The recent, less-than-informed coverage of the death of Benazir Bhutto reminds us of Neville Chamberlain's infamous comment about Czechoslovakia as "a faraway country about which we know nothing." Unfortunately he would have done well to learn more, as his disregard for that little nation led directly to the horrors of World War 2. The fact is that, while some might refer to this assassination as just another violent murder, the event is enormously important for the world at large, and most certainly the United States.
Benazir Bhutto was an extremely influential woman. Mrs. Bhutto was the daughter of former Pakistani president Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, and she herself served twice as the Prime Minister of Pakistan. In and of themselves, those facts make her an important woman, especially one having been assassinated
In 1988, Mrs. Bhutto became the first woman ever to head a Muslim country. Nine years previously, her father had been executed under a martial law ruling which was greatly debated. Three years previously, one brother was killed in France and another brother with possible ties to more violent means of politics was killed during her second term as Prime Minister.
Mrs. Bhutto was no newcomer to violence or its effects. She was not unfamiliar with terrorism and divisive religious politics. Yet together, none of these facts make Mrs. Bhutto's life or death any more important to the average United States citizen than, say, the life and biographical sketch of Japan's Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda.
Mrs. Bhutto was also not a newcomer to scandal. Like her father before her, she was accused of various political corruptions involving her administration. In addition to herself, they involved her husband, her friends and her business associates.
Most of the accusations never saw time in court due to her departure from the country, and Musharraf's clemency to aid her return. In comparison to other South Asian leaders, she was no worse than average; in fact, by Pakistani measures, she was exceeded in cleanliness only by Musharraf himself.
The importance to all citizens of the United States of America of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's purpose in life and manner of her death is because she represented hope for dealing with fascist Muslim violence - a threat that now confronts not just the benighted countries of the Islamic world, but the great nations of the West.
Though greeted with violence as she arrived back from her self-imposed exile in recent months, she chose to stay in her native country and work to resolve its problems, rather than to leave and merely hope for a solution. During her last term in office she upgraded roads, started new schools, and had electricity extended further into the countryside, all of which served to raise the standard of living for Pakistanis.
She continued now to fight against the current backwards-looking, Luddite, religiously motivated convictions of her society with the belief that not only was she not inferior by virtue of being a woman, but that she could be extraordinary in giving Pakistan what it needed. Educated at Harvard and Oxford, she brought a true world view to her government and politics.
Throughout her career, she worked tirelessly to bring a middle ground between the oppressive laws of Sharia, which many Muslims still want, and a western style freedom, which is not yet suited to fit both Pakistan's proud religious and secular heritage. Bringing two diametrically opposed ends to sit at a common table and actually work together to provide advancement for her country, she tried again. And as she was poised to start sharing power with President Pervez Musharraf in a US-bolstered attempt to keep Pakistani nuclear weapons out of the hands of Islamic terrorists, she was assassinated.
Mrs. Bhutto occupied a middle ground of popular support, showing the way towards peace between Islamic extremism and Western freedom. And now she is gone without any visible backup.
Former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mrs. Benazir Bhutto, you will be missed.