Benazir Bhutto was assassinated today in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, shot by a gunman who then blew himself up, killing at least a dozen others. The political assassination is sure to cause more problems for Pakistani strongman Pervez Musharraf, and for President George W. Bush, who has been accused of failing to develop a policy on Pakistan, but supporting Musharraf no matter what his abuses.
Witnesses told news services that a gunman shot Bhutto from close range in the neck and chest as she was leaving the rally. The shooter then blew himself up.
Musharraf blamed the attack on Islamic militants, a claim sure to be questioned in Pakistan, where Bhutto, leader of the Pakistan People’s Party, was considered the only politician capable of challenging Musharraf or his creatures at the polls.
Bush has been accused of throwing billions of dollars at Musharraf in exchange for empty promises that Pakistan would help track down Osama bin Laden and other members of al Qaeda, and fight Taliban members and other Islamic radicals in Pakistan.
On Wednesday, Bush signed legislation tying $50 million of the latest $300 million in U.S. aid to Pakistan’s promises to implement political reforms. Those reforms, and the parliamentary elections scheduled to take place in 13 days, are now even more in doubt.
Bhutto’s father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a president and prime minister of Pakistan, was executed in 1979 after a military coup by Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq.
Zia died in a suspicious plane crash in 1988.
The death of Benazir Bhutto, twice Pakistan’s prime minister, leaves her party without a leader two weeks before the scheduled parliamentary elections. She was killed at a political rally in a park at about 6:15 p.m.
News services reported that furious protesters then chanted, “Musharraf dog.”