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Pakistani Democracy, Preserved By Bhutto's Family

"My mother always said that democracy was the best revenge."  So said 19 year-old Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, son of his mother Benazir and third generation heir to the leadership of the Pakistan People's Party, upon accepting his succession to its leadership mantle.  It was not clear who made the decision to anoint him as chairman and his father as caretaker.  But that would be an impertinent question.  They say it was his mother's will.  Did she contemplate death upon her return to the country from which she had been exiled for years?  Nobody knows.  In any case, there is no indication of resistance from the Pakistan People's Party masses.  Or from the U.S. which maneuvered President Musharraf into an alliance with Pinky, a name she was known by at Harvard and at the London School of Economics.  The liaison was the best that could be had, given the Pakistani president's enlistment in the struggle against terror and the fanatic Islam it serves and given also Ms. Bhutto's genuine opposition to these twin enemies of a stable society.  It was also George Bush's achievement in so far as it lasted.  Not long.

Bilawal will not ascend to active involvement in the affairs of his mother's (and grandfather's) party until he finishes up at Oxford, where--with adequate protection--he should be free from the risks of assassination.  But much will happen in Pakistan during the next years.  It isn't clear that the prospects for democracy--even of the attenuated sort envisioned by the Bhutto clan--are especially favorable.