Benazir Bhutto is playing a high risk strategy. What chance has she of getting anywhere? Pakistan faces two choices – either an internal struggle will be needed to rid the country of the excessive influence of extremists, or failing that, in time some kind of external struggle will inevitably be the result. Benazir is a fantastically brave individual prepared to risk her own safety to try and offer Pakistan some route forward from the Musharraf regime, which has slowed but not halted the drift of the country into the hands of the exremists.
The Americans must be underwhelmed by Musharraf’s success in tackling the Taliban/Islamist takeover of Wasiristan on the Afghan border, for example. Unless Pakistan finds its way to become a pluralist democratic society, I doubt a terrorist state, that will otherwise gradually come into being, would be tolerated by India or the US. Benazir is the last chance of a relatively peaceful outcome for the region, it seems.
If she fails, there is little standing in the way of warfare spreading. Benazir will either become a saviour of Pakistan, or just a footnote in the process of the country becoming too serious a threat for the outside world to ignore.
That said, Iraq is at last showing some signs of stabilising. At least this project of intervention, after much trauma and grief, is showing signs of coming to some kind of a satisfactory end. But Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia are still a long way from becoming regimes that will be conducive to the peacefulness and safety of the world.
If Benazir succeeds in bringing Pakistan into a state of acceptability to the rest of the world, she will be saving potentially millions of lives. She knows only too well from seeing her father’s fate how far the military regimes will go to protect themselves from democratic revivals. She deserves every support, and recognition of her incredible courage.
7.11.07 UPDATE Benazir threatens Musharraf with Long March