by Faith Childs | bio

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto, who had recently returned home to Pakistan after an almost decade-long exile, serves as a brutal reminder of the instability of her troubled country.

Benazir Bhutto

Bhutto, the former prime minister of Pakistan, was the target of a sniper and suicide bomber at a political rally, where attendance was sparse, according to some early reports; the people feared just this eventuality.

Less than two months ago, upon her return from exile, Bhutto escaped another assassination attempt in which at least 134 people were killed. This time she was not so lucky.

Bhutto was not an uncomplicated figure. Educated at Harvard and Oxford, the 54-year-old two-time prime minister — the first female leader of a Muslim country — was thought by supporters in the Pakistan Peoples Party to be the last best hope to challenge the military regime of Pervez Musharraf and growing religious extremism. Some felt that she was an American proxy.

News of her death was a grim memento mori of Indira Ghandi being struck down by an assassin’s hand in 1984. Both women paid the dearest price for their public service.

A recent London Review of Books article, "Daughter of the West," by Tariq Ali, puts this remarkable woman in context. Her loss will reverberate far beyond Pakistan.

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