International

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Bhutto’s Death Leaves Hole in U.S. Foreign Policy

January 01, 2008 10:19 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Washington was midwife to Benazir Bhutto’s return to Pakistan, which ended her eight-year exile. It was hoped she would bring stability to a nuclear power troubled by extremism.

30-Second Summary

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Twice-elected former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was, in the words of a BBC Pakistan correspondent who knew her, “domineering, articulate, brave, charismatic, good fun, quite flirtatious, very cynical and flawed.”

A secular spokeswoman for democracy, a female leader in a Muslim milieu dominated by men, she had much to recommend her to the West.

She was also sacked twice from the premier’s job, and fled the country eight years ago dogged by corruption allegations.

So, it was on a complex combination of qualities that the United States hoped to shore up the foundering regime of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf when Bhutto returned to her homeland in October.

The New York Times concludes that after her death America is left with no choice but “the principled, if unfamiliar, option of using American prestige and resources to fortify Pakistan’s badly battered democratic institutions.”

The Los Angeles Times is even harsher on the Bush administration, writing that Bhutto’s fate underlines the folly of trying to “manage history.”

But to one analyst, Shikha Dalmia of the Reason Foundation, there is some hope in recent events. In life, Dalmia writes, Bhutto was motivated by ambition rather than democracy. But as a martyr to democracy she may “force moderately religious opponents to at least pay lip service to her secularist convictions.”

Headline Links: Footage contradicts government account

Opinion: The effect of Bhutto’s death

Background: The prior assassination attempt

Opinion: Questions of probity

Obituaries: Benazir Bhutto (1953–2007)

Historical Context: Pakistan

Related Links: In her own words

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