Bhutto: The NYTimes Obit

Here, and a nasty piece of work it is:

The daughter of one of Pakistan’s most flamboyant and democratically inclined prime ministers, Benazir Bhutto, 54, served two turbulent tenures of her own in that post. A deeply polarizing figure, she lived in exile in London for years with corruption charges hanging over her head before returning home this fall to present herself as the answer to her nation’s trouble.

. . . A woman of grand ambitions and a taste for complex political maneuvering, Ms. Bhutto, 54, was long the leader of the country’s largest opposition political party, founded by her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Even from exile, her leadership was firm, and when she returned, she proclaimed herself a tribune of democracy, leading rallies in opposition to Mr. Musharraf, like the one at which she died.

. . . Her record in power, and the dance of veils she has deftly performed since her return — one moment standing up to General Musharraf, then next seeming to accommodate him, and never quite revealing her actual intentions — stirred as much distrust as hope among Pakistanis.

(Emphasis supplied.) More . . .

Wow! I understand the good and the bad go in an obit but this is absurd and mostly opinion, attributed to no one.

And this graf, clearly needed to be near the top:

A graduate of Harvard and Oxford, she brought the backing of Washington and London, where she impressed with her political lineage and her considerable charm. She also became the first female leader of a Muslim nation when she became prime minister in 1988 at the age of 35.

It is graf 7 instead. Ms. Bhuttto clearly had enemies in the NYTimes. Compare the obituary of Zia ul Haq, who overturned the democratically elected government of Benazir Bhutto's father:

August 18, 1988 Mohammad Zia ul-Haq: Unbending Commander for Era of Atom and Islam


Mohammad Zia ul-Haq constantly promised democracy without ever really giving it during the 11 years he ruled Pakistan.

General Zia, who took power in a coup as his fractious nation deteriorated into fierce rioting, later refused to stop the execution of the man he overthrew, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, despite protests from leaders around the world.

He developed Pakistan's nuclear capability against the strong complaints of Washington, but overall was a cooperative ally of the Reagan Administration in its successful efforts to force the Soviet Union to withdraw its 115,000 troops from neighboring Afghanistan, where Moscow was helping the Kabul Government fight a civil war against American-backed rebels.

. . . ''With the help of the Almighty Allah, the armed forces will do everything we can to insure stability,'' he said shortly after the coup on July 5, 1977. ''I genuinely feel that the survival of this country lies in democracy and democracy alone.''

'A Reluctant Ruler' Who Imprisoned Many

President Zia, 64 years old, was a devout Moslem who tried to unify his nation of 102 million people under the banner of Islamization and played the precarious balances of international power politics with a certain finesse. But he never kept many of his promises, perhaps because he placed his own political survival above democratization.

President Zia presented himself as a humble man, and stories of his per-sonal touch were common. According to one account, he once stopped his official car and ordered his driver to take the victim of a road accident to a hospital. The next day, he visited the man. In the early days of his rule, he rode a bicycle in public to poularize it as a cheap mode of transportation.

He was, in fact, a man of simple tastes. In accordance with his Moslem beliefs, he did not drink alcohol and his only indulgence appeared to be British cigarettes. His walls were covered with embroidered verses from the Koran.

He was in fact, the grandfather of the Taliban and Al Qaida. But leave that aside, the style of the two obituaries could not be more different.

What explains this?

< Benazir Bhutto Assassinated | Reactions To The Bhutto Assassination >
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  • Display: Sort:
    What would they write... (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Dadler on Thu Dec 27, 2007 at 10:09:26 AM EST
    ...if Judy Miller died?  Or, heaven forbid, Dubya or Cheney?  

    Bhutto's obit reads like it was written by a disgruntled former boyfriend.

    A woman of GRAND ambitions (none / 0) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Dec 27, 2007 at 10:17:51 AM EST
    that line sticks in my craw.

    Why particularly? (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Maryb2004 on Thu Dec 27, 2007 at 10:24:37 AM EST
    The dance of veils phrase seems far worse to me.

    That one too (none / 0) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Dec 27, 2007 at 10:29:36 AM EST
    Why does "grand ambitions" stick in my craw? Because it would NEVER EVER be used to describe a man.

    But of course neither would the racist and sexist phrase "dance of the thousand veils."

    This needs to go to rewrite.

    It is an embarrassment for the NY Times.


    It would be really nice if (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by Maryb2004 on Thu Dec 27, 2007 at 10:40:39 AM EST
    when they rewrite it they start out in the usual format for the death of a former head of state: "Two time prime minister of Pakistan,Benizir Bhutto, died today ..."

    Instead of the current first sentence in which she is primarily described as a daughter.

    THAT is the worst of this obituary.


    Good point (none / 0) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Dec 27, 2007 at 10:43:42 AM EST
    why not substitute (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by cpinva on Thu Dec 27, 2007 at 10:21:21 AM EST
    "hillary rodham clinton" for ms. bhutto, and see what you get? my bet? change the names, and a few facts, and it's essentially the same.

    now, who was it who claimed the nyt's is a "liberal" rag?

    Bhutto (none / 0) (#8)
    by joejoejoe on Thu Dec 27, 2007 at 12:49:54 PM EST
    Better remembrance from Bhutto friend and advisor Husain Haqqani:

    "Benazir Bhutto was a very warm person. She was a very strong and courageous person, a very forgiving person. To have gone what she went through -- her father assassinated by one military dictator [General Zia ul-Haq], her two brothers assassinated, no one in the elite fully loyal to her... The whole Pakistani security establishment thinks Pakistan should be governed as a national-security state. She resisted that completely, and that doesn't get seen enough. She questioned their right to govern."

    So? (none / 0) (#9)
    by DA in LA on Thu Dec 27, 2007 at 01:02:09 PM EST
    What are we doing here?  Raising her to heights she does not deserve because she was a woman?  I don't understand this criticism.  She was a completely corrupt leader who was forced to flee her country.

    What about the blood of over 500 Sikh that is on her hands?

    Pushing for nuclear weapons?

    Completely corrupt?

    We're just supposed to ignore all that?

    Sorry, she was anything but a good leader and a good person.

    Grand ambition? Dance of the thousand veils? (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Dec 27, 2007 at 01:08:58 PM EST
    Daughter of the former prime Minister as the lead?

    What I am doing is CONTRASTING her obit with others I have seen, in particular Zia's.

    I know you are not this obtuse.


    What? (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by squeaky on Thu Dec 27, 2007 at 01:09:27 PM EST
    The point is about blatant sexism, not about her corruption or greatness. IOW the article could have criticized her roundly for her deeds as opposed to using language that promotes stereotypes and suggests that a woman does not have the balls to lead a country.

    Grand ambition is reaching big time (none / 0) (#12)
    by DA in LA on Thu Dec 27, 2007 at 01:35:36 PM EST
    Dance of a thousand veils?

    You guys ever heard of a language difference?  This sounds to have been written by a Pakistani.

    Written by a Pakistani? (none / 0) (#13)
    by dannyinla on Thu Dec 27, 2007 at 03:28:19 PM EST
    Except that English is the official language.

    Dude (none / 0) (#14)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Dec 27, 2007 at 04:13:07 PM EST
    I overestimated you.

    My mistake.