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Pakistan Former PM Bhutto Murdered

Two-time Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated today in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

The conspiracy involved both a shooter and a bombing, and at least 15 additional people are reported dead.

The government of President Musharraf is in a state of chaos. At best, he will be harshly blamed for not protecting Bhutto (there was an earlier attempt to kill Bhutto in October which left 140 dead, but security for Bhutto was not improved), and at present his possible complicity in the murder is widely suspected and in some places assumed. There has as yet been no official statement from U.S. officials; it must be presumed that the assassination has pre-empted normal business.

Update (Kim): We are waiting for a statement from President Bush, which should come at 11:00am EST. Both John McCain and Rudy Giuliani issued statements a short time ago.

Al Qaeda and the Taliban had a lot to fear if Bhutto returned to the Prime Ministership. Not only was she the first woman leader of a Muslim nation, but she was also moderate, pro-democracy, and pro-US. She wasn't afraid to publicly announce that, if she won the election, that she would seek out and destroy the radical Islamists that have caused all the turmoil in Pakistan. From the Guardian:

Even before Bhutto returned to Pakistan in October after eight years of self-imposed exile, there had been open threats against her. A pro-Taliban militant leader, Baitullah Masood, said he would target her with suicide attacks. Masood, probably the most prominent militant leader in the north-western region bordering Afghanistan, has also been accused of carrying out attacks on Pakistani soldiers.

Bhutto's pro-western attitude would have made her a natural target for militant Islamists. Another militant commander, Haji Omar, said before her return: "She has an agreement with America. We will carry out attacks on Benazir Bhutto as we did on General Pervez Musharraf [the Pakistani president]." Authorities had warned Bhutto that extremists sympathetic to the Taliban and al-Qaida would target her.

Update II: Allahpundit at Hot Air links to a report in which al Qaeda claims responsiblity for Bhutto's death:

A spokesperson for the al-Qaeda terrorist network has claimed responsibility for the death on Thursday of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

"We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat [the] mujahadeen," Al-Qaeda's commander and main spokesperson Mustafa Abu Al-Yazid told Adnkronos International (AKI) in a phone call from an unknown location, speaking in faltering English. Al-Yazid is the main al-Qaeda commander in Afghanistan.

It is believed that the decision to kill Bhutto, who is the leader of the opposition Pakistan People's Party (PPP), was made by al-Qaeda No. 2, the Egyptian doctor, Ayman al-Zawahiri in October.

Death squads were allegedly constituted for the mission and ultimately one cell comprising a defunct Lashkar-i-Jhangvi's Punjabi volunteer succeeded in killing Bhutto.

Update III: Mark Steyn offers his thoughts on Bhutto's assassination and doesn't have much good to say about how our State Department handled things:

Since her last spell in power, Pakistan has changed, profoundly. Its sovereignty is meaningless in increasingly significant chunks of its territory, and, within the portions Musharraf is just about holding together, to an ever more radicalized generation of young Muslim men Miss Bhutto was entirely unacceptable as the leader of their nation. "Everyone's an expert on Pakistan, a faraway country of which we know everything," I wrote last month. "It seems to me a certain humility is appropriate." The State Department geniuses thought they had it all figured out. They'd arranged a shotgun marriage between the Bhutto and Sharif factions as a "united" "democratic" "movement" and were pushing Musharraf to reach a deal with them. That's what diplomats do: They find guys in suits and get 'em round a table. But none of those representatives represents the rapidly evolving reality of Pakistan. Miss Bhutto could never have been a viable leader of a post-Musharraf settlement, and the delusion that she could have been sent her to her death. Earlier this year, I had an argument with an old (infidel) boyfriend of Benazir's, who swatted my concerns aside with the sweeping claim that "the whole of the western world" was behind her. On the streets of Islamabad, that and a dime'll get you a cup of coffee.

As I said, she was everything we in the west would like a Muslim leader to be. We should be modest enough to acknowledge when reality conflicts with our illusions. Rest in peace, Benazir.

Update IV: The AP has a report on President Bush's statement:

President Bush demanded Thursday that those responsible for the killing of former Prime Minister Benazir be brought to justice.

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

The president was speaking to reporters at a hangar adjacent to his Crawford ranch in central Texas.

Bush expressed his deepest condolences to Bhutto's family and to the families of others slain in the attack and to all the people of Pakistan.

"We stand with the people of Pakistan in their struggle against the forces of terror and extremism. We urge them to honor Benazir Bhutto's memory by continuing with the democratic process for which she so bravely gave her life," he said.

Bush looked tense in delivering a statement that lasted about a minute and he took no questions.

Update V: Don Surber offers his analysis on Bhutto's assassination.

Update VI: The US checking into al Qaeda's claim that it assassinated Bhutto.


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Comments (34)

A big sad expected event. ... (Below threshold)

A big sad expected event. I wonder what the US promised her in the way of protection if she came back. Sigh.

From interviews Ms. Bhutto ... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

From interviews Ms. Bhutto gave, Epador, my understanding is that she knew she would be at great personal risk, but chose to return to Pakistan with only her own personal staff. There is some talk that the U.S. offered the services of the State Department's B.D.S., but that Bhutto declined it in September, on the grounds it would allow Musharraf to claim she was provoking conflict.

I remember that, but there ... (Below threshold)

I remember that, but there are always the unofficial promises. However, she always had a strong will and I believe the sadness and frustration of being out of her country played a strong role in her suicidal return. I suppose what I should have written is I wonder what the US promised to do when she was killed.

That's the gut call - was M... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

That's the gut call - was Musharraf a paranoid moron who did not protect Bhutto, or was he involved more deeply?

Either way, someone's going to replace him as President. Real soon.

Benazir Bhutto knew that go... (Below threshold)

Benazir Bhutto knew that going back to Pakistan would be extremely dangerous, but her love for her country (and yes, probably a whole lot of "I could do that better!" outrage) won out over her instinct for self-preservation. I respect her immensely for trying to make some sort of impact towards democracy there. I only wish we had a similar woman (or man, for that matter) with her combination of chutzpah and courage.

R.I.P., President Bhutto.

Musharraf gave up his contr... (Below threshold)

Musharraf gave up his control of the army recently, therefore, he had no ability to protect her....at least that may be his arguement against the accusations.

No telling...but she is dea... (Below threshold)

No telling...but she is dead.

There are to many factions at work in that country to get a tangible feel for who actually pulled it off. There was an explosion some distance from her motorcade as she was leaving a rally and then it took over 1/2 hour for her to arrive at a hospital. Something went down after the first incident that little to no information has been released about.

I'd suspect their intelligence service, but that's just me.

It could've just as easily ... (Below threshold)

It could've just as easily been Al Queda or the Iranians, since it is in their best interest to keep things unstable as long as possible.

This should cause the liber... (Below threshold)

This should cause the liberal Democrats to rethink their position on the War on Terror.

We are clearly in this for the long term whether we want to be or not.

"Al Qaeda and the Taliban h... (Below threshold)

"Al Qaeda and the Taliban had a lot to fear if Bhutto returned"

Musharraff had much more to gain from her death than the Jihadists. "Que Bono?"

This could truly be a chara... (Below threshold)

This could truly be a character-defining moment.

Will any Democrats pledge to do whatever it takes to keep Pakistan's nuclear arsenal safe and to re-establish a Pakistani government that is both acceptable to its people and a strong ally in the fight against Muslim extremism? Or are they all thinking, "Oh shit, now everyone is going to be talking about the War on Terror again!"

Bhutto is truly a heroine. There are very few in politics who would willingly endanger their careers or put their lives at risk in order to stand up for what they believe in. I can only hope that her death serves to get the peace-at-any-price crowd to at least stop and think before they again suggest that all we have to do is "sit down and talk" with radicals and there will be peace.

The lefties will soon be ou... (Below threshold)

The lefties will soon be out in droves to convince everyone the Taliban and AQ had nothing to do with this.

May God bless you madam President. Your character, courage, and vision was a guiding light in a dark part of the world. We could use a little more of what you had here in this country.

Those of you who are using ... (Below threshold)

Those of you who are using this tragedy to take disconnected swipes at Democrats should read Update III, above.

This is original: a liberal... (Below threshold)

This is original: a liberal talking to us about disconnected swipes. Brian, your guys wrote the book on that.

The demo's are going to have to agree with the GWOT or support isolationism. No win situation for them. ww

ww, I'll once again refer y... (Below threshold)

ww, I'll once again refer you to Update III. As it says, you should be modest enough to acknowledge when reality conflicts with your illusions.

No doubt Brian would prefer... (Below threshold)

No doubt Brian would prefer Obama's brilliant approach to Pakistan.

If Al Queda DID kill Bhutto... (Below threshold)

If Al Queda DID kill Bhutto, then once again they stepped in it big time. Bhutto's supporters have a greater reason to get rid of Al Queda now. It also helps Musharraf in his actions against Al Queda/Taliban-held parts of Pakistan.

Brian, update three doesn't... (Below threshold)
John Irving:

Brian, update three doesn't exonerate Democrats. Most of the career State Department diplomats are Dems.

Have you ever gotten one of your rebuttals correct? I havent seen one yet.

> The government of Pres... (Below threshold)

> The government of President Musharraf is in a state of chaos. At best, he will be harshly blamed for not protecting Bhutto (there was an earlier attempt to kill Bhutto in October which left 140 dead, but security for Bhutto was not improved)

You can't blame Musharraf for not improving security. Look at the photos taken just before the assassination. Bhutto was still wading into chaotic mobs of people. If you insist on doing that, the only security that would work would be to prevent her from having public contact. And when Musharraf did that (house arrest) he caught a lot of criticism as well.

Speaking of Democrats, Bill... (Below threshold)

Speaking of Democrats, Bill Richardson, who at times appeared to be an adult, calls for the US to "force" Musharref out of power.

So much for him being an adult. Unbelievable.

Brian - "Those of you w... (Below threshold)

Brian - "Those of you who are using this tragedy to take disconnected swipes at Democrats should read Update III, above."

Just how many people are id'd by political party in the link contained in update III Brian?

I saw none. How many did you count?

It is ridiculous to assert ... (Below threshold)

It is ridiculous to assert that Musharraf benefits from the Bhutto assassination. First, he is most certainly going to be blamed for failing to protect her. Secondly, the resulting unrest will force him to declare emergency rule again, which he clearly doesn't want to do.

Third, despite her rhetoric designed to attract the anti-Musharraf moderates, Bhutto understood that some accommodation would be worked out. The Army is not going to allow full civilian rule without one of their own watching over things.

The ones who benefit most obviously are al Qaeda and Sharif, the other former Prime Minister who most certainly would have been trounced by Bhutto's coalition and who was rather sympathetic to the Islamist radicals (and allowed them to gain their grip on the intelligence services).

Of course, a domestic solution could not be imposed from outside, but it is only correct to say Bhutto was "not viable" as Prime Minister because of the radicals, who are still a minority in Pakistan. If a violent minority is to be allowed to veto ballots with bullets and bombs, there cannot be a viable democracy at all.

Assassinations and acts of mass terrorist murder are not some misunderstandings. The Islamists have long ago declared war on all civilizations which do not bow down to their 7th Century radicalism, including Muslim democracy and moderates. They will fight to the death of the last man. We can either join the fight, or be killed.

I wonder why people seem to... (Below threshold)

I wonder why people seem to be throwing blame on our country. We approved of her and diplomatically helped open the door for her to return,but what else were we supposed to do? Protect her? Surround her with american gaurds?soldiers? tanks? Tell her where she could go and not go? Would we accept the same from Saudi Arabia if they liked a canidate for our president?
As far as swipes at different parties,that is to be expected. Anything bad in the world that happens is another club to swing at the republicans regardless of responsibility. It is also another way for the Dems to claim how they would never have allowed this to happen and how they would handle it now. Nevermind that it is all with hindsight and that nothing they propose would mean much anyway.

This could result in a civi... (Below threshold)

This could result in a civil war in Pakistian.

Brian, update three does... (Below threshold)

Brian, update three doesn't exonerate Democrats.

Did I say it did?

Have you ever gotten one of your rebuttals correct? I havent seen one yet.

Have you ever accurately understood a comment on here? I haven't seen one yet.

Just how many people are... (Below threshold)

Just how many people are id'd by political party in the link contained in update III Brian? I saw none. How many did you count?

None also. Now, as fun as it is to play counting games with you, perhaps you can try to limit your comments to those that have a point.

Brain - "None also. Now... (Below threshold)

Brain - "None also. Now, as fun as it is to play counting games with you, perhaps you can try to limit your comments to those that have a point."

I did.

Your point was people were taking "swipes" at Dems and used for your example the linked story in update III.

As you have now agreed to no political parties were named so tell us oh Great Blog Commenter just how does that support your assertion?

My post #9 above is "dis... (Below threshold)

My post #9 above is "disconnected swipe"? WTH is a "disconnected swipe"?

HughS - "WTH is a "disc... (Below threshold)

HughS - "WTH is a "disconnected swipe"?

This is too easy to resist!

A "disconnected swipe" is when Brian wipes his ass and accidentally (by his anatomical design) blows his nose.

<a href="http://wcvarones.b... (Below threshold)
Your point was people we... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Your point was people were taking "swipes" at Dems and used for your example the linked story in update III.

Wrong. His point was that the people on this thread taking swipes at the Dems shouldn't do so because update III shows how bad the Bush State Department handled this. However, Brian is still dead wrong because as a commenter here has already pointed out, the vast majority of the Striped-Pants crowd are Dems.

"Bush looked tense in de... (Below threshold)

"Bush looked tense in delivering a statement that lasted about a minute and he took no questions."

This concerns me like he may be contemplating some form of action. Pakistan has nuclear weapons that could be taken over by radical Islam, with plenty of help from Iran.

It makes perfect Islamo-Fas... (Below threshold)
The Listkeeper:

It makes perfect Islamo-Fascist sense: Aid a militant group in taking over the gov't, have em pay you back by giving you nukes to advance the common cause.

I'm pretty sure I'd have to... (Below threshold)
John Irving:

I'm pretty sure I'd have to blow half my brains out with drugs and a .45 to think on the level Brian does.

Every single time he posts some "rebuttal" or "refutation," it turns out he doesn't know what he's talking about, misread the source material, or otherwise completely failed to pull his view out of his rectum. And then he goes on a blitz trying to defend his absurdities, only to finally slink off, and come back and do it again.

Meanwhile, there's also Semanticleo, who apparently thinks "que bono?" means "who has the most to lose and the least to gain" by targeting Musharraff. Musharraff is a lot of things, liked by me not being one of them, but he has proven to be savvy enough to foresee the consequences of such an action, none of which do him much good.

Meanwhile, look to her opponent, much more radical and using this tragedy to his immediate political gain. If his people aren't involved, they are certainly capitalizing on it quickly.






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