Thursday, October 18, 2007

Democracy Does Not Come for Free

Our hearts go out to courageous Benazir Bhutto and her courageous supporters, who--given the public threats and history of Pakistani military-civilian tensions and sectarian conflict--surely knew they were putting their lives on the line in defense of democracy.

In reacting to this disaster, it is critically important to withhold judgment until the facts come in. As is almost always the case with political murder, a wide variety of people could benefit in numerous ways from either killing former prime minister Bhutto or from ruining her chances of conducting the type of open campaign she will most likely need to win election and wrest any meaningful degree of power away from the military dictatorship.

Many will be tempted to assert that this sad event "proves" the validity of their pet theory. It does not. Until we know the facts, it is absolutely not obvious who was responsible. What is evident is that Ms. Bhutto retains an extraordinary degree of popular support. It is unfortunate that the media will no doubt dwell on the attack and forget the massive demonstration of popular support for Ms. Bhutto that preceded it.

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