Former Pakistani Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated today at a political rally in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Bhutto had returned to Pakistan only two months ago from exile, stirring debate and increased unrest in an already tumultuous Pakistan. At her October 18th homecoming reception in the port city of Karachi, bombing attacks killed 140 people, but Bhutto was not harmed.
Bhutto, 54, was shot at close range as she waved to the crowd from an opening in the roof of her car. A few seconds later, a suicide bomber blew himself up killing 20 people in the crowd.
Bhutto’s death comes 12 days before Pakistanis are set to vote in national parliamentary elections, which have already been marked by enormous political turmoil. Bhutto was running for Parliament, and her Pakistan Peoples Party was expected to win enough seats for her to become prime minister.
At a different pre-election rally on Thursday, a rooftop sniper opened fire on supporters of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif leaving four dead and at least five injured. Sharif, also a former prime minister, went to the hospital where Bhutto had died to pay his respects.
President Musharraf has already begun talking about postponing the January elections, something he tried just last month when he suspended the Constitution. He met with such resistance that he changed his mind.
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.
Pakistan is a nation with nuclear weapons, a power hungry president, and terrorist factions – a recipe for disaster. While we have spent the past five years embroiled in Iraq, Pakistan has become more and more volatile.
Perhaps now President Bush will pull his head out of the Iraqi sand and think about the rest of the world.