MPAC CONDEMNS ASSASSINATION OF EX-PM BHUTTO
(Washington, DC - 12/27/07) - Earlier today, Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in a suicide attack, after addressing an election rally in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. MPAC condemns this and all acts of terrorism, and calls upon the Pakistani government to take all measures to halt the violence that has already occurred as a result of Bhutto’s death.
SEE: “Bhutto Assassinated in Attack on Rally” (New York Times, 12/27/07)
Bhutto’s recent return from self-imposed exile was a symbol of the Pakistani people’s aspirations for democratic reform. Coming just days after President Pervez Musharraf lifted a state of emergency, the attack is the latest blow to Pakistan’s treacherous political situation.
“The assassination of Ms. Bhutto - the first woman prime minister of a Muslim country - is a terrible blow to Muslims worldwide who seek democracy, freedom and peace. We hope the Pakistani government will identify and bring to justice those behind such a criminal act and restore tranquility to the country,” said MPAC Communications Director Edina Lekovic. “We should all use this tragic moment as an opportunity to reflect upon how we can help eradicate the irrationality of violence and defy the culture of destruction.”
It is not clear whether Bhutto died from wounds suffered from shrapnel or from gunshots fired at her moments before the bomb detonated. At least 22 other people died in the attack and several more were injured. As details surrounding Bhutto’s assassination continue to unfold, it is evident that her death is the result of ideologically-based violence. The attack came just hours after four supporters of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif died when members of another political party opened fire on them at a rally near the Islamabad airport Thursday. Several other members of Sharif’s party were wounded.
Protests erupted in other cities as news of the assassination spread with unconfirmed reports of several deaths in clashes between demonstrators and security forces. Police warned citizens to stay home as they expected rioting to break out in city streets in reaction to the death.
Questions have arisen about whether parliamentary elections scheduled for January 8 will take place as scheduled. The democratic aspirations of the people of Pakistan—who have turned out repeatedly in massive public demonstrations to call for free and open elections, freedom and security—should not be hindered by the actions of murderous criminals.
Pakistan has been identified as a strategic ally for the United States, but also serves as a rising model for democracy within the Muslim world. In light of Bhutto’s assassination, however, serious questions must be raised about the effectiveness of the current U.S. strategy to combat terrorism and whether its diligent efforts to promote democracies abroad have been successful in transforming attitudes and practices on the ground.
To ensure that democracy and democratic principles become organic to countries that desire genuine social and political reformation, the United States and its allies must defend those leaders who are committed to transparent and responsive governance with its people and with its neighbors around the world.
Founded in 1988, the Muslim Public Affairs Council is an American institution which informs and shapes public opinion and policy by serving as a trusted resource to decision makers in government, media and policy institutions. MPAC is also committed to developing leaders with the purpose of enhancing the political and civic participation of Muslim Americans.