Benazir Bhutto assassinated

Benazir Bhutto, photographer Douglas E Curran for Getty Images
Benazir Bhutto in front of a poster of her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, after she won first parliamentary elections in 1988.
Douglas E. Curran/Agence France-Presse – Getty Images

It is with tremendous sadness that I write this post.

The Associated Press reports from Rawalpindi, Pakistan that —

Opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated Thursday [Dec 27, 2007] in a suicide bombing that killed at least 20 others at a campaign rally.

The death of the charismatic former prime minister threw the campaign for the Jan. 8 election into chaos and created fears of mass protests and an eruption of violence across the volatile south Asian nation, which has nuclear weapons and a support base for Muslim extremists.

Bhutto’s supporters erupted in anger and grief after her death, attacking police and burning tires and election campaign posters in several cities. At the hospital where she died, some smashed glass and wailed, chanting slogans against Musharraf.

“At 6:16 p.m. she expired,” said Wasif Ali Khan, a member of Bhutto’s party who was at Rawalpindi General Hospital where she was taken after the attack.

“She has been martyred,” added party official Rehman Malik. Bhutto was 54.

A party security adviser said Bhutto was shot in the neck and chest as she got into her vehicle, then the gunman blew himself up. No group has claimed responsibility.

An Associated Press reporter at the scene of the bombing could see body parts and flesh scattered at the back gate of the park where Bhutto had spoken. He counted about 20 bodies, including police, and could see many other wounded people.

The road outside was stained with blood. People screamed for ambulances. Others gave water to the wounded lying in the street.

The clothing of some of the victims was shredded and people put party flags over their bodies.

Security had been tight, with hundreds of riot police manning security checkpoints with metal detectors around what was Bhutto’s first campaign rally since returning from exile two months ago.

When events like this happen, this is when I particularly miss having an anchor like Dan Rather tell me the story. Looking around the various networks all I saw were pretty boy — and girl — newsreaders who have no problem reading a 20 or 30 second segment on the tragic death of this charismatic and history making woman, then smiling sweetly while they launch into a much longer piece on how Paris is losing out on some of the Hilton fortune.

For those of you who have no idea who Benazir Bhutto is, for starters she was Pakistan’s first female prime minister and the Muslim world’s first female government leader.

The New York Times tell us:

A woman of grand ambitions with a taste for complex political maneuvering, Ms. Bhutto was first elected prime minister in 1988 at the age of 35. The daughter of one of Pakistan’s most flamboyant and democratically inclined prime ministers, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, she inherited from him the mantle of the populist People’s Party, which she came to personify.

Even from exile, her leadership was virtually unchallenged and she staged a dramatic return to her home city of Karachi, drawing hundreds of thousands of supporters to an 11-hour rally and leading a series of political demonstrations in opposition to the country’s military leader, President Pervez Musharraf.

I checked out my recordings, and to my delight still have the Dan Rather Reports program wherein he interviews Benazir Bhutto. I will console myself with that, and leave the shallow ‘anchors’ to the Paris watchers.

Sources: Associated Press, Dan Rather Reports, New York Times

UPDATE: HDNet will air “A Prime Minister in Exile,” Dan Rather’s interview of Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, Friday, December 28 at 6:00 p.m. ET. Additional airings are scheduled for Saturday, December 29 and Sunday, December 30 at 9:00 a.m. ET.

The interview was originally broadcast in August of this year, just before Bhutto returned to Pakistan after a period of self-exile.

The updated version will include a new introduction by Rather including commentary about Bhutto’s recent assassination.

In the original interview, Bhutto gave Rather rare insights into the political maneuvering that may be shaping Pakistan’s future.

The U.S. government had reportedly been working behind the scenes to facilitate a power sharing agreement between Bhutto and Musharraf as a means of legitimizing the regime of America’s close ally in the war on terror.

Source: HDNet News Release

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