News Release

Benazir Bhutto and Pakistan


Mahmood was the editorial cartoonist for Dawn, a national newspaper in Pakistan. He is now internationally syndicated with the New York Times Syndicate. He recently wrote a piece titled “The Dream That Was Benazir Bhutto,” which states: “I too was swept-up in that initial euphoria and as a budding political cartoonist remember drawing my first Bhutto-cartoon for Karachi’s evening paper, The Star, in 1988. The editorial cartoon depicted a young, attractive woman, headscarf fluttering in the wind, tiptoeing across a political minefield that was Pakistan.

“Twenty-years later, Bhutto is now dead — depressing both in its predictability as in its brutality. My views towards this ex-Prime Minister had changed — becoming cynical soon after that first editorial cartoon. … When Bhutto was sworn in as Prime Minister in 1988 she very quickly began to flex her considerable hubris. Pakistan became her personal fiefdom, lorded by a feudal — with her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, a man known for his unashamed corruption, appointed as the national exchequer. … Bhutto was even implicated, when the Taliban took control of Kabul in 1996, in providing them with both financial and military support.”
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Barsamian, a journalist and founder of Alternative Radio, has spent most of the last month in Pakistan. He is currently in transit and will be back in Colorado beginning Tuesday evening.

Hoodbhoy is chairman of the Department of Physics at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad. He said: “Having known Benazir Bhutto from high school in Karachi, and then in Cambridge, Mass., I was deeply saddened by her assassination. But I feel that she should not be eulogized. It is impossible to forget her two tenures as prime minister. The second one, in particular, was a nightmare of corruption and misgovernance. She was unscrupulous and unprincipled in the quest for personal power and wealth. After returning to Pakistan she made clear that for a few table scraps, she would have happily teamed up with Musharraf under the hopelessly absurd U.S. plan to give the military government a civilian face.

“After the suicide bombing at her welcome rally in Karachi, it was irresponsible to have risked the lives of so many (including her own) by holding public rallies. She leaves behind a shattered Pakistan People’s Party, on which she had maintained absolute control with no rules for electing a party leader. But in spite of these facts, in her death Al-Qaida and the Taliban have gained, and left-wing, secular forces in Pakistan have been weakened once again.”
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Dossani, a Pakistani-American, is director of 50 Years Is Enough, a group that scrutinizes major international financial institutions.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167.