Benazir Bhutto was a leader with her own history and flaws. It was under her leadership after all in the early 1990's when the Taliban first began to gain prominence with the direct support of both the Pakistani military and government - though her supporters I am sure would say that these are the inevitable consequences of power in Pakistan. And Pakistan is a very complicated and conflicted country with staggering rates of poverty and deprivation - rates which only seemed to increase under her leadership which in turn probably more than anything accounted for the PPP's huge losses in the Parliamentary elections of 1997 to Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League.
One can't help but admire her bravery for going back to Pakistan into a situation that she most definitely knew was extremely dangerous. Watching the television footage today it seems stunning just how open and available she was to her throngs of adoring supporters, and how sparse and limited seemed the security. I'm not sure of the exact number, but Pakistan has endured an unprecedented number of suicide attacks this year (more here, and here). And though she was convinced that she knew who was trying to kill her, I have no idea. But you can't help but wonder the degree to which this rise is directly related to the Military's raid on the Red Mosque back in July.
She had already survived one attack that killed 140 people. The current Pakistani President Pervez Musharaff has survived three attempts on his life. And Afghan President Hamid Karzai has also survived three. The extremely popular Baluch tribal leader Nawab Akbar Bugti was killed by Pakistani security forces on August 26, 2006. (Big problems for the Pakistani government in Baluchistan.)
And into this growing, deeply violent culture of suicide and martyrdom she waded. So open. Her head held high. Almost like she knew it was going to happen.
Her father was hanged at age 51.
She was 54.
The Dawn is the leading English language newspaper in Pakistan.
In the near future check in here for any articles from the great Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid.
Her long time friend Victoria Schofield in remembrance.