Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Voice of Benazir Bhutto

"Hey Dad, come here," my son (home from college for the holidays) just beckoned. Together, we heard the sad news of the cowardly assassination of Benazir Bhutto in her home country by a young man who then committed suicide just hours ago.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the extremists' greatest fear is the spread of information, social equality and democracy. These three principles choke off the oxygen of terrorism. It was in the clusters of information, social equality and democracy that I gave my attention as prime minister of Pakistan. This could explain the two unsuccessful assassination attempts made against me by al Qaeda in 1993 to prevent my re-election. As prime minister of Pakistan, my government oversaw the heralding of the Information Age into Pakistan -- we introduced fax machines, digital pagers, optic fiber communications, cellular telephones, satellite dishes, computers, Internet, e-mail and even CNN and Fox into Pakistan."
These are the words I heard Prime Minister Bhutto say when she visited us at TCU (the university where I work and study) on April 18, 2002.

She continued:
The solutions will not be quick or simple. But we shall prevail. Let not the horror of murderous attacks on your people and your cities distract you from continuing to be the beacon of freedom for people everywhere. In my father's last letter to me, written before he was murdered by Pakistan's earlier military tyrants, he quoted the poet Tennyson, 'Ah, what shall I be at 50 if I find the world so bitter at 25?'

Dear friends, be strong, but do not be bitter. Time, justice and forces of history are on your side."

Here's a link to a news report of her untimely death (and I'm afraid someone has already very quickly updated her biography at wikipedia to punctuate the past tense).

But listen to Benazir Bhutto; buy her autobiography, and listen. Listen, and "Dear friends, be strong, but do not be bitter. Time, justice and forces of history are on your side."

Consider supporting feminism in Pakistan. With Bhutto, continue "the spread of information, social equality and democracy."


J. K. Gayle said...

Here's Andrew C. McCarthy's published opinion the next day:

"The real Pakistan is a breeding ground of Islamic holy war where, for about half the population, the only thing more intolerable than Western democracy is the prospect of a faux democracy led by A WOMAN - indeed, a product of feudal Pakistani privilege and secular Western breeding whose father, President Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto, had been branded as an enemy of Islam by influential Muslim clerics in the early 1970s."

J. K. Gayle said...

Phyllis Chesler speaks with the voice of experience:

Bhutto's Assassination Is a Political and Cultural Honor Killing

In a sense, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto is a political and cultural version of an honor killing. Bhutto was the first woman Prime Minister of a Muslim nation and she symbolized an unacceptably Western form of female ambition and achievement. She had attended Harvard/Radcliffe and Oxford. She spoke English—perhaps more fluently than she spoke her native Sindi or Urdu. She once dressed as Western women do. Indeed, many Muslim women from wealthy families, including educators and feminists, have done so for a long time. They cannot do so now.

J. K. Gayle said...

Here are the sexist practices Bhutto worked against in Pakistan: