Thursday, December 27, 2007

Not Just Pakistan's Problem
By Bashir Goth
Benazir Bhutto was Pakistan’s strongest voice against terrorism and military dictatorship in Pakistan. After her assassination, the country’s fate has been thrown into the unknown.

A look at Benazir’s latest statements gave us a glimpse of just how much of a threat she was to the extremists. She didn’t mince words in stating loudly and clearly her intention of cleansing Pakistan of Islamic extremists and terrorists.

Ann Curry of The Today Show wondered aloud why Bhutto was risking her life by returning to Pakistan. She told the former Prime Minister, “You're a mother of three. You could be living in London fine. You don't have to do this.”

Benazir replied, “Look into the eyes of the people who came to receive me at the airport, the joy, the happiness, the singing, the dancing, before the terrorists struck. They were celebrating my return because they want hope. If I don't come back, the 160 million people of Pakistan won't have hope of a future free from terrorism, a future in which there will be democracy.”

She didn’t hide behind euphemism in her objection to Pakistan falling into the hands of Islamists:

“The militants want an Islamist takeover of Pakistan,” she said in the same interview. “They have to be stopped. I have a choice to keep silent and to allow the extremists to do what they're doing, or have a choice to stand up and say, ‘This is wrong. And I'm going to try to save my country.’ And I have taken the second choice.”

With the national election coming closer and Benazir’s supporters gaining momentum, it is obvious that the extremists and al-Qaeda decided to act. The assassination of Benazir is therefore only a hint of what is at stake for Pakistan and the whole region. The escalation of terrorist activities in other parties of the Muslim world such as Algeria, and the arrest of terrorists preparing to strike Saudi Arabia during the Hajj, are indicative of the audacity and coordinated efforts of Islamic extremist groups.

Read More in Washington Post.