Wearing lipstick and eye shadow, Benazir Bhutto is a far cry from the stereotype of the average Pakistani woman.

But then again, Bhutto isn’t the average Pakistani woman. Now 49 years old, she was elected the first female Prime Minister of an Islamic country in 1988. Currently exlied to London and Dubai, Bhutto hopes to return to Pakistan to fight the government of Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

Speaking as part of Fairfield’s Open Visions Forum, Bhutto stressed that her country is facing a “very difficult time” and was critical of the Musharraf regime in power there, as well as the Bush administration that backs it.

Bhutto also repeatedly alluded to the attacks of Sept. 11, saying that the terrorists do not represent Muslims as a whole. “I return to America one year after the unspeakable terrorist assaults against it,” she said. “The war against terrorism…has entered a new and difficult phase.”

“The regime in Pakistan has been unable to crack down on terrorists,” said Bhutto before a packed Quick Center crowd. “I’m very disappointed in the method of elections and the refusal of the regime to allow transparent elections.”

“General Musharraf says things which fail to materialize,” she added. “At any rate, he’s unable to deliver…what he professes.”

Bhutto’s criticism also extended to the White House. “Relying on a military regime in Pakistan would be a critical error” for the Bush administration, she said.

Then she accused the Pakistani government of having links to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, and of “clandestinely supporting” the remaining elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Bhutto went on to criticize U.S. Cold War foreign policy, saying, “The U.S. policy to defeat the Soviets had empowered the most fanatical elements [of Muslim society] and sowed the seeds for 21st century terrorism.”

Still, she called on the United States and other western powers to influence Pakistani politics in a more helpful way.

The United States and its allies must insure [Pakistan’s] elections are transparent,” she said. “The consequences could be horrific” if they do not.

Although students were by far a distinct majority of the audience, most questioned were impressed by Bhutto’s talk.

“I thought it was great,” said Fred Forsythe ’05. “She was an incredible speaker, and I’m now much more interested in Pakistan than ever before.”

John Akkara ’03 was also pleased, and was impressed by Bhutto’s “zeal and determination” as a woman facing adversity.

As prime minister, Bhutto was praised for moving swiftly to restore civil liberties and political freedom suspended under military rule.

However, Bhutto is still dogged by allegations that she raided the Pakistani treasury during her terms in office, including condemnations from current officials in Pakistan charging her with corruption.

Still, Bhutto maintains her innocence.

“I don’t have a criminal record,” she said. “I have never been convicted of any crime.”

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