rip benazir bhutto (1953-2007): 21st century assassination & sovereignty in south/west asia

Dear Readers,

Benazir Bhutto, the former prime minister of Pakistan, was assassinated today.   White pages, black typeface,  piecing together the articles, thinking they meant her death as a metaphor, please let it be a metaphor, and  there it was.  A mythical return, the first woman leader of an Islamist nation, gone too soon after her return to Pakistan.

I feel like, regardless of where you stand on Benazir, political assassinations have historically been used to paralyze nations and peoples fighting for increased recognition of their human rights. And it works. And this is no different.

Tariq Ali, journalist, intellectual, and fruit of a political organizing lineage in Pakistan that rivaled, though not quite matched Benazir’s own epic political legacy, wrote a piece on Benazir’s return in the London Review of Books, it came out in mid-December (

Ali aptly placed the crux of the matter on regional sovereignty. The question now is what does Benazir’s assassination mean for regional, political and personal, sovereignty?

A couple standout quotes from the Ali piece:

–On Benazir’s return to an embattled Musharraf regime in which only the yes men suvived: “[Musharraf’s] political allies were worried that their opportunities to enrich themselves even further would be curtailed if they had to share power with Benazir.”

–On the impact of the decaying war in Afghanistan: “Instead of encouraging a regional solution that includes India, Iran and Russia, the US would prefer to see the Pakistan army as its permanent cop in Kabul. It won’t work. In Pakistan itself the long night continues as the cycle restarts: military leadership promising reforms degenerates into tyranny, politicians promising social support to the people degenerate into oligarchs. Given that a better functioning neighbour is unlikely to intervene, Pakistan will oscillate between these two forms of rule for the foreseeable future. The people who feel they have tried everything and failed will return to a state of semi-sleep, unless something unpredictable rouses them again. This is always possible.”

What did Malcom’s assassination mean?  His dimmed star the crest of a tree ornamented with strange fruit, history.  What did Ghandi’s assassination mean?

And what does Benazir’s assassination mean when the headline for the breaking news of her death on CNN is “Oil Jitters,” because the whole damn story is covered for its impact on oil investors.  Human life, pay the price, all of us, for the hierarchical drip that floods some lives with value, droughts other lives as modern day commodities/collateral histories.  Control.

Just what does it mean that the Daughter of the East or the West was warned repeatedly to be careful, to be safe?  Just why is that a primary headline from the New York Times to CNN to the BBC?  Wasn’t Dr. Martin L. King, Jr., warned to watch out?  Couldn’t he have gone away rather than charge on fueled by the voice of his people?  Why didn’t she shrink into oblivion rather than raise her life to death?  Because she was a leader, loved and hated by people, but a leader nonetheless.


Fuck the mainstream media.





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