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Taking stock
Are there lessons for all from assassination of Benazir?

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto has been perhaps one of the most tragic incident in recent history. This incident not only has weakened the cause of democracy but has also thrown Pakistan far into a zone of no return. While many have been trying to play down the entire incident as just the continuation of the Pakistani legacy of military coups and assassinations, this episode of the same has put the future of South Asia at a real crossroad. Now that the dust is settling down and things are relatively coming back to normalcy, are there important lessons and observations to be drawn from this tragic happening? Well, to start with, Benazir’s assassination once again brings forth an increasingly menacing trend of this era, i.e. nations are subject to more risk from within, than from outside.

For rest of the world, nothing could have been better than to see the gradual restoration of faith in democracy in hearts and minds of the average Pakistani and releasing him/her steadily from clutches of fundamentalism. It’s some elements within Pakistan, aided by global fundamentalism, which have given a death knell to restoration of democracy in Pakistan. In the same league, for an LTTE, it makes more sense to continue with mayhem than to find reasonable political solutions for the cause of Sri Lanka’s Tamil minorities and thereby putting Sri Lanka at risk more from within than outside.

The same is the case of Bangladesh which through its ascension as well as assertion of fundamentalism is increasingly proving that, once, it was rightly called East Pakistan. Today Bangladesh, and Nepal too has more threats from within than without. A wider scrutiny of Asia at large and even of Europe would vindicate that the same malaise is plaguing them too, be it IRA is UK, ETA in Spain or PKK in Turkey. For the whole of 20th century, nations put more resources to mitigate external threats. And in their quest to securing external boundaries, they literally undermined the problems germinating within. As a result internal security was always considered less of a priority than external security.
The trend is continuing even now with billions of dollars of budget being put to buy weapons for conventional wars whose probability is decreasing by the day while most nations are thoroughly ill-equipped to deal with an omnipresent virtual enemy. India in this case is no exception either. In fact the level of internal distrust that is prevailing in Pakistan is evident from the fact that the Musharraf regime had to involve the Scotland Yard to demonstrate its commitment for a fair investigation.

The other striking observation from the entire Benazir death saga has been the reaction in India. There was perhaps not a single soul in India which was not in grief and which didn’t share solidarity with the beleaguered Pakistan. The wrong-doings of Pakistan in the past didn’t come in the way of expressing shock and shedding tears for someone who, for an average Indian, was a little more than just another politician of a rogue Pakistan. There was an attachment much beyond that. Perhaps the virtual bondage of the umbilical chord cut in a hurry still having its presence felt. And it is perhaps because of this that it is not just a need but a necessity for India to see that Pakistan doesn’t collapse. In that case, when history would be written half a century from now, it would not be Pakistan but India’s brethren that collapsed, would be sculpted in history books.

By:- Pathikrit Payne

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