Benazir Bhutto had not yet become president or prime minister in her recent return to Pakistan’s political arena — but she was the leading opposition leader in Pakistan.
While it is doubtful that she could have easily calmed Pakistan’s increasing turmoil if she had ascended to officialdom while in some power-sharing arrangement with President Musharraf, her death today makes everything much more fragile.
I met Bhutto during one of her recent trips through Washington in a session arranged by Harlan Ullman — and I found her powerfully eloquent. She acknowledged to the group she was meeting that she was willing to risk her life to try and achieve a different course in Pakistan. I thought at the time that her chances of survival were low in the cauldron of a political scene that requires political leaders to mix with the masses.
A commentator close to Bhutto just told me that Pakistan will not disintegrate because of this incident — as the military excels in “situations where preventing a meltdown is required.”
Bhutto was part of America’s hope for political stabilization there — and that plan has been definitively sabotaged.
Benazir Bhutto is dead now — and the implication I believe is that while Pakistan’s future would always have been messy, that mess will be less managed and scripted and will now be far more uncontrolled, unstable, and dangerous.
— Steve Clemons