It was a calculated risk. When Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan, chances of her assassination were high. And now it has happened. The lady had courage, returning to possible death. We must never forget that.
Al Qaeda has already claimed responsibility. And for the second time this century they have placed the world on a knife edge. Because what happens, now, in Pakistan WILL affect the world.
Bhutto offered a middle way.
She seemed the only alternative between military dictatorship and Islamic government. We, in the west, condemned the recent military take-over, but we live in the illusion of a cosy world.
Maybe, in this instance, such a dictatorship is the only possible answer, at present. Strong leadership is needed to stop Pakistan descending to civil war, and the dangers that could hold.
Those dangers are many. An Islamist government would be a nightmare. Consider western troops in Afghanistan, cut off and trapped if Pakistan becomes hostile. And need we mention the danger of nuclear weapons in the hands of Al Qaeda?
It may, of course, blow over.
Let us hope it does. But it still offers a note of caution. Pakistan is an Islamic country that so far has only see-sawed between military dictatorship and corrupt democracy. Maybe true democracy cannot exist in Islam until a separation is realized between religion and politics.
This has not yet been achieved. So why do we think it possible in Iraq?
© Anthony North, December 2007
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