Thursday, December 27, 2007

Benazir Bhutto Murdered in Pakistan

Pakistan, already a deeply troubled country facing a growing threat from the Deobandi and Salafi Islamists, just took a big turn for the worse. Harvard educated opposition leader and former PM Benazir Bhutto has been murdered in Rawalpindi. The precise details are still unclear. Initial reports are that she was shot in the throat and chest by a suicide bomber who then detonated himself.

It is not clear who was responsible for this attack, though the initial speculation is that the Deobandi and Salafi Islamists of the Taliban and al Qaeda are responsible. They had repeatedly threatened Bhutto's life over the past several months. Bhutto had been an effective opponent of the Islamists when she had previously held the position of Prime Minister of Pakistan. Further, she was campaigning for PM in the current election on a promise to crack down on the spread of these Islamists if elected. Bhutto herself had previously expressed the belief that her life was threatened by a combination of these Islamist groups and several individuals in the Pakistani government who supported these groups. Bhutto's death comes 12 days before national elections that she was widely expected to win.

Further details from the Washington Post here. See also NY Times; CNN, Fox News & the BBC

The Telegraph has a brief biography of PM Bhutto. And see this at CNN.

See this post from Bill Rogio on the past assassination attempts on Bhutto and background on the tenuous security situation in Pakistan.

What this means for Pakistan, democracy, islamic militancy and the world are all open questions at this point. The same can be said about the potential this event has for catapulting concerns with the war on terror back to prominence in the upcoming presidential primary votes. In any event, it seems clear that the world has become a more dangerous place and that it has lost both a strong proponent of democracy and a staunch opponent of the rising tide of Islamic militancy.

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