William Dalrymple‘s Op-Ed on Benazir Bhutto is a pretty even-handed historian’s comment on the assassination and it aftermath. All the more cogent given the histrionic tone of writing by the likes of BERNARD-HENRI LEVY. BHL is often insightful and pithy, but his WSJ piece on Benazir is pretty pathological and agit-prop. Talk amongst yourselves.
Benazir Bhutto’s death is, of course, a calamity, particularly as she embodied the hopes of so many liberal Pakistanis. But, contrary to the commentary we’ve seen in the last week, she was not comparable to Myanmar’s Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Ms. Bhutto’s governments were widely criticized by Amnesty International and other groups for their use of death squads and terrible record on deaths in police custody, abductions and torture. As for her democratic bona fides, she had no qualms about banning rallies by opposing political parties while in power.
Benazir Bhutto was certainly a brave and secular-minded woman. But the obituaries painting her as dying to save democracy distort history. Instead, she was a natural autocrat who did little for human rights, a calculating politician who was complicit in Pakistan’s becoming the region’s principal jihadi paymaster while she also ramped up an insurgency in Kashmir that has brought two nuclear powers to the brink of war.
They have killed a woman. A beautiful woman. A visible, indeed a conspicuously, spectacularly visible woman.
A woman who made a point not only of holding rallies in one of the world’s most dangerous countries, but did so with her face uncovered, unveiled–the exact opposite of the shameful, hidden women, the condemned creatures of Satan, who are the only women tolerated by these apostles of a world without women.
They killed a Jew, Daniel Pearl. They killed Ahmed Shah Massoud, the great guerilla leader against the Taliban, a moderate Muslim, a cultivated man and free spirit. They tried for years to kill a man, Salman Rushdie, who dared say that to be a man is also sometimes to choose your own destiny.
And now they have killed Benazir Bhutto–killed her because she was a woman, because she had a woman’s face, unadorned yet filled with an unswerving strength, because she was living out her destiny and refusing the curse that, according to the new fascists (the jihadists) floats over the human face of women. They killed this woman incarnation of hope, of spirit, of the will to democracy, not only in Pakistan, but in all the lands of Islam.