At the end of September she was in Washington for meetings with supporters and a few journalists. Sipping tea with her was an experience I shall never forget. She knew the risks of returning to Pakistan, but accepted them because, "I love my country and my people." That's something else we don't see much of today: patriots. There are many politicians who, for reasons of ego and a need to satisfy their own narcissism, seek power, but hide their hunger with bows toward more noble objectives. Like all politicians, indeed like all humanity, Bhutto was flawed, but she was less flawed and more principled than many others in her country. Women with a husband and children don't jeopardize comfortable and relatively safe lifestyles for what awaited her in Pakistan. True heroism is to know the risks and to take them in spite of danger.
There were the usual statements of condemnation by world leaders. They mean nothing to religious fanatics who kill others and themselves in the process as Bhutto's murderer did. Pakistan is in a fight for its life, and one wonders whether President Pervez Musharraf, having made bargains with some of the Taliban devils and warlords, will be able to fight the terrorists the way they must be fought in order for democracy to prevail. Pakistan will not prevail any other way.
What do Democratic candidates running for president offer as a policy for combating the terrorists? Just varying degrees of pullout, quitting and surrender in Iraq and no credible plan for defeating terrorists elsewhere. Bhutto is a threat to them, too. Her example of bravery is also a challenge to another woman, Hillary Clinton, whose true convictions are yet to be discovered.
Leadership is more than biology. It takes a well-crafted ideology and goals beyond one's self. Bhutto had them in abundance. While her death is a great personal loss to her family and to reformers in Pakistan, it is also a loss to the world, which suffers from too few patriots and too few leaders who put others before their own careers and power.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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