Many cyncial Pakistanis discounted accusations against the Bhuttos as a frame-up. But all this changed when incorruptible Swiss federal prosecutors announced the Bhuttos and their Pakistan People's Party had hidden at least 20 million Swiss francs (C$20 million) made from money laundering, illegal payoffs, and, possibly, drug dealing in numbered accounts in Geneva. A Swiss firm hired by the Bhutto government to monitor customs duties was accused of having paid a percentage of their collections to the Bhutto's secret Swiss accounts. Swiss prosecutors froze the Bhutto accounts and sent their indictment to Pakistani federal prosecutors for criminal action.
'Few people believed the Pakistani government charges,' Benazir said, 'until the Swiss investigation. But that changed everything.' Indeed. Not only did the Swiss charges widely discredit the Bhutto clan in Pakistan, the accusations of massive bribery and drug dealing caused Benazir's many ardent supporters in Washington and the western media, whom she was seeking to enlist to her cause, to give her the cold shoulder. Why would the normally discreet, cautious Swiss bring such inflammatory charges unless they had overwhelming proof of guilt?
'I don't know,' insists Benazir. 'I've never had a bank account in Switzerland since 1984. Why would the Swiss do this to me? Maybe the Swiss are trying to divert attention from the Holocaust gold scandal.'
I think it's more likely that the Bhuttos, like essentially every other Islamic power-center, were deepy corrupt and largely supported by criminal enterprises. That she was more popular than the current thug ruling Pakistan means that Benazir Bhutto could have won a hypothetical "election", but even if she had she would still have been a thug herself. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
Democracy is great in that it gives people the government they deserve. The Palestinians got Hamas, and the Pakistanis would have gotten in Bhutto more of the same they get now from President Pervez Musharraf. Bhutto did nothing to advance women's rights during her two tenures as prime minister, and she made a strategic alliance with the Taliban in Afghanistan to help stablize the opium market. Let's not pretend that Bhutto was a pure and wholesome freedom fighter -- she was just the most popular thug in the country.
Al Qaeda is taking credit for her assassination, which is as plausible as anything. Whether they did it or not, they may have alienated another whole swath of the Muslim world by claiming credit for killing such a popular figure. Perhaps Musharraf will now have the breathing room to allow American forces into northern Pakistan where Bin Laden is most likely hiding? Or maybe we'll take the initiative ourselves if the country falls into chaos over this murder.