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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Bhutto, Seeing Alternatives to Musharraf Differently Than Edwards



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I’ll admit, Pakistan seems like one of those thorny foreign policy conundrums that seems to not have any easy solutions. But I’ll note that in a June NPR interview, Bhutto seemed to suggest that John Edwards was too credulous in his assessment of President Pervez Musharraf.

MR. SIEGEL: I want you to comment on something that former Senator John Edwards said last night in the Democratic candidate debate in New Hampshire. The question was about Pakistan, democracy, and fighting against al Qaeda. And Senator Edwards said this –

JOHN EDWARDS: And one danger that anyone has to recognize with the possible taking down of Musharraf as the president of Pakistan – and I met with him also in Islamabad a few years ago – one of the things we have to recognize is if he goes out of power given the power of radical Islam in Pakistan, there is absolutely no way to know what kind of government will take its place.

MS. BHUTTO: I know that this is an argument that has been made by General Musharraf to frighten the international community into prolonging his dictatorship. I see things differently. I believe that the longer General Musharraf continues with the present political structure that he has put into place, the greater will be the threat from the Taliban and the extremists. Back in 2002, the Taliban had been defeated; they were dispersed; they were disorganized. And since then, they have regrouped and reorganized and rearmed themselves to the extent that they regularly carry out attacks on NATO troops, Afghan troops, in nearby Afghanistan. Secondly, within Pakistan itself, many of our cities have been ceded to the militants one by one.

#more#

MR. SIEGEL: But how then would a democratic government deal with the rising authority of Islamists in Pakistani cities, merely to contest with them at the polls and run against them, or are you speaking of some sort of crackdown on them?

MS. BHUTTO: Contesting the polls is only the beginning of the journey to undermine extremism, militancy, and terrorism. But most fundamental is to address the social and economic needs of the people of Pakistan. In a way, dictatorship neglects the basic needs of the people. And when their basic needs to clothing, to housing, to drinking water, to economic advancement is neglected, the poverty and the desperation is a fertile ground for the extremists to exploit.

Was she right? Or does her assassination today suggest that it was her assessment of the Pakistani street that was wrong? Note Mark Steyn’s argument over in the Corner.


Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson


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