Benazir Bhutto's Homecoming

By: Roger Sheppard
By: Roger Sheppard

Despite obvious dangers, she returns home to battle extremists in her homeland

Given the role of women in most Muslim nations, the recent news of the return of Benazir Bhutto to Pakistan, the bombings that surrounded that event, and her steadfastness in the face of almost certain assassination, is incredible. Bhutto, the often be-spectacled former prime minister of Pakistan, who has been twice elected to that post and twice run out of office due to allegations of corruption within her administration, has returned from exile and is interested in forming a coalition government with current President Musharraf. Ms. Bhutto knows violence all to well. Her father was executed in a coup in 1979. It could be that some of her father's old enemies were responsible for the two blasts that shattered her homecoming and killed at least 136 people along the parade route. It could also be Islamic extremists, opposed to a woman holding such a public office. No matter who is responsible, the safest thing for her to have done was to have stayed out of Pakistan and to have spoken loudly and eloquently to the western media about what was going on in her homeland. Instead, she went back into the mouth of the lion knowing that death could surely result. It's hard to say what motivates the 54-year-old Bhutto. Is she seeking revenge for her father's death or redemption of his name? Is she merely wanting back in office, so that political cronyism which led to her downfall on two previous occasions, can do so again? Is she out to clear her own name? No matter what her motivation, she is potentially a strong ally of the United States in a part of the world where we could use a friend. That is not to say that she is or ought to be a puppet of the U.S. Where our interests converge, we would hope that Pakistan would side with us. Where they don't, each country will look out for its own interests. There are many in the Muslim world who strongly oppose the tactics and terror of groups like al Qaida and Hesbollah. But just like residents of slums in this country, who are held hostage by the violent drug culture that surrounds them, they often have to stay quiet, lay low, and try to survive. When someone like Benazir Bhutto walks, literally, through the valley of the shadow of death, it is not, as the psalmist says, that she fears no evil. She just knows that she and her countrymen cannot give into it. And regardless of her motivation, I admire her greatly for it and pray for her safety.
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