This is a serious post, so if you've come here to get some funny sunlight into your life I'd suggest that you skip this post. Don't worry, I'll get back to feeble-attempts-at-humour posts pretty soon.
As if the world was not a dark enough place already, yesterday's assassination of Ms Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan has generated even more dark clouds. More so because of the context of this development. 8th January was the date when polls were scheduled to take place. And even though the outcome of the elections may not necessarily have been a harbinger of democracy in the troubled state, it would atleast have brought a glimmer of hope that democracy could be established in Pakistan (maybe not for long -their history is peppered with military coups and dictatorships).
A few thoughts have crossed my mind on hearing this news. Some of these views maybe amateurish or based on a lack of insight into non-public information.
1. Impact on Pakistan's neighbours
A classic method of diverting unwanted attention is to break the baying of internal protests by providing an external enemy, a target for people to vent their confusion and anger on. Most people, as a general rule, love to have someone else think for them. If you leave them in a position where they have to use logic and inference to make up their own minds and take their own decisions, they get befuddled and confused. In such a context they would be more than willing to follow someone who provides them with a target or goal or objective which is easy to understand and in line with the past. Nothing is more understandable for a mob than to hate India, they've been doing it for a long time, and they know what is expected of them (This is correct for both sides of the border. It is easy for Indians to understand an anti-Pakistan rhetoric too).
Baying mobs that should ideally be looking inwards to see just what is going wrong can be easily moved to strike against an external enemy against whom they can group together without the need to think. Politicians have a knack of using this technique by harping against their long time enemy.
Have no doubt, the next few weeks, depending on how much support Ms. Bhutto's party is able to gather against the military regime , are dangerous times to be India. If unrest grows too much within Pakistan, the option of opening skirmishes with India could be very real.
The following ominous words from a Father Brown story I read once:
Where do you hide a leaf?
In a forest.
What if there is no forest?
Where do you hide a corpse?
On a battlefield.
What if there is no battlefield?
2. I am amazed and simultaneously shattered whenever I hear of suicide bombers. To have so much passion and hatred pumped into you that you are willing to end your life in the prime of youth for a cause that you know you shall never see achieved.
I am shattered that the josh that these people have, could it not have been channeled into better things?
And I am shattered that people who indoctrinate them have the ability of inspiring men to their deaths, but will not think of inspiring them to be constructive. Destruction is a feat of a minute, but to construct is the real test.
3. Generations of politicians
Enough is said about scions of political families. And mostly not in a good way. They are rich, brash, born with a golden spoon,get all opportunities, over-rule experience politicians etc etc.
But look at it this way, atleast with the families which have suffered violent deaths (Gandhis, Bhuttos, Kennedys), what is the motivating factor for children of these families to join politics and take a chance with their lives (its not an airy or hypothetical chance of death - they've seen it happen. And they've seen the media bazaar around these deaths. [ By the way, yesterday's coverage by NDTV, by two of my favourite mediapersons Rajdeep Sardesai and Karan Thapar, was really insensitive and in poor taste, something I never expect from these two gentlemen]).
It cannot just be a quest for power and money- they already have enough. Atleast in India and Pakistan I'm sure that just having the right surname and lineage would open all sorts of doors leading to success in almost any field. What then makes these people forget or hide the trauma of seeing sudden violent deaths in the family and embark upon the road again?