Thursday, December 27, 2007
Benazir Bhutto assasinated, fighting rages as cities burn in Pakistan
This past year, our ally Pakistan has been faced with unprecedented violence against civilian and military targets. Sadly, it has only gotten worse. Last week, United World reported the story of the tragic mosque massacre in Pakistan's Northwest in which some 60 innocent Muslim worshippers were killed. In October, terrorists targeted Former Prime Minister and pro-democracy icon Benazir Bhutto as she made her return to her home country. The attackers failed and only succeeded in murdering well over 100 of their fellow Muslims. Today, however, Benazir and over 20 of her supporters were killed in a shooting/suicide bomb attack at a rally in the city of Rawalpindi. The Pakistan Dawn reports:
"RAWALPINDI, Pakistan, Dec 27 (Reuters) - Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was killed in a gun and bomb attack after an election rally in the city of Rawalpindi on Thursday. Police said a suicide bomber fired shots at Bhutto as she was leaving the rally venue in a park before blowing himself up. “The man first fired at Bhutto's vehicle. She ducked and then he blew himself up,” said police officer Mohammad Shahid. Police said 16 other people had been killed in the blast, but tv channels said at 20 persons were killed.“ A Reuters witness at the scene of the attack said he had heard two shots moments before the blast. Another Reuters witness saw bodies and a mutilated human head strewn on a road outside the park where she held her rally. People cried and hugged each other outside the hospital where she died and residents of Karachi, Bhutto's home town, said they had heard gun shots after news of Bhutto's death spread, apparently from her enraged supporters. (Posted @ 19:26 PST)"
As was mentioned earlier, Pakistan has been rocked by some of the most horrific terrorist violence in its history this year. Bomb attacks have taken a toll on the civilian population in just about every major city in the country, while the military has been battling pro-Taliban forces in the remote mountains along the border with Afghanistan. President Pervez Musharraf has been repeatedly targeted by Al-Qaeda-linked militants, as well as some of his government ministers. The unfortunate reality is that the situation in Pakistan has been poorly covered in the news, where many media figures are more focused on Iraq than anything else. Once again, we are reminded of the threat posed by terrorism in every corner of the globe.
President Bush has strongly condemned the assassination, while leaders in Europe, Russia, and the Middle East have done the same. Even Iran, a country embroiled in a nuclear standoff with the west and a Shiite rival of Pakistan's Sunni majority, has condemned the attack. Musharraf has declared three days of national mourning and the Pakistani flag is flying at half-staff at the embassy in Washington D.C. Presidential candidates, including John Edwards, Barack Obama, and Mike Huckabee, stand united in denouncing such a reprehensible act of terrorism. Benazir's supporters, however, have taken to the streets and begun rioting.
"Angry supporters of slain opposition leader Benazir Bhutto took to the streets of Pakistani cities on Thursday, from the Himalayas to the southern coast. The unrest was predictably fiercest in Bhutto's native Sindh province and its capital, Karachi. “Police in Sindh have been put on red alert,” said a senior police official. “We have increased deployment and are patrolling in all the towns and cities, as there is trouble almost everywhere,” he said. Reports said security was deteriorating in Karachi, where thousands poured on to the streets to protest. At least three banks, a government office and a post office were set on fire, a witness said. Tyres were set on fire on many roads, and shooting and stone-throwing was reported in many places. Most shops and markets in the city shut down. At least 20 vehicles were torched in Sindh’s second biggest town of Hyderabad. There were also small protests in Rawalpindi and the nearby capital, Islamabad. Protesters blocked roads with burning tyres and chanted anti-Musharraf slogans in Muzaffarabad, capital of Azad Kashmir. Police said they had been ordered to block the main road between Punjab province and Sindh province, apparently to stop the movement of protesters. Disturbances were also reported in the southeastern city of Multan, although details were sketchy. In Lahore, capital of Punjab province, Bhutto party workers burnt three buses and damaged several other vehicles, police said. (Posted @ 22:38 PST)"
My opinion on this...
I was watching the news the morning and heard a guest on the Fox News Channel suggest the Pakistani government could have been behind the killing of Bhutto. Conspiracy theories are sure to be flying all over the left-wing blogs. Such theories are obviously coming from someone who knows very little about Pakistan or Islamic terrorism. To those people, I ask you...was Musharraf behind the bombing that targeted one of his ministers last week in the Charsadda Mosque? Was he behind the attack that nearly took his own life in 2003, when car bombs targeted his passing motorcade? Or what about the October attack where a bomber attempted to slip into his office but killed seven people instead? There is no doubt in my mind that Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and their allies are doing everything possible to destabilize the country and inflict suffering on all those who refuse to submit to their extreme ideology. Once again, the victims of today's attack were all Muslims, including Benazir Bhutto. She fought hard for democracy and stability for the people of her country only to be wiped out by a homicidal maniac determined to bring all of that down. It's safe to say that these murderers are not Muslims, just as Benazir said back in October, a day before coordinated blasts targeted her homecoming rally. Surely the gates of hell, if there is such a place, will swing wide open to welcome the "martyrdom seeking" fanatic who fired the bullets and set off the explosion at the pro-democracy rally today.
The situation is sure to only get worse, with all sides in Pakistan calling for the upcoming elections to be canceled. At this point in time, all we can do is pray for peace and hope that Musharraf can stabilize the country before it falls into total anarchy.