Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Alas poor Benazir, I knew her (not well)

In this case, the oft mistaken addition of "well" in the famous quote would be completely inappropriate because I did not know her at all really. I could say accurately that we went to Oxford together, in the sense we were there at the same time, but rarely in the same place. I do recall an occasion at the New College cricket ground, my preferred hangout of a summer afternoon - cucumber sandwiches and giant pots of tea ("Just add it to my bill old chap"), when she was there with various accolytes, slender, beautiful and charming. She was president of the Oxford Union; I never even attended.

Now dead, almost inevitably, after a foolhardy, but brave, return to her native country. One wonders what motivated her to take such a risk when she had everything and could have lived in perfect safety and considerable luxury? A sense of duty perhaps. Or egotism. The paper has had more column inches on her in death than it ever did in life, among them the usual tributes, but also some more pointed observations. For one who cherished democracy so much, what was this about the "chairwoman for life"? Scarcely democratic. And now in some kind of monarchial succession the party will be led by a nineteen year old boy. I wonder how he feels about that particular Christmas gift. Maybe she did really believe in democracy, but in her brief sojourns in power she also seemed to enjoy the fruits (luxuries) of power. Mister Ten Percent was not an appellation bestowed on her husband because of his tithing. Rather the reverse - as it is alleged. And don't you wonder sometimes how these politicos and statesmen seem to live so well without really having to do any work?

Pakistan is a shambles. It should be a warning sign of the danger of institutionalized fundamentalism. The universities have been largely wrecked by that influence. My many Pakistani students have been mostly well educated. And they play cricket well. One worries for the future.

1 comment:

Snipper "Book Zeller" said...

Well I know very little of politics, especially foreign ones which is sad given my life long conquest to understand the world at large - especially the people. So I dont think I could offer anything useful to say (although even when I DO speak...that rarely is offered as well). My only thought is...wasnt World War I started by an assassination...