Hearing the tragic news on Thursday that former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto had been assassinated made me very sad. However, knowing that her arriving motorcade had been attacked by bombers when she returned to Pakistan in October, I was not surprised.
In 2002, I had the honor of meeting Ms. Bhutto in Dallas when she was the keynote speaker at a conference sponsored by the Dallas Women's Foundation. Since my law firm was a conference sponsor, I was able to speak with Ms. Bhutto at a private reception. We had a very pleasant conversation. We noted that we both graduated from college in 1973, a time when young women were breaking free of traditional restraints on what women's roles in society could be. We also talked about my pro bono legal work as a volunteer for Catholic Charities. Many of my pro bono clients were Muslim refugees from Bosnia and Kosovo, women and children who had fled the ethnic cleansing of the Milosevic regime. She expressed a heartfelt gratitude for this work on behalf of persecuted Muslims. Later, when Ms. Bhutto gave her speech to over a thousand women, gathered together in the largest hotel ballroom in Dallas, she received a prolonged and enthusiastic standing ovation. Many in the audience were moved when Ms. Bhutto expressed her deep sorrow about America's tragic loss on 9/11 and how she had also been personally targeted by Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Like so many others have said, Ms. Bhutto was a beautiful woman who carried herself with dignity and grace. I especially remember her mesmerizing eyes.
Ms. Bhutto's goals in returning to Pakistan were to restore democracy, stimulate economic growth to reduce poverty, and defeat the jihadists.
The former Prime Minister has her critics. But her tragic assassination reveals our Government's policy failure in Pakistan - we backed an unaccountable dictator. Whether Ms. Bhutto was murdered by the jihadists alone or by a cabal of jihadists and Pakistani Government security services, it is clear that Mr. Musharraf is an unreliable and ineffective ally in defeating the Al Qaeda and the Taliban forces who have found a safe refuge in his country. These extremists hate women, hate the West and murder their fellow Muslims as they seek to create a 7th century caliphate.
No one can take two things from Ms. Bhutto's legacy. She had incredible personal courage and she sacrificed her life for her country. She could have stayed in London and Dubai in a life of comfort and safety. Actually, her personal courage is similar to that displayed every day by our US troops. Whether one is against the war in Iraq or for it, no one can say that the men and women in uniform do not put their love of country before their personal safety.
With all the bad things that happen in this world, lives lived like Benazir Bhutto lived hers are an inspiration to us all. That is why no matter how many innocent people the jihadists murder, they will never prevail. In the long run courage always defeats hatred.