27 December 2007

Benazir Bhutto Assassinated.......

Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated near the capital, Islamabad, today, just two months after the former premier returned from exile for a political comeback. Witnesses said Ms. Bhutto was fired upon at close range and further injured by the explosion.

Benazir Bhutto, a two-time former prime minister, had just addressed a campaign rally for next month's parliamentary elections when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the venue, killing her and at least 10 other people. There were unconfirmed reports that the attacker had also opened fire on her with a weapon before the explosion.

Bhutto, educated at Oxford and Harvard, became the first female prime minister of a Muslim country when she took the helm in Pakistan in 1988 at the age of 35. Her father, also a Pakistani prime minister, was also hanged, in 1979. She served a total of six years in office before being dismissed in 1996 amid widespread charges of corruption against herself and her husband. Since then she has lived abroad.

Recalling how she stood by his father's grave, Benazir Bhutto once wrote: "At that moment I pledged to myself that I would not rest until democracy had returned to Pakistan." She had repeatedly accused President Musharraf of being dictator and had been campaigning with fierce criticisms of what she said was his autocratic rule, vowing her Pakistan People's Party would deliver democracy.

In early 2007, her associates said that talks had begun with the country's current ruler, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, for a power-sharing arrangement after presidential elections in October.

The killing will deepen the political crisis in Pakistan, where Islamic militants have vowed to disrupt the vote and Musharraf's opponents -- including Bhutto -- accused him of planning to rig the result.

"Innalillahi wa inna ilaihi raji'un"

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