Panel: Pakistan Today: Life after Benazir Bhutto
Elizabeth Gregory: Okay, well we’re all waiting for Barbara and now she’s here and so we can begin.
Dina Alsowayel: It’s about time!
[laughter from all]
Dina Alsowayel: [chuckles] Make her feel bad.
EG: No! Make her feel welcome. [chuckles] Welcome everybody, to this evening’s Living Archives Panel, the proper title of which is, Pakistan Today: Life After Benazir Bhutto. And as you know events are moving quickly and this is a rather unusual panel in the series – the Living Archive series – in that it’s speaking to current events. Normally, our panels talk about current events in a more general way in terms of the lives of women in Houston and different experience, but today we thought this would be a particularly interesting panel. And thanks to Christine Attar [0:52], who was active in arranging for it, so thanks to the committee who was working to make this happen so quickly. And I’m just going to welcome you and point out that the Living Archives Series is a on-going feature of the Friends of Women Studies and four or five panels are presented….
[mumbling in back ground]
Unknown 1: there are more people coming.
EG: There are more people coming? Good!
EG: So I’ll speak slowly. [chuckles] And the range of topics is wide so that if you’re on the Friend’s mailing list or e-list you’ll get notices of the different panels and you can see which ones are of interest to you in a given year. If you are interested in getting on that list you might also want to become a member of the Friends of Women Studies which is a community group that supports the Women’s Studies Program at the University of Houston and this Living Archives Series is ancillary to the Women’s Archive at the University of Houston also that the Friends supports which is part of the M.D. Anderson Library that collects the papers of Houston area women’s organization and Houston women of note, and is a resource for the wider community and has been growing over the past 10 years since its founding. So if you become a member of the Friends so you support the Archive as well as the program and this series. So, I’ll just say that’ll be the end of my little blurb and you can find us online at friendsofwomen.org. And now I will turn this over to our moderator, Dina Alsowayel, who will introduce our panel and the format will be one of discussion and then time for questions from the audience. Okay? Thank you for joining us. Dina?
Dina Alsowayel: Thank you. So I’m going to begin with the introductions, beginning at the far left with Bapsi Sidhwa who is an internationally published writer who lives in Houston. Her novels I’m sure you’ve heard of, “Water, An American Brat, Cracking India, The Pakistani Bride which just came out in paperback, The Crow Eaters. Many have been published in several European and Asian languages. She has many honors among which are receiving the Bunting Fellowship at Radcliff-Harvard, and the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writer's Award, the Sitara-i-Imtiaz, Pakistani’s highest …
Bapsi Sidhwa: Yup.
DA: National honor in the arts. And most recently the Italian Premio Mondello 2007 for Water. She was also on the Advisory Committee to Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on women’s development and she’s taught at Columbia, University of Houston, Mount Holyoke, Brandeis, and University of South Hampton in England. Cracking India a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and Quality Paperback Bookclub selection was made into the film Earth by Canadian director Deepak Mehta. Her latest novel Water is based on Mehta’s film of the same name. So that is Bapsi. And then in the middle we have Dr. Suraiya Saleem. She’s a teacher of English at Bellaire High School and a host of a local Pakistani radio program for 30 years. She’s a mother and a grandmother and she was Sehba’s fourth grade teacher.
[laughter from all]
Sehba Sarwar (SS):[chuckles] which is why I’m here
DA: Sehba Sarwar is an author. Her first novel Black Wings was published in 2004. Her essays, poems and stories have been published in anthologies, and magazines in Pakistan, India and the United States. She is currently based in Houston and serves as founding director for Voices of Breaking Boundaries. She also co-hosts a radio show on KPFT, and offers writing workshops in Houston and in Karachi where she regularly returns. She blogs regularly, I guess that is a verb [chuckles] and posts – posted messages from Karachi this past December and January. She’s working on a new novel and she has a four year-old too.
[chuckles from all]
DA: Okay, I thought we’d begin by each of you telling us a little bit about yourselves, just whatever you want to say – maybe how you got to Houston? And then as you suggested Sehba, where you were when.
SS: I think we should begin with Bapsi. [chuckles]
Dr. Suraiya Saleem (DrSS): Bapsi?
BS: Where you were when Benazir…?
DA: Was shot? Yes.
BS: Ok. I was of course in Houston. And, it came as not that much of a surprise, although it did shock, because it was just – it was so much at the back of my mind that this could happen. Because the day she arrived there were three bomb blasts, 200 people died, isn’t it about? You know, it’s very tragic what happened because she had been in exile for about over 10 years. She had been elected twice into the Pakistani Parliament mainly because her father was enormously popular with the masses and that sentiment you know the Bhutto name is like the Gandhi name. It’s a very important name in Pakistan. And it’s because of her father. He had totally - He was enamored of the masses. Anyway, she won one election and she was dismissed for incompetence and corruption. Unfortunately she was married to a very corrupt man. She married – I mean she was. And then the gentleman was just now her opponent – I mean just now her – who’s joined her party – he dismissed her and he became the Prime Minister. And then she was again voted in and again dismissed on mighty charges of corruption. Her husband laid havoc. You know, he laid havoc. I have sort of personal experience of it in the sense that we – I’m a Zoroastrian, you know
BS: We owned the only brewery in Pakistan, my family. Now there is very little drinking going on [chuckles] because Pakistan is basically mostly Muslims there you know and this man he had the audacity to come to my brother and say, give me that many billions of rupees.
BS: He was known as Mr. 10 Percent. He would take 10% from everybody’s business. Then he was known as Mr. 20 Percent.
DrSS: Mmm hmm.
BS: And my brother said, “Where will I produce the money from? I just don’t have that kind of money!” He just wanted to take it over. And what he did was he built a wall through the rooms with the wax. He closed the factory. He built a little police station there and had ______ [8:30]. And as a wine maker and a non-Muslim in Pakistan you’re a bit vulnerable. So it was very easy for them to get, you know, fanatical policeman there and they literally opened a little police station there on the premises and they were constantly threatening my brother. And my brother sent a message – he’s a well connected man too – and he sent a message through one of her ministers to Benazir because she was the Prime Minister. And she got very angry and she sent back word, “Don’t complain about my husband to me.” You know.
[mumbles in audience]
BS: Anyway this is what happened and once again she was dismissed for corruption and incompentence or whatever, and I think Nawar Sharif again took over, you know.
SS: Yeah, that’s right. [whispered]
BS: He had her dismissed, now he’s there ______ [9:23]. And then my brother got his factory back. You know, like that. And so it’s a very checkered history. Pakistan has – it’s you’re being like musical chairs. We get an election. We get a whole bunch of politicians, and once people get fed up of their corruption and their mismanagement – most of our politicians are feudal lords! They are not already people of the masses. Except for Portobu became one. He was a feudal lord, but he became for the masses. And – there’s that, and when they get fed up with them, they ask the army to come in and when the army comes in they’re first greeted with rose petals and you know flowers and all that. And then when they get fed up with the army they again want a politician. So you know, it’s been sort of a musical chairs in Pakistan for very long. Now at the very end what had happen was, because Benazir had been exiled for so long – she was longing to go back. And Benazir is a sort of a favorite with the American State Department and the Americans I should think. And she was pressuring the girl, Condoleeza Rice and President Bush to sort of broker a peace between her and General Musharraf, so that she could go back to Pakistan. Because, you know she had cases against her in Switzerland for money laundering and for – they built palaces in Sari and in Dubai and you know they had made a lot of money. And the Bush administration eventually agreed and they said, “Fine what we will do is, you…” they gave her certain terms. “That you will give legitimacy to General Musharraf as the democratically elected person and you will be the Prime Minister, he will be the President. And she agreed to this. Now something changed, you know. When she came to Pakistan – now this was all agreed upon. And my brother met her at that time in London and she had made very nice comments to him about General Musharraf, that he is very – liberally that he is very broad minded. Obviously these weren’t meant to be conveyed to her and they were conveyed – uh, conveyed to him and they were conveyed. Now, this was the understanding between all parties. When Benazir came to Pakistan, I think she realized - you might have to correct then because you might be more in touch – she suddenly realized that her party – the People’s Party which has always been very popular, even when she was not there the previous election, that won the most seats. They just could not – they had by this time become very antagonized to Musharraf. To General Musharraf. And I don’t think they would have allowed her to work with him in tandem as the Americans had wished to happen. Now this is just my reading and I feel very sorry for her on this account, one is that she came back to this euphoric welcome and you could see it on her face you know, that she was radiant and she was soaking it in. And at the same time she was under pressure to make rapproachement with General Musharraf, and her party members were totally against it so I feel that she was caught between a rock and a hard place. And maybe I’m being very fanciful, but I feel she has also had a very tragic life. Her father you know, was hanged. He was in jail for two years. She was in house prison. She was badly treated. Then she got married to this wretch and then she also – one of her brothers died then another brother was killed – they were both killed and one doesn’t know by whom, but still some say it was by the Secret Service, some say it was by her husband. And so she had lost a lot and she, and you know combined with this euphoria when she came. I feel she almost had a death wish because she took too many chances. General Musharraf was apparently always in touch with her saying, “Don’t just pop out. Be careful.” You know. Because who had the most to gain from her winning? General Musharraf. Because there would be this rapproachement and he would get democratic legitimacy and America just wants him to stay on because he is fighting their war. The terrorist against the terrorists or whatever it is. Pakistan has always been a little – sort of a Mini-Me of America.
[chuckles from some]
BS: It’s destiny has been that unfortunately. Anyway I think at this point I think she did take too many risks at several occasions and well, the – we do – suddenly we have started with Afghanistan being occupied. There’s a whole lot of trouble in the Northwest. And a lot of the Northwestern people and the Afghan people are one tribe. They’re one people. Afghanistan and North Pakistan were one country. And because the British couldn’t rule it, they drew an artificial line through it and divided Afghanistan into two. So now half of Afghanistan is Pakistan and when Afghanistan was bombed by the Americans, by us, their relatives were all in Northern Pakistan and they all became very anti-American, naturally if your relatives are being killed you’re going to hate America. So a lot of these people are in – have come as refugees to Pakistan. At the time of the Soviet invasion when the _____ [15:50] were American heroes, 4 million of them, of the Afghan’s came as refugees came to Pakistan and they’ve not moved out because Afghanistan has been reduced to a ruble. Where would they move to? And they’re a very rough people and it’s not pleasant having them. They’re basically smugglers. They’ve taken over the whole transport industry. They’re the one’s who are smuggling a lot of the heroin and God knows what. Anyway, these people can’t stand Musharraf because he’s a broad-minded, secular-minded man, and they’ve had several attempts on his life. The latest I’ve heard, there’s such a strong attack just now planned on him that he is staying with the next – the Army Chief Kyani. He’s staying under his protection. And then they are after Benzir also because they couldn’t stand the thought – they are Taliban mentality even before the Taliban came around, the mentality was, you know very conservative. And right now it’s very confusing, but I do believe that it was these very fundamentalist types who did get her. It was to nobody else’s advantage except for some politicians but certainly not to the General’s advantage because if she was elected no matter how much noise she made at this point against him, once she was elected she would do what America’s bidding was because she had always done America’s bidding every time she’d been there. So I think this is what happened. Now what’ll happen is that America wants General Musharraf to stay put. He knows how to control the terrorists on the extreme front and a very sad thing is that her corrupt husband has taken over the Party. You know, this is very sad and this is causing a lot of heartache. I mean he’s one of the corrupt people. Although Pakistan has forgiven his crimes, or whatever, Switzerland hasn’t. Spain has again. You know, they were internationally criminals sort of. And uh… [brief pause] where was I headed? [chuckles]
DA: In the future, but before we get there.
BS: Oh yes, yes!
DA: Let’s go back to that moment when you remember.
BS: Yes, yes. So it’s been Pakistan’s misfortune to be suddenly headed by international criminal and on the other side we have Mr. Nawar Sharif who was again dismissed for corruption, but who was known as Gonglu Turnip. He is again one of the stupidest politicians probably worldwide.
[laughter from all]
BS: And so it is our misfortune to have these two people at the helm of affairs.
BS: And of the two monsters, Benazir’s husband is proving much more sensible it seems. You know? It’s amazing.
DA: Bapsi, before we talk about the future let’s go back and…
BS: I’m very sorry! [chuckles]
[chuckles from all]
DA: No, no! it’s perfectly fine. So lets go back to that moment though
DrSS: You go ahead. [stutters] My memories too far away! [chuckles]
DA: Your memory was in December.
[chuckles from some]
SS: Well, I was in Karachi, actually. I go back very often. My parents are there and I was thinking of adding a hyphenation to my name Pakistani-American and I don’t really hyphenate my name, I don’t really think of myself as anything but Pakistani. And maybe that will change I’ve been living here a long time but it doesn’t change – as long as my parents are in Karachi…
DA: There are seats here!
Unknown 3: Oh, thank you.
SS: As long as my parents are in Pakistan, my history is there and I go back as often as I can. A lot of my writing is based there and I was in Karachi and it was definitely the question “Where were you when?” because it was 5:30-6:00 in the evening and I was actually at a friend’s house and we were getting ready to take our daughters out for a drive on the other side of town so they could play on the new – it’s like a pool hall and a big area for the kids to play and an ice rink and what not. And right as we were about to pack into the car my friend walked in with a text message on his telephone. “Turn on the TV.” And we did, and then everything unfolded and for a while it was you know, the news flashes were “ She’s been shot. We don’t know what’s going to happen. She’s okay.” And we were all sitting there. “She’s fine. She IS fine. She is fine.” And it took about half an hour. About 45 minutes from the first news flash of “She’s been shot.” To the final news flash which came that she had passed away and I still get shivers when I think about that because you can’t be in Pakistan and not be passionate about Benzir Bhutto. You cannot not be passionate. You can either hate her or you can love her and I’ve gone through my feelings about her. I was in Karachi when she first came back to the country as a – when she first came back and she was very young. She was 35 years old and I was very young and I was working for a newspaper, and I remember doing - going to a press conference with her and I just remember coming back euphoric like something’s going to change because that was during the Azir [21:11] times when Pakistan regressed 500 - back 100 years back into history and it was a very, very 70s and 80s, but it was a terrible time and Pakistan hasn’t recovered from that still. But then after she came to power twice and she - I think she – most people, similar minded people felt very betrayed by her, that she could have done much better, but she was very young, she was 35 when she first came to power. But this time around there was a different energy and I’ve always – and since the 80s I’ve been cynical about her, like whatever. But the energy was different. And the energy - that among my community and the people we know, the progressive community, I mean there was just complete devastation and there was complete shock. And when she came there was hope. There was again the same hope that had been there in the 80s. There was hope that – and there was an e-mail that was passed around actually that she wrote. She wrote to somebody and then she passed it around. My sister is a journalist, a well known journalist in Pakistan and she was passing it around, and it was the e-mail that Benazir sent. And in the e-mail she said somebody accused her, like “how can you…” – and this was my feeling – “how can you talk to America, how can you talk to George Bush and get that protection and come back to Pakistan?” And in her e-mail she said, “Sometimes you have to talk with the Devil.” And she knew what she – I feel she – I feel she knew what she was doing. She knew it was her only hope of coming back. That was her only hope of returning and being able to fight for power, get voted and then do what she had to do. And I did believe that if she had been elected there would be change, because she was secular. She was progressive and she was – she still represents hope. And her husband is changed.
Unknown 4: Hmm.
SS: My cousin went to meet him actually the week that Benazir was shot. He drove up. And you know – and during those three days, I didn’t mention was during those 3 days – the Thursday night that she was killed and the next 4 days the city of Karachi was on fire. It’s a city that got very, very strong Pakistan People’s Party supporters, but it’s also got a very, very strong opponents. The MQM which is the immigrant group from India and the – Karachi was at war. I mean the city was on fire and in our part of time where generally nothing happens, it’s kind of like you know, the Montrose of the – you know, it’s the quiet protected part of town . On our street there were burnt cars. I was walking. I went for a walk the next day with my mother and my daughter and I mean, there were burnt cars all the way down. And that was the case of the city for four days. And that was – and some of it was PPP, people angry and that is how anger is expressed, and that is how grief is expressed, and some of it was MQM, and opponents of Benazir who used the moment to actually fuel more fire and then blame it on the PPP. I call them the agitators [chuckle]. And so there was a lot of stuff going on. And during that time there were people who didn’t have food in their homes. There was no gasoline. Everything – when you think of 911 in this country you think of Manhattan shutting down, you think of Brooklyn shut... You think of a certain part of this country shutting down. The day Benazir Bhutto was shot, Pakistan shut down. The country shut down. I have a friend sitting there in the back and she managed to get on an airplane on Sunday,
Unknown 5: Mmm hmm.
SS: just barely. The day…
DA: The day she was killed?
SS: Benazir was killed on Thursday. Sunday was when things – traffic began moving a little bit. It was unbelievable. I’ve never seen anything like that. And I’ve lived through curfew. I’ve lived through a lot in Karachi, but I’ve never seen anything like what I saw. And my cousin went to see Asif Zadari and he came back with hope, you know. And there has been a change. And the mistrust of the public felt towards him that has changed and there’s a hope that Asif Zadari can bring to the country. And a lot of people that I know have the same feeling. The elections that happened last week were rigged by Musharraf. And there were – and that’s why there wasn’t the massive sweep of the PPP that was expected. There isn’t the massive sweep that is needed to remove Musharraf from power, but it’s a slow – it’s a slow process. And the thing that the media is ignoring completely which is the biggest issue in Pakistan is – which is why the country was in flames to begin with, is the legislative system. I mean the lawyers of Pakistan
Panel member: Hmmm.
SS: and one has to clap for that. I mean, if lawyers did that in this in this country we wouldn’t have Guantanamo. We wouldn’t have the injustices that we are having here today. Lawyers in Pakistan are taking to the streets every single day and they’re marching just to speak out against Musharraf. Musharraf has removed the Supreme Court – I mean the Chief Justice of the Supreme court last year in March. That was his reason for doing the November coup. And I actually beg to differ with you Bapsi, I don’t – I believe that Musharraf had – definitely had a hand in Benzir’s death. I don’t believe it was
BS: Mmm hmm.
SS: What the media was saying.
BS: There are many, many rumors.
SS: There are.
BS: No, but he had the most to lose with her death.
SS: Not – I don’t believe that because I believe that she would have worked to get him out.
SS: She would have worked to get him out. And the judiciary is really…
BS: She had already an understanding with the Americans, she would not go against America.
SS: I don’t know about that. I don’t know about that. I really… we will have to disagree on that one.
BS: Anyway on that one.
BS: So many opinions, [26: 44]
SS: So many opinions, so many thoughts.
SS: But the part to pay attention to is what’s happening to the judiciary in Pakistan and that is to look for the underground news. Go to the Pakistani newspapers, find out what’s going on and what the army and the police are doing to the judges today who are under house arrest who every time they march on the streets they’re beaten and tear gassed. And it happened even after the elections I think the last event - episode and that happened in _______ [27:08] just four days ago. And there were arrests and there was tear gassing of lawyers. So, I’m not sure what’s going to be happening. I know I’m going to be back again in the summer and I know I’ll be following very closely what’s going on and it’s hard to feel hope but maybe something will happen with the elections but only if Musharraf goes. Musharraf has to go.
DA: Dr. Saleem could you talk about how her death…
DrSS: My memory does go back a little bit. Benazir Bhutto – my first view when I started teaching at Karachi Grammar School, one of the most elite schools in Karachi Pakistan, usually filled up with students and children of the ministers and the feudal lords and everything. Sehba was one of them. Not the daughter
SS: Not the daughter of a feudal lord! [laughs]
[laughter from all]
DrSS: [chuckling] but she was one of them. Long before she – you, came to school, one of the – some of the years Benazir spent, went to private school. She was doing her A levels at the time when I first started teaching. Young, pretty girl. Very beautiful. Extremely vivacious in her manners and in her way intelligent. Very fair and pretty. She was known as Pinky or everybody calls Pinky. And she studied there and then of course later on she went to Convent of Jesus and Mary and achieved. I only remember from the school point of view. I had a number of her cousins in my class that I taught. One was Amil Prudhoe [28:34] her cousin. He was – I don’t know whether he was in your class or if he was ahead of you. But, then I also had the Nirani boys which were Anasan Nirani _______, and a most of these political leaders were in this class. Benazir’s hard luck, I would say was that she was born in a family of the feudal lords, where the woman does not have any place. Her father, a very intelligent young man, at that time, Mr. Bhutto was very intelligent and really wanted to do something for his children and he gave them the best of education. She did get all the education that she was supposed to be getting. And she would’ve made very good use of it, she did to some extent, but there were so many family squabbles within the family itself. I mean, her brothers were not that well, that good in their studies and all, they were not that brilliant. And they had this mentality of being the son and carrying the name of the father, so I think they resented the fact that she was chosen by her father to be a leader of the Pakistan People’s Party. And that was a rift, there was a rift between the sister and the brother at that time. This became into a real war later on that lead to the shooting of one of her brothers. She was blamed for it because a lot of people said that it was her husband who did it or whoever. But he was shot and he was killed. Then the other brother was also shot and killed. This lead to a lot of alienation from her mother because the mother did not want anything more to do with her. She thought she was responsible for the death of the brother. So having gone through all these family squabbles it’s very difficult to become a leader of a nation and then at the same time rule a country with everybody dictating to her. This is an Islamic Republic where she had to be married. She married at a later age in life. She was in her 30s when she had to marry. It was an arranged marriage. She would not have married Zadari but because he was a Sindhi, he was a feudal lord himself it was considered to be a good arrangement for her. She had to marry in order to rule Pakistan because have to be a married woman. You cannot be unmarried and be head of the state. You’re in a Muslim country where a Muslim woman is not allowed to be head of the State. And she became the head of the State because she had to marry and because of that I take my hat off to her for being able to cope with a man like Zadari. He may have changed a little bit I don’t know but he was known as Mr. Ten Percent.
[chuckle from one]
DrSS: I mean everybody knew that. There was no doubt about it. He did not get along with her brothers. After their death he became even worse. I think Benazir would have done a lot herself but because behind her it wasn’t her ruling who’s the country it was her husband. And she couldn’t do anything. And then the religious people that we had over there did not want a woman to rule over them. It’s now possible in Pakistan to have a woman rule the head of the State, which is surprising because we’d had one in Maglundi which is a Muslim country. We had in – but if you go back in history it’s very difficult for a woman, a Muslim woman to rule a country. She did do her best I think and she would have tried.
BS: Could I just interrupt a minute.
BS: She was elected twice.
DrSS: Twice, yes.
BS: Overwhelmingly by the masses.
BS: And Pakistan was not so slum or divised at that time. I mean now it is polarized.
DrSS: Yes. Yes. But, the –
BS: I mean we are – Pakistani’s were more willing to elect a woman than the US.
DrSS: Right! Exactly. Yes!
[laughter from all]
SS: It wasn’t an issue there.
Audience 1: Can I say something here?
Audience 1: You know, even – you’re saying that Muslim women wasn’t supposed to be elected. You know, Fatima Jinnah.
Audience 1: You know many, many years ago came so close to winning the election
Audience 1: And it was only because of the rigging in the election that she did not win.
DrSS: Yes. Yes.
Audience 1: So it’s not true that people in Pakistan do not want to elect women.
Audience 1: I’m sorry I’d be …
BS: Few people would have elected her. The masses did not want a woman to be the head of State.
Audience 1: No, that’s not true.
Audience 1: I mean, why would the whole country want to elect two women twice, three times?
SS: That’s why she was there. She would have come back a third time.
BS: Third time.
Audience 1: Fatima Jinnah was so close to winning the elections whether Yayah Khan was rigging the elections. [inaudible]
BS: I don’t think the population is against a women being head.
DrSS: The population [overlapping comments]
DA: Let me ask each of you this question and then you can each give your opinions on it.
DA: One typically assumes that in Muslim culture women don’t have this kind of opportunity. So first, was she a credible political player and if she was, how did she get to prominence within this culture? And so each of you can answer it the way that you like.
DrSS: What do you think? I think it was also a lot of help was Zadari behind it.
DA: Her husband?
DrSS: Definitely. Yes! Because he wanted to be – he was the real power. He had people with him. He had a lot. He was the one who really wanted her to be in power because he would have ruled through her in other words. This is my personal feeling.
DA: But why use her at all? Why doesn’t he just do it then?
DrSS: Because he’s not popular.
DA: So it’s her name.
DA: He wants her name?
DrSS: Yes. Exactly. They knew about him. They didn’t want him. Even today he’s very unpopular because of the way he’s been going around and because of his corruption and everything but as far as she’s concerned she was personally liked by everybody. A lot of people were liked. But when we have these very fundamentalist kind of people who did not want a women – like if you go to the fundamentalist side with [34:18] all these people, they didn’t want a women. And so it would have been impossible.
DA: Thank you.
DrSS: But she did rule to some extent and work out.
BS: I think I have a totally different view here. It may be Islamic country but it is not a Mohabist Islamic country like Saudi Arabia. And it’s a sophisticated [34:37] Islam. And I have found as a woman living there - I have found I have been able to argue with men, be quite arrogant in a way which I am not able to do in America, and it’s been acceptable. They accept a lot more aggression from women than in many Western cultures. Perhaps this is because the sexes are slightly segregated. And she was overwhelmingly elected. She wasn’t elected by a coattail of people. And her husband from the very beginning all the ruling class had contempt for him. He was a very – he was not a feudal lord as such.
BS: He was a very ordinary little – uh - ________ [35:24]. You know he wasn’t a very… [brief pause] And she did not rule thru his power, absolutely not. Yes at least he was a man and she needed a tribe. Some sort of man’s support. But it was her People’s Party that gave her power, not this wretch. Definitely not!
[chuckles from all]
BS: So, that – her Party gave her that power because they know the Bhutto name is still magical. That is why her husband, has changed her son’s name from Zatari which is his name to Bhutto, so that he can inherit the man. I mean they’re using it as a fiefdom.
BS: Okay, let’s face it. [chuckles]
DA: Right. Yeah.
SS: [Gasps & chuckles]
DA: Okay. Sehba. [chuckles]
SS: And I agree with you Bapsi, in the sense that the whole issue of being Muslim and being a woman is not an issue when it comes to running for power. I think that – and like you said I mean it’s an issue that’s being discussed here right now, and that was never an issue in Pakistan and I think that class issues can play a part. It’s very unlikely that you can be somebody who’s going to sweep a house and then run for it. That would not happen. Class issues are more prevalent. She was very well educated, very articulate, very intelligent and she was able to gain major support of her Party. The Pakistan People’s Party is the party that has following in every single province as we stay state over there. So, I mean it is a Party that really speaks to the masses because of the message that her father brought which was clothing, ___________[35:54], you know food, clothing, shelter is very important. And that is a message that is a very strong message in the party. And she was going to come back again with a resounding victory if the elections had happened and if she had lived, that there was certainly that. And I think that her husband would have not played – her husband did not rule through her at all. And the whole issue of continuing the family name, I was actually – you know the whole issue of what does it mean to have a son, a 19 year-old boy
SS: Become the party symbol and what does that mean. And there’s a lot of questions that come around that but again I really feel like, what was chosen was chosen by the Party. We are not the Party. We are not part of the Pakistan People’s Party. They sat for 6 hours, for 8 hours actually and they debated it and it was a closed meeting. Nobody was allowed in there. All the party members represented who sat down and discussed it. And the reason why they came down to the conclusion that “We have to use her son,” and he was part of that meeting, so were her daughters, so was her sister who has not played an active political part and for that reason she is alive. She is the only Bhutto from her generation who is living. And her son…
BS: But her kids are living too. Bhutto’s son, daughters.
SS: Yeah, but from the immediate family.
BS: Yeah. Yeah.
SS: But Bilawal Bhutto was chosen as the representative for the Party. He will continue his education. A lot of questions come up around that. The same questions that would come up around here with the Clinton rep – the Kennedy, and the Bush. The whole thing happens in every country. The Ghandi’s, it can happen. And the main agenda of the Party from what I’ve understood from people who have talked to the Party members is to keep the Party together somehow. Keep the Party together because of what it represents and the hope that it brings with it. So, I hope that something will change.
DA: Bapsi, I thought you said she was a favorite with the Americans?
DA: Yes. Okay.
BS: Oh, yes. Because she studied at Harvard,
BS: and she had a very intense friendship with Peter Galbraith. He was very sympathetic to her. I remember when she came to the commencement at Harvard, he wrote a beautiful article about her. It made me cry because she’d apparently when she was in jail, slipped a letter beneath his door saying this is how mistreated. And he really championed her and he talked to all the other American politicians and he really buoyed her a lot. All the time. She was sort of – she did America’s bidding [chuckle] you know. That is something that a lot of Pakistanis…
DA: If you each agree with that, do you think that was something that supported her political profile or did it take away from it?
DrSS: I think did supported it. Definitely.
DrSS: She was known by - Musharraf used to call her “The Darling of the West.” At once…
BS: Yeah. But, that’s not why she was elected because Pakistan is just now – the general public is not in favor of Pakistan because America is dictating all the time – do this, kill those people, kill…and they’re dictating to Musharraf to kill his own people. And that’s not going to make him popular. I don’t know how many – I was just recently in Santa Fe and I was surprised that very few people had heard this. That when 911 took place, at that time Armitage I think his name is, General Armitage. He went to Pakistan and talked to General Musharraf and General Musharraf and he on American television said, “Yeah.” He said, “Either you are with us. And if you are not with us we will revert you to the stone ages!”
SS: I remember that.
[mumbling in the background]
BS: You remember?
DA: Yeah, I remember that.
BS: Yeah. And this was on television here. How many of you heard this?
[more mumbling in the background]
BS: Oh! I’m glad to know. [chuckle]
DrSS: Yes. I remember now.
BS: Yes because in Santa Fe, even the journalists were surprised. They’d never heard of this. And I said, “Yeah, Pakistan has been forced to do things which go against its interests.” Unfortunately what has been happening is the Northern parts which were first linked to Afghanistan are now agitating for their own country. So you know there’ll be a civil war and they’ll want to break away. It’s become a very dangerous sort of situation. And that is why again, America’s insistent that Musharraf should stay, even now.
DA: Sehba ______ [41:38] a counter, or…?
SS: I think that there were times – I don’t know the mistakes – the things that one does when one is 35 are not the same things that one does when one is 45 or 55. [chuckles] so with the consciousness that she came back having talked with the Devil, she came back with that protection, with that voice, I think that there would have been different results with it. And I think that, yes it helped her to come in power and stay in power but the person who has been able to stay in power the longest as a result of 9/11 is General Musharraf and Musharraf has used that to build arms just like General Zia did when the United States and Russia were fighting in Afghanistan. The whole collapse of that region happened and Musharraf has used – he’s playing a very dangerous game. On the one hand he’s arming – he’s arming, um… terrorist groups. I hate that word, so I was trying to find…
DrSS: No, I don’t believe that. I don’t believe that.
SS: I do believe that.
DrSS: You don’t believe that.
SS: Well, I do believe that so…
DrSS: They have some…
BS: They have tried to assassinate him so often.
SS: I believe that.
BS: They hate him.
SS: I believe… I believe
BS: He’s killing them!
SS: It’s my turn, right? [chuckles]
SS: It is my turn. That’s my daughter’s language. “It’s my turn!”
SS: My four year old. “It’s my turn!” [laughs] But Musharraf is building a very strong – what’s happening in ______ [42:57], the battles that he’s fighting are not necessarily battles that are worth fighting. They’re not these masses of armed terrorist youth that are out in such huge force. The army is the force in Pakistan. Things are at a very, very dangerous tilt in Pakistan right now where…
Audience 2: Like if Musharraf were [overlapping comment 43:11]
SS: There’s never been the kind of suicide bombings that there are today.
Audience 2: But the situation is very bad. [overlapping comments]
[more overlapping comments]
SS: Let me just finish.
SS: Let me just finish what I have. Yes. All I was going to say is that Musharraf is playing a dangerous game where he is definitely in desire to stay in power. He has got the American support. He’s playing the game by keeping the story raised high that there’s all these horrible things coming up in arms and that there are these terrorists that I have to keep at bay and he’s using the true-forces and he’s staying in power and he’s managed to stay in power for 11 years because of that and I think it’s a risky business. Because he will die. The same will happen to him that has happened to General Zia.
DA: It seems that when you talk about women political leaders anywhere it’s an electrifying topic [giggles]
[chuckles from all]
DA: So with that please join us in asking them questions.
Audience 3: How free is your press? I’ve kind of sensed that our press becomes less and less free on a daily basis and I wondered in your country what you sense as an insider?
BS: Freedom of the press? Is that what you said?
Audience 3: Real freedom of the press. You know, so many of our news sources are owned by huge conglomerates and there’s definitely editing that occurs.
BS: I think the press, I think you know just – I don’t know your opinion but….
DrSS: They do have freedom of…
BS: After Benazir the press became the most free press. I mean everybody in the press thinks its their bounded duty to criticize the government
[chuckles from all]
BS: the minute a new government comes its their bounded duty to lay havoc and hell onto them. And it has been, even when I was in India - I was at Pakistan almost every year and when I was in India they would say, “You, your press is more free than ours.” Because you know how ________ [45:15]
SS: Mmm hmm.
BS: You know, have you read his recent on
Yes. ________ [45:19].
BS: Which came out in the L.A. Times. He is one of the – he is now of my faith. He’s a Zoroastrian, he’s not a Muslim. But he is elderly, he has got personality and he just writes whatever the hell he wants, you know.
BS: He is just very brave. So just now he wrote, “I think everybody should – Pakistan is now going to break up and whoever can should lead the country.” And you know – and of course you know, he called just now after these elections, he called - and after poor Benazir was killed – he called her an international criminal and he called the man Musharraf, “He’s a retard.”
[chuckles from few]
BS: But you know he will get – and he says all the Devils that rule Pakistan – among the Devils, Musharraf is about the best we have at this moment.
[mumbling from some]
DrSS: I personally –Yes go ahead. I personally feel this. I personally feel – and this is my personal belief, I think one of the most intelligent men that have come to Pakistan to rule is Musharraf.
SS: Wooof! [chuckles]
[mumbling among crowd]
BS: It’s because the American press has you know, made him out to be a monster whereas he is a pawn. He’s an American pawn you know and it is very unfair.
SS: I’m going to go – I haven’t laughed in a bit. You know, I mean… to answer…
DrSS: We have two ferocious people right there. Zatari and
[laughs from all]
SS: he’s got the guns [laughs] don’t forget who has the…
DrSS: and ________[47:00]
SS: look at who has the tanks and who has the guns and then lets talk. And the power and the support and the question was … um.
DrSS: If they would give him ten years,
SS: What was the question?
DrSS: he would change the whole, the whole …
SS: He would change [47:17]
BS: May I interrupt
SS: _______[47:18] essentially to say that under – one of the things that Musharraf did do was during his time a huge number of televisions, independent television stations started up and there’s about nine right now, TV channels, when before General - under General Zia there was one. It was government owned. In terms of newspapers the mass volume of papers and they come out in English as well as in the provincial languages – Punjabi, Sindhi, Baluchi and the most interesting thing about the media is that the English media is very free but the local language press is not and that is because that is the print media that is read the most. English, very small percent of the country actually reads English and so you have a lot more freedom in the English publications. There has been a lot of self-censorship, but over the last six, seven years there was a lot more than was able to – the press was doing really well but in November when Musharraf did his coup, in the attempt to hold back the judiciary in terms of stemming the power of creating an independent justice system which was what the lawyers were working towards, he clamped down and shut down all independent newspapers – um, independent television stations. The most critical, and the first of such stations was Geo and the other stations were able to come back slowly under restrictions. There were restrictions that they all had to sign to be able to come back on air. Geo refused – the owner of Geo refused to sign those and for – it’s the biggest, it’s the most watched TV station. It’s in Urdu and it’s most watched and it’s watched via satellite. It’s watched internationally, you can see it on the internet.
Audience 4: I would like to add one thing on that.
SS: And essentially they held back and lost hundreds and thousands and millions of rupees because of that and then finally – I left on January 20th. They finally were able to come back on air the end of January, but there were still restrictions on them. So right now there is a strict – there is containment of the press, and it’s very worrisome.
DrSS: But the Geo used to do it…
SS: And also during the time that I was there, blogs were blocked, there were times when I was blogging – I had written one line – Musharraf much go. That night, I could not get on my blog. I could not and there was a complete government clamp down on all blogs. And it wasn’t just me, it was all, anything on blog spots. That – and then YouTube was blocked two weeks ago, you couldn’t get on YouTube.
[mumbling in background]
SS: So the government – the PEMRA [Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority] which is the Pakistan Media, I mean it is the organization – the government entity that controls media, is very, very active right now. [chuckles] And there is a lot of clamping down of information but you know it’s – with mobile phones, with video cameras information, the internet it’s very hard to close it. It’s very hard. It’s not like it was under General Zia.
Panel member: Mmm hmm.
Audience 4: Do you question that Geo was shut down when Geo was showing such graphic scenes like in American TV you don’t show certain things on television. I think that was the main response so Geo was showing very graphic things.
SS: I know people who were working for Geo and who – and I have to say that to close a television station just because it’s not deferring to the government’s views or the government is not actually the government it’s a General. General Zia. General Musharraf, not General Zia, that’s a very Freudian slip there [chuckles] …
[chuckles from some]
SS: but he…
BS: They were inciting more riots, more trouble.
SS: Well there needs to be riots [chuckles]. There needs to be a revolution.
SS: there needs to be a deposing of the General.
BS:… leading into chaos.
DrSS: Geo was slandering, General uh…
SS: The country!
BS: Slandering of ________ [51:10]
SS: And it should.
SS: And it should!
BS: Slander is fine.
SS: A general should...
BS: Slander is fine.
SS: A General should not run a country.
BS: But not incite more trouble. They were doing that.
SS: A General should not run a country.
BS: You know, I’ve been to Geo several times.
SS: Mmm hmm.
BS: And every time I went I was invited for television interviews every time I went, I could not find it, because they were very frightened. Not of the General, but of the Mullahs.
BS: Yes, they were terrified of the Mullah. There was self-censorship only because they couldn’t write certain things. They couldn’t say certain things which would antagonize the Mullahs. It had nothing to do with Musharraf. And every time I went…
SS: It does have something to do with Musharraf, today.
BS: Today it does because after they…
SS: And did – there were…
BS: … the country reels into chaos. You have to control it. You have to …
So then…And you’re a little mistaken about the lawyers. Have you seen the photograph of the Chief Justice? I mean you just look at him and you know he’s not a very savory man.
SS: He’s under house arrest, Bapsi.
BS: 100 percent.
SS: He and his family, they have been under house arrest for 18 months.
BS: Yeah, yeah. But this has been this case with the Judiciary. Nivar Sharif who’s now the saintly second hero, he went into the high courts and beat up the judges. You know that.
DrSS: I’m sure he is.
SS: Yes. I do.
BS: Yeah, yeah. It was famous. And the judiciaries every time…
SS: I’m not speaking of Musharraf, I am only making a very simple point, that I think that Pakistan needs to make its mistakes and step toward democracy.
BS: Of course it does.
SS: Pakistan does not need…
BS: Of course it does.
SS: …a US supported General.
BS: But you look at the price of breaking up the country.
SS: Pakistan does not need a US supported General who is there for his own interests and the US interests.
BS: Pakistan does not meet the US.
SS: And the US interest, to stay in power.
BS: Pakistan does not meet the US
DA: Can we let the last one go?
[chuckles from all]
DrSS: I think Pakistan
[more laughter] [overlapping comments]
SS: we’re just going to dispute. [laughs]
DrSS: if US gets away from Pakistan, imagine what’s going to happen.
BS: No, there will be peace, what else? Because we won’t be killing our own people. we are just now killing our own people at the behest of America. And as soon as we stop doing that, it’ll come back to us.
SS: As soon as General Musharraf begins to stop doing that. [chuckles]
DA: It’s really striking, I mean you’re almost – you almost have the same objectives here but your approaches are very different.
DrSS: Everybody wants democracy.
DA: Right. But how are you going to get there? How are you going to get there?
Audience 5: That was my question. How are you going to get there?
DrSS: How we will get there.
Audience 6: Yes. We want peace there
BS: Well, we are there. There is democracy.
DA: Stability. We want stability first.
BS: Majority in the Parliament of the People’s Party and the Mr. Niwar Sharif’s party. They are the rulers. They have taken over. And you know the way American Press represents us you feel this is a third world country, you know, sort of thing. But we are a very sophisticated people as you can see from us.
[loud laughs from all]
DrSS: We are not that bad.
SS: We can get – we can roll up our sleeves too, right? [laughs]
BS: We want democracy. We are ready for democracy you see. Unfortunately we’ve had not very nice people sometimes or not very competent people, but that – every democracy makes a mistake and you should be allowed to make our mistakes and go on. But every time this happens America stops - steps in.
DA: That’s right.
BS: Last time we had Mr. Bhutto. What happened? America wanted a General to be in charge so that they could fight their war in Afghanistan against the Soviets.
BS: So the Soviets were defeated. This time again, it was again America who stepped in and said, now we want Pakistan to help us fight in Afghanistan first and now that the – a lot of those people have come to Pakistan – fight them. So you know, I would suggest that – if I were Musharraf, but you know you can’t do that. You can’t just say, “I don’t want anything to do with America.” Because then they’ll reduce us to rubble as Afghanistan.
DrSS: Yes, and then it would be another Iraq.
BS: Well yes, exactly. I mean this fellow had the audacity to say it on television. “We’ll reduce you to the stone age.”
SS: I don’t think that a General…
DrSS: He said that
SS: …to remain in power needs to vote himself into Presidential power.
Audience 7: But…
SS: And then to remain in that office – I think that if Musharraf.
[inaudible comment & overlapping]
SS: If Musharraf genuinely had the country’s interest to move forward and not his own personal power, I think that it’s a very easy step to say, “Elections have happened, I’m going.” And what it took for us to get to this election? It took the death of Benazir Bhutto to make this happen. The Pakistan People’s Party was ready to go to elections. To have ballots on January 8th and that was postponed. And during – and there was a lot of doubt in the country that the election would even happen. There was still rigging by Musharraf’s party. So, I think that it’s a mistake to look at somebody who is a General and self-appointed ruler of the country and look at him for leadership. It’s very problematic.
BS: The army has been the leader.
DrSS: What do you think will happen now if Musharraf leaves and we leave this country to Niwar Sharifs and people like Zadari, then what happens?
Audience 8: It will be okay.
Audience 9: It will be okay.
DrSS: I don’t know about that [chuckles]
[many comments in room]
Audience 10: We have your guarantee Sehba?
Audience 10: We have your guarantee on that?
SS: You have my guarantee.
SS: I think it will be okay. I think it’s a mistake for us to sit down and sit back and say a General has the power to keep this country stable because the General has made the country unstable so the General will remain in power. And I think that is the biggest problem. Let’s look at where the problem is. Let’s look at what’s happening in the White House and into the American interest in Iraqi/Pakistan. Let’s go a little bit further than that instead of saying Zadari and Nawar Sharif. Let’s look at the deep, deep problem that we’re having.
Audience 11: I think Pakistan’s problem is so complicated. I mean, to be honest with you, all of you guys have been talking about – I’m probably keeping up because I lived 16 years in Pakistan. I’m pretty sure the rest of them are pretty confused about exactly what kind of crazy place is this and I mean maybe we can just see the panel, I mean, all of you have very different views.
SS: This is how it should be! [laughs]
[mumbling in audience]
Audience 11: Well it should be, but again I think the other issue in Pakistan is the education. People don’t have the kind of education that people here in this democracy have. And you have to have certain level of education to have democracy – for democracy to work. And I feel like Pakistan – um, again I’m not taking any sides or anything, but I think that there is certain kind of government that has to be in place to keep people in control. But that’s my view, and I’m not saying democracy has to have a – I would love to see Pakistan democratic… completely. But I just feel that the education that first that they have to work on their education and get people because almost 70 percent or something like there are illiterate people in that country.
SS: And then you asked the question could have been.
Audience 11: Politicians can easily…
Audience 11: They really motivate their minds
SS: I agree
Audience 11: and then, um – they’re very party driven.
Unknown: Mmm hmm.
Audience 11: And that’s one of the reasons that Benazir was able to win is, again she’s a woman, but she’s the leader of that party. That’s how she was chosen not exactly because she was a woman.
BS: Because she was Bhutto’s daughter.
DrSS: Bhutto’s daughter. Exactly.
Audience 11: Yes! Absolutely.
DrSS: You must remember that.
Panelist: Mmm hmm.
Audience 11: And I was in Pakistan some years ago and the name that I used to hear was Johak [58:23], Benzir, and Sharif. And when Musharraf came into power I kind of gave up and I did not really keep up with the politics and that was one big reason that I was here to maybe get a little more insight into Pakistan’s politics. And it’s funny that 16 years ago there were the same people there that there today are in the same Parties. So there is a very big hold of these Parties in that country.
Audience member 1: I actually don’t agree with you that education has to – is important to democracy. Academic education is important for progress, but people haven’t had it since democracy and what is right and what is wrong and you can see from the results of these elections that people did vote to – against Musharraf and they did vote against the party that was in power. They had all the incentives to keep them to – I mean everybody was vying for the vote.
Audience 11: I’m not just talking academic. I’m not talking just acadmic.
Audience 1: But… but to have – I mean if you look at – to have [brief pause] people have an inherent sense of what is wrong, what is just, what is unfair and what is fair. You don’t really need to read any book to figure that out. You do need education for progress of a country.
Audience 11: But…
Audience 1: Modernization of a country, but you really don’t need any – any school education for democracy.
Audience 11: No, I understand that, but what I’m trying to say is that if they do not know how to read and write they cannot read a newspaper. They really cannot have…
SS: But that’s also the news
Audience 11: They cannot have News or…
SS: There’s also consciousness of _____ [1:00:01]
Audience 11: Right.
SS: There’s also consciousness.
Audience 11: I’m not against that
Audience 1: But you don’t…
Audience 11: What I’m trying to say is that education is one of the factors why democracies don’t work that well.
Audience 1: If you don’t have food to eat. If you don’t have place to live, you know there is food shortage in Pakistan right now. There is an episodic shortage in Pakistan right now.
SS: There is water shortage.
Audience 1: If you don’t have basic needs
SS: Basic water.
Audience 11: No, but…Yeah.
Audience 1: then people understand that this is because of _______ [1:00:29] good job. They do not care about emergency and fundamentalism and politics in Islam and anything else. What they really voted for, was this time around was “Give me food. Give me water. Give me electricity. Give me my basic needs of my own.” And that’s what people voted for.
SS: Yeah. And get the General out. [chuckles]
BS: No, not really.
SS: I think that…
SS: And we all want peace. And I think that one of the things that you know we were talking initially in between, there was a question about a woman in a Muslim country. I think there is this notion of Pakistan when you look in mainstream newspapers, the mainstream media presentation of Pakistan you see the bearded man, you see the women all covered and the truth is that Pakistan is a country of extremes. You have 10% on one side and 10% of girls in mini-skirts. You know, you have both.
SS: And in the middle you have the people that you were talking about and those other people who are just living, struggling for water, for food, for electricity.
DrSS: The masses of them. Those are the masses.
SS: And the normal person – the scene – the way you see us dress, the way you see other Pakistani women dress here is how you see people in the streets and in offices and the country so I think that it’s really, really important to recognize that and not have this notion that Pakistan is this fundamentalist, Muslim [pronounced “Mooz-lum” then repeated as “Mohz-lom”] country because it is not. It is really at heart people. It’s just people and religion is a very private thing.
BS: I agree with Sehba. We are totally capable of democracy. Just because some people don’t have education doesn’t mean that they are dumb. They listen to the radio. There’s quite a huge percentage which reads the Urdu newspaper. And the whole of Pakistan is a very political nation.
SS: And shared information.
BS: Yeah, they share information. And they’re totally ready for– they know what’s good for them.
[break in recording]
BS: At that time I was very active at the Women’s Action Forum.
SS: It’s still around.
BS: And I had worked a lot with her mother. And I was sort of wanting to – she was not able to attend a meeting, other wives of the committee. She didn’t have the time afterall she was just taking over. But she tried a little but wasn’t hard enough.
BS: She did not have the authority. She did not have the control over the country to do anything. And the only person after all these years – you know as a result of this law, there were thousands of women rotting in jail.
BS: Because they married, wanted to marry against their father’s wishes. The father would say or the brother would say, “Oh, she committed adultery. I saw it.” And they would take her to the mosque and she would be put into jail. So there were these women rotting in jails without any protection. And the only man who did something, last year
DrSS: General Musharraf
BS: is General Musharraf.
SS: But – and I’m
BS: Ahhh! Now just a minute. Let me have my say!
[chuckles from all]
SS: You shall have your say Bapsi. Go ahead. [chuckles]
BS: Because you say that the People’s Party was not there. During the previous elections the People’s Party has a very big mandate and there were many of them in the Parliament. Unfortunately this is the first time we got these people with the huge beards also get in there. You know, for the first time. Otherwise, no fundamentalist person has been elected. Anyway, he passed this law under the Women’s Protection Act, that the women – that it was unfair and that the women should be freed and he freed them from jail. And these bearded guys sitting in the legislator, they said, “We will see that this does not carry through. We are going protest it.” And you know if was a hard thing to do, but he did it. He’s the only one who did overturn something very vicious.
SS: I know.
BS: And Benazir Bhutto, she had the – she wanted to but she didn’t…
DrSS: She could not do it. Yes.
DrSS: She could not do it.
DA: As a – and each of you really, as a concluding question, what do you think her legacy will be either politically or socially, psychologically? Anyway that you want to see it.
BS: It will be good. It will be all to the good because we do need democracy. If we are left alone with America pumping us to fight we cannot have democracy. But, that urge to democracy, that urge to fairness is there. And that will be her legacy. You know her name is magical. The Bhutto name after all these years it carries magic no matter what reputation he had, no matter what her husband did.
DrSS: I’m just afraid for the son.
[murmurs in audience]
DrSS: I’m just afraid for him
Unknown: Mmm hmm.
DrSS: because he is very innocent. He has never lived in Pakistan. He has no knowledge of the atmosphere and the environment and what I’m – I hope that that is changed to this extent. But I think he’s using the name of his son so that he can come into power and that’s all I’m afraid of. He should not I don’t think so, but you can never rely on him. He’s not the kind of man who I would trust with the ruling of a country. I don’t think I would like him to be the head of the state or anyway.
Audience 1: So you think he’s going to run in bi-elections and get elected? Is that what you think his plan is? Because he hasn’t run for elections.
SS: He is not running and he’s not…
DrSS: He cannot run.
SS: He will not be the Prime Minister. He cannot.
Audience 1: He has said that he is not going to run for office?
SS: He will not run for office.
DrSS: Yes. He cannot.
Audience 1: So you think he’s a
Audience 1: mastermind anyway?
SS: He is leading the party, but he is not going to run for elections and in terms of Benazir’s legacy I think that really, you know she had a huge following when she was living and I think that has multiplied by millions after her death. I think that – and you know it’s really amazing when you drive through Karachi and I was there she landed in October, October 17th in 2007 and she died 2 months later. And all through the city you see banners and you see billboards and all of them say Welcome Benazir. But it’s unbelievable and now near her house there’s a shrine which – and then there’s graffiti all over the city saying you know, for every Bhutto you will kill another one will rise. And I mean the name represents revolution for the masses and I think that will remain. You know? And I really – and you know my daughter who’s three and a half, she is very familiar with Benazir Bhutto [chuckles]. You know, she will see a picture – we have a magazine at the house from Pakistan and the people will come over and when Benazir’s name comes up she’ll pick up the magazine and bring it over. “This is Benazir Bhutto. She’s sad. She is very sad, they were mean to her. And she is sad. Yeah.” You know, that is what she got from that weekend. And she knows there is definitely a – there is alegacy, there is emotion. And there is passion.
DA: It’s very hopeful to me that there is a diversity of voices from within. That’s wonderful to hear and also to be with such an articulate and strong group of women. So I thank you.
DrSS: You have been a very good moderator. [chuckles]
DA: [chuckles] Well thank you.
DA: There is a reception to follow, out there.
DrSS: Uh, you were raising your hand. Did you have a question?
Young boy: I was just going to ask if you wanted any more water?
[laughter from all]