Thursday :: Dec 27, 2007

More on the reaction to Benazir Bhutto's assassination

by Turkana

Accusations, riots, and political instability are among the immediate reactions to the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Here's a roundup.

Talking Points Memo:

A longtime adviser and close friend of assassinated Pakistani ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto places blame for Bhutto's death squarely on the shoulders of U.S.-supported dictator Pervez Musharraf.

After an October attack on Bhutto's life in Karachi, the ex-prime minister warned "certain individuals in the security establishment [about the threat] and nothing was done," says Husain Haqqani, a confidante of Bhutto's for decades. "There is only one possibility: the security establishment and Musharraf are complicit, either by negligence or design. That is the most important thing. She's not the first political leader killed, since Musharraf took power, by the security forces."

Haqqani notes that Bhutto died of a gunshot wound to the neck. "It's like a hit, not a regular suicide bombing," he says. "It's quite clear that someone who considers himself Pakistan's Godfather has a very different attitude toward human life than you and I do."

Times of India:

The immediate finger of suspicion though pointed to Pakistan's security establishment. A key Benazir aide said the country's military government had much to answer for the assassination because it had not met certain security arrangements required and officials were "dismissive" about Bhutto's requests in this regard.

"They could have provided better security. Even the equipment they gave consistently malfunctioned. Bhutto had asked for independent security arrangements," Hussain Haqqani, a US-based former Bhutto aide told CNN .

Haqqani and other analysts like Peter Bergen also pointed out that the attack took place in Rawalpindi, the military garrison town outside Islamabad that is crawling with security personnel and spooks. The fact that she had been shot dead following up a suicide bombing pointed to a concerted effort to finish her off.

Haqqani said he had spoken to Benazir two days ago and she was concerned about the security arrangement and the military government's effort to rig the election.


Analysts say President Pervez Musharraf, who stepped down as army chief of the nuclear-armed country two weeks ago under intense international pressure, is likely to seize the moment to reimpose emergency rule and cancel, or at least postpone, elections scheduled for Jan. 8.

"It is fair to assume now that elections cannot go ahead," said Farzana Shaikh, an expert on Pakistan and an associate fellow at the Chatham House analysis group in London.

"The electoral process has been stopped dead in its tracks. I think there is a very real possibility that Musharraf will decide that the situation has got out of control and that he needs to impose emergency rule again.

She said Pakistan, a key U.S. ally in the battle against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, was entering "uncharted waters", which could lead to instability in a region that has seen three wars fought between Pakistan and its nuclear-armed neighbour India.


Some supporters at the hospital wept while others broke into anger, throwing stones at cars and breaking windows.

Protests erupted in other cities as news of the assassination spread

  • A number of cars were torched in Karachi, capital of the PPP's heartland province of Sindh, where shots were also reportedly fired
  • Cars were reportedly set on fire in Hyderabad, also in Sindh Province
  • Police in Peshawar, in the north-west, used batons and tear gas to break up a rally by protesters chanting anti-Musharraf slogans
  • Unrest was also reported in Quetta, Multan and Shikarpur

  • Associated Press:

    Stocks fell in early trading Thursday after the assassination of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto and after the U.S. government reported a weak increase in durable goods orders.

    Bhutto's assassination raised the possibility of increasing political unrest abroad, always an unsettling prospect for investors. Oil, gold and bond prices rose following the news.

    Global Voices Online has reactions from Pakistani bloggers.

    Turkana :: 10:08 AM :: Comments (7) :: Digg It!