Word came slowly and somewhat haltingly to Casa Ché that Former Pakistani PM Benazir Bhutto has been assassinated at a campaign rally in Rawalpindi.
According to witnesses it was a gunman on a motorcycle who approached Bhutto as she was getting into a car to leave the rally. He fired. Then he detonated a bomb killing himself and a number of others. Bhutto was rushed to the hospital where she died. Per NPR. The coverage on NPR is studiously "balanced", almost as if the story is being supervised by some elements in the White House -- or its bunkers -- focusing on the "inevitability" of her death, the deep-seated ambivalence of the White House toward this Uppity Brown Woman, and the Absolute Necessity of continuing to prop up the Musharraf dictatorship no matter what.
Much is being made of the fact that the elections scheduled for January were not expected to be either free or fair in any case, so in some ways, the absence of Bhutto from the scene simplifies the situation. Musharraf now has a perfectly legitimate excuse for a much more severe crackdown than he has already imposed since declaring (and sort of lifting) a state of emergency, and the establishment of a permanent autocracy under his "civilian" control can now be rationalized.
They trotted Bush out to make remarks, and he called for "bringing to justice" those who committed this crime. Good man. Like the 9/11 hijackers, the perp(s) are already dead. Somehow the notion of just what Suicide Assassins and Bombers do never makes it into the consciousness of the Bush Regime, so we find our nation engaged in endless stupid colonial wars of aggression against peoples who have had nothing to do with the various triggering outrages.
And now we're hearing on NPR that though The People of Pakistan may not like Musharraf, but they most definitely did not want Bhutto and her corruption and neglect of duty back. Furthermore, no one truly believed the scheduled "elections" would be anything more than a "selection."
Don't want to make too much of parallels, but the use and misuse of language in this case (and throughout the latest Pakistani political crises) is highly suggestive.
Here's what ignored Democratic Presidential Candidate Bill Richardson has to say about it all:
DENISON, IA -- New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson issued the following statement this morning after the assassination of Pakistani opposition leader and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
"Benazir Bhutto was a courageous woman. Her death, and the deaths of so many of her supporters, is more than just a tragedy. It is a testament to the will of the Pakistani people to see democracy restored. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who died today.
"Ms. Bhutto knew the dangers to her safety. But she would not be intimidated. We also must not be intimidated.
A leader has died, but democracy must live. The United States government cannot stand by and allow Pakistan's return to democracy to be derailed or delayed by violence.
We must use our diplomatic leverage and force the enemies of democracy to yield: President Bush should press Musharraf to step aside, and a broad-based coalition government, consisting of all the democratic parties, should be formed immediately. Until this happens, we should suspend military aid to the Pakistani government. Free and fair elections must also be held as soon as possible.
It is in the interests of the US that there be a democratic Pakistan that relentlessly hunts down terrorists. Musharraf has failed, and his attempts to cling to power are destabilizing his country. He must go."
Richardson is a former United States Ambassador to the United Nations.
Quite a different perspective than we are getting from the "News", eh?
UPDATE: "Blame Musharraf" seems to be the jelling conventional wisdom everywhere except in the DC Establishment/Palace/Beltway Media. They, of course, continue to Blame the Victim. (She shoulda knowed better, yadda, yadda). Spencer Ackerman over at TPM Muckraker sums it up:
A longtime adviser and close friend of assassinated Pakistani ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto places blame for Bhutto's death squarely on the shoulders of U.S.-supported dictator Pervez Musharraf.
After an October attack on Bhutto's life in Karachi, the ex-prime minister warned "certain individuals in the security establishment [about the threat] and nothing was done," says Husain Haqqani, a confidante of Bhutto's for decades. "There is only one possibility: the security establishment and Musharraf are complicit, either by negligence or design. That is the most important thing. She's not the first political leader killed, since Musharraf took power, by the security forces."
Haqqani notes that Bhutto died of a gunshot wound to the neck. "It's like a hit, not a regular suicide bombing," he says. "It's quite clear that someone who considers himself Pakistan's Godfather has a very different attitude toward human life than you and I do."
As for what comes next: Haqqani doubts that Musharraf will go forward with scheduled elections. "The greatest likelihood is that this was aimed not just aimed at Benazir Bhutto but at weakening Pakistan's push for democracy," he says. "But the U.S. has to think long and hard. Musharraf's position is untenable in Pakistan. More and more people are going to blame him for bringing Pakistan to this point, intentionally or unintentionally.
UPDATE 2: Live coverage from India here: http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/videopod/
Musharraf prohibits live news coverage in Pakistan.