous: "You mean don't want to buy anything?"

Debt servicing becomes a critical part of the monthly budget. Some cope, some don't. Those who do, trapeze from one high-paying job to the next higher-paying job. Consumption has to be kept up. The only way to do so is to ensure that you don't hang around in the same company too long. This is of course the very opposite of what our fathers and uncles believed in. In those Five Year Plan days, you joined a company and grew with it. Today, though, if you want to keep up with servicing your debt, fidelity to job is anathema.


Good news : Cops don't google!


She turned to the internet after becoming suspicious about the story, which has gripped the world's attention, and she admitted her scepticism had paid dividends.

She told the Mirror that the Darwins should be nominated for a "World's Dumbest award".

A sort of non-lethal Darwin Award, maybe. I know, very easy!

Try it yourself!


No peers for Darfur


Jean-Marie Guehenno told the United Nations Security Council that excessive demands from Khartoum "would make it impossible for the mission to operate".


Two British Muslim members of the House of Lords have arrived in Sudan to push for the release of a British teacher imprisoned for insulting religion.