Pakistan and Feudalism

The appointment of Benazir Bhutto’s son and husband to the leadership of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in the aftermath of her assassination may seem unexceptional given the dynastic tendencies of most south Asian democracies. But in Pakistan’s case, hereditary succession does more than confirm that name recognition is often more valuable than either personality or policy in a family incumbent. It is also a stark reminder of two other troubling aspects of Pakistan’s condition. First, is the link between democracy and feudal society, of which the Bhuttos – among others ‑ have long been a part. Second, is the tendency for elected governments, including those of Bhutto and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, to be significantly more corrupt than their military counterparts, a concern given added weight now by the role of Bhutto’s husband, Asif Ali Zardari, as the effective leader of the PPP, with their son as titular head.

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