The charges might be true, but they also took him out of circulation for a while. Pakistan seems to be a rough place, where people with the wrong views get very unlucky. For his sake, and Pakistan's, I hope that Mr. Zaradari isn't as 'accident prone' as his late wife, Benazir Bhutto: who just happened to be killed when Karachi phone service failed and the city's street lights went out around her motorcade ("Pakistani Government Promises Objective Investigation of its Involvement in Bhutto Assassination Attempt (October 22, 2007)).
Pakistan's new president made a statement today that endeared him to me. "It is the philosophy of ... Benazir Bhutto, in which we believe, which says democracy is the best revenge," he said. "She taught us how to live. She taught us how to do politics." (CNN) Last year, following Benazir Bhutto's assassination, her son cited his mother's "democracy is the best revenge" philosophy, too.
I agree with the general principle, although I wouldn't use the word "revenge" myself. I think that democracy - allowing common people to participate in selecting leaders and making a government's decisions - together with a rule of law, is a fine way to deny the heritage of a regime ruled for and by the powerful.
No matter who's in charge, Pakistan's going to have a rough time in the next few years: maybe the next few generations. There's a lot of catching up to do. But that's a matter for another post.
In the news:
- "Bhutto widower Zardari elected Pakistan's new president"
CNN (September 6, 2008)
- "ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Nearly a year after assassins killed Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, her widower won the country's presidential election and hailed his triumph as a victory for democracy.
- " 'I feel democracy has been vindicated,' Asif Ali Zardari told CNN. 'I feel we are coming closer to her [Benazir Bhutto's] mission of total democracy in Pakistan. And we shall take the oath of office of President in the name of Shahid Benazir Bhutto, and that will be a momentous occasion for all the democratic forces in the world.'
- "Zardari, 53, had been the front-runner in the race to replace former President Pervez Musharraf, who was forced to resign last month.
- "The election was not by public vote, but rather by lawmakers in the two houses of the National Assembly and in the four provincial assemblies around the country. Under Pakistan's constitution, the president is elected by a majority vote...."
- "Bhutto’s Widower Wins Pakistani Presidency"
- "ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of the slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and a controversial politician with little experience in governing, was elected president of Pakistan on Saturday.
- "Results from voting in the two houses of Parliament, and three of four provincial assemblies, showed that Mr. Zardari had easily prevailed over his closest competitor.
- "The results were announced by the chief election commissioner, Qazi Muhammed Farooq. The votes from a fourth provincial assembly remained to be counted.
- "Mr. Zardari, 53, who spent 11 years in jail on corruption charges that were not proven, succeeds Pervez Musharraf, who resigned as president last month under the threat of impeachment...."
- "Bhutto's widower goes from prison to presidency"
Reuters (September 6, 2008)
- "ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Asif Ali Zardari has completed a traumatic journey from prison to the presidency of Pakistan.
- "Regarded as a polo-playing playboy in his youth, the catalyst for Zardari's rise was the assassination last December of his wife, the two-time prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
- "After leading Bhutto's grieving party to a general election victory in February, Zardari played a deft hand to force former president Pervez Musharraf from office in August, nine years after the then army chief came to power in a military coup.
- "The presidency caps a remarkable transformation for Zardari, who spent 11 years in prison on charges of corruption and murder, although he denied all accusations and was never convicted. He was released on bail in 2004...."