The daughter dies, the son shines…

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Olina Banerji

It’s frightening when real life begins to imitate art. A popular, resurgent leader, a homecoming, a failed attempt at her life, a near-fascist government losing ground, a cowardly competitor to the throne and finally a fatal attack that took away not only a life, but yet again, the subcontinent’s political credibility. It’s all terribly reminiscent of a movie, except that in this case, the redemption has not yet begun.

Whether Benazir Bhutto was shot or blown up or just banged her head too hard on the Sunroof (!) is hardly the point. The fact is that terrorism has identified its targets and the flamboyance of execution is growing with each passing attempt is what should concern our neighbours more. Musharraf’s dismal failure to wipe out terrorism in Pakistan has been made apparent; Pakistan now finds itself in a compromised situation, precariously balanced between healthy progress and fundamentalist regression.

For those who had waited for years for Democracy to return in the benign form of Bhutto, it was the cruelest blow. It is indeed ironic that a leader who is now mourned as a martyr, was once ousted from her own country, from the elevated stature of Presidency, on the charges of wide spread corruption. And yet as the drama of the massacre unfolded on television screens across the world, this tiny fact was lost in the wave of hyper-sentimentalism, characteristic of the subcontinent. The truant became the hero of the moment and a country wept to see its favorite poster girl join her father. Its funny how death immortalizes people, lends them credibility and honor, that they may have lost while they were alive. To endure and live on is not as glorious as death is, as dying seems to help transcend a mortally culpable position. As far as dynastic histories go, the Bhutto family is fairly ill-fated. Zulfikar Bhutto’s hanging and Murtaza Bhutto’s mysterious death seem now, to be forerunners to what lay in store for the first daughter of Pakistani politics.

Assassinations create icons of personalities, and legends of icons. Indian politics can too reflect upon the ruination of its first dynasty at the hands of terror. As media across the world made the dynastic links between the Kennedys, the Bhuttos and the Gandhis, a horrifying image of parallels and connections came alive and showed to us the impermanence of political promise. And yet what the future shows us is exactly what the past once did-how dynastic rule never dies out, and how as 19-year old Bilawal Zaradari becomes Bilawal Bhutto, in the name of Democracy, of people’s rule, of equality and sovereignty, the cause of an individual lives on. Amen…

Journalism has been called the “first rough draft of history”. D.U.B may be termed as the first rough draft of DU history. Freedom to Express.

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