Benazir Bhutto, former prime minister
of Pakistan, warns that supporting military regimes and dictators is costly,
and risky, endeavor.
are excerpts from Benazir Bhutto's April 18 remarks at Ed Landreth Auditorium:
guests, we meet together at an extraordinary and dangerous time. The war
against international terrorism, triggered by the events of Sept. 11,
has entered a new phase. The execution of The Wall Street Journal
reporter Daniel Pearl underscores the treacherous lack of ground rules
of the terrorist warriors. U.S. embassy attendants and nonessential staff
were evacuated from Pakistan last month following a grenade attack on
a Protestant church that killed an embassy employee and her 17-year-old
daughter. And as the terrorism continues unabated, Pakistan's military
regime has released 1,300 arrested militants back into the chaotic streets
of Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore. Simultaneously, the nuclear-armed nations
of India and Pakistan stand at the brink of war over the disputed areas
of Jammu and Kashmir.
the outset and on a personal note, I wish to express my condolences to
the people of the United States on the attacks of Sept. 11. As demonstrated
over the past many months, the majority of the people of Pakistan join
me in expressing our sorrow. We wish you to be strong, for to many, you
are the beacon of democracy for people living under tyranny on this Earth.
It is difficult
to shake the image of the twin towers with 3,000 innocent victims collapsing
beneath the weight of hate. It is an image that shapes our world today -- politically,
emotionally and morally. I feel America's pain. Four of the happiest years
of my life were spent on an American campus at Harvard University where
I learned of and flourished in America's freedom, tolerance, pluralism,
openness and equal opportunity for all its citizens. Millions of men and
women come to America for freedom, opportunity, equality and pluralism.
For that reason, America is the worst nightmare to the extremists and
fanatics who thrive on misery, intolerance, ignorance and fear.
of America that was destroyed on Sept. 11 -- people of all races, people
of all ethnicities, people of all religions -- is everything the extremists
abhor. America is a model of what can be -- of modernity, diversity and democracy.
But these values are the fanatics' worst fears. At this time of crisis,
the American people and American leaders must distinguish between those
who use violence and terror in the name of Islam and the vast majority
of the Islamic people. Those who use violence in the name of religion
are hypocrites, and those who kill innocents are criminals. The terrorists
who attacked America were not fighting for Islam; they were fighting for
themselves. Their goal is to establish interconnected theocracies of ignorance
they can control and manipulate for their own political ends. In the end,
they will be defeated.
I am not
unfamiliar with these people. I know them well. I know how they operate.
I know how they think. And I know what they want. As prime minister of
Pakistan, I stood up to them. My government and I battled with many of
these same extremists, including Osama bin Laden himself. We took them
on. And we often paid the price.
Afghan-Soviet war, Pakistan became the breeding ground for their political
and religious manipulation and exploitation. Hiding under the cloak of
religion, they preached a message that enslaves not liberates, teaches
children to hate, leaves people hopeless, desperate and paranoid. My government
closed their so-called universities. We disarmed the militant madrassas,
the sham schools that did not teach children literature, sciences or mathematics,
but tried to turn children into fanatics.
restored law and order to our cities under incessant assault from terrorist
attack. My government extradited terrorists like Ramzi Yousef who had
exported death and destruction to New York in the 1990s in the first attack
on the World Trade Center. And the terrorists struck back at my government
and my allies. They destroyed the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad. They
burned down our national assembly, hijacked a school bus, gunned down
diplomats and businessmen in the streets and organized and financed schemes
to topple my government. But we had them on the run. They were unable
to plan a single act of international terror during my two tenures as
prime minister of Pakistan. Despite the personal and political price I
paid over the years, my regret is that we were unable to completely unravel
them before they rained terror and ended the global peace we briefly enjoyed
after the end of the Cold War.
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.
I am proud
of my record as prime minister in containing international terrorism and
in reducing tension with our neighbor India. In my first term, my government
facilitated the formation of a government of national consensus in Afghanistan
where the moderates and hard-liners agreed on a compromise to coexist.
In my second term, I blocked the Taliban's entry into Kabul and maintained
a difficult balance between the disparate forces in Afghanistan. I often
traveled to neighboring countries Uzebekistan and Iran to get their support
and influence over some of the groups in Afghanistan in the hope of building
a broad-based government working with the United Nations.
the eclipse of my government, the Taliban seized Kabul. They posed their
will on Afghanistan and harbored bin Laden and al Qaeda, allowing them
to establish recruiting and training camps.
against terrorism headed by the United States has meant swift retribution
against the purveyors of hate and anarchy. The Taliban are ousted; the
military, political and economic backbone of al Qaeda is badly disrupted.
But the success of phase one does not mean that the war is over. We must
remember the lessons of history and not repeat the mistakes of the past.
I remember the world walked away from Afghanistan once before after the
defeat of the Soviets in 1989. That political miscalculation sowed the
seeds of the tragedy of the Taliban and al Qaeda and most regrettably
the events of Sept. 11. Osama bin Laden did not emerge from a nightmare.
His depravity was long in the making, and there is a responsibility of
omission and commission that must never be allowed to happen again.
policy of standing against the Soviet Union was right, yet the early decision
by the U.S. administration to allow their Pakistani counterparts to recruit,
arm, train and supply the mujahadine legitimized the most extreme fanatics
and sowed the seeds of 21st century terrorism that we see swelling around
us. In our governments' combined zeal to defeat the Soviets, we failed
to work for a postwar Afghanistan built on democratic principles of coalition,
consensus and cooperation. The fundamental mistake was our inability to
remain consistently committed to the values of freedom, democracy and
self-determination that ultimately undermined the basis of terrorism.
Just as democracies do not make war, democracies do not promote or sponsor
Pakistan's military leader, did join the war against terror in September
2001, but before that, his military regime presided over the rise of private
militias. In a public address last September, General Musharraf called
America the lesser evil. He said he was joining the war against terror
to strengthen Islamabad against India, whom he called the greater evil.
Such explanations do little to promote peace in the region or understanding
in the larger world community.
General Musharraf's public transformation, his regime has coincided with
some of the most dangerous incidents in recent history. During his three-year
tenure as chief of army staff and Pakistan's leader, India and Pakistan
have twice come to the brink of nuclear conflict. General Musharraf's
inability to moderate the Taliban led to an international crisis. My fear
is that under Musharraf's regime the militants are regrouping in Pakistan.
Exploiting public disaffection with unrepresentative military rule, the
kidnapping and brutal murder of Danny Pearl, the attack on the Protestant
church and the hesitancy to charge Pakistani military groups with specific
crimes are ominous developments.
community could remember that Pakistan does have an extra-constitutional
military dictatorship. Even as I speak to you, my country's national and
provincial assemblies are abolished. The elected president is sacked,
the constitution suspended. Half of the judges on the Supreme Court have
been removed, and politically-backed parties are banned from taking part
in political activities. Political leaders are arrested, exiled or banned
from leading the country. The state of democracy and human rights in Pakistan
today mirrors the situation 20 years ago. Pakistanis hope that this ugly
history will not repeat itself today. For once again, Pakistan is run
by a general at a time when Afghanistan is of strategic importance. And
now General Musharraf, contradicting the written constitution of Pakistan,
has announced a referendum in the spring to extend his military dictatorship
by five years. There are no electoral lists, he says. He says there is
no need for electoral lists. There are no polling stations. He says there
will be mobile polling stations. And there are no independent observers.
the alliance against terrorism has transformed Pakistan's military dictator
in the eyes of the West. Yet, the military regime's record is at the expense
of the basic human and democratic rights of the people of Pakistan. When
Musharraf seized power with the support of hard-line generals, he staffed
the civil administration and his cabinet with retired military intelligence
officials who had worked with Taliban and al Qaeda. For the military hard-liners,
the militants are Pakistan's first line of defense against the Indian
occupation of Kashmir. The religious parties that back the military are
the military hard-liners' first line of defense domestically to keep out
the democratic forces that challenge their grip on power, that challenge
their goal of taking on the West after having taken on the Soviet Union.
presidents have gambled for decades that dictators can impose stability.
But the dictators have come back to haunt the United States. How many
Sept. 11s, how many Danny Pearls before we all come to realize, including
decision makers in Washington, that the greatest protection of freedom
from terrorists is replacing dictatorships with democracies -- with governments
responsible to the people -- governments based on the value of freedom?
are high, the long-term implications great. Democracies don't start wars,
just as they don't promote and protect international terrorists. Elections
in Pakistan are scheduled in six months. The U.S. and its allies must
ensure that these elections do take place, that they are transparent and
that they are open to all parties and candidates. A democratic Pakistan
is America's best guarantee of the triumph of moderation and modernity
amongst one billion Muslims who today stand at the crossroads of history.
has been considered by the CIA to be the place most likely on Earth for
a nuclear confrontation. The history of Kashmir is a history of danger
and missed opportunities. When Britain granted independence to the subcontinent
50 years ago, two states were created -- partitioned along religious lines.
The predominantly Hindu state was India, the Muslim state was Pakistan.
The states were free to join either India or Pakistan. All but one affiliated
with its religious homeland. And in the overwhelming Muslim state of Kashmir,
the ruler in 1947, in exchange for Indian military support, allowed its
occupation of Kashmir, inciting the first of three wars between India
and Pakistan over this Muslim area. In 1949, a U.N. cease-fire left Kashmir
divided, two-thirds under India, one-third under Pakistan. The United
Nations promised the Kashmiri people the right to determine their own
future, to join either India or to join Pakistan. For the last 52 years,
this resolution was blocked, and it has triggered the largest military
buildup and confrontation in South Asia.
when General Musharraf was chief of army staff, Kashmiri militants infiltrated
Indian-held Kargil, pushing nuclear-armed Pakistan and India to the brink
of war. President Clinton had to intervene and put all his diplomatic
weight behind Islamabad to force withdrawal and prevent a war.
2001, a terrorist assault killed 14 people in the Parliament building
of New Delhi, and since that time, both countries have mobilized their
forces. President Bush had to intervene, this time sending Secretary of
State Colin Powell to the region to prevent the outbreak of the military
conflict with nuclear potential between the two countries. And despite
war having been prevented at the time, both the countries have still mobilized
their forces and sit pitted against each other.
guests and dear students, this is not the simple world we dreamed of with
the end of the Cold War. And mine is not the simple life I dreamed of
growing up in Pakistan and later going to school at Harvard and at Oxford.
The gauntlet of leadership was thrown before me. I had no choice but to
pick it up. And I have found that leadership can be challenging.
never knowing when I will see my husband. He was arrested the night my
government was overthrown. Each time the court grants him bail, another
case is trumped up to keep him behind bars. He is being held a hostage
to my political career. I miss my children. My daughter was 3 when her
father went to prison. She is now 9. It's difficult to explain to little
children why their mother has to travel, why their father cannot be with
them. Politics and work often dictate my agenda -- as they do the agenda
of other working families.
I am often
asked why I continue on a journey that is difficult and painful. I do
so out of the belief that my leadership has changed much and can change
more for my country and those denied the right of choice. I do it because
I must. This is my life. And this is my mission. In a way, I was groomed
for politics. Yet a political role was one I did not actively seek. I
had just completed my studies and returned to Pakistan in 1977. One week
later, the tanks rumbled up the road and troops took over the prime minister's
house. My father, who was the prime minister, was arrested and then hanged
amidst worldwide condemnation. That put an end to my career goal to join
the Foreign Service in Pakistan.
As the prime
minister of Pakistan, I appeared before a historic joint session of the
United States Conference and Congress in 1989. In that address, the most
meaningful line to me was my simple message to the women of America, which
is also my message to the youth of America and the women and youth of
the world, three simple words, “Yes, you can.” Don't accept the status
quo. Don't accept no for an answer. Don't accept traditional roles and
and distinguished guests, we fight not against terrorism but the bigotry
and intolerance that will confine and constrain and victimize in the generations
ahead. These are difficult times. Freedom is under assault. Democracy
is under assault. Criminal terrorists tried to hijack my religion just
as they tried to hijack your planes.
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?”
be strong, but do not be bitter. Time, justice and forces of history are
on your side.