At least 132 people were killed and hundreds injured late on Thursday night as suspected suicide bombers targeted former prime minister Benazir Bhutto on her return from eight years in self-imposed exile.
Two explosions went off a minute apart shortly after midnight near Karsaz close to the vehicle Ms Bhutto was travelling in, at the head of a procession of hundreds of thousands of Pakistan Peopleâ€™s Party (PPP) supporters who had flooded the streets of Karachi to welcome the return of their leader. The attack bore the hallmarks of Al Qaeda and resembled assassination attempts by militants linked to the terrorist network on President General Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz in recent years.
PP contributor Fe’reeha sent me this yesterday (before the attack happened):
In recent months Benazirâ€™s political conduct has been fiercely criticised by sceptics with even senior members of a party like Aitzaz Ahsan showing disappointment at PPâ€™s apparent unison with military government of President Musharraf.
An oxford graduate and the first ever woman to become PM of a Muslim country, Ms Bhutto holds all the right moderate credentials which have made her the darling of the western world. Her open support for the US War on Terror and condemnation of the Taliban, topped with her new found vocal condemnation of Dr Qadir of Pakistan, has made her just what the (US) doctor ordered.
Another fear was that President Musharraf, who had vowed to cleanse Pakistan of all corrupt Pakistani politicians when he came to power in 1999 after a bloodless coup, had become so unpopular that any deal with him would tarnish PPP’s public image. Moreover, some have said Bhutto’s deal with the government betrays the PPP’s history of fighting military rule.
Yet the outpouring of emotion on the streets yesterday at her return cannot be easily ignored. At best it portrays the support PPP would always hold despite the scandals and corruption charges, and at worst it reflects how deeply Pakistan is still in the clutches of the feudal network. The two upholders of Pakistan’s so-called promising moderate future, Ms Bhutto and President Musharraf, still depend on this uneducated and unenlightened code of conduct for their base.
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Filed in: Current affairs,Pakistan