It is normal to speak well of the dead, particularly when they die in such an unacceptable fashion. No doubt the quiet season for the news media has also contributed to the wall-to-wall coverage of Benazir Bhutto's assassination. But the way that she is being portrayed as a fallen heroin is out of sync with her track record and what the prospects were for her relaunch.
She arrived back in Pakistan courtesy of a US brokered deal after around a decade out of the country dodging corruption trials. On the plane from Dubai she told the world's media that he had two priorities - to reform Islam and to help the poor.
This should have stuck in the throat. She was not some fresh faced political idealist. She had record - maybe not a criminal one, but as good as. She's twice been prime minister and had done nothing on either count, or much else of note. Had her family not already been substantially wealthy, she may have been able to argue that at least one poor person had been helped. It's estimated that she and her husband swindled tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars, in kickbacks from various state deals.
There was more than a hint of the colonial mentality when the US and UK backed and brokered her return to Pakistan. Doesn't matter to them about her personal enrichment. Even recent scandals in our country have involved politicians benefiting their political parties, not their own pockets. What Bhutto and husband were complicit in was on an altogether different magnitude. But then our political leaders would take the view that so many national leaders do this kind of thing - and in fact the UK refuse to investigate BAE giving the Saudis exactly the same kind of "commission".
We've also heard about the tragedy of the Bhutto dynasty which is on a par with the long-suffering Kennedy family. The news has given full background on how Benazir's father died, as well as her brothers dying in "mysterious circumstances". What no one is mentioning is that Bhutto's husband Asif Zardari is widely believed in Pakistan to be responsible for Murtaza's assassination. Benazir's mother believed her daughter ordered it.
So for her to appear in Pakistan this year as the saviour of the Islamic faith was incredible. But it shows what regular appearances on the Western media circuit can do. Gaining support from these elites is in many ways more important than the acceptance of your own people. She gave not one jot about Islamic issues before the war on terror started. Her government were in fact supportive of the Taliban during the 90s. But she said the right things on the TV now so it was ok.
Bhutto's life has been ended, and it will probably mean that her name will live on in folklore as an opportunity missed for Pakistan. It's probably better for her legacy that it ended this way, as she did not have the credibility to achieve the things that she was setting out to do. There must have been better options than changing the constitution of the country to have Bhutto serve a third term as PM.
It has been a particularly embarrassing year for Pakistan, in the context of decades where there has not been much politically to be proud of. Pakistan celebrated it's 60th year in August. Is this what was envisaged back then? There's already competing claims of how she died - was it a bullet, shrapnel or banging off her sunroof? - never mind who did it. Al-Qaeda were said to have claimed responsibility, now they've denied it. Others are blaming Musharraf for direct or indirect involvement. Similar beliefs were aired after the Karachi bombing, where Bhutto inexplicably put her supporters in danger by organising a street carnival to welcome her back, knowing full well it was a huge security risk. Her husband said he believed the secret services were behind the explosion. It's not the first time that a Pakistani politician has been killed, it wasn't even the first time in the very park that Bhutto died - Liaqat Ali Khan's death was also suspected to have the hands of the military or security services behind it.
What's urgently needed is support for the fledling democratic movement. In a year where Musharraf has clamped down like never before with his "emergency", people have rebelled at the grassroots, most notably the lawyers' movement. This may be a slow burn, but it's better than the useless installation of more corrupt puppets.
Note: Flag courtesy of BBDO