Saturday, September 01, 2007

Governing Pakistan

Much is being made of the upheaval of government in Pakistan, of the possible removal of military rule and the return of Benazir Bhutto and democratic government. William Dalrymple casts some light on just what Bhutto’s return might actually mean in A friend of feudalism at
comment is free… in the Guardian today.

…it is often forgotten the degree to which Bhutto is the person who has done more than anything to bring Pakistan's strange variety of democracy - really a form of elective feudalism - into disrepute. During her first 20-month long premiership, astonishingly, she failed to pass a single piece of major legislation. Her reign was marked by massive human rights abuse: Amnesty International accused her government of having one of the world's worst records of custodial deaths, extrajudicial killings and torture. Bhutto's premiership was also distinguished by epic levels of corruption. In 1995 Transparency International named Pakistan one of the three most corrupt countries in the world. Bhutto and her husband, Asif Zardari - widely known as "Mr 10%" - faced allegations of plundering the country.

...Nor is the distinction between democracy and military rule quite as sharp as Bhutto likes to imply. Behind Pakistan's swings between military government and democracy lies a surprising continuity of interests: to some extent, the industrial, military, landowning, and bureaucratic elites are all interrelated and look after one another.

Emphasis added by me to illustrate how much that sounds like the Bush Administration, actually our entire government.

Moneyed interests, the military, and political careerists have changed our government from a representative republic to precisely what is described as being run by Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan.

We now, not in the future but now, live under elective feudalism.

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