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Special Coverage: The assassination of Benazir Bhutto

Given the volume of commentary from bloggers throughout the world about the assassination of ex-prime minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, we have set up a Special Coverage page aggregating some of the reactions from Pakistan and other parts of South Asia, as well as our own coverage here on Global Voices. Visit the special coverage page for regular updates.

13 comments

  • Kirpa Raj

    Politics is a dangerous game. Every politician has a long list of enemies thirsty for his/her blood. Gone are the days when intelligence agencies needed to hire professional murderers to eliminate undesirable political figures. Now the agencies only need to acquire route/security information of a politician and provide/leak the info to the politician’s enemies. And with modern electronic eavesdropping devices, it is so easy to acquire inside information about any politician’s route & security-lapse details. Weapons are every where, and agencies do not need to provide them to the politician’s enemies, who, once armed with the leaked-info, acquire their own weapons and execute the operation thinking that they themselves are doing it. Suicide bombing erases all the traces to the origin of the idea initiated by the agency. Previously the assassin used to be killed by another killer, immediately after the assassination, so that original planner can not be traced.

    On 27th Dec. 2007, this is exactly what happened when Benazir Bhutto was assassinated, and suicide bombing eliminated all traces to the original planner. However, 16 years ago, a very similar political assassination took place in neighboring country. On 21st May 1991, during an election rally, Rajiv Gandhi was murdered in a suicide bombing by a Tamil tigress, presumably acting on the route-security-lapse info provided by Pakistan’s ISI agents who had infiltrated LTTE cadres. Benazir Bhutto was the Prime Minister of Pakistan, at the time of Rajiv Gandhi’s murder. In a rare show of sympathy, Benazir visited Delhi after Rajiv’s assassination.

    The similarities between these two political assassinations are amazing, but has been pointed out by many others, as well. Benazir’s assassin must also have been provided the security-lapse info, most likely by an anti-Pakistan intelligence agency (read India’s RAW) which quite understandably, must have infiltrated jihadi elements in Pakistan & Afghanistan. The suicide bomber died thinking that he is doing it himself and for a “good cause”.

    So this assassination should be seen as a continuation of a chain of political eliminations. Several arguments may be given in favor of this hypothesis:

    1. A civilian Musharraf and charismatic Benazir would have outshined the counterpart duo in India.
    2. A stable Pakistan would be difficult to deal with in long over-due U.S. sponsored, internationally supervised talks on the solution of core Kashmir issue.
    3. Indians are infamous for female foeticide , and also for burning brides who do not bring enough dowry. Naturally, they are jealous of progress made by Pakistani women in Politics, Education and Medical fields.
    4. Above all, India has never recognized creation of Pakistan, and they will never miss any opportunity to undermine/harm Pakistan.

    Sonia Gandhi, herself might have many personally reasons to get this job done:

    5. More recently, to the displeasure of king-maker Sonia Gandhi, Benazir has been publicly talking about Rajiv Gandhi backtracking his promise to withdraw from Siachin glacier, thus inviting a widows venom.
    6. Then there is women’s jealousy, also. Benazir had left Sonia, far behind in rankings for world’s most influential women. Charismatic Benazir was so popular in India that in October 2007, Sonia’s hand-picked PM ManMohan Singh personally watched the news coverage of Benazir’s return from exile.
    7. Widow Sonia needed something to cheer up, after being ignored by world media and after being rejected by her own people (in Gujrat elections).

  • ‘Neglect of rising poverty against the background of religious extremism can only complicate an already difficult world situation. The war against terrorism is primarily perceived as a war based on the use of force. However, economics has its own force, as does the desperation of families who cannot feed themselves. Militancy and greed cannot become the defining images of a new century that began with much hope. We must refocus our energy on promoting the values of democracy, accountability, broad-based government, and institutions that can respond to people’s very real and very urgent needs.’ Bullets destroyed the voice that spoke these words, the heart which gave them passion and the mind that inspired others to address these challenges. When present grief and anger have subsided Benazir Bhutto’s resolutions will survive.

  • shahid jamali

    Before we condem the assasination of BB , we should not forget that there was a deal between the Governemtnand PPP, very few know about the deal, but it looks like that some powerful personalities i governemtn didi not like the deal, specailly PML-Q leadership was not happy over the deal, their cocerns were genuine, after working and enjoying the power for the last eight years, they do not want to share the power, specilly after the incident of lal masjid, it was the external pressure to eleiminate the present setup and government was forced to enter into a new deal with PPP. PML-Q’s first choice was NS but some how he was also not acceptable to the western world due to thier links with Rai wind and Islamists elements. Now the picture is clear, the inicident would not favoured te government directly but indirect beneficiaries will be on seen very soon.

  • shahid jamali

    The most popular leader and Chairperson of the Peoples Party fell victim to the murderous and cowardly act of terrorism. One can cite many examples of the courage and determination of the fallen leader and the domestic and international media is not lacking in enumerating her qualities of courage and intelligence, democratic credentials, popularity, charistma, farsightedness and bravery in the face of adversity, love for her people and country, her abhorrence of and determination to root out terrorism and her rightful understanding that terrorist supporters still exit in the Establishment and political circles of the country. Her place in history will be written with golden words and she would be remembered and hounoured by generations to come. I understand that she should out rightly be declared as National Martyr to be officially remembered and her martyrdom should be officially observed with somber holiday every year. Let this Day of Grief and Despondency be turned into an opportunity to realise the dreams of the departed soul. Terrorism is the main enemy. Let it be rooted out first from within the Establishment and then go after the hotbed of the problem. This terrorism cannot be fought on the traditional grounds by using the armed forces. The nation and the decision-makers have to decide to fight terrorism on its own ground and on the same methods adopted by it. Terrorism has to be balanced by terrorism. No customary traditional and state security apparatus can fight it out with the methods they are trained in. New approach is needed to combat it. Let us pray for the soul of the brave lady who laid her life for her people and country. Let her death guide to adopt right decisions.

  • shahid jamali

    The shorthand being bandied about in the news that al-Qaeda is responsible for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto is so sloppy, so lacking in nuance or understanding of the dynamics of Pakistan, and so self-centered in its reference to America’s enemy as to be almost laughable. Several U.S. defense and intelligence experts are quoted today dismissing even the possibility that President Pervez Musharraf, Pakistani government forces, or other domestic elements could be involved, a conclusion that flies in the face of the country’s history and ignores the obvious beneficiaries. Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, commander of U.S. Central Command during the Clinton administration, told The Washington Post that there is “no doubt in my mind” that the murderers are linked to al-Qaeda. In an interview with Time magazine, he elaborated: “[T]hey’re the only ones who gain from this…. I really think they’re trying to ignite Pakistan into the kind of chaos they need to survive.” Former CIA official and National Security Council staffer Bruce Riedel, now at the Brookings Institution, is spouting the same theory, telling Newsweek that the assassination was “almost certainly the work of Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda’s Pakistani allies…Their objective is to destabilize the Pakistani state, to break up the secular political parties, to break up the army so that Pakistan becomes a politically failing state in which the Islamists in time can come to power much as they have in other failing states.” To be sure, al-Qaeda has found sanctuary in Pakistan since its founding in 1988. Key al-Qaeda lieutenants such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the Sept. 11 organizer, have operated from there. Before Sept. 11, Pakistan was a source of recruits and financing and technical support for al-Qaeda. And since Sept. 11, “al Qaeda” has been tied to various attempts to kill President Musharraf and to attacks on Pakistani Army and intelligence facilities – attacks that have increased in frequency and consequence since the central government sought to control the lawless border region. The thinking is that al-Qaeda has been trying to preserve its freedom of operations and to build relations with like-minded affiliates and Pakistani jihadis. That said, al-Qaeda — at least the movement led by and associated with Osama bin Laden — is in terms of power and importance at the bottom of a long list of anti-democratic factions in Pakistan, including malcontents in the active and retired military, renegade intelligence and secret service elements, Islamic political parties, extremist Sunni movements, indigenous terrorist organizations and Afghan and Pakistani “Taliban” movements. To say that “al-Qaeda” is responsible for Bhutto’s assassination — suggesting Osama bin Laden and an external force — is to ignore all those political and religious factions inside the country that had the motives and resources to kill the former prime minister. Some of those factions in the government, the military or the intelligence services were likely privy to Bhutto’s movements, and they could have actively schemed, if not played a direct role, in getting the suicide attacker to the right place at the right time. Musharraf, of course, will say that he “warned” Bhutto of the dangers. Though, given that Bhutto’s father, another former prime minister, was hanged by a military dictatorship and her two brothers were killed under suspicious circumstances, she no doubt already understood the landscape of domestic threats. Meanwhile, U.S. intelligence officials are trying to verify the claim, via an Italian website, that al-Qaeda was behind the killing. Mustafa Abu al Yazid, al-Qaeda’s commander in Afghanistan, allegedly told a reporter: “We have terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat [the] mujahedin.” The website reported that the call to assassinate Bhutto came from al-Qaeda’s second-in-command, Ayman Zawahiri. This claim of responsibility is highly suspect. And, if al-Qaeda were involved at all, it’s less likely to have dictated decisions than to have been used by domestic factions pursuing their own power objectives. Those factions almost universally have an interest in labeling all lawlessness and terrorism “al Qaeda” activity. Given Pakistan’s history, it is unlikely that the true perpetrators will ever be brought to justice. For the United States though, the al-Qaeda bogey-man has the negative effect of affirming support for Musharraf and his martial law, while ignoring the various extremists who represent the true existential threat to the country. We should not let our al-Qaeda fixation blind us, just as the Soviet threat did in Iran in the 1970s, to the realities that Pakistan could implode of its own accord.

  • shahid jamali

    I strongly condemned the Killing of Chairperson of Pakistan Peoples Party Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. The Innocent Benazir Bhutto was assassinated by a cruel terrorist. It is target killing. It is the great National Loss. Benazir Bhutto was a symbol of Democracy in Pakistan. Her killing is the Killing of Democracy in Pakistan. She was a great daughter of a great Father. She was one of the great Politician of the world. She sacrificed her life for the Nation and democracy. The United Nation should Investigate the killing of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto because free and fair investigation is impossible under Dictatorship of President Prevez Musharraf. May Allah bless and rest the departed soul in eternal peace. May Allah grant courage to her Family and Pakistan Peoples Party Workers

  • Rhoda Luczon

    The killing of Benazir Bhutto makes Prevez Musharraf look like a fool. Is he aware that a lack of security for the candidates running against him makes him a tool for any violent act by the other candidates enemies? He has himself to blame for the forment in his country today, but doubtless, he believes the rest of the world believes he is blameless.

  • Hey guys, aren’t you all covering Sri Lanka? All the recent posts in the South Asia section are Pakistan related. However there has been lot happening here in my country. There was a bomb yesterday in Colombo near the Nippon hotel in a central business district. And then daybefore a Tamil Parliment MP (one of the few Tamil MP’s in the major parties) was gun down in when he was attending new year ceremonies in a Hindu Kovil. Shocking!

    A week ago a Sri Lankan minister of Labour affairs stormed the national TV and attacked the news director because he saying he was not shown attending a ceremony the day before. These were shocking headlines here. First time such an incident had happened in Sri Lanka.

    Sri Lankan bloggers at kottu.org have covered this all in detail with their views.

  • Planet Apex: We do cover the entire region, unfortunately, we don’t have an active contributor from Sri Lanka – hence it takes a little time for us to link to these posts. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

  • I think this assacination should bring attention to the lack of security provided by Mussarraf. The videos posting the government destroying evidence by hosing down the entire crime scene. The assacination is a tragedy, but the lack of investigation following it is just devestating due to the delibrate acts of the government.

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