Articles

Oct 18, 2007

Bhutto Profile

BERGEN (voice-over): Back from eight years in exile, back into the fury of Pakistani politics, Benazir Bhutto is a national icon here, loved by millions, despised by many.

In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer last month, Bhutto made it clear she knew the risks of returning, and she accepted them.

BENAZIR BHUTTO, FORMER PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER: There’s a lot of threats because under military dictatorship an anarchic situation has developed which the terrorists and Osama have exploited. They don’t want democracy. They don’t want me back.

BERGEN: She represents everything that the most militant elements of Pakistani society hate: pro-West, progressive, the first woman to lead a Muslim country in a place where many would rather women stay silent behind a veil.

BHUTTO: And they don’t believe in women governing nations. So, they will try to plot against me. But these are risks that must be taken. I’m prepared to take them.

BERGEN: Her father was executed by a former military dictator. Her husband was jailed, two brothers killed. She herself has spent years in exile or under house arrest.

Educated at Oxford and Harvard, Bhutto is the natural heir to one of Pakistan’s most prominent political families. Her term as prime minister, however, was marred at the end by scandal, she and her husband accused of stealing money from the treasury and stashing it overseas.

Bhutto is back, thanks to her enduring popularity and a deal struck with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. If she wins the upcoming election, they will likely share power, Musharraf staying on as president, Bhutto as prime minister. Musharraf had little choice. Bhutto is the most popular politician in Pakistan, twice as popular as he is.

Bob Grenier ran CIA operations in Pakistan after 9/11.

BOB GRENIER, MANAGING DIRECTOR, KROLL: An agreement between General Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto would be good for Pakistan. It would good for America. And it would be for the war on terrorism, much more broadly. At this point, the secular forces in Pakistan have to be reunited. And Benazir Bhutto is a critically important part of that effort.

BHUTTO: I know the past has been tragic. But I’m an optimist by nature. I put my faith in the people of Pakistan. I put my faith in God.

BERGEN: Huge crowds turned out to welcome Bhutto back today. And, also, unfortunately, so did her enemies.

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