Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Benazir Bhutto

The first woman to lead an Islamic country and leader of moderate opposition to Pervez Musharraff killed today:

Pakistan's charismatic leader Benazir Bhutto was shot dead on Thursday when gunmen opened fire at her vehicle just before a suicide bomber blew himself up at a election rally addressed by her in Rawalpindi, killing more than 20 people and injuring several others.

Reports said that five bullets were fired, one of which pierced her neck. The 54-year-old leader of Pakistan People's Party was rushed to Rawalpindi general hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Rahman Malik, the PPP chairperson's security advisor, said some persons fired at Bhutto's vehicle before the suicide attacker blew himself up.

"At 6:16 pm, she expired," said Wasif Ali Khan, a PPP member, who was at the hospital, said.

She is survived by her husband Asif Ali Zardari and two children.

Questions now are, who was responsible? Does this completely deflate the Pakistan Peoples Party or will she serve a martyr and inflame opposition to Musharraff?
If Musharraff is found to be responsible (I doubt he is) the US will absolutely need to take a look at it's relationship with Pakistan.

Update: NewYorker in Dc:
As expected, Nawaz Sharif's Muslim League has already issued a statement all but blaming Musharraf for Bhutto's death, saying (not incorrectly) that the government has failed to maintain law & order.

"We both were struggling for the same cause, and we had signed the charter of democracy," Sharif told a TV channel.

"It is tragic not only for PPP but also for my party," he said.

Sharif told Bhutto's supporters that he would fight "your war from now on", and that he shared the grief of "the entire nation".

Sharif was speaking outside the hospital where Bhutto died. "I assure you that I will fight your war from now," Sharif said."

If Mushie survives this, without regard to whether he's complicit or not, I'll be very surprised. Bhutto for all her faults and spotty past was still an incredibly brave woman. Further she commanded a growing amount of popularity. With her demise a political vacuum comes to form, one that Nawaz Sharif will be very happy to fill and his ranks will likely swell as Bhutto supporters rally to his flag.

Don't be surprised if the Paki military acts and removes Musharraff in a quasi-coup as they either fear complete chaos or a loss of control and reinstate another period of martial law.

More analysis from the Wisefolk:


Zen Pundit

Abu Muqawama

Arms and Influence

Long War Journal

Last Update: Al Qaeda Claims responsibility.

A spokesperson for the al-Qaeda terrorist network has claimed responsibility for the death on Thursday of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

“We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat [the] mujahadeen,” Al-Qaeda’s commander and main spokesperson Mustafa Abu Al-Yazid told Adnkronos International (AKI) in a phone call from an unknown location, speaking in faltering English. Al-Yazid is the main al-Qaeda commander in Afghanistan.

It is believed that the decision to kill Bhutto, who is the leader of the opposition Pakistan People's Party (PPP), was made by al-Qaeda No. 2, the Egyptian doctor, Ayman al-Zawahiri in October.


Unknown said...

I think regardless of who is responsible, much blame will be laid at the feet of President Musharraf, be it as culprit of the murder, or an unwitting accomplice due to benign neglect of her security. This had already become an issue following the first attack in October. The immediate reaction to her death was for members of her party to chant "dog, Musharraf, dog." That does not bode well for the general.

Additionally, as I noted in my own post, this throws a huge wrench into Musharraf's plan to use the upcoming January elections as a means to increase his government's legitimacy. Bhutto was far more conciliatory toward the government than Sharif has been, if her party is unable to bounce back from her loss, Musharraf's days may be numbered. This, not taking into account the potential for him to declare yet another state of emergency.

Also, if her party decides that Musharraf is responsible, then they will likely take to the streets to demand his ouster. Sharif would have every incentive to have his party join hers, as this would increase his stature as a pro-democracy activist, and as paying respects to Bhutto.

Depending on how Musharraf's government responds, we may be left in a very difficult position of either backing Musharraf over a People's Party-Muslim League alliance, or having to gently force him from office leaving Sharif as the potential beneficiary. Given his record as a Taliban supporter, and his penchant for corruption prior to being overthrown by Musharraf, this may not bode well for Pakistan.

Dan tdaxp said...

My guess is that this was a LIHOP (Let It Happen On Purpose) -- the Army had nothing to do it, the the lack of security was purposeful.

Moral of the story: Life in the gap sucks.

Jay@Soob said...

ny, I agree. Either way this won't bode well for Mushi as it's very likely her supporters will, as you say blame him anuway.

In fact Sharif has aleady grabbed hold of the reins.

Dan tdaxp said...

Evidence for LIHOP

Jay@Soob said...

That's pretty damning evidence. The deeper I look into this the less sense Musharaff, his policies and his decision making process make.