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IHT : Benazir Bhutto, Pakistani opposition leader, killed in suicide attack

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  • Uncle Yap
    Benazir Bhutto, Pakistani opposition leader, killed in suicide attack By Salman Masood and Graham Bowley Published: December 27, 2007 E-Mail Article Listen to
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      Benazir Bhutto, Pakistani opposition leader, killed in suicide attack
      By Salman Masood and Graham Bowley Published: December 27, 2007

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      RAWALPINDI, Islamabad: An attack on a political rally killed the
      Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto near the capital,
      Islamabad, Thursday. Witnesses said Bhutto was fired upon before the
      blast, and an official from her party said Bhutto was further injured
      by the explosion, which was apparently caused by a suicide attacker.

      At least a dozen more people were killed. "At 6:16 p.m. she expired,"
      said Wasif Ali Khan, a member of Ms. Bhutto's party who was at
      Rawalpindi General Hospital where she was taken after the attack,
      according to The Associated Press.

      Hundreds of supporters had gathered at the rally, which was being held
      at Liaqut Bagh, a park that is a common venue for political rallies
      and speeches, in Rawalpindi, the garrison city adjacent to the

      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, and shards of glass were strewn about the ground.

      Farah Ispahani, an official from Bhutto's party, said: "It is too soon
      to confirm the number of dead from the party's side. Private
      television channels are reporting 20 dead." Television channels were
      also quoting police sources as saying that at least 14 people were

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      The attack immediately raised questions about whether parliamentary
      elections scheduled for January will go ahead or be postponed.

      Bhutto was the target of a suicide attack in October in Karachi when
      she returned from exile to Pakistan. That attack, caused by two bombs
      exploding just seconds apart, narrowly missed Bhutto but killed scores
      of people, including many of her party workers.

      The attack is the latest blow to Pakistan's treacherous political

      Bhutto, 54, returned to Pakistan to present herself as the answer to
      the nation's troubles: a tribune of democracy in a state that has been
      under military rule for eight years, and the leader of the country's
      largest opposition political party, founded by her father, Zulfikar
      Ali Bhutto, one of Pakistan's most flamboyant and democratically
      inclined prime ministers.

      But her record in power, and the dance of veils she has deftly
      performed since her return - one moment standing up to Musharraf, then
      next seeming to accommodate him, and never quite revealing her actual
      intentions - has stirred as much distrust as hope among Pakistanis.

      A graduate of Harvard and Oxford, she brought the backing of
      Washington and London, where she impresses with her political lineage,
      her considerable charm and her persona as a female Muslim leader.

      But with these accomplishments, Bhutto also brought controversy, and a
      legacy among Pakistanis as a polarizing figure who during her two
      turbulent tenures as prime minister, first from 1988 to 1990 and again
      from 1993 to 1996, often acted imperiously and impulsively.

      She faced deep questions about her personal probity in public office,
      which led to corruption cases against her in Switzerland, Spain and
      Britain, as well as in Pakistan.

      Bhutto saw herself as the inheritor of her father's mantle, often
      spoke of how he encouraged her to study the lives of legendary female
      leaders ranging from Indira Gandhi to Joan of Arc.

      Following the idea of big ambition, Bhutto 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.

      Saturday night at the diplomatic reception, Bhutto showed how she
      could aggrandize. Three million people came out to greet her in
      Karachi on her return last month, she said, calling it Pakistan's
      "most historic" rally. In fact, crowd estimates were closer to
      200,000, many of them provincial party members who had received small
      amounts of money to make the trip.

      Such flourishes led questioning in Pakistan about the strength of her
      democratic ideals in practice, and a certain distrust, particularly
      amid signs of back-room deal-making with Musharraf, the military ruler
      she opposed.

      "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 Bhutto.

      When Bhutto was re-elected to a second term as Prime Minister, her
      style of government combined both the traditional and the modern, said
      Zafar Rathore, a senior civil servant at the time.

      But her view of the role of government differed little from the
      classic notion in Pakistan that the state was the preserve of the
      ruler who dished out favors to constituents and colleagues, he


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