Benazir Bhutto, RIP
Editor's note: Leon D'Souza is
a graduate of the JCOM department now serving in the
U.S. Army. He writes occasionally for the Hard News
By Leon D'Souza
December 28, 2007 | Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan's former
prime minister and the first woman to lead a Muslim
nation, is dead. And the world is poorer for her passing.
At 54, Ms. Bhutto was a lustrous beacon of hope at
the heart of an otherwise black and gloomy political
panorama. A charismatic leader with an indefatigable
zest for public affairs, she refused to relent in the
face of terrifying odds, continuing on the campaign
trail despite a previous attempt on her life.
The self-styled "Daughter of the East," it would seem,
was on a mission.
After nearly a decade in exile, she appeared determined
to return to Islamabad, if only to reclaim the legacy
of her iconic father, the late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto;
or, some say, to restore the reputation of her disgraced
husband, Asif Ali Zardari, whose infamous dealings had
cast a pall over her second stint in office.
Whatever her motivations for contesting the Jan. 8
parliamentary elections, and in spite of her sometimes
imperial manner, Ms. Bhutto, in recent months, had come
to represent something potent. In a country steeped
in militarism, fascism and chaos, she was the voice
of progress and change.
Educated at Harvard and Oxford, she was the face of
modernity; a strong woman sticking it to the establishment
in a theocratic male bastion. Ms. Bhutto had emerged
as an emblem of freedom and a champion of moderation
in Pakistani political expression.
To the West, she presented a viable and popular alternative
to Pervez Musharraf's discredited regime, which many
view as teetering on the brink of collapse. To her Pakistani
supporters, caught in the frightening chasm between
totalitarianism and Islamic extremism, she was, without
doubt, the middle way forward.
Ms. Bhutto leaves behind a violently divided nation
that has now been hurled, by her assassin's bullets,
deep into the bowels of uncertainty and flux. She leaves
behind a Pakistani president who now seems more vulnerable
than ever. And finally, she leaves behind an American
administration with not the slightest idea of what to
do next, but to watch as a congenitally unstable, nuclear-armed
ally in the so-called "War on Terror" spirals into a
vortex of desperation and disintegration.
For additional references, visit http://leondsouza.blogspot.com/