Yesterday in History: Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan

Yesterday I wanted to write about “This Day in History.” I didn’t have time…do you ever have a great idea for a blog post, do a bit of research, then, poof, your time is gone and there are real-life obligations to tend to? So, just to give you my Reader’s Digest condensed version of yesterday’s This Day in History, here it is.

November 16 – On this day in 1988, Benazir Bhutto was elected as the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the first woman, and at age 35 the youngest person in modern times, to be head of the government of a Muslim-majority state.

Benazir BhuttoI find her story fascinating and intriguing. And she’s baaack. She’s so beautiful and well-spoken, and I so want to believe her when she says she’s returning to bring democracy to Pakistan. But I can’t get past her sordid history of massive corruption charges and ties to the very terrorists she denounces.

Benazir Bhutto has attended Radcliffe, Harvard, and Oxford. Her father was a former Prime Minister who was executed for conspiracy to murder the father of a dissident politician. Two of her brothers were murdered. She has been under house arrest, lived in exile, and survived an assassination attempt. How can you not be curious about this enigmatic woman?

Since November 3, 2007, there has been a “State of Emergency” in Pakistan, as Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf suspended the constitution and imposed martial law, citing dangers of religious extremism, terrorism, and an interfering judiciary. Bhutto immediately interrupted a visit to family in Dubai (Grace, have you seen her around? :-) ) and returned to Pakistan.

Initial talks of power-sharing between Bhutto and Musharraf have broken down. Yesterday, Benazir Bhutto said she would not talk to Pervez Musharraf on any issue, but will continue her struggle against dictatorship in Pakistan and seek to restore democracy. Bhutto’s recent comments:

When martial law was imposed and constitution was torn apart, I decided to discontinue the talks. …Life is very precious and gift of Allah. It should not and cannot be wasted but when my country is in danger, when my countrymen are in danger, when there is no rule of law, when extremists are gaining ground, I am ready to risk my life.

I hope you’re able to follow a bit of the news coming out of Pakistan. I think the Pakistani situation has great bearing on the future of Middle East stability and the war on terror, which ultimately has a direct and terrifying bearing on the the United States. Bhutto now presents herself as the opposition leader, with probable elections in January. Hmmm, read this before you decide what you think.

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4 Responses to Yesterday in History: Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan

  1. Grace says:

    Thanks for posting this. I have been meaning to dig on Bhutto’s controversial return to Pakistan. Her aim in restoring democracy to Pakistan seems to be so hopeful, but we can only wait and see if it will be materialized.

    Yes, she had a quick stop in Dubai a few weeks ago, airport was on tight security so I didn’t get to chat with her. :-)

    Would have loved to, seriously, her political story as the first woman PM is like that of Corazon Aquino of the Philippines.

  2. Jen says:

    Grace, I almost added a sentence in this post that said, “Benazir Bhutto is no Corazon Aquino.” The similarities are certainly striking, but at this point, especially not knowing the outcome of Bhutto’s efforts at democracy, I have to say that these are two very different women.

    I have huge respect and admiration for Corazon Aquino – she was a TRUE fighter for democracy, an utterly amazing and courageous woman/leader for surviving coup after coup attempt on her government, and a woman that I just think was and is authentic. Bhutto, on the other hand, I don’t trust. There is enough disconnect between her words and her actions to make me very suspicious.

  3. e-Mom says:

    A very interesting post my friend! I’ve known very little about this woman. I’ll keep an eye on her now, thanks. This was not a Reader’s Digest version, but a very nice introduction to this fascinating lady.

    Another Muslim woman who interests me is Jordan’s (former) Queen Noor. Do you know anything about her? She’s an American who married King Hussein (now deceased). Hmmm, you’ve sparked an idea. Maybe I’ll do a little research on her current life for a future blog post.

    Have a blessed Thanksgiving! :~D

  4. Jen says:

    e-Mom, I don’t know a lot about Queen Noor, but hopefully you’ll enlighten us in your future blog post!

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