December 27th, 2007

fashionable

Pakistan blows up.

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

"She has been martyred," said party offical Rehman Malik. 

Police at the scene said about 15 people had been killed.

A Reuters witness said he saw about eight bodies on a road as well as a mutilated human head.

An Interior Ministry spokesman said initial reports suggested it was a suicide bombing and more than 10 people had been killed.

A suicide bomber killed nearly 150 people in an attack on Bhutto on Oct. 18 as she paraded through the southern city of Karachi after returning home from eight years in self-imposed exile. 

Earlier, gunmen opened fire on supporters of another former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, from an office of the party that supports President Pervez Musharraf, killing four Sharif supporters, police said.

Sharif was several kilometres away from the shooting and was on his way to Rawalpindi after attending a rally.

Sharif, who was overthrown by Musharraf in a 1999 coup and allowed back into the country just last month after seven years in exile, blamed supporters of the pro-Musharraf party for the violence.

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 To be honest, I considered Bhutto to be a corrupt political leader who almost certainly defrauded her people of billions, and who tried her best to ink a deal with the dictator Musharraf in order to share power with him.

To quote Jemima Khan, wife of Imran Khan, a pro-democracy political oponent of Bhutto:
"She's totally bogus - Benazir may speak the language of liberalism and look good on Larry King's sofa ... but she's as ruthless and conniving as they come. She's a kleptocrat in a Hermes scarf."

...and yet, sadly, she was Pakistan's most likely choice for the restoration of democracy, such as it was... such as they knew it.

My only hope is that this will lead Pakistanis to renounce violence, to reject their current leaders, and lead them towards other leaders, who are "the real thing".

fashionable

Benazir Bhutto names her killer: "Hold Musharraf responsible."


In an email that she sent to US adviser / spokesman Mark Siegel,

Nothing will, God willing happen. Just wanted u to know if it does, in addition to the names in my letter to Musharraf of Oct 16nth, I wld hold Musharraf responsible. I have been made to feel insecure by his minions, and there is no way that what is happening in terms of stopping me from taking private cars or using tinted windows or giving jammers or four police mobiles to cover all sides cld happen without him.  

"She basically asked for all that was required for someone of the standing of a former prime minister," Siegel told CNN. "All of that was denied to her. ... She got some police protection, but it was sporadic and erratic." CNN reporters at the scene mentioned that the security around her appeared "loose" and indicated that they were surprised that they were allowed to get so close to Bhutto's vehicle without being checked.

Musharraf's government also refused Bhutto's request for Scotland Yard and the FBI to aid in the investigation of the first assasination attempt on her life when she entered the country, and made sure that no serious investigation into the events of that attempt occurred.

Incidentally, the letter she wrote to Musharraf on Oct. 16th shortly after the first assassination attempt apparently named several members within Musharraf's government as possibly having ties to that attack. She mentioned this while talking to David Frost in this interview, in which she said:

"one of them is a very key figure in security. He's a former military officer. He's someone that has had dealings with Jaish-e-Muhammad, one of the banned groups of Maulana Azhar who was in a Indian jail for decapitating three british tourists and three american tourists, and he also had dealings with (Sheik) Omar. . . "

Based on what she and others have said, some of the most likely people on her list are Hamid GulChaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain

Some claim that the assassination showed signs of being done by a marksman

"The shooter was either very well trained or he was very close..."

So, the question to be asked is whether the Musharraf government either did anything to encourage or sponsor the attack -- possibly through the actions of Pakistan's ISI intelligence agency, which is known to have longstanding ties to the Taliban -- or whether Musharraf's government intentionally created an impossibly dangerous situation for Bhutto to run for office.