Friday, December 28, 2007

Benazir Bhutto Assassinated

Benazir Bhutto born on June 21, 1953 and died on December 27, 2007.

Benazir Bhutto was a Pakistani politician who chaired the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which is a centre-left political party in Pakistan. It is affiliated to the Socialist International.

Bhutto was the first woman elected to lead a Muslim state and she have been twice elected as a Prime Minister of Pakistan.

She was sworn in for the first time in 1988 at the age of 35, but was removed from office 20 months later under the order of that time's president Mr.Ghulam Ishaq Khan on the grounds of alleged corruption.

In 1993 Bhutto was re-elected but she was again removed in 1996 on similar charges against her, this time it was done by President Mr. Farooq Leghari.

Bhutto went into self-imposed exile in Dubai in 1998, where she remained until she returned to Pakistan on 18 October 2007, after reaching an understanding with President Musharraf by which she was granted amnesty and all corruption charges were withdrawn against her.

She was the eldest child of former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was a Pakistani of Sindhi descent, and Begum Nusrat Bhutto, who was a Pakistani of Iranian-Kurdish descent. Her paternal grandfather was Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto, who came to Larkana Sindh before partition from his native town of Bhatto Kalan, which was situated in the Indian state of Haryana.

In November, Bhutto had planned a rally in the city, but Musharraf forced her to cancel it, citing security reasons.

In recent weeks, suicide bombers have repeatedly targeted security forces in Rawalpindi, a city near the capital Islamabad where Musharraf lives and the Pakistan army has its headquarters.

The anguish of Bhutto's supporters was evident from the protests outside the Rawalpindi general hospital. Protestors chanted 'Killer, Killer, Musharraf,' 'Dog, Musharraf, dog.' Some of them smashed the glass door at the main entrance of the emergency unit, others burst into tears. One man with a Pakistan People's Party flag tied around his head beat his chest.

She was assassinated on 27 December 2007, in a combined shooting and suicide bomb attack during a political rally of the Pakistan Peoples Party in the Liaquat National Bagh in Rawalpindi.

Eyewitnesses to the assassination stated to various news agencies that Bhutto had stood up through the sunroof of the white Toyota Land Cruiser that ferried her to the rally to wave at supporters who were cheering her.

It was then a "thin man" on a motorcycle, carrying an AK-47 rifle, fired two shots, one into Bhutto's neck, and she collapsed, falling down into the vehicle and just after that Bhutto was rushed to Rawalpindi General Hospital where she died at 6:16 p.m. the gunshot to the neck was reported as the cause of death, according to the Pakistani Interior Ministry.

An Al-Qaida leader based in Afghanistan has claimed responsibility for the assassination of former Pakistan Premier Benazir Bhutto, whom he described as ''the most precious American asset.''

''We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat (the) 'mujahadeen','' al-Qaida Commander and spokesman Mustafa Abu Al-Yazid told the Italian news agency Adnkronos International (AKI) in a phone call from an unknown location.

Al-Yazid was described by AKI as the ''main al-Qaida commander in Afghanistan''. It reported that the decision to kill Bhutto was made by al-Qaida No. two, Ayman al-Zawahiri in October.

The report said death squads were allegedly constituted for the mission and one cell comprising a ''Punjabi volunteer'' of the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi killed Bhutto.

Bhutto died after being shot by a suicide attacker, who later blew himself up near her armoured vehicles just after she had addressed an election rally at Rawalpindi near here.

The blast killed nearly 30 people.

During her campaign to drum up support for her Pakistan People's Party, Bhutto had repeatedly attacked elements who were fomenting extremism and militancy in northwestern region of the country and vowed to crack down on militant groups.

Bhutto, who returned to Pakistan from exile two months ago, had earlier survived a suicide attack on her homecoming procession in Karachi on October 18 that killed 140 people and injured hundreds more.

Baitullah Mehsud, a militant leader who was recently made head of Tekrik Taliban-e-Pakistan - a coalition of Pakistani Taliban groups, had reportedly issued threats that he would send suicide bombers to target Bhutto.

Her burial is due to take place in her hometown in Larkana, Sind, next to her father Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's grave.

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