October 17, 2007

Bhutto Returns Tomorrow

Benazir Bhutto will defy Pervez Musharraf's request for more time and stage a very public return to Pakistan tomorrow. The former Prime Minister plans to land in Karachi, and hopes to see large crowds greet her to underscore her popularity -- and to send a message to both Musharraf and the radical Islamists, who'd like to kill them both:

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has confirmed that she will end more than eight years of self-imposed exile on Thursday.

President Musharraf had asked her to delay the return until the Supreme Court decides on whether he is eligible to be president for another term. ...

"At this time tomorrow, we'll be on board the plane to Karachi, which is a day that I and all the people in Pakistan who love democracy and believe in fundamental human rights, have been waiting for," she said.

She is planning a high-profile return, hoping that hundreds of thousands of supporters will turn out in Karachi, Pakistan's biggest city.

The public spectacle presents a risk for Bhutto. Taliban and al-Qaeda terrorists have pledged to assassinate her when she returns, and the announcement of her travel schedule only makes that easier to plan. Obviously she plans to return to politics, and so she cannot be seen as fearful of appearing in public. She wants to establish her defiance of terrorist threats right off the bat.

It puts a particular burden on Musharraf, whose government will have responsibility for her safety. If she did get assassinated -- tomorrow or any other time -- Pakistanis and people around the world would blame Musharraf for inadequate security, and probably wonder whether it was deliberate. He needs to keep Bhutto alive for those reasons, and also to retain the alliance she offers with moderates in Pakistan, an alliance that will help keep him alive as well.

Musharraf wanted her to delay her return until the Pakistani Supreme Court ruled in favor of his election, which should happen by the end of this week. Both Musharraf and Bhutto must believe that the court will take the bird in the hand -- a return to democracy -- rather than two in the bush by denying Musharraf his seat on the technicality of his delayed resignation from the Army. Bhutto wants to steal Musharraf's thunder, making his victory the secondary story while she gets seen as bringing truth and light back to Pakistan.

The alliance may be off to a rocky start. Let's hope it gets better.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Comments (7)

Posted by keith frazier | October 17, 2007 8:10 AM

so what about bhutto's corruption charges.....was she guilty or not?

Posted by coldwarrior415 | October 17, 2007 8:16 AM


But is being granted a pardon. A number of her family members have yet to be granted pardons. This is still a sticking point in the Musharaff-Bhutto reproachment.

Unfortunately, we can look for more of the same after her arrival at Jinnah International Airport.

As an old now-former Pakistani senior offical told me years ago, "She went to Radcliffe, for heaven's sake, what do you expect?"

Posted by rbj | October 17, 2007 8:59 AM

corrupt "democrats" or the taliban. What an ugly choice. No wonder Pakistan is so messed up.

Posted by Saleem | October 17, 2007 10:05 AM

Benazir ... huh .. When people just wait for 1 opportunity to make a difference in politics, she has already had 2 chances before. WHAT DID SHE DO THEN ? It was all messed up when she became the prime minister. Schools were almost closed daily. Her husband started demanding his share in almost all the businesses from their owners. She was quiet. The people who talk so loudly about democracy should go to Pakistan for some time where more than 60% population lives in rural areas where education has not reached its strength. Those people do not even know who they are voting for. Literally, they just know who they HAVE to vote for ... WHY ? They do not know. Musharraf has brought a lot of progress in this country. Media has been enjoying its freedom. Alot of construction is going on. You feel the difference when you go to a government office much more advanced than before. She has been elected twice not because of what she did BUT just because of the mass rural sindhi population who just know that they are Sindhis and Benazir is also a Sindhi. That is it. I don't think this should be the criteria for electing a leader.

Posted by patrick neid | October 17, 2007 10:16 AM

Like her or not she has a lot of balls returning to Pakistan given her recent statements. Hell, I wouldn't even go there as a tourist disguised as a muslim!

Just to be safe after typing that, allah akbar!

Posted by BB | October 17, 2007 3:38 PM

Muslim nation with nukes, leaning Islamist: I pray for Bhutto and Pakistan.

Posted by lexhamfox | October 17, 2007 10:34 PM

Her father was a much better leader. I hope they win with a large enough mandate to clean up some of the schools and 'charities.'

Post a comment