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Why Bhutto Needed to Go

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VOTERS usually register one of two types of sentiments: an ideological belief or a judgment on the record of the incumbent. Pakistan's recent elections largely reflect the same results as the vote two years ago in the sense that building democracy has been endorsed. The difference, however, reflects dissatisfaction with Bhutto's efforts to deepen Pakistan's democracy. Benazir Bhutto asked Pakistani voters to believe that the only reason her government was dissolved on Aug. 6 was the antidemocratic establishment's desire to return to power. Her statement was true enough since her efforts to restructure the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), the CIA-developed security apparatus that managed the Afghan counter-insurgency, earned her the military's unforgiving enmity.

Her electoral opponent, the Islamic Democratic Alliance (IDA) included some of Zia's opponents, but is mainly a political alliance created and supported by the ISI.

Bhutto's assertion was still incomplete. In parliamentary democracies of the Indian Subcontinent, the president is supposed to defend the country's interests and order elections when the Prime Minister's government has lost the people's confidence.

Bhutto corrupted the process of no-confidence voting a year ago by bribing opposition politicians. A parliamentary system relies on this mechanism to avoid crises which can lead to military intervention in response to uncontrollable lawlessness. The Aug. 6 dissolution was indeed taken at the army's behest because Bhutto was acting above the law, and the courts could not stop her.

Voters, offered a referendum on reelecting Bhutto, demurred. She had failed to deliver the very democracy she had embodied in her romantic struggle against General Zia and then the ``Zia League,'' which she termed the IDA in the 1988 election that put her in power. Bhutto lost the election; the IDA did not win it.

Ultimately, the election was a one-woman show, and Pakistanis grew to dislike her arrogance, ineptitude, and corruption. Her government, in twenty months, was the most scandalous in a very corrupt country's history. Bhutto's utter inattention to the blatant stealing of her ministers was galling, even to the mass of tenant farmers, for whom politics has never had more relevance than the act of voting.


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