Benazir Bhutto Assassinated

Former Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto was assasinated this morning following a rally. In a turbulent nuclear armed Pakistan, this event can only mean more difficult times ahead.

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ASZ normally doesn’™t do breaking news, but a gut feeling tells me that the assassination this morning of former Pakistan president Benazir Bhutto is going to have some serious implications in the region. There’™s not much to add at this point except that this absolutely can’™t be good for the stability of the overall political situation in Pakistan (which is unstable, on a good day’¦)

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan – Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated Thursday in a suicide attack that also killed at least 20 others at a campaign rally, aides said.

‘œThe surgeons confirmed that she has been martyred,’ Bhutto’™s lawyer Babar Awan said.

A party security adviser said Bhutto was shot in neck and chest as she got into her vehicle to leave the rally in Rawalpindi near the capital Islamabad. A gunman then blew himself up’¦

Scores of others were killed in the attack.

Bhutto returned to Pakistan a couple of months ago after years in exile, and was working behind the scenes to force strongman Pervez Musharraf to forge a coalition government.

There’™s no word at this point what effect this event might have on scheduled elections in January. Musharraf had declared martial law in November, but the declaration was lifted a few weeks ago after he dismissed the Supreme Court, loaded it with his own judges, and reconstituted Pakistan’™s parliament.

Juan Cole and the Global Affairs sites should be good sources of analysis as more information develops.

Update: Reports from Pakistan this evening indicate that civil order is in disarray. And, it’™s now appearing likely that that the scheduled January parliamentary elections will be postponed.

Here are some links to some excellent analysis and reporting:

Alternet’™s Joshua Holland has been following the events in Pakistan for quite some time, and weighs in with a less than flattering analysis of Bhutto’™s legacy:

‘¦The sad irony here is that because of the baggage she carried, Benazir Bhutto will probably be much more effective as a martyr to democracy than she would be as it’™s spokesperson. But that’™s not good news; reports filtering out of Pakistan suggest widespread chaos has broken out in various states, and the prospects for a lot more blood shed to follow are simply frightening.

From Phoenixwoman comes the following links to Pak blogs that are following the developments. Links may or may not work; it’™s been reported that phone, TV, and internet in Pakistan have been either taken offline or blocked.

http://lahore.metblogs.com/
http://islamabad.metblogs.com/
http://karachi.metblogs.com/

‘¦and, from the ‘œso much bullshit’ file’¦

‘œThe United States strongly condemns this cowardly act by murderous extremists who are trying to undermine Pakistan’™s democracy,’ Bush told reporters’¦

U.S. officials said they were leery of intervening in another nation’™s internal affairs, and didn’™t want to give Bhutto Washington’™s imprimatur’¦

Undermine ‘œPakistan’™s democracy’? Leery of ‘œintervening in another nation’™s internal affairs’? Since when?? What goddam rock has George W. Bush been living under for the past 7 years? Pakistan is operating under a dictator, who declared martial law, threw out the jurists he didn’™t like, and imprisoned radical elements (read: constitutional lawyers).

Yeah, that’™s Bush’™s kind of democracy. Argh.

More later’¦

Thursday, December 27th, 2007 by Richard Blair |

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