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Bring Bhutto back
Harlan Ulllman’s column on this page today provides an exclusive interview with former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Pakistan’s location places it at the intersection of the war on terror and fundamentalist extremism. Its possession of nuclear weapons as a deterrent to India makes Pakistan potentially the most dangerous state on the globe if radical Islamists were to seize power. President Pervez Musharraf is under growing pressure externally to do more on the war on terror and internally to return to promised democratic rule. Discussions last week between Gen. Musharraf and Mrs. Bhutto could pave the way for him to solve those dilemmas by inviting the former prime minister back and assigning her some of the responsibilities for both tasks.
The return of Mrs. Bhutto to power is no guarantee that Pakistan can or would do more in the fight against terror. Last week, the visit of a senior Pakistani official to Washington underscored the differences in threat perceptions between that government and ours over the extent of the dangers emanating from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). This official maintained that U.S. intelligence was exaggerating the threat.
Perhaps one of the promises Mrs. Bhutto could make should she return to power is to resolve this profound difference. Based on that start, further steps could be taken to ensure not only that Pakistan is on a safer path to democracy but that all that can be done to take on al Qaeda and like-minded terror groups is in fact being done.
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