Benazir Bhutto, 1953-2007

December 28th, 2007

bhutto_ap-photo.jpg“I am not afraid,” Benazir Bhutto told TIME magazine last month. “I am ready to die for my country.” Tragically, the courageous and beautiful Bhutto did not die for such a noble cause — but was instead murdered on December 27, along with 20 of her fellow citizens, by mindless, fanatical terrorists.

The same terrorists set off a bomb in October at Bhutto’s welcome-home rally, murdering 145 people. Bhutto escaped death then, and continued to rally support for her campaign to become the Prime Minister of Pakistan for the third time.

Bhutto’s life was complex, difficult, and marked by upheaval and controversy. She was, at turns, both hailed and vilified. As a female politician who fought for democracy, and against feudalism, Bhutto was a target for regressive Islamic clerics, military hardliners, and Pakistan’s elite classes. Her time in politics was daunted by conspiracies, including sweeping allegations of corruption. She was placed under house arrest, convicted along with her husband by a Swiss court for money laundering, and then voluntarily exiled herself to Dubai for eight years. Her husband, Asif Zadari, spent eight years in prison. In October, 2007 President Musharraf granted amnesty to Bhutto, which allowed her to return home and campaign for the Prime Minister position.

Bhutto, born into a prominent family and educated at Radcliffe, Harvard, and Oxford, could have chosen another path in life, certainly an easier path, but her heart was in Pakistan and her vision for her war-torn and often divided country was democracy and freedom. That vision grew stronger after her father, and then two brothers, were killed.

Benazir Bhutto will be remembered around the world for her fearless courage, indomitable will, personal and intellectual strength, and absolute dedication to bringing democracy to Pakistan.

6 Responses to “Benazir Bhutto, 1953-2007”

  • They’re calling her a martyr, Jane. But she didn’t die for a cause. She was murdered by a group of brainwashed thugs who think the way to heaven is to blow up crowds of innocent people.

  • To relieve pain, and prejudice, they inflict it.

  • I agree with the train of thought that al-Qaeda and the Taliban are behind this. They will slowly eat away at every democratic effort in the world until they are stopped. Is there more that can be done? Or are their numbers and financial support just too overwhelming?

  • Just so sad to see such a fearless, strong, educated woman lost to mindless murderers.
    I can’t imagine what it felt like every single time she went to speak in public, knowing they were after her, yet she continued to campaign. How many people in this world would be able to accomplish what she did, in the society that she did it in?
    Who will step up now for these people?
    Truly tragic.

  • It’s hard to factually determine what charges against Benazir and her husband were true, and which were manufactured to undermine her politically, but in any event her murder was a tragedy.

    Unfortunately, it will be used as more propaganda to fuel the machine some wish to keep running for war in the Middle East.

    And the basic facts of that war is not about saving people or spreading the goodness of democracy. It’s about oil and cultures.

    Some people think a clash of civilizations is inevitable. East against West. Tribalism against individualism. Religious governments against secular ones.

    It does not have to be. Had Europe and America not forced themselves on these less progressive countries through colonization, industry, and military bases, they would be evolving more or less naturally, as has every other nation on Planet Earth.

    People forget. America had slaves just over two hundred years ago. . .only four generations ago. We put children to work in factories, advocated the beating of women and children, did not allow women or minorities to vote. It was only about 40 years ago that most schools were still segregated. In the 50’s, 70% of college graduates were male. In the 60’s and up through the late 70’s, unequal pay between the sexes was the norm.

    We evolved. And other cultures should be able to evolve without the military might of stronger countries. They should be able to have their civil wars, as we had ours, and choose and oust their leaders, as we did, and develop their policies and cultural mores, as we did. . .without the interference of dominant nations.

    Our posture should be one that defends itself against attack. Not one that provokes, or supplies the tools of war in “trade” for lower oil prices.

    Just my opinion.

    If those in Pakistan who are mourning Benazir Bhutto wish to change their country and their circumstances, they will. They will do it from the grassroots up, and they do not need a foreign military to help.

  • Very wise Rebecca.