'US must help Bhutto, Pak move toward democracy'
Stressing that it is hard to see the return of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto to her homeland as a victory for democracy, a leading American newspaper has asked Washington to help the PPP leader and the Islamic nation to "truly move towards democracy".
"After belatedly recognising that the General's misrule was dangerously strengthening, not weakening extremist forces in Pakistan, Washington helped engineer the deal that permitted Bhutto's return. Now, it must help her and Pakistan truly move toward democracy," the New York Times said.
Stating that the return of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) leader was "painstakingly choreographed," the paper noted that Bhutto got "swift and horrifying" reminder of how close Pakistan is to the brink and what is she up against when explosions ripped through the crowd near her motorcade.
In the worst ever terror strike in Pakistan, at least 139 people were killed and over 500 others injured when a suicide bomber targeting Bhutto blew himself up during her homecoming procession here late last night but she escaped unhurt.
Bhutto, who was on her way to Pakistan's founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah's mausoleum after arriving in Pakistan following eight years in self-exile, was immediately rescued and whisked away to her residence, Bilawal House.
In regard to her return, the paper said it was the result of a "dubious deal" with General Pervez Musharraf that grants him another five years in the presidency.
"Nor is it a great triumph for the rule of law, since, in exchange for playing ball with the General, Bhutto has been handed a convenient amnesty that wipes out serious corruption charges dating back to her years as prime minister. Without that protection, she would have risked possible imprisonment by returning home," the Times said in an editorial.