28 December 2007
As is well known by now, Benazir Bhutto was assassinated yesterday when leaving an election rally in Rawalpindi. A gunman shot her in the neck and set off a bomb killing about 20 other people. Ms Bhutto, who had previously served had served as prime minister from 1988-1990 and 1993-1996, had been campaigning as leader of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), ahead of elections on 8 January.
Her death was murder was a senseless act and will almost certainly be huge setback for stability in Pakistan. With Bhutto’s death can next month’s elections go ahead? Even if they do will they achieve anything now? Even though Al Qaeda has claimed that it was responsible for the attack, Musharraf will be the main target of anger – Bhutto’s murder took place in a secure garrison. If she was to be safe campaigning anywhere she should have been safe in Rawalpindi. It is likely to spur on anti-Musharraf campaigners. Musharraf may counter by re-imposing a state of emergency but this is likely to fan the flames of opposition. His goose looks like it is well and truly cooked whatever happens
The PPP is likely to be a major loser. Benazir Bhutto had large grass root support. Without her the PPP must surely be thrown into severe disarray, splitting into factions and thus becoming a far less potent political force.
Sadly it looks as if the only winners from this will be the Islamic extremists.