Bhutto and Corruption


I’ve linked to John Burns’ lengthy 1998 Benazir Bhutto profile for The New York Times before, but since she’s back in the news here it is again. It makes clear that her corruption (and that of her husband, nicknamed “Mr. Ten Percent”) wasn’t run-of-the-mill developing world graft, but really big-time stuff by Pakistani standards.

I don’t mean to just harp on the failings of the dead, and political assassinations of this sort are a horrible thing, but it’s not a good idea for western journalists to get into the habit of lionizing massively corrupt politicians just because they worked on the Crimson (I seem to recall that Pol Pot went to a fancy western university while Abraham Lincoln was self-taught). Michael Hirsch says “In the end, Benazir Bhutto could become in death the kind of hero for democracy in Pakistan that she never quite became in life.” Maybe so.