cour¬¨‚àëage: the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery…. have the courage of one’s convictions, to act in accordance with one’s beliefs….
I find myself in awe of the bravery and the selflessness of Benazir Bhutto. Whatever her faults may have been, Bhutto was someone who put the welfare of her country before her own personal safety. How many of us would willingly- nay, eagerly- go into a situation that we knew full well would very likely result in our death? Especially with a family at stake? As I found myself glued to CNN yesterday, I may have been shocked at Bhutto’s assassination, but I was hardly surprised. No reasonably well-informed observer could possibly claim surprise at this turn of events. Pakistan, a country on the verge of self-immolation under the best of circumstances, now finds itself threatening to tear itself apart at the sectarian and ideological seams. Like so much of the radicalized Islamic world, Pakistan is not a country given to compromise and accommodation, and far too many are willing to kill themselves as long as they can take large numbers of “infidels” with them.
The sad thing about this sort of heroism and courage is that far too often it’s only recognized posthumously. Such is the case with Benazir Bhutto, that rarest of politician- one willing to live with the courage of her convictions no matter what the risk. The problem with Pakistan is that those who stand out tend to be cut down. The haters- those who cannot stand the idea of order and the rule of law under anything but their terms- are only too willing to use whatever means that may be necessary to quiet those who display any potential for making a difference. The people of Pakistan deserve better, but it appears that the government of Pervez Musharraf is more concerned with maintaining and consolidating their own power than with serving those they govern.
The coming weeks should raise and hopefully also answer a lot of questions about the Musharraf government’s role in Bhutto’s assassination. Though Bhutto had requested security assistance from the Pakistani government, none of the assistance she requested was provided. At first glance, it appears that Musharraf and his minions were perfectly willing to allow Bhutto to assume risks she never should have had to face.
Was the Pakistani government complicit in Bhutto’s assassination, whether by omission or commission? It’s far too early to know, of course, but I find it difficult to believe that Musharraf was unaware of the benefits that would accrue to him once Bhutto was removed from the equation.
In the end, Benazir Bhutto’s legacy may be that her courage might well end up for naught. Pakistan is once again on the verge of tearing itself apart, and Bhutto’s husband and daughters will poorer for her absence in their lives. What a horrific, senseless waste of a life that still had so much to offer her country and her family. Another voice for unity, peace, and democracy has been silenced by those interest only in the achievement of their own brutal, self-interested agenda. The last thing Pakistan needs is another martyr…and yet that’s exact what it has. And yes, Pakistan is the Bush Administration’s primary ally in the region in their never-ending War on Terror. If that doesn’t frighten you, nothing will.