Sunday, December 30, 2007

Bhutto's Future Was Brighter Than Her Past

Ambivablog directs us to a fascinating Christopher Hitchens piece which reminds us of Benazir Bhutto’s many failings while still concluding her death is a major disaster. Yes, as prime minister, she aided the Taliban and helped Pakistan acquire nuclear weapons BUT

There is at least some reason to think that she had truly changed her mind, at least on the Taliban and al-Qaida, and was willing to help lead a battle against them.

I would add that by providing a viable, non-Islamist challenge to Musharraf, she gave her nation and the rest of the world hope that Pakistan could forge a future separate from both the current autocratic rule and Islamic fundamentalist rule. Now her cause must go on without her.

Today’s appointment of Bhutto’s disreputable husband as acting party leader (until Bhutto’s 19 year-old son finishes school and can take over) does not bode well for Pakistan. Of course, he too may have changed, evolving from an unflaggingly corrupt official into someone who cares about the greater future of his nation. We can hope.

Throughout the course of the war on terror, Pakistan’s possession of nuclear weapons has been one of the gravest concerns. We simply cannot afford a radical Islamic party to take control of that nation – not only because such a government might be more inclined to deploy their weapons but also because possession of nuclear warheads would give the fundamentalists and their allies such as al Qaeda a devastating bargaining chip.

Bhutto’s death is a tragedy. Hopefully others will be able to rise and carry on the democratic objectives she promised.

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