Pakistani writer Fatima Bhutto, niece of assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, says last month's elections in Pakistan were not a victory for democracy, but rather a continuation of dynastic politics. Claudia Blume reports from Hong Kong, where Fatima Bhutto talked to journalists.
Last month, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf admitted defeat, after the two main opposition parties won the clear majority in Pakistan's elections. One, the PML-N, is lead by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The other, the PPP, is the party of assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Ms. Bhutto's designated heir is her 19-year old son.
President Bush called the vote a victory for Pakistani democracy. However, not everyone in Pakistan shares that view. Some of the toughest criticism comes from a member of the Bhutto family: writer and journalist Fatima Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto's niece.
Speaking at Hong Kong's Foreign Correspondents' Club, Monday, the 25-year old said there is a perpetual cycle of dynastic politics in Pakistan.
"We have had 30 years of dynastic politics and it has been disastrous," said Bhutto. "It hasn't empowered the people. It hasn't strengthened democratic institutions. It has not played any role in democratic reform. We have a country of 165 million people that have three choices -- they can vote for the Bhuttos, they can vote for the Sharif's or they can vote for the Musharrafs -- that's it. And, obviously that is not sustainable."
Fatima Bhutto says she does not believe in birthright politics and has no political ambitions, herself. Instead, she says she wants to bring problems in her country to the world's attention.
One of the issues she is most concerned about is forced disappearances in Pakistan. She says scores of people have disappeared in the country, especially in Baluchistan Province. She says the phenomenon started with the search for al-Qaida and Taliban suspects, as part of the American-sponsored war on terror.
"Now, people are disappearing because they are Baluch and because Baluchistan should have control over its own gas fields," said Bhutto. "And, that has nothing to do with the Americans, not yet. And, people are being disappeared because they are provincial activists, because they are professors that come out and say: 'In the constitution of Pakistan, we can't have military dictators. This constitution has been destroyed and these men should be put on trial for treason.' And, that's why they are being disappeared now."
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said last year that at least 400 people have disappeared since 2002 and estimated that hundreds more may have been taken away by state agencies. President Musharaff maintains that the government is not involved in the disappearance of people.