I cannot say I was shocked at the news of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination yesterday, after all it was only on October 18th that a suicide bomber failed in an attempt to assassinate her whilst killing 134 of her followers. But I was outraged. Here was an intelligent, beautiful woman of enormous courage and commitment, attempting to become the leader of her nation for the third time through the democratic process. Her earlier leadership record is heavily flawed but that cannot justify such a terrible taking of her life, like her father and brothers before her. There is something inevitably tragic about these political dynasties like the Bhuttos, the Gandhis and the Kennedys.
And what now for Pakistan? Heaven only knows. I heard various people being blamed for her killing on the radio and in the press this morning – religious fundamentalists, pro-Taliban militants, factions within the military, political extremists, elements close to President Musharref himself, even the CIA, on the grounds, incredibly, that the USA would welcome an even more de-stabilised Pakistan. One article even suggested Bhutto herself may have ‘engineered’ the assassination attempts to build sympathy and backing for her cause. I think we can discount that line of thinking now. Two things are pretty sure a) the assassins will almost certainly never be identified and b) Pakistan is probably now the most dangerous country on earth and Governments in the West are powerless to do anything other than watch and hope that some form of stability materialises.