Former Pakistan Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, Assassinated

Benazir Bhutto, twice elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, was killed today in a combined shooting and suicide bomb attack in the Liaquat National Bagh in Rawalpindi. Bhutto was shot in the neck and chest by an assassin who also detonated the suicide bomb as she was leaving the rally of the Pakistan People’s Party, of which Bhutto was a leader.

From Times Online:

"Ms Bhutto was waving from the sunroof of her bullet-proof Landcruiser when the assassin struck, first firing shots and then blowing himself up. A doctor on the team that attended to Ms. Bhutto said that she had taken a bullet in the back of the neck that damaged her spinal cord before exiting from the side of her head. Another bullet pierced the back of her shoulder and came out through her chest, but the main cause of death was damage to her spinal cord, he said."

At least 20 people were killed in the blast which took place mere moments after Bhutto gave her political speech to thousands of her supporters. Bhutto was campaigning for the parliamentary elections that were to take place January 8. She had hoped to become Prime Minister once again. Plans for the upcoming general elections are now uncertain.

This was the second attempt on Bhutto's life since she returned to Pakistan in October. While en route to a rally in Karachi on October 18, two explosions occurred shortly after Bhutto had landed and left Jinnah International Airport. She was not injured in the explosions which were also declared as suicide-bomb attacks, but 136 people were killed and at least 450 were injured.

From NPR:

"The death of the charismatic former prime minister threw the campaign for the Jan. 8 parliamentary elections into chaos and created fears of mass protests and violence across the nuclear-armed nation, an important U.S. ally in the war on terrorism."

Naween A. Mangi writes:

"Benazir Bhutto was no stranger to the violence that took her life. It defined her family history. [She was] the fourth member of her family to be cut down. Her father, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was executed after being overthrown by General Mohammad Zia ul-Haq in a 1977 military coup. Her two brothers were murdered, one in France and another in a Karachi shooting. Bhutto's moderate view of Islam and contacts with the Bush administration made her a target for extremists in the world's largest Muslim nation after Indonesia.

In her autobiography, Daughter of the East, Bhutto wrote, "I know that I am a symbol of what the so-called jihadists, Taliban and al-Qaeda, most fear. I am a female political leader fighting to bring modernity, communication, education and technology to Pakistan.''

Bhutto loved Pakistan and wanted Democracy to thrive in her country. She was willing to risk her life for the cause that was most important to her. She knew she was a threat to extremists because of her desire to restore political power to the country of Pakistan. The poor and women especially, loved Bhutto because she brought them a sense of hope that many couldn't find elsewhere.

In a televised statement, President Bush condemned Bhutto's murder:

"The United States strongly condemns this cowardly act by murderous extremists who are trying to undermine Pakistan's democracy. Those who committed this crime must be brought to justice."

White House spokesman Scott Stanzel later appeared for a press conference to answer questions from the media. He said that President Bush planned to talk with President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, and that it was too early to draw any conclusions as to who was responsible for Ms. Bhutto's assassination and whether the Pakistani government would launch an investigation into her murder.

When asked if he could comment about the implications for U.S. policy in Pakistan because of what happened this morning, Stanzel replied:

"I think it's important to take a step back and consider what we're facing here. This is the nature of the enemy we face. We face terrorists who will stop at nothing. They will take innocent life to stop the march of democracy. And we have seen that in other places around the world -- suicide bombers who kill wantonly. And the President decided to take the fight to the enemy in 2001 to confront this type of danger, because terrorist thugs want to stop the march of democracy, they want to stop the advancement of liberty, and they will stop at nothing to do so. So it is a reminder of the threats that we face."


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

However, President Musharraf appealed his countrymen to maintain peace and calm in the wake of Bhutto's assassination:

"In a brief televised address to the nation, Musharraf said that terrorists were responsible for the suicide and gun attack on Bhutto's rally in Rawalpindi that left 30 people dead and close to 50 others injured. "This cruelty is the work of those terrorists with whom we are fighting," he said, adding, "The biggest threat to Pakistan and this nation is from these terrorists. We will not sit and rest until we get rid of these terrorists, root them out."

From the Associated Press of Pakistan:

"Ambassador to the United States Mahmud Ali Durrani said he was pretty sure that the attack against her was carried out by terrorists as he also stated that the Pakistanis want democracy to move forward. “We are extremely sorry that Benazir Bhutto, one of our great political leaders, has been assassinated, and it happened immediately after she was addressing a public rally in Rawalpindi. This is a time of mourning for Pakistan, and I think the government of Pakistan has already announced three day[s] of mourning.”"

Now that Benazir Bhutto is gone, the question remains: What will happen next? President Musharraf issued a red alert in hopes of preventing violence and destabilization in Pakistan.

Statements have been made by several US candidates for president. Will foreign affairs become the main concern of the 2008 Election because of the tragic death of Benazir Bhutto?

CBS News' Nancy Cordes writes about Mike Huckabee's reaction to the the assassination:

"With about 150 supporters crowded around a podium set up on the tarmac of Orlando Executive airport (and about 20 Ron Paul supporters waving signs outside) Mike Huckabee strode out to the strains of “Right Now” by Van Halen and immediately addressed the Bhutto situation, expressing “our sincere concern and apologies for what has happened in Pakistan.” He said the assassination is a reminder that here in the US, we are lucky to vote “not with bullets but with ballots,” and said “I guess we are sometimes lulled into failing to appreciate the magnitude” of the democratic process."

Senator Hillary Clinton stated:

"The world is once again reminded of the dangers facing those who pursue democracy and free elections in Pakistan and elsewhere, in areas that are rife with conflict and violence and extremeism and anti-democratic forces at work."

Rudy Giuliani's reaction, from the Chicago Sun-Times:

''Her murderers must be brought to justice, and Pakistan must continue the path back to democracy and the rule of law. 'Her death is a reminder that terrorism anywhere -- whether in New York, London, Tel-Aviv or Rawalpindi -- is an enemy of freedom. We must redouble our efforts to win the terrorists' war on us.''

Senator Barack Obama's reaction, from USA Today:

"I am shocked and saddened by the death of Benazir Bhutto in this terrorist atrocity. She was a respected and resilient advocate for the democratic aspirations of the Pakistani people. We join with them in mourning her loss, and stand with them in their quest for democracy and against the terrorists who threaten the common security of the world."

More comments and US reactions can be found here.

Connie Crosby writes:

"I heard it on Twitter first coming into the office this morning, then word has slowly spread throughout the news agencies. Former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, has been killed in a suicide bombing at one of her political rallies. The power of the wiki is evident–her page on Wikipedia was updated immediately with the news."

Pamela Leavey writes:

"After not paying any attention to the news for days, my vacation is over. I returned home this afternoon, to find that Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated near the Pakistani capital, Islamabad."

Robin writes:

"Please explain, if the US was hoping for the "moderate Bhutto" to exert influence against Musharaf, then WHY is the US still sending BILLIONS of dollars to him?"

Charlotte A. Weybright writes:

"Pakistan is now thrust into even more chaos than it was before. Both Bhutto and Sharif were running for government offices. Bhutto is now out of the way - how much longer will it be before Sharif is assassinated as well, leaving Musharraf with little or no opposition?"
Posted by Dana J. Tuszke at December 27, 2007 9:09 PM
Comment #241623

And what if Musharraf himself was complicit in her death? Would Bush want to know? Would America care? Isn’t Musharraf the known quantity America and most other nations prefer to any other unknown quantity whose power and authority to prevent terrorist extremists from seizing control of nuclear weapons is less sure?

Does anyone really want democracy in Pakistan that might permit the radicals to be elected as happened in Lebanon?

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 28, 2007 7:51 AM
Comment #241704

The likely scenario is the US backs another military strongman that pormises democracy “someday.” Mushariff has been discredited.
I am curious. If the reason we have not gone into the tribal areas to get Bin Laden was so as not to weaken Musharif,now that he is weakened whats stopping us?

Posted by: bills at December 29, 2007 1:56 AM
Comment #241707

All those same people who so strongly advocate trying to set up productive relationships with Iran or Syria cannot help but criticize U.S. attempts to do that with other countries such as Pakistan. Our choices are often limited.

The U.S. has supported democracy in Pakistan. But the choices are limited. Would you have us engage actively in regime change to make it happen?

The people who killed Bhutto were our enemies, people working against U.S. interests and the interests of democracy. We are all outraged by this sort of attack whether it happens in Pakistan, Iraq, London, Madrid or New York.

Posted by: Jack at December 29, 2007 2:42 AM
Comment #241738

Jack: I agree with most of what you said.

“The people who killed Bhutto were our enemies, people working against U.S. interests and the interests of democracy.”

We may never know who was behind this assassination. We do know that Musharrif wanted nothing to do with Bhutto. We know that she was forced on him by us. We know that having her killed by a suicide bomber was convenient. We know that Musharrif is not interested in democracy. We know that Musharrif cares alot more about our money that helps keep him in power that he cares about our interests.

Posted by: jlw at December 29, 2007 3:22 PM
Comment #241764

Musharrif is not Pakistan.Nor is there any reason to assume that Bhutto’s murder was the work of Islamic fundementalist.So far the Pak. government has refused an international investigation. Mushariff refused to allow Bhutto to hire,at her own expense,private security. The jammers given to her by the government did not work.That the hit was by a suicide bomber proves nothing. Perhaps he did not know he was a suicide bomber but a sniper. Perhaps he did so with tremendous coercion or brainwashing.A leopard cannot change its spots. Mushariff was a brutal military dictater before he became a nice guy after 9/11.
To give Bush some credit,the State Dept. did urge Mushsariff to give more protection to Bhutto and we did apparently see her as a way to achieve more stability in Pakistan. Also apparently and tragicaly,our efforts fell short.

Posted by: BillS at December 30, 2007 2:18 AM
Comment #241769

Would the US allow an “international” investigation of a presidential assassignation?
I doubt it. This is an issue of soveriegnty.

Posted by: googlumpugus at December 30, 2007 9:57 AM
Comment #241829

A better question is ,Should the United States allow an international investigation of a presidential assasination? I think so,especially if there is good reason to doubt the findings of an internal investigation.We should have had one after the JFK killing and we were a lot more cohesive nation than Pakistan.This is not to say that there should not be an independant Pakistani investigation.
Another reason in this case has to do with the forensic capabilities of ,say,Scotland Yard as compared with what is available in Pakistan. I am not certain but I suspect Scotland Yard is far ahead technically in this regard.
This event may be as serious a threat globally as a fledgeling Iranian nuclear program. We have no problem there calling for international investigation.The world needs to know with enormous crdibility just who ,or who was not,behind this tragedy.One would think 10 billion a year in aid would give us the leaverage to demand one and a refusal is tantemount to a confession.

Posted by: BillS at December 31, 2007 4:24 AM
Comment #241878

Sorry to disagree Bill S.,

This is again a sovereignty issue. It is internal politics, not under the pervue of internationalism.

I’m all for free trade and international dialogue, but not internal interference in politics.

This would open a nation up to interventionism by those that may mean harm.

As far as squelching rumors about JFK that has been investigated to no end, yet many still believe as they wish. It is never going to be resolved to some. An international “investigation” would not have stopped that. If you wish to believe it was someone other than Oswald, believe on. Buddy Holly’s plane was rigged, John Lennon was killed by Nixon’s people, whatever floats yer boat.

Sad truth is, the world is full of nuts who kill and those that believe anything.

Posted by: googlumpugus at December 31, 2007 8:11 PM
Comment #241942

Pakistan Government— Bhutto was shot in the head and the neck.

Pakistan Government— Bhutto was not shot. Bhutto accidently killed herself.

Film is released showing Bhutto being shot.

Pakistan Government— Bhutto did not accidently kill herself. Bhutto was shot.

Posted by: jlw at January 2, 2008 2:21 AM
Comment #243380

I can’t believe that she was assassinated by a 15-year-old! What a shock! This is a crazy part of the world, and we are going to have to reassess our handling of such situations. I have spoken with several people from the middle east, and they all say that she was assassinated because it would be a major blow to the Americans. What are we doing wrong?

Please visit my blog and comment:

- Maggie

Posted by: Maggie at January 20, 2008 1:44 PM
Comment #245224


The press reported that the assassination of Benazir Bhutto was carried out by terrorists loyal to the taliban and that it was a suicide bomber who carried it out. However the witnesses who were there said they heard multiple shots from buildings nearby before the bomb went off. Originally Scotland yard who investigated it said there were shots and then reversed themselves and John MacBrayne , chief investigator said that there were none.
The CIA wanted Bhutto dead, they had a contingency plan to sanction her from years back if she ever attained the leadership of Pakistan, Much of the leadership in the CIA did not like this decision and Porter Goss resigned over this issue. If Bhutto had won the election and even stating that she was the terrorists worst nightmare there would not have been a big change in the status quo however the CIA knew that Bhutto had intended to demilitarize Pakistan basically throwing out all U.S. military and intelligence advisors and operatives.
The terrosist were not intimidated by Bhutto but the CIA was. The assassination of Bhutto was typical CIA black bag operations, the suicide bomber (diversion) for the three triangular snipers in the buildings beyond. Then the facts and evidence are quickly erased.
All the bodies and evidence were cleaned up within a couple hours of the incident. Husnain and Rafaqat The two supposedly taliban terrorists being held for investigation Are CIA operatives trained by the covert assistance group wing of the CIA training Pakistan operatives in Pakistan
Thus the CIA, American Military Advisors and intelligence operatives are set in Pakistan and President Pervez Musharrafâ??s Cooperative to the U.S. administration is secured.

William Cullinson Manager of Racetrack, East Orlando, Florida

Posted by: William Cullinson at February 13, 2008 4:42 PM
Post a comment