Benazir Bhutto, when asked about Barack Obama’s statement that he would use military force on Pakistani soil without authorization from that government, at a Council on Foreign Relations event in August:
QUESTIONER: You may have covered that, what I was going to ask you next, but let me try it anyhow.
We had quite an interesting, and indeed still are, mini-debate here politically between two — initially two of the Democratic aspirants for presidents, and it spread now across party lines. And Barack Obama kicked it off by saying, “If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will.” That’s a direct quote from a recent speech of his. What is your reaction to that?
BHUTTO: Well, I wouldn’t like the United States to violate Pakistan’s sovereignty with unauthorized military operations. But the issue that I would like to stress is that Barack Obama also said, if Pakistan won’t act. And that’s the critical issue, that the government has to act. And the government has to act to protect Pakistan’s own serenity and integrity, its own respect, and to understand that if it creates a vacuum, then others aren’t going to just twiddle their thumbs while militants freely move across the border.
I think General Musharraf did the right thing recently in admitting that militants are using our soil, but he said the army has nothing to do with it. But nonetheless, the issue for me is that we cannot cede parts of Pakistani territory to anybody; not just the Taliban, to anybody. That in Pakistan we have one army, one police, one constitution, one government. We cannot allow parallel armies, parallel militias, parallel laws and parallel command structures. Today it’s not just the intelligence services, who were previously called a state within a state. Today it’s the militants who are becoming yet another little state within the state, and this is leading some people to say that Pakistan is on the slippery slope of being called a failed state. But this is a crisis for Pakistan, that unless we deal with the extremists and the terrorists, our entire state could founder.
Terrorism is loathsome everywhere it strikes, but today’s bombing really sticks in the craw. Someone evil in that region just silenced a voice that could have done a lot of good for that country.