Thursday, December 27, 2007

Pakistan : Bhutto Assassinated In Suicide Bombing

Opposition Blames Musharraf Government For Terror Attacks

Musharraf : 'Terror Is Destroying Pakistan'

Terrible. What an horrific way for Pakistan to start 2008, a year that was supposed to mark the end of pseudo-military dictatorship and the beginning of real democracy. Elections that may well have seen Benazir Bhutto elected were to be held on January 8. Russian government ministers are warning her death will mark the beginning of a new storm of terror attacks, aimed at President Musharraf.

Benazir Bhutto's millions of supporters are obviously not going to take this well. She was seen by many as the saviour of Pakistan :
Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated Thursday in a suicide bombing that also killed at least 20 others at a campaign rally, a party aide and a military official said.

"At 6:16 p.m. she expired," said Wasif Ali Khan, a member of Bhutto's party who was at Rawalpindi General Hospital where she was taken after the attack. A senior military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment, confirmed that Bhutto had died.

Her supporters at the hospital began chanting "Dog, Musharraf, dog," referring to Pakistan's president Pervez Musharraf. Some of them smashed the glass door at the main entrance of the emergency unit, others burst into tears.

More details :

The Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was killed in a gun and bomb attack after a rally in the city of Rawalpindi yesterday, her party said.

A official from the Pakistan People's Party, Rehman Malik, said: "She has been martyred."

Russia's Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Losyukov, predicted a "wave of terrorism" would result.

"An act of terror is a bad sign," Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov, Russia's most senior Asia diplomat, told Itar-Tass news agency. "We hereby offer our condolences. This will for certain trigger a wave of terrorism."

Police said a suicide bomber fired shots at Bhutto, 54, as she was leaving the rally in a park before blowing himself up.

"The man first fired at Bhutto's vehicle," said a police officer, Mohammad Shahid. "She ducked and then he blew himself up."

At least 16 people were killed in the attack, which occurred on the same day gunmen killed four supporters of another former Pakistani prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, in Islamabad, police said.

Sharif was several kilometres from the shooting and was on his way to Rawalpindi after attending a rally. He blamed supporters of the pro-Musharraf party for the violence, but a spokesman for the party denied that its workers were involved.

"This all happened at the behest of the Government," Sharif told supporters on the outskirts of Rawalpindi. "They are 100 per cent responsible, but we are not scared of such actions."

Earlier Sharif, who was overthrown by Mr Musharraf in a 1999 coup and allowed back into the country last month after seven years in exile, had called for a revolution to unseat the pro-Musharraf party.

"You have to bring about a revolution," Sharif told a crowd of about 10,000 supporters in Gujjar Khan town in Punjab province.

Musharraf will face enormous pressure to launch a real war against extremists and terrorists in Pakistan now, particularly in the tribal lands bordering with Afghanistan.

In recent weeks there have been a growing number of reports that the US has wanted to deploy hundreds of special forces troops into Pakistan's tribal lands to round up militants and Islamic extremists. Musharraf, and the majority of Pakistanis, were deeply opposed to seeing US special forces 'officially' sent into their country.

Benazir Bhutto's death is likely to further the US case for sending troops into Pakistan, as Musharraf will be widely claimed now to be unable to deal effectively with the plague of terrorism.

Only a few days ago, during meetings with Afghanistan's president Karzai, Musharraf was quoted as saying that terrorism is destroying Pakistan : an apparently warm atmosphere before Musharraf was to host a state dinner for Karzai, he underlined the need for intelligence cooperation with Afghanistan to fight the militant threat.

He said the neighbours had to stop "this menace of extremism and terrorism which is destroying both our countries" and called on their respective intelligence agencies to work hand-in-hand.

Terror attacks have killed more than 770 people in Pakistan during 2007.

Bhutto would have clearly understood the great danger she faced from terrorists, considering they almost killed her during the worst terror attacks ever seen in Pakistan when she returned home in October.

Musharraf will find it all but impossible to deny his supporters are responsible for the assassination of Bhutto, though he will likely ramp up his earlier claims that terrorism in Pakistan is mostly the responsibility of "foreigners".

Pakistan Used Billions In Foreign Aid To Fight Terror To Re-Arm Against India

December 25 : Musharraf Promises Free And Fair Elections For January 8, Says "Foreign Terrorists" Will Not Be Allowed To Hijack Pakistan Democracy

Opposition Claimed Musharraf Government Was Planning To Rig Elections

Bhutto Recently Hailed As 2nd Most Influential Woman In The World