‘Sinking together?’

‘Sinking Together?’ by Tariq Ali for The Guardian, August 30, 2007

For a politician whose sycophantic colleagues boast that she is closer to the pulse of the people than any of her rivals, Benazir Bhutto’s decision to do a deal with Pakistan’s uniformed president indicates the exact opposite. She is sadly out of touch. General Musharraf is now deeply unpopular here. It is not often that one can actually observe power draining away from a political leader. And the lifeline being thrown to him in the shape of an over-blown Benazir might sink together with him.

An indication that she was not completely unaware of this came a few days ago when she declared that her decision was “approved” by the “international community” (always a code-word for Washington) and the Pakistan army (well, yes). In short, Pakistani public opinion was irrelevant.

The mood among sections of the street – I am currently in Lahore – is summed up in a cruel taunt: “People’s Party de ballay, ballay / ade kanjar, ade dallay” (Marvel at the People Party / half-whore and half-pimp). This is slightly unfair and could apply to all the Muslim Leagues as well. The fact is that people are disgusted with politics and see politicians as crooks out to make money and feed the greed of the networks they patronise and which double up as useful vote banks. read more