ELECTIONS COME TO PAKISTAN
January 31, 1997
Ian Williams of Independent Television News reports the upcoming elections in Pakistan from Larkana, the hometown of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and her family.
IAN WILLIAMS, ITN: The Bhutto cavalcade comes to town, not any old town but one in the region of Larkana, the home of the Bhutto family. And this is no ordinary Bhutto. It's Ghinwa, widow of Benazir's brother who was shot dead late last year. Now she's standing for election in Larkana, claiming her bereavement has given her a sense of mission.
GHINWA BHUTTO: I surely hope that his--if his blood had to be the price for a new Pakistan, so be it.
IAN WILLIAMS: Crowds are drawn by her as much by curiosity as by affection. Lebanese-born Ghinwa speaks very little Urdu, so she needs prompting.
(GHINWA BHUTTO SPEAKING TO CROWD IN URDU, REPEATING HER PROMPTER'S WORDS)
IAN WILLIAMS: In the same region Benazir, herself thrown out of office last November for alleged corruption, she's out campaigning, not for her sister-in-law, whom she loathes, but for her mother, who she's persuaded to stand against Ghinwa. Ghinwa alleges the mother's been kidnaped by Benazir. Unfortunately, the elderly Bhutto has Alzheimer's Disease and seems somewhat confused, so she too needs a little coaching. Benazir's husband, meanwhile, has been arrested and accused of involvement in the murder of Ghinwa's husband, Benazir's brother, though he doesn't seem unduly perturbed by his predicament. Opinion polls suggest Nowa Sharif's Muslim League will emerge as the biggest party. But he's been in power before, and that government was also kicked out for alleged corruption. Outside the family home in Larkana, rival Bhutto campaign teams hound each other with recorded music and speeches. Rival posters lay claim to the Bhutto legacy. Ghinwa's features her dead husband somewhat enhanced by a generous dousing of red ink. (music in background) Ghinwa's cavalcade has cris-crossed the Bhutto heartland, lashing out at the alleged corruption of Benazir and her husband. No wonder the Bhutto family feuds are often likened to farce or soap opera, though to the impoverished majority who live in the same region, it's no laughing matter.
As the politicians squabble, life continues in rural Larkana in grinding poverty, little changed for decades. The village of Rayif Nargar is typical. Its 1,000 people have no running water or basic sanitation. They regard themselves as spectators to the political process which have provided them with nothing and which is in the hands of the corrupt and self-seeking. In Larkana, alongside a road to the Bhutto residence, sits a primary school. The children here often see the cavalcade of Oxford-educated Benazirs speed past. In spite of promises from the government, they've no proper school building, a single teacher for 100 children and few proper textbooks. Too many people feel betrayed by politicians in Pakistan, and the election turnout may be the lowest ever, barely a third of those eligible. Only the most optimistic here see Monday's vote as a celebration of democracy.