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Benazir did more for democracy in Pakistan than anybody else: American scholars

SAMAA | - Posted: Dec 26, 2008 | Last Updated: 13 years ago
Posted: Dec 26, 2008 | Last Updated: 13 years ago

WASHINGTON: Benazir Bhutto was a force for positive
reconstruction of Pakistan and in order to overcome the several challenges facing the country, the Pakistanis will have to demonstrate the same unflinching conviction and courage that she adhered to in struggle for democracy, American experts closely watching Pakistan say.
Reflecting on the martyred leader's legacy a year after her tragic
assassination, experts pay tribute to her extraordinary struggle for democracy and say the Pakistanis, who overcame the threat of terrorism to hold free elections, must now strive for strengthening democracy.
“Given the tragedies that intersected with her life she was on balance a force for freedom and the positive reconstruction of Pakistan. It is easy to recount her failures, but her triumphs were more notable, particularly her perseverance over the years in her attempt to revive a free Pakistan,” says Dr Stephen Cohen, a leading South Asian analyst.
Cohen, who has authored books on Pakistan, said it is sad that
she did not live to see democracy return to Pakistan.
“But we must remember that democracy is always a work in progress and that she did more to advance it than anyone else,” adds Cohen, who is associated with Washington's Brooking Institution.
Lisa Curtis, another prominent South Asian expert, paying tribute to the memory of Pakistan's icon of democracy, saying “Benazir Bhutto fought hard to return to Pakistan in October 2007 and she believed her country's destiny included a path toward democracy, development, tolerance, and progress.”
“Her fellow Pakistanis can take the country toward her same vision but they cannot do it without the same conviction and courage she demonstrated against the extremists threatening to impose an entirely different future on the country.
“Hopefully, commemorating the anniversary of the untimely death of the “Daughter of Destiny” will clarify for Pakistanis what's at stake for their country's destiny,” says Curtis, who is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, while pointing to the need to ponder over causes and consequences of her loss.
She lauds the courage of the Pakistan nation to go ahead with elections early this year but adds the election was only the first step in what is going to be a long haul for the country's leadership to rebuild its civilian institutions, put the economy back on track and root out extremism.
Alan Kronstadt, a Congressional specialist writer on “South Asian
Affairs”, notes Bhutto's “optimistic and tireless efforts” that ultimately played an important role in persuading US policy makers to reconsider their narrow focus on (former president Pervez) Musharraf.
“This shift in turn facilitated Ms. Bhutto's historic return to
Pakistan in 2007, a move that required an impressive degree of personal
courage and determination on her part,” he says.
“It is very possible that Pakistan and the world have suffered without the opportunity to see how things might have gone differently had Ms. Bhutto lived to see the national elections through.
“As her widower, the current President, has many times argued, Ms.
Bhutto's efforts only have meaning if those left behind carry on the
struggle she waged on behalf of representative government and
against the kind of extremism that has become a tragedy for the
Pakistani nation.”

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