Sunday, January 06, 2008

A Contrast in Courage and Cowardice

This just in: Pakistan's strongman president Pervez Musharraf says, incredibly, that former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's assassination was her own fault!

"For standing up outside the car, I think it was she to blame alone -- nobody else," CNN quotes him as saying. "Responsibility is hers."

Musharaff originally blamed militant Islamists for her death. But, prior to her death (after an earlier assassination attempt), Bhutto herself said she saw both militant Islamists aligned with al-Qaida and members of the Pakistani government as possible threats to her security.

"Yes, I suspect elements within the Musharraf administration to have conspired to eliminate me through terrorist attack, and I suspect elements within the administration who continue to try to eliminate me," Bhutto said in a November interview with the NewsHour's Margaret Warner.

Warner asked Bhutto whether people in Musharraf's administration were complicit in the October suicide bombing.

"I suspect that elements within the administration are sympathetic to the militants and they want to eliminate my leadership to prevent democracy from returning to Pakistan and to prevent any political party having a leader with a mass support or nationally that can enable us to build a popular base to confront the terrorists," Bhutto said.

She also reported that numerous requests to the Musharraf government for specific security measures were ignored or denied.

My opinion is that Benazir Bhutto had the courage to do what Pervez Musharraf does not -- stand up! Take a stand for the right thing, democracy, even if it put her at great personal risk.

I think I understand the practical reasons why the U.S. government has supported Musharraf. What I'm not sure of is -- particularly in light of such incredible insensitivity as blaming this courageous woman for her own death -- how long we will be able to tolerate him.