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[Pakistan] Benazir Bhutto (12/27/07) Life, Influence and Killed

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  • madchinaman
    Bhutto Assassinated in Attack on Rally SALMAN MASOOD and CARLOTTA GALL Salman Masood reported from Rawalpindi, Pakistan, and Carlotta Gall from Kabul,
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 27, 2007
      Bhutto Assassinated in Attack on Rally
      SALMAN MASOOD and CARLOTTA GALL
      Salman Masood reported from Rawalpindi, Pakistan, and Carlotta Gall
      from Kabul, Afghanistan. Reporting was contributed by Ismail Khan
      from Peshawar, Pakistan, Mark Mazzetti from Washington, David Rohde
      from New York and Jane Perlez from Sydney, Australia.
      http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/28/world/asia/28pakistan.html?hp


      -

      Benazir Bhutto
      بینظیر بھٹو
      Prime Minister of Pakistan
      In office: 19 October 1993 – 05 November 1996
      President Wasim Sajjad / Farooq Leghari
      Preceded by Moeen Qureshi
      Succeeded by Miraj Khalid
      In office
      02 December 1988 – 06 August 1990
      President Ghulam Ishaq Khan
      Preceded by Muhammad Khan Junejo
      Succeeded by Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi
      *
      Born 21 June 1953(1953-06-21)
      Karachi, Pakistan
      Died 27 December 2007 (aged 54)
      Rawalpindi, Pakistan
      Political party Pakistan Peoples Party
      Spouse Asif Ali Zardari
      Alma mater Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, Radcliffe College, Harvard
      University
      Religion Islam
      *
      Fact Box
      President George W. Bush counts Pakistan and President Musharraf as
      the U.S.'s key Muslim ally in his war on terrorism
      ----------
      Al Qaeda leaders including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed have been captured
      in Pakistan
      ----------
      Pakistani forces critical in controlling mountainous border with
      Afghanistan where Taliban and al Qaeda supporters are accused of
      having safe havens
      ----------
      Instability in Pakistan could affect other regional nuclear powers,
      including China and India

      -


      RAWALPINDI, Pakistan — Benazir Bhutto, the Pakistani opposition
      leader and twice-serving prime minister, was assassinated Thursday
      evening as she left a political rally here, a scene of fiery carnage
      that plunged Pakistan deeper into political turmoil and ignited
      widespread violence by her enraged supporters.

      Ms. Bhutto, 54, was shot in the neck or head, according to differing
      accounts, as she stood in the open sunroof of a car and waved to
      crowds. Seconds later a suicide attacker detonated his bomb, damaging
      one of the cars in her motorcade, killing more than 20 people and
      wounding 50, the Interior Ministry said.

      News of her death sent angry protesters swarming the emergency ward
      of the nearby hospital, where doctors declared Ms. Bhutto dead at
      6:16 p.m. Supporters later jostled to carry her bare wooden coffin as
      it began its journey to her hometown of Larkana, in southern
      Pakistan, for burial. In Karachi and other cities, frenzied crowds
      vented their rage, blocking the streets, burning tires and throwing
      stones.

      The death of Ms. Bhutto, leader of Pakistan's largest political
      party, throws Pakistan's politics into disarray less than two weeks
      before parliamentary elections scheduled for Jan. 8 and just weeks
      after a state of emergency was lifted. There was immediate
      speculation that elections would be postponed and another state of
      emergency declared.

      A deeply polarizing figure, Ms. Bhutto spent 30 years navigating the
      turbulent and often violent world of Pakistani politics, becoming in
      1988 the first woman to lead a modern Muslim country.

      She had narrowly escaped an assassination attempt upon her return to
      Pakistan two months ago. Her death now presents President Pervez
      Musharraf with one of the most potent crises of his turbulent eight
      years in power, and Bush administration officials with a new
      challenge in their efforts to stabilize a front-line state — home to
      both Al Qaeda and nuclear arms — in their fight against terrorism.

      The attack bore hallmarks of the Qaeda-linked militants in Pakistan.
      But witnesses described a sniper firing from a nearby building,
      raising questions about how well the government had protected her in
      a usually well-guarded garrison town and fueling speculation that
      government sympathizers had played a part.

      On Thursday evening, officials from the Federal Bureau of
      Investigation and Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin
      to local law enforcement agencies informing them about posts on some
      Islamic Web sites saying that Al Qaeda was claiming responsibility
      for the attack, and that the plot was orchestrated by Ayman al-
      Zawahri, the group's second-ranking official.

      One counterterrorism official in Washington said that the bulletin
      neither confirmed nor discredited these claims. The official said
      that American intelligence agencies had yet to come to any firm
      judgments about who was responsible for Ms. Bhutto's death.

      As world leaders lined up to express outrage at the killing of
      arguably Pakistan's most pro-Western political figure, a grim-faced
      President Bush said that the best way to honor her would be "by
      continuing with the democratic process for which she so bravely gave
      her life."

      Speaking to reporters while vacationing at his ranch in Crawford,
      Tex., Mr. Bush blamed Ms. Bhutto's death on "murderous extremists who
      are trying to undermine Pakistan's democracy." He telephoned Mr.
      Musharraf on Thursday afternoon.

      Mr. Musharraf went on national television on Thursday evening,
      describing the killing as "a great national tragedy" and announcing a
      three-day national mourning. He called it a terrorist attack and
      vowed to continue to fight to root out the terrorists. "I appeal to
      the nation to remain peaceful and show restraint," he said.

      Despite the president's appeal, politicians and government officials
      said they feared more violence in the coming days from those
      protesting her death, but also from militants who would try to take
      advantage of the uncertain situation.

      One former government minister said the backlash against Mr.
      Musharraf could make his position untenable. "Musharraf will not be
      able to control the situation now," he said.

      Before her return in October, Ms. Bhutto had spent nearly eight years
      in self-imposed exile to avoid corruption charges stemming from her
      time as prime minister in the 1990s. Her return had been promoted by
      Washington as part of an agreement to share power with Mr. Musharraf
      and rescue his increasingly unpopular government by giving it a more
      democratic face.

      She was a leading contender for prime minister in the Jan. 8
      elections, campaigning as an advocate for Pakistan's return to party
      politics after eight years of military rule under Mr. Musharraf, who
      relinquished his military post only this month. She also presented
      herself as the candidate who could best combat growing militancy in
      Pakistan.

      Her comments condemning militancy and suicide bombing had made her a
      target of Qaeda-linked militants in Pakistan. Her homecoming
      procession in Karachi was attacked by two bomb blasts that killed 150
      supporters and narrowly missed killing her.

      Much of the rage over her death is nonetheless likely to be directed
      at Mr. Musharraf, who kept her out of power for over eight years and
      had shown her only a grudging welcome at first, and later outright
      hostility.

      The country's other main opposition leader, another former prime
      minister, Nawaz Sharif, announced Thursday evening that he was
      pulling his party out of the elections. A longtime political rival of
      Ms. Bhutto's, he had lately become an ally in pressing for a return
      to democracy in Pakistan.

      "This is a tragedy for her party, and a tragedy for our party and the
      entire nation," Mr. Sharif said as he visited the hospital on hearing
      the news of her death.

      Tauqir Zia, a retired general who recently joined Ms. Bhutto's party,
      the Pakistan People's Party, said it seemed that elections were
      unlikely to go ahead now in any case. "P.P.P. is now in turmoil for
      the time being," he said. "It has to find a new leadership."

      Other officials and politicians said they, too, thought elections
      would have to be postponed. "This is going to lead to chaos and
      turmoil," said the former interior minister, Aftab Ahmed Khan
      Sherpao, who was nearly killed five days ago in a suicide bombing at
      a mosque in his home village. "I was anticipating this, that suicide
      bombings would increase and there will be an exacerbation and
      intensification in the attacks. This was bound to happen."

      There were differing accounts of the attack. Zamrud Khan, a member of
      her party, said Ms. Bhutto was shot in the head from gunfire that
      originated from behind her car in a building nearby. Seconds later a
      suicide bomber detonated his bomb, damaging one of the cars in her
      motorcade and killing some 15 people on the ground, Mr. Khan said.

      The Interior Ministry spokesman quoted by the state news agency, The
      Associated Press of Pakistan, said that the suicide bomber first
      fired on Ms. Bhutto and then blew himself up.

      Amid the confusion after the explosion, the site was littered with
      pools of blood. Shoes and caps of party workers were lying on the
      asphalt. More than a dozen ambulances pushed through crowds of dazed
      and wounded people at the scene of the assassination.

      Witnesses described hearing firing barely a minute before the loud
      explosion. Sajid Hussain, who had a shrapnel wound on his left hand,
      said he heard at least three shots fired. "Then there was a big
      explosion, the earth seemed to tremble, I fell down. And everything
      was covered in black smoke."

      Mr. Zia, the retired general, said he was sitting in a car ahead of
      Ms. Bhutto before the blast. "A leader has to come out and lead and
      she did exactly that," he said. "But I would ask where was the
      security? How did they allow people to come so close to her? It is
      inconceivable. There is a definite lapse of security."

      Dr. Abbas Hayat of Rawalpindi General Hospital said that doctors
      tried for 35 minutes to resuscitate Ms. Bhutto, who he said had
      wounds to her head as well as shrapnel injuries.

      Dr. Mohamed Mussadik, head of the medical college in Rawalpindi and a
      top surgeon who attended to Ms. Bhutto at the hospital, said she was
      clinically dead on arrival, according to Athar Minallah, a lawyer who
      served in the Musharraf government but who has since helped lead the
      movement against him. In a telephone interview, Mr. Minallah said Dr.
      Mussadik had told him that the bullet wound was in the head.

      Mr. Minallah said an independent, credible investigation into the
      assassination was critical, perhaps in partnership with an outside
      country. A precedent for this, he said, was the investigation into
      the murder of Ms. Bhutto's brother 11 years ago. "The government has
      to allow it," he said, "because the entire blame is on the
      government. Everyone I have spoken to believes it is the government
      that has done this. That makes the investigation of utmost
      importance."

      Much of the rage over her death is nonetheless likely to be directed
      at Mr. Musharraf, who kept her out of power for over eight years and
      had shown her only a grudging welcome at first, and later outright
      hostility.

      The country's other main opposition leader, another former prime
      minister, Nawaz Sharif, announced Thursday evening that he was
      pulling his party out of the elections. A longtime political rival of
      Ms. Bhutto's, he had lately become an ally in pressing for a return
      to democracy in Pakistan.

      "This is a tragedy for her party, and a tragedy for our party and the
      entire nation," Mr. Sharif said as he visited the hospital on hearing
      the news of her death.

      Tauqir Zia, a retired general who recently joined Ms. Bhutto's party,
      the Pakistan People's Party, said it seemed that elections were
      unlikely to go ahead now in any case. "P.P.P. is now in turmoil for
      the time being," he said. "It has to find a new leadership."

      Other officials and politicians said they, too, thought elections
      would have to be postponed. "This is going to lead to chaos and
      turmoil," said the former interior minister, Aftab Ahmed Khan
      Sherpao, who was nearly killed five days ago in a suicide bombing at
      a mosque in his home village. "I was anticipating this, that suicide
      bombings would increase and there will be an exacerbation and
      intensification in the attacks. This was bound to happen."

      There were differing accounts of the attack. Zamrud Khan, a member of
      her party, said Ms. Bhutto was shot in the head from gunfire that
      originated from behind her car in a building nearby. Seconds later a
      suicide bomber detonated his bomb, damaging one of the cars in her
      motorcade and killing some 15 people on the ground, Mr. Khan said.

      The Interior Ministry spokesman quoted by the state news agency, The
      Associated Press of Pakistan, said that the suicide bomber first
      fired on Ms. Bhutto and then blew himself up.

      Amid the confusion after the explosion, the site was littered with
      pools of blood. Shoes and caps of party workers were lying on the
      asphalt. More than a dozen ambulances pushed through crowds of dazed
      and wounded people at the scene of the assassination.

      Witnesses described hearing firing barely a minute before the loud
      explosion. Sajid Hussain, who had a shrapnel wound on his left hand,
      said he heard at least three shots fired. "Then there was a big
      explosion, the earth seemed to tremble, I fell down. And everything
      was covered in black smoke."

      Mr. Zia, the retired general, said he was sitting in a car ahead of
      Ms. Bhutto before the blast. "A leader has to come out and lead and
      she did exactly that," he said. "But I would ask where was the
      security? How did they allow people to come so close to her? It is
      inconceivable. There is a definite lapse of security."

      Dr. Abbas Hayat of Rawalpindi General Hospital said that doctors
      tried for 35 minutes to resuscitate Ms. Bhutto, who he said had
      wounds to her head as well as shrapnel injuries.

      Dr. Mohamed Mussadik, head of the medical college in Rawalpindi and a
      top surgeon who attended to Ms. Bhutto at the hospital, said she was
      clinically dead on arrival, according to Athar Minallah, a lawyer who
      served in the Musharraf government but who has since helped lead the
      movement against him. In a telephone interview, Mr. Minallah said Dr.
      Mussadik had told him that the bullet wound was in the head.

      Mr. Minallah said an independent, credible investigation into the
      assassination was critical, perhaps in partnership with an outside
      country. A precedent for this, he said, was the investigation into
      the murder of Ms. Bhutto's brother 11 years ago. "The government has
      to allow it," he said, "because the entire blame is on the
      government. Everyone I have spoken to believes it is the government
      that has done this. That makes the investigation of utmost
      importance."

      Apparently no autopsy was done, because the police did not request
      one, Dawn TV reported. Lawyers calling for an international neutral
      investigation are raising questions about the speed with which Ms.
      Bhutto's body was moved. The body arrived in her southern home
      province of Sindh before dawn, party officials told Agence-France
      Presse.

      The assassination is likely to deepen suspicion among Ms. Bhutto's
      supporters of Pakistan's security agencies. Ms. Bhutto has long
      accused parts of the government, namely the country's premier
      military intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, or
      ISI, of working against her and her party because they oppose her
      liberal, secular agenda.

      In a letter she sent to Mr. Musharraf just before her return to
      Pakistan in October, she listed "three individuals and more" in the
      letter who should be investigated for their sympathies with the
      militants in case she was assassinated.

      An aide close to Ms. Bhutto said that one of those named in the
      letter was Ijaz Shah, the director general of the Intelligence
      Bureau, another of the country's intelligence agencies and a close
      associate of General Musharraf's.

      The second official was the head of the country's National
      Accountability Bureau, which had investigated Ms. Bhutto on
      corruption charges. The third was a former official in Punjab
      Province who had mistreated her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, when he
      was in jail awaiting trial on corruption charges.

      In an interview after Ms. Bhutto released the letter, a close aide to
      Mr. Musharraf said the people named in the letter were all political
      enemies of Ms. Bhutto. He said they did not have sympathy with
      militants and the government was doing all it could to protect Ms.
      Bhutto.

      A former senior Pakistani intelligence official said he did not
      believe that the country's intelligence agency was involved. He
      blamed militants for the assassination, but said government-provided
      protection was far too lax and the area surrounding the rally should
      have been better secured.

      "For sure, the government was complicit in the security aspects,"
      said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "I think the
      security arrangements of the police, they were not professionally
      handled."


      =====================


      Pakistan's Bhutto Assassinated
      Ruth David
      http://www.forbes.com/markets/2007/12/27/pakistan-bhutto-death-
      markets-emerge-cx_rd_1227markets10.html


      MUMBAI - Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was shot dead
      Thursday at a political rally by an attacker who then set off a blast
      that left 20 others dead.

      In a year of increasing violence in Pakistan, Bhutto returned home
      from exile in October to contest parliamentary elections. Analysts
      said the viability and legitimacy of the Jan. 8 elections have dimmed
      with her death.

      Bhutto, 54, survived explosions at her homecoming rally in Karachi
      that claimed the lives of around 140 people, and there were several
      reports that she was on militants' hit lists.

      She appeared to be courting danger by insisting on holding public
      rallies, and on Thursday in Rawalpindi, her supporters' worst fears
      were realized.

      Bhutto, who had just finished addressing a rally, was shot in the
      head and neck before a suicide bomber blew himself up near her
      vehicle, according to reports from the scene.

      Bhutto, who was twice elected prime minister of Pakistan, was
      considered a leading contender to take office a third time in
      elections that President Pervez Musharraf had promised to hold in
      January.

      Blame for the assassination was quickly cast on Musharraf's
      government.

      "Everyone is saying that this army has killed Benazir. There is going
      to be more bloodshed," Asma Jehangir, chairperson of the Pakistan
      Human Rights Commission, told news media. Spokespersons for Bhutto's
      Pakistan People's Party accused the army of not providing adequate
      security for her.

      Earlier this year, Musharraf and Bhutto engaged in extended power-
      sharing talks that ultimately fell through when she returned to the
      country and decided to publicly throw in her lot with opposition
      leaders following Musharraf's decision to declare emergency rule and
      dissolve the judiciary.

      Her death raised doubts on whether the elections will be held.

      "The biggest hope for Pakistan was for free and fair elections to
      give the government some genuine legitimacy," said Gareth Price, head
      of the Asia department at the London-based think tank Chatham
      House. "This assassination will make it much harder to get that free
      and fair election."

      An alliance between Musharraf and Bhutto was seen as appealing to the
      U.S., which has pumped billions of dollars in aid into Pakistan since
      Musharraf came to power.

      That made her a leading target of extremists, said Jennifer Harbison,
      head of the Asia desk at the Control Risks Group in London.

      "She was the most secular of the political leaders. She had allied
      herself very clearly with the West, she spent time outside Pakistan
      building contacts and connections and she has been pretty clearly
      favored by the U.S. as a successor to Musharraf. For all those
      reasons she came at the top of the list in terms of offending the
      extremists."


      Musharraf's rule has appeared increasingly shaky in recent months,
      with his popularity slipping over disputes with the judiciary and his
      reluctance to hold polls and shed his uniform. Musharraf has also
      been the target of repeated assassination attempts by Muslim
      extremists.

      Bhutto's assassination could fuel further violence and instability.

      Her supporters turned violent when she was taken to a hospital in
      Rawalpindi, chanting slogans like "Killer Musharraf" and smashing
      vehicles in the area. Musharraf lives in Rawalpindi, a satellite city
      of the capital Islamabad that hosts the army headquarters.

      If the elections proceed, whether Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party
      will be able to capture a sympathy vote is debatable. "The party has
      in the past been much overshadowed by Benazir," said Price. "Now that
      she has gone, the question remains if anyone in the second tier of
      the party can step up to take her place."

      Furthermore, Bhutto's popularity appeared to have been not as high as
      she anticipated before she returned to Pakistan, said Harbison. "It's
      unclear whether her 'martyrdom,' as her party is now portraying it,
      will strike a chord in popular consciousness," she said.

      Bhutto's assassination drew strong responses from across the world.
      In India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said: "Mrs. Bhutto was no
      ordinary political leader, but one who left a deep imprint on her
      time and age. Her contributions to a previous moment of hope in India
      Pakistan relations, and her intent to break India Pakistan relations
      out of the sterile patterns of the past, were exemplary. In her
      death, the subcontinent has lost an outstanding leader who


      ====================


      Benazir Bhutto, 54, Lived in Eye of Pakistan Storm
      JANE PERLEZ and VICTORIA BURNETT
      http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/28/world/asia/28bhuttocnd.html?ref=asia


      Charismatic, striking and a canny political operator, Benazir Bhutto,
      54, was reared amid the privileges of Pakistan's aristocracy and the
      ordeals of its turbulent politics. Smart, ambitious and resilient,
      she endured her father's execution and her own imprisonment at the
      hands of a military dictator to become the country's — and the Muslim
      world's — first female leader.

      A deeply polarizing figure, Ms. Bhutto, the "daughter of Pakistan,"
      was twice elected prime minister and twice expelled from office in a
      swirl of corruption charges that propelled her into self-imposed
      exile in London for much of the past decade. She returned home this
      fall, billing herself as a bulwark against Islamic extremism and a
      tribune of democracy.

      She was killed on Thursday in a combined shooting and bombing attack
      at a rally in Rawalpindi, one of a series of open events she attended
      in spite of a failed assassination attempt against her the day she
      returned to Pakistan in October.

      A woman of grand aspirations with a taste for complex political
      maneuvering, Ms. Bhutto was first elected prime minister in 1988 at
      the age of 35. The daughter of one of Pakistan's most charismatic and
      democratically inclined prime ministers, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, she
      inherited the mantle of the populist Peoples Party that he founded,
      and which she came to personify.

      Despite numerous accusations of corruption and an evident
      predilection for luxury, Ms. Bhutto, the pale-skinned scion of a
      wealthy landowning family, successfully cast herself as a savior of
      Pakistan's millions of poor and disenfranchised. She inspired
      devotion among her followers, even in exile, and the image of her
      floating through a frenzied crowd in her gauzy white head scarf
      became iconic.

      In October, she staged a high-profile return to her home city of
      Karachi, drawing hundreds of thousands of supporters to an 11-hour
      rally and leading a series of political demonstrations in opposition
      to the country's military leader, President Pervez Musharraf.

      But in a foreshadowing of the attack that killed her, the triumphal
      return parade was bombed, killing at least 134 of her supporters and
      wounding more than 400. Ms. Bhutto herself narrowly escaped harm and
      shouted at later rallies, "Bhutto is alive!"

      Despite her courageous, or rash, defiance of danger, her political
      plans were sidetracked from the moment she set foot in Pakistan: She
      had been negotiating for months with Mr. Musharraf over a power-
      sharing arrangement, only to see the general declare emergency rule
      instead.

      The political dance she has deftly performed since her return — one
      moment standing up to President Musharraf, the next seeming to
      accommodate him — stirred hope and distrust among Pakistanis. A
      graduate of Harvard and Oxford, she brought the backing of the
      governments in Washington and London, where she impressed with her
      political lineage and considerable charm and was viewed as a
      palatable alternative to the increasingly unpopular Mr. Musharraf.

      But her record in power left ample room for skepticism. During her
      two stints in that job — first from 1988 to 1990 and again from 1993
      to 1996 — she developed a reputation for acting imperiously and
      impulsively. She faced deep questions about her personal probity in
      office, which led to corruption cases against her in Switzerland,
      Spain and Britain, as well as in Pakistan. Her husband, Asif Ali
      Zardari, was jailed for eight years in Pakistan on corruption charges
      before his release on bail in 2004.

      During her years in office, as during those of her rival, the former
      prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan ran up enormous and
      unserviceable foreign debts and billions of dollars in foreign aid
      went unaccounted for. Ms. Bhutto, though progressive in her approach
      to Islam, was not above bending to the will of religious
      conservatives for when politically expedient.

      Ms. Bhutto grew up in the most rarefied atmosphere the poor,
      turbulent country had to offer. One longtime friend and adviser,
      Peter W. Galbraith, a former American ambassador to Croatia, recalled
      meeting Ms. Bhutto 1962 when they were children: he the son of John
      Kenneth Galbraith, the economist and American ambassador to India;
      she the daughter of the future Pakistani prime minister. Mr.
      Galbraith's father was accompanying Jacqueline Kennedy to a horse
      show in Lahore.

      The two met again at Harvard, where Mr. Galbraith remembered Ms.
      Bhutto arriving as a prim, cake-baking 16-year-old fresh from a
      Karachi convent.

      Ms. Bhutto often spoke of how her father encouraged her to study the
      lives of legendary female leaders, including Indira Gandhi and Joan
      of Arc, and as a young woman, she observed his political maneuvering
      up close.

      After her father's death — he was hanged by another general who
      seized power, Zia ul-Haq — Ms. Bhutto stepped into the spotlight as
      his successor. She called herself chairperson for life of the
      opposition Pakistan Peoples Party, a seemingly odd title in an
      organization based on democratic ideals and one she has acknowledged
      quarreling over with her mother, Nusrat Bhutto, in the early 1990s.

      Until her death, Ms. Bhutto ruled the party with an iron hand,
      jealously guarding her position, even while leading the party in
      absentia for nearly a decade.

      Members of her party saluted her return to Pakistan, saying she was
      the best choice against President Musharraf. Chief among her
      attributes, they said, was her sheer determination.

      But her egotism and her proclivity for back-room deals provoked
      distrust among detractors and some supporters.

      "She believes she is the chosen one, that she is the daughter of
      Bhutto and everything else is secondary," said Feisal Naqvi, a
      corporate lawyer in Lahore who knew Ms. Bhutto.

      Ms. Bhutto's marriage to Mr. Zardari was arranged by her mother, a
      fact that Ms. Bhutto has often said was easily explained, even for a
      modern, highly educated Pakistani woman. To be acceptable to the
      Pakistani public as a politician she could not be a single woman, and
      what was the difference, she would ask, between such a marriage and
      computer dating?

      Mr. Zardari, 51, is known for his love of polo and other perquisites
      of the good life like fine clothes, expensive restaurants, homes in
      Dubai and London, and an apartment in New York. He was minister of
      investment in Ms. Bhutto's second government. And it was from that
      perch that he made many of the deals that haunted Ms. Bhutto, and
      him, in the courts.

      There were accusations that the couple had illegally taken $1.5
      billion from the state. It is a figure Ms. Bhutto vigorously
      contested.

      Indeed, one of Ms. Bhutto's main objectives in seeking to return to
      power was to restore the reputation of her husband, especially after
      his prison term, said Abdullah Riar, a former senator in the
      Pakistani Parliament and a former colleague of Ms. Bhutto's.

      "She told me, `Time will prove he is the Nelson Mandela of
      Pakistan,'" Mr. Riar said.


      ===============


      Who was Benazir Bhutto?
      Facts on the life and politics of Pakistan's ex-prime minister
      http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22407417/


      Benazir Bhutto was many things — zealous guardian of her dead
      father's legacy, aristocratic populist, accused rogue, even one of
      People magazine's 50 most beautiful people. And in the end, she was a
      victim of roiling passions in the nation she sought to lead for a
      third time.

      To the West, she was the appealing and glamorous face of Pakistan — a
      trailblazing feminist, the first woman to lead a Muslim nation in
      modern times — though her aura was dimmed by accusations of
      corruption.

      But to many Pakistanis, she was a leader who spoke for them, their
      needs and their hopes.

      Even her worst critics would say that "she was a masterful
      politician," said Zaffar Abbas, an editor for the respected Dawn
      newspaper. She knew "what the people of this country wanted."

      "If you asked an ordinary person what they achieved when Benazir
      Bhutto was in power, they would say at least she gave us a voice and
      she talked about us and our problems," Abbas said. "That was her real
      achievement."

      Her life was a sprawling epic
      Her father, Pakistan's president and then prime minister, was hanged;
      one brother died mysteriously, the other in a shootout. She spent
      five years imprisoned by her father's tormentors, mostly in solitary
      confinement, before rising twice to the office of prime minister.

      She fled before her conviction on corruption charges, living abroad
      for eight years. She could have lived there comfortably, far from the
      cauldron of Pakistani politics, but chose not to do so. And when she
      returned in October to marshal opposition to President Pervez
      Musharraf, a suicide attacker targeted her homecoming parade in
      Karachi. More than 140 people died.

      The 54-year-old Bhutto escaped injury. "We will not be deterred," she
      said then. And on the hustings, she celebrated her survival.

      "Bhutto is alive! Bhutto is alive! Bhutto is alive!" she shouted at a
      rally in December.

      Like the Nehru-Gandhi family, long a force in the politics of
      neighboring India, the Bhuttos have held a central role in Pakistan
      for nearly a half century.

      Benazir's father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was the son of a wealthy
      landowning family in southern Pakistan and founder of the Pakistan
      People's Party. With a populist, pro-democracy message, he rose to
      power in 1971.

      But six years later, he was deposed by the military. In 1979 he was
      executed by the government of Gen. Mohammad Zia-ul Haq after his much-
      disputed conviction on charges of arranging the murder of the father
      of a political opponent.

      A day before he was hanged, his daughter visited him in prison.

      "I told him on my oath in his death cell, I would carry on his work,"
      Bhutto would recall.

      But at the time and for years after, Benazir Bhutto could not fight
      for her father's cause — she was in jail or under house arrest.

      A Harvard-educated woman
      The elder Bhutto had sent his daughter to study politics and
      government at Harvard and then at Oxford, where she was elected to
      lead the prestigious debating society, the Oxford Union. Beautiful,
      charismatic and articulate, she was a dangerous opponent for the
      military government.

      Her youngest brother, Shahnawaz, organized opposition from France,
      but he died under mysterious circumstances in his apartment on the
      Riviera in 1980; the family insisted he was poisoned, but no charges
      were brought. Released in 1984 to seek medical treatment for a
      serious ear infection in London, Benazir established a People's Party
      office there, and waited for an opportunity to strike back.

      Two years later, she returned to lead mass rallies calling for Zia to
      step down and allow a civilian government and elections. He refused.
      But in 1988, the strongman died in an explosion on his plane.

      She rallied her father's party, only to find that she was being
      opposed by her brother, Murtaza — and that her mother was backing
      him. "In our family it was always a joke that my mother had a soft
      spot for my brother," she told The New York Times in 1994.

      Still, Benazir Bhutto won on a platform of "food, clothing and
      shelter for all." And just months after giving birth to her first
      child, she took the office that was taken from her father.

      Charges tarnish leader
      Twenty months later, President Ghulam Ishaq Khan dissolved parliament
      and removed her from office, citing abuse of power. The new army-
      backed government filed charges of corruption against her, while
      Islamic clerics tried to get a court to bar her from running in
      elections. She was a bad Muslim, they said.

      "Anyone who supports the Pakistan People's Party will not enter
      heaven," a Muslim cleric in Lahore, Abdul Qadir, told a Friday prayer
      congregation ahead of the October 1990 elections.

      She lost the election to Nawaz Sharif (who, years later, also would
      be exiled and return to challenge the Musharraf government). His time
      in office was also short-lived because of more accusations of
      corruption. Under pressure, he resigned in 1993; Bhutto, by then a
      mother of three children, won another second term as prime minister
      in October 1993.

      In 1996, her government fell in the face of accusations of nepotism
      and economic mismanagement.

      Marriage and money troubles
      Around the world, Bhutto was a feminist heroine. And in her
      campaigns, she advocated new services for women and opposed sexual
      discrimination, though few measures were adopted under her
      government.

      In her personal life, Bhutto surprised many by agreeing to an
      arranged marriage in 1987 with Karachi businessman Asif Ali Zardari.
      She said that as the leader of a Muslim party, she was not free to
      marry for love, which would have "destroyed my political career," she
      told The New York Times in 1994.

      But her marriage to Zardari would play a major role in her downfall.

      Over the years, the couple would be accused of charging millions of
      dollars in "commissions" from foreign companies. Zardari was
      called "Mr. 10 Percent" during Bhutto's first term because of these
      alleged kickbacks; in her second term, the take and the moniker were
      upgraded to "Mr. 40 Percent."

      Zardari spent eight years in Pakistani prisons before his release in
      2004, though he was never convicted on any charge, and both he and
      Bhutto said the accusations were trumped up and political.

      "I never influenced the awarding of a contract, and until my dying
      day I'll stand by it. They have tried to ruin me because they want to
      ruin the concept of a pluralistic, liberal Pakistan. To be accused of
      robbing, that really pains me," she said in 1999.

      Switzerland froze more than $13 million in the couple's accounts and
      convicted Bhutto of money laundering. The conviction was thrown out
      when she contested it.

      Zardari also, briefly, was accused of engineering the 1996 death of
      Murtaza Bhutto, who died in a gunbattle with police in Karachi. His
      death contributed to the fall of Benazir's government a month later.

      Bhutto tried for a third term and lost; she left Pakistan in 1999,
      just before a court convicted her of corruption and banned her from
      politics.

      The verdict was later quashed, but she stayed away. She spent much of
      the time in London and in Dubai with her children and her ailing
      mother — the same mother who once opposed her political career.

      An elated Bhutto returns home
      Then Musharraf signed an amnesty, halting any corruption charges
      against her and others. And she decided to return to Pakistan and the
      political arena once more. She was briefly placed under house arrest
      when Musharraf declared a state of emergency this fall.

      As she had done before, she campaigned on social welfare issues,
      occasionally mentioning the anti-terrorist message that had made her
      so appealing to American officials. Last week, after she addressed a
      rally in her husband's hometown of Nawab Shah, she was in a relaxed
      and upbeat mood.

      "It feels great to be back home," she said. "A visit to every city is
      like a new experience for me. I'm just overwhelmed with emotion. I
      feel like I have been given a new life to be once more amongst my
      people."

      She was a survivor, and proud of it. Thirteen years before, when a
      reporter from the Times suggested that her life was the stuff of
      Greek drama, she laughed.

      "Well, I hope not so tragic," she said. "Don't all Greek dramas end
      in tragedy?"




      ================


      Bhutto's body flown home
      http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/asiapcf/12/27/pakistan.friday/index.html
      ?iref=werecommend


      RAWALPINDI, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistan's streets were eerily quiet
      and empty early Friday after a night of anger and anguish following
      the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

      Bhutto's body arrived in the hours before dawn at her ancestral
      village of Garhi-Khuda Baksh for burial after a long journey from
      Rawalpindi, where she died, by transport plane, helicopter and
      ambulance.

      The former prime minister's family -- her husband and three children -
      - accompanied the body aboard a Pakistani Air Force C-130 transport
      plane to Sukkor but traveled by bus from there to Larkana and on to
      Garhi-Khuda Baksh.

      The funeral is planned for Friday afternoon. In Washington, White
      House spokesman Scott Stanzel said Bhutto's family had requested a
      private funeral.

      Bhutto, 54, was killed Thursday by the bullets of an assassin who
      blew himself up after firing the shots, killing at least 28 more
      people and wounding at least 100, GEO-TV reported.

      Bhutto, who was campaigning for next month's parliamentary elections,
      had completed an election rally minutes earlier and was leaving the
      rally site, Rawalpindi's Liaquat Bagh Park, at the time of the attack.

      As a shocked Pakistan absorbed the news of Bhutto's death,
      authorities called for calm and asked residents to stay inside.

      Many obliged, shuttering shops or rushing home from work and
      surrendering the streets to protesters who set fire to banks, shops
      and gas stations, blocked streets and pelted police with rocks,
      Pakistani media reported.

      At least five people were killed in Karachi in the violence, GEO TV
      reported, and dozens more were wounded. Police in Khairpur fired on
      an angry mob, killing two people, the station reported, and two more
      people were killed in Larkana.

      It's all mayhem everywhere," Shehryar Ahmad, an investment banker in
      Karachi, told CNN by telephone. "There's absolutely no order of any
      kind. No army on the streets. No curfew."

      Ahmad said that he saw dozens of burned-out cars as he drove home
      from work. A one-mile strip leading to Bhutto's Karachi house was
      a "ghost town," he said.

      Bhutto's body was being transported to the family's ancestral
      graveyard in Gari-Khuda Baksh in Sindh province, where she will be
      buried later Friday, said Sen. Safdar Abbasi, a leader of her
      Pakistan People's Party. Watch how the tragedy unfolded »

      The first leg was completed when, according to Pakistani TV stations,
      a Pakistan Air Force plane landed at Sukkur at about 3:15 a.m. Friday
      (5:30 p.m. Thursday ET). Bhutto's body was accompanied by her husband
      and three children.

      Bhutto is expected to be taken the rest of the way to her ancestral
      home by helicopter. Authorities are avoiding road travel because it
      could be mobbed by grieving supporters, the television stations
      reported.

      Her coffin body was removed from Rawalpindi General Hospital late
      Thursday -- carried above a crowd of grieving supporters

      Bhutto spent her final moments giving a stirring address to thousands
      of supporters at a political rally in a park in Rawalpindi, a city of
      roughly 1.5 million that is 14 km (9 miles) south of the Pakistani
      capital, Islamabad.

      She climbed into a white Land Rover and stood through the sunroof to
      wave to crowds after the speech.

      It was then that someone fired two shots, and Bhutto slumped back
      into the vehicle, said John Moore, a news photographer with Getty
      Images who saw what happened.

      Seconds later an explosion rocked the park, sending orange flames
      into the throng of Bhutto supporters and littering the park with
      twisted metal and chunks of rubble. The carnage was everywhere, he
      said.

      The assassination happened in Liaquat Bagh Park, named for Pakistan's
      first prime minister -- Liaquat Ali Khan -- who was assassinated in
      the same location in 1951.

      The attack came just hours after four supporters of former Pakistan
      Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif died when members of another political
      party opened fire on them at a rally near the Islamabad airport
      Thursday, Pakistan police said.

      Several other members of Sharif's party were wounded, police said.

      Bhutto, who led Pakistan from 1988-1990 and 1993-96, but both times
      the sitting president dismissed her amid corruption allegations. She
      was the first female prime minister of any Islamic nation, and was
      participating in the parliamentary election set for January 8, hoping
      for a third term as prime minister. Watch Benazir Bhutto obituary »

      A terror attack targeting her motorcade in Karachi killed 136 people
      on the day she returned to Pakistan after eight years of self-imposed
      exile.

      Bhutto had been critical of what she believed was a lack of effort by
      President Pervez Musharraf's government to protect her.

      Two weeks after the October assassination attempt, she wrote a
      commentary for CNN.com in which she questioned why Pakistan
      investigators refused international offers of help in finding the
      attackers.


      ================


      Benazir Bhutto: Hope Denied
      David A. Andelman,
      David A. Andelman is executive editor of Forbes.com and the author of
      A Shattered Peace: Versailles 1919 and the Price We Pay Today.
      http://www.forbes.com/opinions/2007/12/27/benazir-bhutto-impact-oped-
      cx_daa_1227bhutto.html


      Any chance of a peaceful transition to a semblance of democratic rule
      in Pakistan died Thursday with Benazir Bhutto.

      Bhutto possessed enormous reserves of good will that crossed a host
      of factional lines that divide this troubled nation. No other
      individual was at once so potentially uniting and divisive in the
      world's sixth-most-populous country.

      This is not to say Bhutto was a stranger to controversy nor
      accusations of corruption, self-dealing and hubris--many of the same
      charges that dogged her father, and ultimately led to his death at
      the hands of Pakistan's previous military dictator, Gen. Zia ul-Haq.

      I speak with some first-hand experience, having known Bhutto, first
      at Harvard, later in Pakistan. I also knew the man who ordered the
      execution of her father, Prime Minister Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
      Three years later, Gen. Zia himself met a fiery death in a mid-air
      explosion of a military aircraft. The circumstances of that incident
      have never been satisfactorily explained.

      Pakistan, nominally a democracy, has developed a political system
      that seems destined to spawn violence and serve as a breeding ground
      for extremists of all types. Peaceful transitions have, throughout
      much of its history, proved to be but illusory interludes between
      coups and violent electoral campaigns.

      Pakistan itself was born in the violence that brought an end to
      centuries of British rule over the entire sub-continent. The Raj was
      a stewardship designed to profit England and serve as a cornerstone
      to an empire on which the sun never set. But by the end of World War
      I, and the deeply flawed peace document known as the Treaty of
      Versailles, this stewardship was beginning to fray. It eventually
      came to an end after the Second World War amid protests and demands
      for independence that swept the entire region.

      By the time the British had departed, two nations--Hindu India and
      Moslem Pakistan--were created, the latter destined to split apart
      into the nations of Pakistan and Bangladesh. While India has managed
      in the course of the last half-century to adopt a free and democratic
      government and, more recently, a vibrant economy that is among the
      world's fastest growing, Pakistan has sunk into a morass of feuding
      political factions and violent extremists.

      By July 6, 1977, when I first arrived in Pakistan, the nation had
      managed to struggle through a host of unstable governments, rent by
      warring factions and led until that moment by Benazir Bhutto's
      father, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. On the morning before my
      arrival, a group of military officers, fed up with the corruption
      they alleged had overtaken the nation, seized power in a swift,
      dramatic and initially bloodless coup. Gen. Zia ul-Haq, leader of the
      junta, proclaimed himself martial law administrator, then a year
      later, assumed the title of president.

      Two days later, I sat in a large conference room of the Rawalpindi
      Intercontinental, just behind the military camp where Zia and his
      fellow officers were based, and met the general for the first time.
      The 52-year-old man who took the podium, with a small swagger stick
      under his left arm, had a ramrod-straight bearing and was every inch
      the British military officer that had marked the early years of his
      career. (He was also trained at the U.S. Army's Command and General
      Staff College at Fort Leavenworth.)

      Gen. Zia bore a striking resemblance to the British comedian Terry
      Thomas, but there was nothing amusing about this officer. He was all
      business as he described the nature of the rule he planned to bring
      to his impoverished nation.

      It would be, he said, a rule of law, but a rule of Shariya, or
      Islamic law. He described--with way too much relish and in clinical
      detail--how the right hand of a convicted thief would be amputated by
      a surgeon, peeling back the skin of the wrist, then separating the
      bones at the joint. Conviction for a higher crime of robbery would
      cost the unfortunate individual both his right hand and his left foot
      (at the ankle).

      Without question, there had been chaos in Pakistan in the months
      leading up to Gen. Zia's seizure of power. A close lieutenant of
      Bhutto had been murdered by a bomb blast in the town of Peshawar in
      the Northwest Frontier Province that is today considered a likely
      refuge of a number of Al Qaeda leaders, possibly Osama bin Laden
      himself. And there were battles between a broad spectrum of other
      political leaders as well.

      In short, the circumstances were not considerably different from
      those that preceded Friday's assassination of Bhutto's daughter,
      Benazir.

      Somehow, the trajectories of power in Pakistan all seem to follow
      nearly unbroken and parallel lines. When Gen. Zia met with
      international journalists in Rawalpindi back in 1977, he pledged (as
      he did to his own nation) to hold national and provincial assembly
      elections within 90 days and to hand over power to those elected in
      this process. The nation's constitution, he added, had not been
      repealed, simply suspended.

      Sound familiar? Gen. Pervez Musharaff has made the nearly identical
      pledges today, three decades later. First, martial law. Suspend the
      constitution. Elections within 90 days?

      But three months after Gen. Zia's seizure of power there were no
      national elections--they were "postponed." Instead, Zia demanded an
      accountability process for all politicians who hoped to stand for
      elections--meaningless exercises, as it turned out, as Zia continued
      to hold all the reins of power.

      A year later, Zia proclaimed himself president of Pakistan, a post he
      would hold until his death. And on April 4, 1979, Benazir Bhutto's
      father was hanged for alleged complicity in the murder of the father
      of an opposition politician. The Supreme Court affirmed his death
      sentence in a 4-to-3 vote. Now, with Benazir Bhutto's assassination,
      the niceties of law and justice have been done away with in one
      catastrophic stroke.

      Then, as now, the U.S. did pay lip service to a desire to return
      Pakistan to democratic rule. While there were slaps on the wrist by
      President Jimmy Carter, who briefly slashed military aid to the
      country when Gen. Zia began to press ahead with a nuclear weapons
      program, all this changed on Dec. 25, 1979, when the Soviet Union
      invaded neighboring Afghanistan.

      American military assistance to Gen. Zia returned and with the
      arrival of Ronald Reagan in the White House January 1981, the pace of
      assistance to a Pakistani military that had sworn defiance to the
      Soviet turned into a tsunami of funding. Suddenly, then as now,
      Pakistan was in a unique geopolitical position. The U.S. had no
      choice but to support the man who was defying its enemy.

      Gone were any demands for a return to democratic norms, and when I
      renewed my acquaintance with Gen. Zia in the mid-1980s, he was riding
      very high indeed. Pakistan was on the cusp of becoming a nuclear
      power. Zia was, it would appear, president for life, though he was
      making some gestures to increasing demands at home and abroad for a
      return to at least a fig leaf of democracy. But not for long.

      Four years later, nearly a decade after he assumed power, and fed up
      with continued bickering with the National Assembly, he had suffered
      to be elected, he dissolved that body and again promised democratic
      elections within 90 days. Now, there was another Bhutto on the
      horizon--even more popular, if that was even possible, even more of a
      political threat. This was Benazir Bhutto, Zulfikar's brilliant,
      popular, Harvard-educated daughter. She'd returned in 1986, and now
      was pledging to stand for election herself, Zia was in a quandary.
      But it was one that he would never have to resolve.

      On Aug. 17, 1988, the C-130 Hercules military aircraft he was riding
      with a number of his top officers and the U.S. ambassador to
      Pakistan, exploded in mid-air killing all on board. Though an FBI
      team dispatched to the scene declared it an accident, rumors
      persisted of more nefarious causes. There was talk that the only way
      to restore democratic rule to Pakistan and for America to rid itself
      of an embarrassing dictator was to remove him--and that the CIA had
      managed that mostly deftly.

      Indeed, his death did return the nation to democratic rule. A
      president and National Assembly were elected. The U.S. continued to
      expand its military and civilian aid. Yet a decade later, on Oct. 12,
      1999, Gen. Pervez Musharraf and his fellow officers seized power in
      another bloodless coup. The cycle had begun again.

      America's experience in Pakistan, and in scores of other countries
      around the world, has demonstrated one critical reality. At one point
      in the trajectory of any dictator, you own him. At another point, he
      owns you. We've reached that point now with Gen. Musharraf.

      There's a good chance that Benazir Bhutto might have been able to
      break this cycle. Now, however, Gen. Musharraf has an excellent
      excuse to postpone or cancel elections he was no doubt little
      interested in holding in the first place.

      Above all, the one person who might have found a way to bring
      together key factions--from military officers to Islamic
      fundamentalists--and unite them in a battle against the extremists
      who promised to turn this nation into a staging ground for
      international terrorists is dead. Ironically, her last important
      action before her assassination was a meeting with Afghan President
      Hamid Karzai. The subject? Joining forces to fight the war on terror.

      "We, too, believe that it is essential for both of our countries, and
      indeed the larger Muslim world, to work to protect the interest of
      Islamic civilization by eliminating extremism and terrorism," Bhutto
      said after their meeting.

      Hour later, after she met her death at the hands of an assassin,
      Karzai responded:

      "I am deeply sorry, deeply pained that this brave sister of us, this
      great daughter of the Muslim world is no longer with us. She
      sacrificed her life for the sake of Pakistan and for the sake of the
      region."


      ==============


      Bhutto Supporters Blame Musharraf
      Ruth David
      http://www.forbes.com/markets/2007/12/27/pakistan-bhutto-update-
      markets-emerge-cx_rd_1227markets26.html?boxes=relstories


      MUMBAI - Supporters of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto of
      Pakistan are blaming the government of President Pervez Musharraf for
      her assassination on Thursday, with violent protests breaking out
      around the country.

      In a year of increasing violence in Pakistan, Bhutto returned home
      from exile in October to contest parliamentary elections. Analysts
      said the viability and legitimacy of the Jan. 8 national and
      provincial elections have dimmed with her death.

      Bhutto, 54, survived explosions at her homecoming rally in Karachi
      that claimed the lives of around 140 people, and there were several
      reports that she was on militants' hit lists.

      The leader of the country's largest political movement—the Pakistan
      People's Party--appeared to be courting danger by insisting on
      holding public rallies, and on Thursday in Rawalpindi, her
      supporters' worst fears were realized.

      Bhutto, who had just finished addressing a rally, was shot in the
      head and neck before a suicide bomber blew himself up near her
      vehicle, according to reports from the scene.

      Her supporters turned violent when she was taken to a hospital in
      Rawalpindi, chanting slogans like "Killer Musharraf" and smashing
      vehicles in the area. Musharraf lives in Rawalpindi, a satellite city
      of the capital Islamabad that hosts the army headquarters.

      "The situation is very tense. We're hearing reports from all the
      major cities and towns of protestors on the rampage, setting fire to
      vehicles, shutting down shops," said Salim Bokhari, editor of The
      News. "Bhutto's death will have a lasting impact on Pakistani
      politics, the nation is waiting to see how Musharraf will deal with
      this," Bokhari told Forbes.com.

      Musharraf made a brief statement blaming religious extremists who his
      government has been fighting. "Terrorism is the biggest threat to
      Pakistan, I will not rest until it has been rooted out," he said, but
      didn't go into details of the government's next move.

      There is speculation Bhutto's husband, Asif Zardari, will return to
      Pakistan and don her political mantle. During her two terms as prime
      minister, Zardari was accused of stealing millions of dollars from
      the state coffers and served prison time.

      Bhutto, a mother of three, was charged in a handful of corruption
      cases that were dropped after an amnesty in October that enabled her
      to return from Dubai. Earlier this year, Musharraf and Bhutto engaged
      in extended power-sharing talks that ultimately fell through when she
      returned and threw in her lot with opposition leaders following
      Musharraf's decision to declare emergency rule and dissolve the
      judiciary.

      She was considered a leading contender to take office a third time in
      the January elections.

      Former rival Nawaz Sharif, who also returned to Pakistan recently for
      the January elections, promised to take up Bhutto's battle. "This is
      very tragic…I assure you that I will fight your war from now on,"
      Sharif told Bhutto's supporters outside the hospital in Rawalpindi.
      But with his own life in danger, media reports said Sharif was
      considering boycotting the polls.

      Blame for the assassination was quickly cast on Musharraf's
      government.

      "Everyone is saying that this army has killed Benazir. There is going
      to be more bloodshed," Asma Jehangir, chairperson of the Pakistan
      Human Rights Commission, told reporters. Spokespersons for Bhutto's
      Pakistan People's Party accused the army of not providing adequate
      security.

      Bhutto's death has also raised doubts on whether the elections will
      be held.

      "The biggest hope for Pakistan was for free and fair elections to
      give the government some genuine legitimacy," said Gareth Price, head
      of the Asia department at the London-based think tank Chatham
      House. "This assassination will make it much harder to get that free
      and fair election."

      An alliance between Musharraf and Bhutto was seen as appealing to the
      United States, which pumped billions of dollars in aid into Pakistan
      since Musharraf came to power, but is now imposing several conditions
      on concerns the government is going back on its anti-terrorism drive.

      Harvard-educated Bhutto' appeal to the West made her a leading target
      of extremists, said Jennifer Harbison, head of the Asia desk at the
      Control Risks Group in London.

      "She was the most secular of the political leaders. She had allied
      herself very clearly with the West, she spent time outside Pakistan
      building contacts and connections and she has been pretty clearly
      favored by the U.S. as a successor to Musharraf. For all those
      reasons she came at the top of the list in terms of offending the
      extremists."

      Musharraf's rule has appeared increasingly shaky in recent months,
      with his popularity slipping over disputes with the judiciary and his
      reluctance to hold polls and shed his uniform. Musharraf has also
      been the target of repeated assassination attempts by Muslim
      extremists.

      "There is no such thing as foolproof security against such determined
      attackers in any country," said Tariq Azim, who was deputy
      information minister before the government appointed a caretaker
      government to hold the elections. "Today, everyone entering the rally
      area at Rawalpindi was thoroughly searched. But when Bhutto was
      leaving the premises in her vehicle, she stopped to interact with
      supporters, and that's when she was killed."

      The minister was quick to acknowledge her popularity. "She was the
      first Muslim woman in the world to become the prime minister of a
      nation. That means a lot to us. One may not agree with her policies
      or her posturing, but Bhutto was one of the most popular leaders in
      Pakistan. We will mourn her death," Azim said.

      If the elections proceed, whether Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party
      will be able to capture a sympathy vote is debatable. "The party has
      in the past been much overshadowed by Benazir," said Price of Chatham
      House. "Now that she has gone, the question remains if anyone in the
      second tier of the party can step up to take her place."

      Bhutto's assassination drew strong responses from across the world.
      In India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said: "Mrs. Bhutto was no
      ordinary political leader, but one who left a deep imprint on her
      time and age. Her contributions to a previous moment of hope in India
      Pakistan relations, and her intent to break India Pakistan relations
      out of the sterile patterns of the past, were exemplary. In her
      death, the subcontinent has lost an outstanding leader who worked for
      democracy and reconciliation in her country."

      Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who had met Bhutto earlier Thursday,
      said: "We in Afghanistan condemn this act of cowardice and immense
      brutality in the strongest possible terms. She sacrificed her life,
      for the sake of Pakistan and for the sake of this region."


      =======================


      Officials: Al Qaeda claims responsibility for Bhutto killing
      http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/12/27/bhutto.dhs.alqaeda/index.htm
      l?iref=mpstoryview


      WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security
      issued a bulletin Thursday citing an alleged claim of responsibility
      by al Qaeda for former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's
      assassination, a DHS official told CNN.

      But such a claim has not appeared on radical Islamist Web sites that
      regularly post such messages from al Qaeda and other militant groups.

      The source of the claim was apparently an obscure Italian news
      agency, Adnkronos International (AKI), which said that al Qaeda
      Afghanistan commander and spokesman Mustafa Abu Al-Yazid had
      telephoned the agency to make the claim.

      "We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat
      [the] mujahadeen," AKI quoted Al-Yazid as saying.

      According to AKI, al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri set the wheels in
      motion for the assassination in October.

      One Islamist Web site repeated the claim, but that Web site is not
      considered a reliable source for Islamist messages by experts in the
      field.

      The DHS official said the claim was "an unconfirmed open source claim
      of responsibility" and the bulletin was sent out at about 6 p.m. to
      state and local law enforcement agencies.

      The official characterized the bulletin as "information sharing."

      Ross Feinstein, spokesman for Director of National Intelligence Mike
      McConnell, said the U.S. intelligence community is monitoring the
      situation and trying to figure out who is responsible for the
      assassination.

      "We are not in a position to confirm who may be responsible,"
      Feinstein said.

      Feinstein said that the intelligence community "obviously analyze(s)
      open source intelligence," but he would not say whether the community
      believes the claim has any validity.

      For now, he said, there is "no conclusion" as to who may be
      responsible.


      Earlier, DHS spokesman Russ Knocke said Bhutto's assassination had
      not prompted "any adjustments to our security posture."

      "Of course, we continue to closely monitor events as they unfold
      overseas," he said


      =============


      Bhutto assassination severe blow to U.S. efforts to stabilize Pakistan
      http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/27/us.pakistan.ap/index.html?
      eref=rss_topstories


      WASHINGTON (AP) -- The assassination of former Pakistani Prime
      Minister Benazir Bhutto has dealt a severe blow to U.S. efforts to
      restore stability and democracy in a turbulent, nuclear-armed Islamic
      nation that has been a critical ally in the war on terror.

      While not entirely dependent on Bhutto, recent Bush administration
      policy on Pakistan had focused heavily on promoting reconciliation
      between the secular opposition leader who has been dogged by
      corruption allegations and Pakistan's increasingly unpopular
      president, Pervez Musharraf, ahead of parliamentary elections set for
      January.

      In Washington and Islamabad, U.S. diplomats urged that January 8
      elections should not be postponed and strongly advised against a
      reimposition of emergency rule that Musharraf had lifted just weeks
      ago.

      The United States has poured billions of dollars in financial
      assistance into Pakistan since September 11, 2001, when Musharraf
      made a calculated decision to align his government with Washington in
      going after al Qaeda and the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan. That
      move is blamed for several unsuccessful assassination attempts on him.

      But it was not immediately clear, however, what if any influence
      Washington might have or whether Bhutto's death would drive the
      United States into a deeper embrace of Musharraf, whom some believe
      offers the best chance for Pakistani stability despite his democratic
      shortcomings.

      "This latest tragedy is likely to reinforce beliefs that Pakistan is
      a dangerous, messy place and potentially very unstable and fragile
      and that they need to cling to Musharraf even more than they did in
      the past," said Daniel Markey, who left the State Department this
      year and is now a senior fellow at the private Council on Foreign
      Relations.

      "The weight of the administration is still convinced that Musharraf
      is a helpful rather than a harmful figure," he said.

      Amid the political chaos and uncertainty roiling the country in the
      wake of Bhutto's slaying, U.S. officials scrambled Thursday to
      understand the implications for the massive aid and counter-terrorism
      programs that have been criticized by lawmakers, especially as al
      Qaeda and Taliban extremists appear resurgent along the Pakistan-
      Afghan border.

      Underscoring the concerns, a grim President Bush interrupted his
      vacation to personally condemn Bhutto's murder, demanding that those
      responsible be brought to justice and calling on Pakistanis to
      continue to press for democracy.

      "We urge them to honor Benazir Bhutto's memory by continuing with the
      democratic process for which she so bravely gave her life," Bush told
      reporters at his Texas ranch, before speaking briefly to Musharraf by
      phone.

      Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Bhutto's assassination
      would "no doubt test the will and patience of the people of Pakistan"
      but called on the Pakistani people in a statement "to work together
      to build a more moderate, peaceful, and democratic future."

      Yet such calls could fall on deaf ears, experts said.

      "The United States does not have a great deal of leverage where
      Pakistan is concerned," said Wendy Sherman, who served as counselor
      to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. "And at the end of
      the day, the decisions are going to be made by the Pakistani people
      and by the leadership of Pakistan and not by the United States."

      Other analysts warned that Bhutto's assassination might further
      damage Musharraf, whose democratic credentials have been seriously
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