Pakistan's Newest Feudal - Robert Kaplan, The Atlantic opinion
Asif Ali Zardari was sworn in as Pakistan's president, replacing Pervez Musharraf.
Zardari's sole qualification is that he is the widower of the slain leader of the Pakistan's People's Party, Benazir Bhutto. Her main qualification for leading her party and twice serving as prime minister was that she was the daughter of the late prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Pakistan is steeped in feudalism and governed by the cult of personality that arises from it. Political parties have no ideology: they are mere extensions of their leaders' love of self and power.
Zardari, the new president, is an erstwhile polo player and playboy whose singular accomplishment in life is that he got Bhutto to marry him. When his wife was prime minister, he was known as "Mr. Ten Percent," for the commissions on state contracts he allegedly took. During the years his wife was in office, he reportedly made off with many tens of millions of dollars that enabled him to, among other things, buy a massive estate in Britain. For years, Swiss authorities wanted him for money laundering. His life seems to have no higher purpose than joining the ranks of the megarich. He is reputed to be the ultimate bullying rogue. His ascension to the presidency is viewed as another sign that Pakistan will join the ranks of other failed states.
More at The Atlantic.