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Thu Dec 27 2007 (Updated 01/01/08)
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto Assassinated
Benazir Bhutto, 1953-2007
Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on December 27th, in a combined suicide bomb attack and shooting during a political rally of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). Hundreds and thousands of Pakistanis attended her funeral and riots erupted as news of her assassination spread across the country. The US backed Pakistani dictator, Pervez Musharraf, has blamed Islamic militants for carrying out the assassination but several associates of Bhutto have accused Musharraf himself of having a role. In a sign of possible government involvement, an attorney for the physicians who put out the official story that Ms. Bhutto died of a concussion went to CNN on December 31st and said that his clients were pressured by the military to report that Bhutto had not died from gun shot wounds.

Benazir Bhutto's father Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was the founder of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and served as the President of Pakistan from 1971 to 1973 and as Prime Minister from 1973 to 1977. He was left leaning and the official party creed for the PPP was: "Islam is our faith; democracy is our politics; socialism is our economy; all power to the people.". On July 5th, 1977, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and members of his cabinet were arrested by troops under the order of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was sentenced to death and executed on April 4th, 1979. General Zia-ul-Haq was one of the main recipients of US aid during the US war with the USSR in Afghanistan (as glorified in the recent book and movie "Charlie Wilson's War").

Benazir Bhutto found herself placed under house arrest in the wake of her father's imprisonment and subsequent execution. Having been allowed in 1984 to return to the United Kingdom, she became a leader in exile of the PPP. On November 16th, 1988, Bhutto's PPP won the largest bloc of seats in the National Assembly, in the first open election in more than a decade. Bhutto was sworn in as Prime Minister of a coalition government on December 2nd, becoming at age 35 the youngest person and the first woman to head the government of a Muslim-majority state in modern times. While the PPP under her father had some Socialist leanings, Benazir Bhutto was seen by many as only representing the political and economic elites. Her role in the PPP was also less than democratic with her position being that of "life chairperson".

Bhutto's government was dismissed in 1990 following charges of corruption, for which she never was tried. Zia's protégé Nawaz Sharif subsequently came to power. Bhutto was re-elected in 1993 but was dismissed three years later amid various corruption scandals by then president Farooq Leghari. It was during Bhutto's rule that the Taliban gained prominence in Afghanistan. She, like many leaders at the time, viewed the Taliban as a group that could stabilize Afghanistan and enable trade access to the Central Asian republics. In 2006, Interpol issued a request for arrest of Bhutto and her husband on Pakistani corruption charges.

In October 1999, General Pervez Musharraf, Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistani army launched a coup to topple Nawaz Sharif. Musharraf started as a strong supporter of the Taliban in Afghanistan but turned against them and became a close ally of George Bush after 9/11/2001.

In July 2007, some of Bhutto's frozen funds were released. In an August 8th interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Bhutto revealed the meeting focused on her desire to return to Pakistan for the 2008 elections, and of Musharraf retaining the Presidency with Bhutto as Prime Minister. On October 5th, Musharraf signed the National Reconciliation Ordinance, giving amnesty to Bhutto and other political leaders—except exiled former premier Nawaz Sharif—in all court cases against them. The Ordinance came a day before Musharraf faced a crucial presidential poll. In return, Bhutto and the PPP agreed not to boycott the Presidential election.

Bhutto returned to Karachi on October 18th 2007 to prepare for the 2008 national elections. En route to a rally in Karachi , two explosions occurred. Bhutto was not injured but the explosions killed 136 people and injured at least 450. Bhutto's husband categorically refused to accept that the suicide bombing was an attack by Al Qaeda or the Taliban. Pakistani Taliban leader Mehsud denied responsibility and Jamaat Islami, an opponent of Bhutto, announced a three days mourning period for the dead, thus lending credibility to Bhutto's claims that the attack was engineered by close associates in the government of General Musharraf.

Leading up to the 2007 presidential elections, the Election Commissioner approved Musharraf as a candidate for re-election. One of his opponents, retired Supreme Court justice Wajihuddin Ahmed, challenged the ruling in the Supreme Court. Responding to the challenge, the Supreme Court allowed the election to go forward on schedule but barred the Election Commission from officially declaring a winner until it made its final decision. Before the court could reach a decision, Musharraf declared a state of emergency on November 3rd, and issued a Provisional Constitutional Order which replaced the country's constitution as well as all Supreme Court justicies not willing to take an oath to abide by the new Constitution. On November 8th, Bhutto was placed under house arrest just a few hours before she was due to lead and address a rally against the state of emergency.

On the day she was assassinated, Benazir Bhutto had planned to reveal what she claimed was damning evidence that revealed the involvement of Pakistani intelligence in a plan to rig the country's upcoming elections. Colleagues of Ms Bhutto have revealed she was due to meet visiting US politicians to hand over a report compiled by the PPP into an operation to fix polls in favor of Musharraf.

Following Mrs. Bhutto's death, Musharraf ordered the military and other security forces to take whatever measures were necessary to quell rioting. Musharraf directed that persons involved in rioting be charged under Pakistan’s notorious Anti-Terrorism Act. Rioters have targeted business and symbols of the government, including government buildings, police posts, railway stations and election commission offices, as well as the offices and homes of politicians associated with the Pakistan Muslim League (Q), the military-sponsored, pro-Musharraf party.

Following Benazir Bhutto's death, her 19-year-old son Bilawal is set to take over the PPP with his father, Asif Ali Zardari, as co-chairman. Bilawal is six years too young to run for parliament. Zardari, spent eight years in prison on corruption charges and is alleged to have made over a billion dollars through extortion and kick-backs on government contracts while Benazir Bhutto was Prime Minister.

Wikipedia: Benazir Bhutto | Government covers up the crime - masses demand action against conspirators | Bhutto had 'proof' of plan to rig election | Musharraf's Watergate? Physicians Coerced by Military | Violent state repression of protests over Bhutto assassination | Urdu Press Roundup on Reaction to Benazir Bhutto Assassination | Pakistan Riots Continue | Gridlock Gripped Karachi After Bhutto's Slaying | Riots, Rallies Continue in Pakistan on Friday | Cars, Banks, Gas Stations Torched | Victim of an often deadly process of change | imc_audio.gif Democracy Now: Pakistan in Turmoil | A Sad Farewell | imc_audio.gif Democracy Now: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benezir Bhutto Assassinated | Who Killed Bhutto? | Juan Cole: Pakistan's 2007 Crises Come to a Crescendo | The Assassination of Benazir Bhutto | The fall of a corrupt puppet | The Assassination

Past Coverage Of Bhutto:
Bhutto Calls for Musharraf to Step down. Put under House Arrest | Bhutto placed under 'house arrest' | Musharraf Places Benazir Under House Arrest | Bhutto Threatens More Protests Against Musharraf | Savior Bhutto in Solo Political Show | Tariq Ali: A Massacre Foretold | Bhutto implicates Pakistan's military-security establishment in assassination attempt | Bomb blasts hit Bhutto's return to Pakistan | Horse Trading: Benazir Bhutto will not be prosecuted for corruption | Informed Comment: The Bhutto Complex | Pakistan Could See Power-Sharing Agreement

Past Coverage Of Pakistani Elections:
Pakistan Elections Insignificant: Analysts | Pakistan government under attack | Pakistan's opposition parties capitulate to Musharraf and Bush | Pakistani Press on Sharif's Return | Pak Opposition Rethinks Poll Boycott | Pak Opposition Divided on Polls | Pak Opposition Decries Farce Polls | Pakistan Elections By Jan. 9. | Insisting on Elections in Pakistan is Not Enough | Deepening political crisis in Pakistan | The Choice in Pakistan is Democracy or Talibanization | Human Rights Watch: Musharraf Should Accept Ruling on Re-Election | Pakistan awaits key court decision | Pakistan detains opposition leaders | Musharraf regime seeks to stave off collapse | Sharif Detained, Deported to Riyadh | Defiant Sharif to Return Home | Pakistan's wildcard justice

Emergency Rule In Pakistan:
Pakistan "retires" dissident judges | "Civilian Rule" | Musharraf…From General To Mr | Imran begins hunger strike to seek return of judiciary | Dubai Should End Shutdown of Pakistani Channels | Crackdown On the Press | Satellite Channels, Blogs, Criticize Musharraf | Pakistani Member of Parliament Arrested | Musharraf Uses Anti-Terror Laws to Jail Critics | Decree Allowing Military Trials of Civilians | Pakistani regime continues crackdown on opponents | imc_audio.gif Democracy Now: Under House Arrest, Asma Jahangir Speaks Out | Labor Militants, Socialists Shield Marxist Member of Parliment from Arrest | Are Musharraf's Days Over? | A View From the Pakistani Left | Catch-22 for a Pakistani-American | Pakistan Dictatorship Pledges to End Emergency | imc_calendar.gif Bay Area: Protest U.S. Support for Martial Law in Pakistan | Human Rights Watch: Release Judges, Lawyers and Activists From Arbitrary Detention | imc_audio.gif Democracy Now: Thousands Arrested in Pakistan Defying Musharraf’s Crackdown | Protest Repression Against Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign | Human Rights Watch: End Emergency Rule and Restore Constitution | Informed Comment: The General Speaks | Musharraf imposes emergency rule | Juan Cole: Live Blogging State of Emergency in Pakistan | Musharraf regime reiterates martial law threat US-sponsored deal with Bhutto begins to unravel | imc_audio.gif Mumia: The 'democracy' of boots, bullets, and brutality | Musharraf's last straw

Unrest In Pakistan:
Dozens dead in Pakistan attack | The Charsadda Bombing in Pakistan | Bomber strikes Pakistan army post | Suicide bombs rock Pakistani city | Bomber attacks Pakistan school bus | Pakistan's Taliban Militants Make New Inroads | Pakistan emergency 'aiding Taliban' | Pakistan police stations seized | Deadly blast near Pakistan army HQ | Karachi Bombing: Afghanistan and Pakistan Are a Single Front | imc_audio.gif Democracy Now: Tariq Ali on Pakistan, Afghanistan, ... | Civilians killed in Pakistan battle | Battles rage on Pakistan border | Under fire | Bodies of Pakistani troops found | Afghan captors free Pakistani troops | Deaths as bombings rock Pakistan

The Role Of The US:
US presidential candidates pledge support to Pakistani dictator | Bush administration rushes to defense of Musharraf | Bhutto, Bush And Musharraf | Pakistan People's Party shocked over squandering of US aid | Assassination Has CIA Written All Over It | Bhutto assassination heightens threat of US intervention in Pakistan | Bush's Pakistan Policy in Tatters | US to Expand Military Bases in Pakistan | US Officials See Waste in Billions Sent to Pakistan | Pak used US anti-terror aid against India | US Deploys Pakistani Insurgents against Al-Qaeda | Bush Slammed for Opposing Nawaz | Bush applauds Musharraf as he makes himself Pakistan's President till 2012 | US steps up plans for military intervention in Pakistan | US envoy lauds Pakistani dictator's "democratic vision" | From Musharraf to Mubarak - America's Sad Choices | Bush reaffirms support for Musharraf as Pakistani dictator intensifies military repression | Our Man in Islamabad | Memo to Media: Supporting Musharraf is NOT Realism | US vows continued aid to Musharraf | Urdu Press Blames US for Crisis in Pakistan | imc_audio.gif Democracy Now: Musharraf Gets U.S. Backing for Crackdown Just Days Before Court Decision on Case Challenging His Rule

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