I’d never found Tariq Ali’s thoughts on international relations particularly enlightening, though he’s always had a great prose style. On the ins-and-outs of Pakistani politics, however, he’s been consistent must-reading throughout the crisis. The latest:
Some of us had hoped that, with her death, the People’s Party might start a new chapter. After all, one of its main leaders, Aitzaz Ahsan, president of the Bar Association, played a heroic role in the popular movement against the dismissal of the chief justice. Mr Ahsan was arrested during the emergency and kept in solitary confinement. He is still under house arrest in Lahore. Had Benazir been capable of thinking beyond family and faction she should have appointed him chairperson pending elections within the party. No such luck.
The result almost certainly will be a split in the party sooner rather than later. Mr Zardari was loathed by many activists and held responsible for his wife’s downfall. Once emotions have subsided, the horror of the succession will hit the many traditional PPP followers except for its most reactionary segment: bandwagon careerists desperate to make a fortune.
It’s hard to tell if that prediction of a split should be read as a genuine prediction or else just an expression of what he hopes will happen, since it’s clear that Ali doesn’t care for Nawaz Sharif and views himself as a PPP supporter of sorts.