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Friday, December 28, 2007

Bhutto would have strengthened ties with Israel

Three Israeli politicians - Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert, President Shimon Peres and UN Ambassador Danny Gillerman - are all claiming that assassinated Pakistani political leader Benazir Bhutto would have strengthened Pakistan's ties with Israel.
"I saw her as someone who could have served as a bridgehead to relations with that part of the Muslim world with whom our ties are naturally limited," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told The Jerusalem Post.

He said the assassination was a "great tragedy," and that he received the news "with deep sadness."

Upon her return to Pakistan two months ago, Bhutto had stopped in London and, through a mutual acquaintance, relayed a message that she would "in the future like to strengthen the ties between Israel and Pakistan," Olmert said.


President Shimon Peres said he was shocked by Bhutto's killing.

"Benazir Bhutto was a brave woman, who did not hide her opinions, did not know fear and served her people with courage and rare capability," he said in statement.

"I had the chance to meet her on several occasions, in which she expressed interest in Israel and said that she hoped to visit upon returning to power," Peres said. "Benazir was a charismatic leader and a fighter for peace in her country and across the world."

Ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman recalled a meeting he had with Bhutto just prior to her return to Pakistan. "My wife and I had an intimate dinner with her and her husband," he said. "We spent over three hours with them. She was an incredibly impressive person, one of the most impressive in terms of her intellect, charm and charisma that I've ever met."

Gillerman said Bhutto was interested in normalizing relations with Israel. "She was interested in me relaying that information to Washington and the US, which I did," he said. "We were in touch since that meeting by e-mail several times and she expressed concern about her personal safety."

Gillerman said Bhutto had spoken about her fears of Pakistan falling into the hands of Islamic extremists. "She shared with us her plans to return Pakistan to democracy," he said. "She was very well aware of the problems facing her; she knew she was endangering her life by returning. I think she met with us to share with Israel, and through Israel, both her plans, fears and dreams."
I don't doubt that Bhutto may have been interested in strengthening ties with Israel, but I find it hard to believe that the Islamic radicals in Pakistan would ever have permitted her to do so. Now, we won't find out.

Debbie Schlussel has a completely different take on Bhutto from Bhutto's niece, Fatima Bhutto, who claims that Benazir had her father - Benazir's younger brother - killed.

This is the Middle East. Politicians get murdered for their political views here.

When I was a junior in college, there was a student on my floor who was the son of one of a general who served one of Pakistan's Prime Ministers (I don't recall whether it was Bhutto's father or Zia al-Haq - al-Haq came to power around that time). One night the dorm counselor (who was Asian-American) opened this general's son's door and discovered that the kid had Nazi paraphernalia all over his wall. Since it was Columbia, he stayed and graduated.

Pakistan is a rough place. All those madrassas don't help.


At 9:01 PM, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

Robert has a link to an article about ties between Israel and Pakistan. FWIW I agree with you. Even if Bhutto was committed to stronger ties with Israel, the nature of Pakistan's political situation would have prevented it.


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