Thursday, December 27, 2007

Distressing day! Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan was assassinated shortly before an election which had the hope of democratizing her country. I don't really know what to write beyond "How distressing!" and "What will happen to Pakistan now?" .

My way of dealing with this news has been immersion in news junkie behavior. The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer did a great job covering the assassination and opinions of knowledgeable people about its possible perpetrators and aftermath. The anger in Pakistan tonight frightens me.

I also looked Benazir Bhutto up on the web. I was impressed that Wikkipedia and other sites are already updated to include information about her assassination. Information does travel amazingly fast now. I read an excellent interview of Bhutto at the Academy of Achievement web site.

I decided in memorial of Benazir Bhutto to post here her answer to the interviewer's question regarding her efforts as Prime Minister regarding the position of women and other political ideals. There is much else in the interview worth reading.

Interviewer: You ran to improve the position of women, social services, education, health. Your very political ideals were controversial, weren't they?

Benazir Bhutto: That was my agenda. First I did it for democracy, because that was my father's agenda and it was also mine as a youth. But my own agenda was very much poverty alleviation and population planning, for instance. We brought down the population growth rate by one-third, and because of the cascading effect it's going to continue going downwards. And there was a lot of hue and cry against the population program, but we did it by recruiting 50,000 women from different villages, and training them in three-month installments. First they would train for three months. They'd go out and work and then every month they'd come back for a refresher to learn something more. So when we had 50,000 women with a vested stake in it, we had ambassadors everywhere to counter people in villages who were opposed to population control. ..
Building schools was right. I tried to placate even the clerics originally. I adopted a very aggressive stance. I thought I had to prove I was as tough as a man because I was in a man's world. Now I think it's not a man's world anymore but in those days it was supposed to be. So I also tried to be very aggressive and warmongering in my second term to try and co-opt my opposition. I am a consensus sort of person, I like to win people over. Not to compromise the core of my values, but I seek the middle way and I tried do that. I think in retrospect it was wrong because I did not co-opt them and I alienated some of my own supporters. But at the same time we got the three years to eliminate polio, to build schools and electrify villages.

Now I feel that if politics was a man's world in 1997, now it's a human's world, and that when people vote for women, they vote because they think women are more nurturing, that they give life, they produce children, and they give life. As the larger issues of communism and capitalism fade away, the focus in my view is turning more and more to the human being, and with more women coming into the work force or into the press, there is a sense that women leaders will be sensitive to the needs of mother and child.


Bob Hendricks said...

Bhuto was a woman of high ideals, compassion, and principles. It is a shame how we sometimes get to know such people well when they die. I knew only a little about her until her death. I hope the world can take her sacrifice and transform it to good.
Tragedies are too common in today's world. And they provide no catharsis, no ennobling.

Mary said...

I too was very distressed by this news. Though certainly no one is perfect and politics is a tricky game, I had been encouraged in the last few months by her protest and voice against the moves of the current government, and am saddened and discouraged now by her assassination. I hope things do not spiral down from here and that stability can be maintained.