Greater Surbiton

The perfect is the enemy of the good

Benazir Bhutto: Bosnia’s murdered friend

The terrorists who have murdered Benazir Bhutto have murdered someone who, as prime minister of Pakistan, was forthright in defending the people of Bosnia-Hercegovina in their darkest hour. On 2 February 1994, Bhutto and Turkey’s Tansu Ciller, both democratically elected women leaders of two of the world’s largest Muslim nations, visited the besieged Bosnian capital of Sarajevo and expressed their solidarity with the Bosnian people:  ‘Rarely in the annals of human history has a nation been subjected to such merciless savagery in the full view of the world,’ Bhutto and Ciller said in a statement after meeting with Bosnian officials. Western policy at this time favoured Slobodan Milosevic’s fascist regime in Belgrade and the Bosnian Serb terrorists of Radovan Karadzic; the previous summer, international mediators had put forward the ‘Owen-Stoltenberg Plan’, that offered Karadzic’s Serb rebels 54% of Bosnian territory and the right to secede from the Bosnian state, amounting to an endorsement of Serb war-aims and the destruction of Bosnia. Defying this policy, Bhutto and Ciller publicly called for a lifting of the arms embargo that prevented Bosnia from defending itself. Only three days after their visit to the Bosnian capital, the besieging Serb forces murdered 69 people in a mortar attack on the Sarajevo market-place.

Two and a half years later, in July 1996, Bhutto reminisced that ‘Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Ciller and I travelled to Bosnia, where we wore flak jackets and were surrounded by gunfire. We went to show the commitment of our nations to the Bosnian people and to witness the courage and determination with which the persecuted Muslims faced their aggressors.’

The occasion for Bhutto’s reminiscence was an exhumation of victims of the Srebrenica massacre. She commented: ‘Today, investigators are slowly unearthing the remains of murdered Muslims in the mass graves surrounding Srebrenica. As the dirt is removed and the bodies are identified and laid to rest, a horrible chapter of our modern history is being documented. Now the world has tangible proof of a level of carnage and brutal savagery that defies belief. We have proof of a viciousness seldom seen since the genocide in Cambodia and the on-going terror in Kashmir. No longer can we question whether or not this “ethnic cleansing” is a brutal reality. We know for certain that Western nations stood by as uninterested witnesses to events that bore an uncanny resemblance to Hitler’s Final Solution. So now, as we expose this single great massacre, we should also throw light on the foolishness and ignorance that allowed these events to occur. How could we have let such genocide into our lives again?’

Bhutto concluded her comment by expressing her hope that the world had learned its lesson from the Bosnian war: ‘After all the bloodshed and anguish, what have we learned? That a quick solution to the Bosnian conflict was a necessity. That appeasement and hesitation only encourage elements of disharmony and disorder in other nations. When provided with the right leadership, a peaceful parting of the ways is possible, such as the division that gave birth to the Czech and Slovak republics under the guidance of Vaclav Havel. When leadership is abdicated and responsibility is renounced, we allow the likes of Radovan Karadzic to begin their massacres. That should be our enduring lesson.’

Saturday, 29 December 2007 - Posted by | Balkans, Bosnia, Former Yugoslavia, Pakistan, Serbia, Turkey

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