The hottest ticket among South Asia watchers on the day after Pakistan's Independence Day was the appearance at the Council on Foreign Affairs by former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto. CFR.org has published the transcript and audio from her conversation with CFR president Richard Haass is on the site. After an opening statement, here's the first question:
HAASS: Let me begin with a -- in some ways it's a question that to me was implicit in everything you said. You talk about the history of your country over the last 60 years. What is it about Pakistan or Pakistanis that accounts for the fact that, probably a majority of its history, democracy has not prevailed. What's wrong?
BHUTTO: Well, we feel that the founder of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah, died very quickly, a year after Pakistan was founded, and so we didn't have a national leader with the authority, the respect to help us develop our democratic political institutions, whereas Nehru, in nearby India, provided the leadership that could help a new nation strengthen its democratic institutions.
Secondly, we also feel that Pakistan's geostrategic position as a country -- you know, we -- Afghanistan was the buffer state during the Cold War, and Pakistan was one side of the buffer state -- so our geostrategic position as the bastion for the free world also led to the international community dealing with whoever was in power. So in a sense, the military dictatorships were able to milk international support for suppressing democratic rights for short-term strategic goals. But I am concerned that that policy is now backfiring.
HAASS: Do you therefore actually wish that the United States and others were putting more pressure on your government to reinstall democracy?
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