Thursday, December 27, 2007

Benazir Bhutto Assassinated

Pakistan's former prime minister and first woman to lead a Muslim state, Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated earlier today while leaving a rally in Rawalpindi. Bhutto was fatally shot twice as she greeted her supporters from the sun-roof of her armored vehicle. Afterwards, the gunman detonated himself, killing 20 others and injuring many more.

Bhutto's death has led her already unstable country down a path of further turmoil. Riots erupted in Bhutto's hometown of Karachi as a hospital, a gas station, and several vehicles were set on fire. The Army Rangers have been called to secure neigbouring areas as explosions, arson, and random gunfire have also been reported in Lahore, Sarghoda, and Sukkur.

While some analysts are quick to point fingers at President Pervez Musharraf for possible involvement in the attack, others have tied Bhutto's murder to Al Qaeda. In any case, they do agree on one thing. Musharraf did not provide his political opponent with adequate security following the last threat on her life in October. According to Bhutto's security adviser, "We repeatedly informed the government to provide her proper security and appropriate equipment including jammers, but they paid no heed to our requests."

What are the implications of Bhutto's death?

The assassination comes just weeks prior to Pakistan's parliamentary election in which Bhutto's People's Party of Pakistan hoped to end Musharraf's military reign. Her main rival, Nawaz Sharif, claimed that his party would boycott the elections following Bhutto's death as he condemned the current president: "The holding of fair and free elections is not possible in the presence of Pervez Musharraf." And as the country slips into further unrest, would it really be in Pakistan's best interest to force the upcoming election? Therefore, the prospects of a January 8th vote actually taking place are looking especially grim at this time.

Equally disconcerting is the rapidly deteriorating stability within an already troubled region. As Pakistani security will need to be vamped in anticipation of escalating post-Bhutto protests, some political analysts fear that this extra manpower will come at the price of equally crucial border security along the Afghanistan-Pakistan divide. Only time will tell how seriously this will impact NATO's mission in Afghanistan.

And as many of Bhutto's supporters continue to mourn worldwide, one senses their universal fear that the light of hope for peace and stability in Pakistan may have just gone out.

the BBC
the CBC

1 comment:

The All Seeing Eye said...

It's sad that the safest place for her in her own country was when she was locked up in her own home. Does anyone remember the suicide bombing that treid to kill her earlier? It just happen to kill over 100 innocent people. You cannot deal w/these Islamofascists. And I am tired of people just saying she was killed because she was a woman. If that were true, then how did she get elected as Primie Minister more than once. Unfortunately, a huge cloud of corruption forced her from office.

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