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Benazir Bhutto killed in a bomb attack

December 27, 2007 was a major day in Pakistan, and for large sections of the world; not for anything positive happening, but more for a blast that suddenly turned Pakistan far more towards instability. The execution of twice former Primer Minister Benazir Bhutto in a well-planned suicide blast has turned Pakistan far more towards instability and anarchy that other events in the past. Ever since the time when Islamic militancy was encouraged by the trio of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United States in order to defeat the Soviet takeover of Afghanistan, the scourge of militancy and Islamic extremism has always been there. At a time when the tragic death of Benazir Bhutto is fresh in our minds, it may not be the best of times to remember the past, but all these incidents have their genesis in the past.

Ever since the genie of Islamic fundamentalism was uncorked, it has never really gone away. It is both the attraction and despair of Islam that Islam can inspire people to do all sorts of things. In the past, this devotion to the religion has caused Islamic fundamentalists to be able to inculcate the concept of holy war (and duty towards the religion) into a massive number of youth and get them to join a campaign to promote the rule of the Shariat (and to revolt against established authority). Using these youth to create trouble in neighboring Afghanistan and India has been done by all Pakistani rulers, including Benazir. It was Benazir who got Osama Bin Laden rehabilitated when he was kicked out of Sudan in 1996, and it was the same Benazir who was the leader of Pakistan when the Taliban was formed. So, to that extent, it is ironic that Benazir has been consumed by a terror organization supported by the Taliban, which in turn was supported by Benazir.
What does the future look like for Pakistan ? One charismatic leader gone (she was the head of the PPP and did not exactly develop a second line of leadership), Nawaz Sharif disqualified from running (and apprehensive about his own security), and vast sections of the population convinced that there were members of the establishment , ISI and military involved in this assassination (given that the bomb attack happened in Rawalpindi – which is a major center of the military and intelligence). The elections of Jan 08 seem a bit hesitant right now because of the security environment, and the temptation to implement martial law must be immense. However, Musharraf is not running the army right now, so one is not sure about whether the army will back him on everything that he wants to do.

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