In recent years, the world has witnessed several strong and valiant women take the helm of nations. Golda Meir comes to mind, as do Margaret Thatcher and Indira Gandhi. But it's hard to imagine a head of state — male or female — with more courage and conviction than former Pakistani Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto.

Last Thursday, Bhutto returned to her homeland after eight years in exile. But instead of a welcoming shower of fireworks, she was greeted with the numbing explosions of suicide bombers ravaging her entourage. In all, 126 people were killed in the attack and another 248 were wounded. It was a welcome that showed the cowardly nature of her violent detractors, along with their fear that she may actually be able to change the course of her country through her popularity and populist politics.

Bhutto plans to lead her Pakistan People's Party in January elections. And along with the handful of dastardly murderers, 150,000 other Pakistanis rallied in the streets to celebrate her. The budding hope that militants are trying to shatter entails Bhutto's pro-United States ties and her desire to forge an alliance with Pakistan's military ruler, Gen. Pervez Musharraf. The desperate measures of the not-so-loyal opposition speaks volumes about the possibility that people in Pakistan feel she has the moxie and will to make it all happen.

As for Musharraf, he condemned the bombs as "attacks against democracy" and plans to maintain his own alliance with America.

Bhutto has stated in the past that she feels she is "on a mission." She has a firm grasp on her pivotal position in history and in the future of her people.

Thursday's bombings may make her mission more difficult, but if her past is any indication, they will not dissuade her.

The incident was ugly, without an inkling of humanity. But Bhutto is bound and determined to push through the resistance and find the promised land of democracy.

We applaud her and support her efforts.

As a world leader, she has the earmarks of a true woman of destiny.