Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Will Shia Benazir's legacy survive in Sunni-majority Pakistan?


Never in the past so much emphasis was laid on the fact that Benazir Bhutto was a Shia. But, in articles on sites, blogs and converstions I got a feeling that it may be a factor in the politics of Pakistan.

Pakistan has become a more divided country. There is no love lost between Shias and Sunnis. And the radicalization of the population in the Sunni-majority country, will not help PPP.
Benazir Bhutto was a Shia. Her parents (Zulfikar Ahmad and Nusrat) were both Shia and her husband Asif Zardari is also a Shia. It is a spculation but will that be a factor?

In a country where sectarian tensions are deeply rooted, it is not surprising either. People say that Benazir's family always played down their strong Shia leanings, but they are well known.
Emotional reactions apart, the common Pakistani Sunni may not be tempted to vote for PPP and could go for the Nawaz Sharif's Muslim League. Pakistan has more than 80% of its population belonging to Sunni sect.

An acquaintance, who happens to be a Muslim, also shared this view. I have also just seen a You Tube video that refers Bhutto as a 'true Shia Muslim sister who was killed my monster Sunnis'. Benazir was not as popular in Pakistan as the media has made her to be. She had made the deal with United States and was soft towards General Pervez Musharraf.

The sympathy wave after her death can't be discounted. But contrary to what the newspapers in India are telling us that her party may now sweep polls, I think it would not be that easy for Pakistan Peoples Party. Asif Zardari's doesn't have any reputation. He is believed to be a corrupt guy.
The election of a nineteen year old boy, Bilawal, just because he is Benazir Bhutto's son, but who is not allowed to speak and his father presents him as trophy, may not cut ice with electorate.
(Though talking of voting and election in Pakistan is also a joke, given the track record of Army and their ability at rigging). That's all conjecture and the true situtation on the ground will be known only to the citizens of that country.
In the past Pakistan has had Shia leaders including premiers. Even the founder of Pakistan, Mohamed Ali Jinnah was also a Shia. But later years saw growing tension between the two sects .

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