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Shockwaves of the Bhutto Assassination

by Epi Fabonan

The Bhutto assassination, though merely a domestic affair of Pakistan, sends a lot of shockwaves throughout the Middle East and South Asian politico-economic arena. These shockwaves should not be ignored for they hold the key to the possible mastermind in her assassination.

Shockwave 1: The Afghanistan Factor
Afghanistan has always been a key factor in Pakistani politics and vice versa. Whatever happens in Pakistan affects the politi-economic situation in Kabul. We have seen a resurgence of the Taliban in the south of Afghanistan, fueled by the halted joint US-Pakistan operations against the Al Qaeda and the Taliban. A destabilized Pakistan could mean a blow to the on-going war against terrorism in Afghanistan. Without Pakistan, US forces cannot deal with the Taliban more effectively. The Taliban are mostly Pashtun and have their roots in Pakistan. If Pakistan will become engrossed in a domestic problem, less focus will be given over the Taliban thus giving them more time to refurbish their losses and regain control over their lost territories. They could be involved in the assassination in some way because if Bhutto comes back to power, that could mean more support for the war on terrorism by Pakistan and more losses for the Taliban.

Shockwave 2: The Sunni-Al Qaeda Factor
The on-going sectarian violence in the MidEast between Sunnis and Shiites is another possible key to the Bhutto assassination. Osama bin Laden has just released a new internet message urging Sunnis to continue to fight those who support the American occupation in the MidEast. Since the war on terror began, the Sunnis and the Al Qaeda has been engrossed over the possibility of a Shiite dominance in the region -- from Iraq to Pakistan. If Bhutto (a Shiite herself) wins the elections in Pakistan come 2008, it could mean a blow to both Sunnis and the Al Qaeda, as a strong Shiite political blockade forms composed of Iraq, Iran and Pakistan.

Shockwave 3: The Musharaff Factor
The current regime of President Pervez Musharaff is also thought to be behind Bhutto's assassination. This is not impossible. Musharaff has been in power since 1998 thru the military coup that installed him. For almost ten years, he proved to be the strongman of Pakistan, a somewhat caudillo type of leader thru his all-out support of the war on terror. Musharaff will not let such legacy be trampled by a Shia and most especially by a woman. Another factor could also be Bhutto's contempt for the so-called muhajirs or Indian Muslims, who fled to Pakistan during the partition of 1947. Musharaff himself is a muhajir (considered a third class citizen in Pakistan). The Bhutto assassination, therefore, could also be a class struggle rather than a struggle for political power.

And while these shockwaves could provide the key to the Bhutto assassination respectively, it could be that these events could have been working hand-in-hand and not individually. A combination of two or all of these factors meant the death of democracy in Pakistan in the image of Benazir Bhutto.