Kris Clancy" />
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Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Former Pakistani PM gives hope

As the world focuses on the political jockeying between the United States and Iran, major events not only affecting the war on terror but also the stability of the region are taking place within Pakistan. The return of Benazir Bhutto, the first woman to lead a post-colonial Muslim nation, has sparked anger among hard-line Islamists and supporters of the Taliban in Pakistan’s uncontrolled border region with Afghanistan.

Bhutto, who was elected as prime minister in 1988 and again in 1993, was in self-imposed exile for eight years because of corruption charges brought against her and her husband. Her return to Pakistan was preempted by talks between her and President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. On Oct. 18, her dramatic return and the events that followed show just how unstable that region is becoming.

At a rally in her honor on the day of her return, two suicide bombings in Karachi killed more than 135 people and wounded more than 450.

The perpetrators of the bombings are unknown, but most reports are pointing to extremist elements associated with al-Qaeda. Pakistan is one of the United States’ strongest supporters in its war on terror, having since 2001 allowed U.S. troops, supplies and intelligence to work within the nation as it launched its war against Afghanistan and later Iraq. Criticisms against President George W. Bush for supporting the regime of Musharraf have been loudly heard because of the undemocratic nature of his rise to power and his hold on power. Bhutto’s return was to be a sign that true democracy was returning to the country and stability was taking hold.

A strong supporter of women’s rights and a vocal critic of the Taliban regime, Bhutto is a part of a small but very vocal minority within the Muslim world supporting the United States. Her subsequent support has made her a target for the extremists and those who want to keep the status quo within Pakistan. In order to protect our own interests and, even more importantly, to help stabilize the region, the United States must be more methodical in its efforts to root out terrorist agents such as al-Qaeda, the Taliban and homegrown extremists that seek to destroy Pakistani stability.

Bhutto is a woman who can show the world that Islam is not a religion of hatred and repression, since not only is she a believer, but she is also a champion for women’s rights within Pakistan. Her pro-Western ideas can help bring Pakistan into one of the Muslim world’s leading nations in modernity, stability and civil rights. To continue our support of Musharraf, even if he has worked closely and supported the United States, would be an affront to the Pakistani people and to our own values. If we wish to claim to be some sort of champion for human rights and for keeping the world safe, then support of a despot is not in line with this idea.

Our Cold War mentality of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" is what has brought us to the point we are with al-Qaeda and Iran. We must take a hard stance against terrorism but be willing to compromise on the ability of nations to rule themselves without stepping in and creating utter chaos.

With coming general elections in Pakistan, if the United States wishes to continue to foster the friendship that we have made there we must foster the idea that truth and despotism are not in concert with each other. Bhutto can be just the woman who is willing to do this, and we must be willing to take a chance to help her as she seeks to lead her nation down a path toward modernity and stability.

Clancy, a political science senior, can be reached via [email protected]

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