Saturday, 29 December 2007

Bhutto - a martyr ?

Spent some of the holidays in traditional fashion - stuck on the motorway visiting family at the other end of the country.

This was how I heard the hourly news bulletins on the radio of Benazir Bhutto's assassination. Strange how we have become desensitised to 'rolling news' on the TV with its constant repetition of the same clips, but somehow the radio actually emphasises the un-folding drama and poignancy of events .

The expression was used by one of Bhutto's supporters that she had 'become a martyr'. Martyrdom has had a bad press recently as it has become associated with suicide attackers such as her assassin. Personally I was turned off at an early age by tales of English Catholic martyrs who were prepared to suffer all sorts of tortures for 'principles' that seemed as relevant as how many angels could balance on a pin head.

However if ever the term martyr is deserved then perhaps it is in Bhutto's case - to face danger having weighed the odds and to pursue a cause in the face of these odds is true courage; not the death of the deluded like the religious 'mentalists of various hues. They show no more courage than someone who throws themselves from a building whilst on acid under the impression that they can fly.

In Bhutto's case though sadly courage is not enough.

Pakistan desperately needs a democratic opposition movement at the moment and what it got was a corrupt Patrician dynasty who had more in common with Western elites than with the Pakistani people. The irony of this is now seen with the future of the Pakistan People's Party now hanging not on a conference but on the reading of a will tomorrow ...

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