Bhutto Dead

Although reports are still contradictory and extremely sketchy, the news that Benazir Bhutto has been assassinated looks like it is correct. News sources have few details and Blogs are just breaking it. Blogger Abu Muqawama has the first post I can find that has a reasonably complete narrative:

Hospital sources are confirming Benazir Bhutto has, in fact, been killed in a massive suicide attack on a political rally. Most web sites are still saying she was wounded.

Abu Muqawama has some harsh things to say about Bhutto and I have posted positively about her just after the first assassination attempt on her return from exile. From what I have read since my post I’d have to concede that his criticisms are well founded. At the same time she has a strong following in Pakistan and her constituents will certainly be outraged at her deliberate killing by a suicide bomber.

we all know she was eloquent, went to Harvard and Oxford and was a darling of the English-language media. But she was arguably the most corrupt woman in the history of South Asia. She was removed from office not once but twice on corruption charges. And ruthless? She killed her own brother in 1996.

I have certainly read that she is not viewed in the same way within Pakistan as she is in Western liberal circles so it is unclear to me if her death will turn Pakistanis, other than her immediate supporters, against the religious extremists. I had believed or hoped that her triumphal return heralded a turning against extremism when I first posted on it and I was impressed by her speech in reaction to the event. Since then I have been forced to recognize the all too familiar squabbling among Pakistan’s political elite. That said, I have to mourn her loss as a person of great ability that clearly had the capacity to lead her country in an extremely difficult time. Despite the corruption and other serious charges against her she may have, in maturity, provided her country with positive leadership. She will never have that opportunity now. I think this kind of fanaticism will continue in the Muslim world until it inspires an absolutly ruthless reaction against it. It is way too early to tell if Bhutto’s death will be received in this way by the majority of her fellow Pakistanis.

Update:

Jules Crittenden says here:

I have a very bad feeling about all of this. The potential for critically destabilizing a flank that was difficult enough as it was, is huge.

Exactly. While it is not exactly unclear who probably killed her, there is speculation that elements within the Pakistani security establishment may have been involved. The impact on the elections is unknown – martial law again? postponement? – and evidently her supporters at the hospital chanted “Dog, Musharref, Dog” in response to her death. If I were a jihadi I’d like that outcome just fine.

And here is what reporter Adil Najam of All Things Pakistan who knew her personally says:

At a human level this is a tragedy like no other. Only a few days ago I was mentioning to someone that the single most tragic person in all of Pakistan – maybe all the world – is Nusrat Bhutto. Benazir’s mother. Think about it. Her husband, killed. One son poisoned. Another son assassinated. One daughter dead possibly of drug overdose. Another daughter rises to be Prime Minister twice, but jailed, exiled, and finally gunned down.


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