Saturday, March 22, 2008

Benazir Bhutto on Why I Do What I Have to Do

Benazir Bhutto’s Daughter of the East: An Autobiography concludes early in the year 2007 when she decides to return to Pakistan from exile and face an uncertain future. This statement is all the more poignant in the light of her death in December 2007:

“So I prepare to return to an uncertain future in Pakistan in 2007….I realize I can be arrested. I realize that like the assassination of Benigno Aquino in Manila in August 1983, I can be gunned down on the airport tarmac when I land. After all, al-Qaeda has tried to kill me several times, why would we think they wouldn’t try again as I return from exile to fight for the democratic elections they so detest. But I do what I have to do, and am determined to return to fulfill my pledge to the people of Pakistan to stand by them in their democratic aspirations.

I take the risk for all the children of Pakistan.

It is not about personal power. It is about simple decency and respect for the right of men and women to live in security and dignity and in liberty….

I know it sounds idealistic, and to some unrealistic, but after all these years, I still maintain my faith that time, justice and the forces of history are on the side of democracy.

Some people might not understand what drives me forward into this uncharted and potentially dangerous crossroads of my life. Too many people have sacrificed too much, too many have died, and too many people see me as their remaining hope for liberty, for me to stop fighting now. I recall the words of Dr Martin Luther King: ‘Our lives begin to end the day we remain silent on things that matter.’ With my faith in God, I put my fate in the hands of my people.”

Source: Benazir Bhutto, Daughter of the East: An Autobiography (London: Simon & Schuster, 2007), 430-431.

This book is reviewed at Reviewing Books and Movies.

Dr. Geoff Pound

Image: Benazir Bhutto at her last political rally.