In the short time it took for me to run out to the store and get back, thirty people were killed and one unarmed woman was shot dead. Benazir Bhutto, former Prime Minister of Pakistan and a leading candidate in the upcoming polls, was assassinated by an unknown gunman as she left a rally in the city of Rawalpindi.
Bhutto’s husband Asif Ali Zardari and political rival/democratic ally Nawaz Sharif have both blamed the Government – and by extension President Pervez Musharraf – for her murder. Questions are being raised about the breach in her security that allowed the gunman to approach her vehicle, especially when she’d barely escaped a suicide attack mere months before.
Al Qaeda has since claimed “credit“.
Bhutto was shot multiple times to the chest, neck and head area as she emerged from the sun roof of her SUV. She was taken to the hospital where the doctors worked on her unconscious body for over half an hour before declaring her dead.
She is the fourth member of her family to die under tragic circumstances – her father Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was hanged by Zia ul Haq, a military dictator; her brother Shahnawaz died mysteriously, perhaps of a drug overdose; and her surviving brother Murtaza was also shot dead outside his house – on the orders of Benazir herself and her husband, allege several family members including his widow.
She is survived by her husband and three children. Benazir Bhutto was 54 years old.
There are many questions facing Pakistan at this moment but in the wake of this assassination and the recently announced ban on Nawaz Sharif contesting the polls, the most obvious and prosaic one is – who will be Prime Minister in January? Shaukat Aziz says he will not run, Sharif can’t, Benazir is dead – who’s left?