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This always looked likely to happen from the moment Bhutto decided to go back. Pakistan has been a tinderbox for as long as I can remember. We can only hope that there are not serious reprisals. Pakistan only ever looked remotely stable under general Zia, since his death the country has struggled yet again.

Well let's hope Musharaff can keep a lid on things, or we could end up more worried by Pakistan than by Iran.

Unless this was Musharaff himself, which seems unlikely, it would appear to vindicate some of his expressed concerns about the safety of electoral candidates - concerns others dismissed as self-serving and indicative that he didn't really want democracy...

Pakistan only ever looked remotely stable under general Zia

Zia was the root of the bloody problem. He supported all and every Islamist going. That is why the CIA were strongly suspected of being involved in his assassination.

Tories need to do better than say "if only we had that strong man back. He made the trains run on time."

Britain should stay out of the mess. Our focus should be on rooting out Islamic extremism and electoral fraud in our own Pakistani communities.

Passing By, general Zia was a friend of the west at the height of the cold war. He was a stabilizing influence for Pakistan. I don't believe the CIA were involved in the crash that killed him.

A terrible situation! I do however agree with Moral Minority that we should stay out of any direct input and concentrate on our own community relations.

general Zia was a friend of the west at the height of the cold war.

Just like Saddam, eh?

There won't be a great deal of surprise about this. The islamo facist terrorists made her a target, as they have done President Musharaff in the past. As for 'staying out', I don't think there is a great deal we could do even if we wanted to!

Passing By, well Mr Rumsfeld thought so!

"I don't think there is a great deal we could do even if we wanted to!"

There may be pressure from the White House to use our forces in Afghanistan to fight Islamic terrorists inside Pakistan. That could lead to more Islamic terrorism on the streets of Britain.

Britain should stay out of the mess.

You forgot to add "it's a far away land of which we know little".

Like or not, we're in this and if we are we'd better bloody well fight to win.

Tony Makara!! Zia, a "stabilising influence"? He is the person who single-handedly turned Pakistan from the tolerant, progressive country envisaged by Mohamed ali Jinnah, who wanted a country in which all religious groups had equal rights, into a country on a turbulent path towards greater Islamisation. He introduced the blasphemy laws, the Hudood Ordinances and other discriminatory laws, and emboldened the Islamists. If that's your vision of stability, it's a very strange one. Benazir's murder is a disaster, not only for Pakistan but for the world. She was certainly no saint, but she was the most prominent and popular symbol of liberal, tolerant, secular, progressive democracy in Pakistan.

Passing By wrote "like or not, we're in this and if we are we'd better bloody well fight to win".

Just like Basra? Military intervention in Pakistan would be an even bigger disaster and lead to more blood on Britain's streets.

Ben Rogers, I think we have to consider Pakistan from the international perspective when looking the Zia years. I'm sorry that Bhutto has been assassinated but president Mussarif warned that something like this could happen. The martial law was an attempt to calm the situation, although I hoped that ultimately the imposition of martial law would be a stop-gap measure.

I'm sorry this has happened, although it never seemed a good idea for her to go back there, although brave.

Perhaps we should, indeed, be more worried about Pakistan than Iran.

I mourn her death but also the 15 other anonymous victims just as much. We'll never be told their names but they were human beings with families too.

She faced corruption charges and Musharraf was prepared to overlook prosecution for the sake of the stability of the country. Not entirely the unblemished martyr that the BBC will doubtless present her as.

'Passing By' makes a point about Saddam. We could both have typed the same words but he means the opposite to me.

Realpolitik dictates that you look at the alternatives and sometimes you have to conclude - 'he may be a son-of-a-bitch but he is our son-of-a-bitch'. We need to support Musharraf more than ever now for fear of civil war in a country with nuclear weapons.

Geoff, fair analysis. I hoped to see elections but sometimes stability has to be the number one priority. Now is the time for the west to offer qualified support for Musharraf in the hope that he can salvage some semblance of order and then we can see how the situation can be taken from there. The main thing now is to quell any reaction and to restore order.

Tony I think you are right! Much as I find Musharaff reactionary, we must not forget that he himself has had attempts on his life and, although we are far from knowing for certain, my instinct tells me that the forces behind Ms Bhutto's murder are the dark forces of Islamism and that, distasteful as it may be to some, the West needs Musharaff as an ally in fighting those dark forces!

We seem to have jumped back to the Middle Ages, and the dark centuries of the Ismaili Assassin sect.

Do check out our Platform section, Ben Rogers has already written an excellent analysis of the situation there.

This is a tragedy.

This is an appalling outrage and my condolences go to all the victims’ families. I feel deeply and personally shocked by this. As Ben Rogers says this is a disaster. We in the west have tended to concentrate on other countries in the Middle East, but, if it falls into the wrong hands, Pakistan with its established nuclear weapons could become a much more dangerous place and a greater threat to world peace than Iran. It would not just be Israel that would feel threatened but also India.

Those who criticised President Musharraf from an idealistically democratic perspective are now shown to be rather naïve. We have to deal with the world as it is rather than as we would wish it to be. In many ways, I’m sceptical about the west backing any particular person in such a volatile country. Western support can be counter productive and we have to face the possibility that the Islamists will eventually take over. The tide may be unstoppable. Nevertheless, in the circumstances, I don’t think we have any choice but to support President Musharraf.

Bhutto herself was quite convinced that former supporters of Gen Zia were behind the plots to kill her. (This was in October.) Aren't the most likely culprits also elements within the ISI? They're riddled with Zia-ite nationalists (who hate Bush & co. just as much as some of the commentariat here) and they created the Taliban in the first place. The assassin himself was clearly trained and well-disciplined and saw Bhutto for what she was - a puppet of the West being set up by Musharraf as the acceptable face of his secular military dictatorship. Now that she's gone, what's Plan B?

That's a real tragedy; what a failing state Pakistan has proved to be.
To the commentator saying

"We seem to have jumped back to the Middle Ages, and the dark centuries of the Ismaili Assassin sect"
Please note that nowadawys Ismailis are the most moderate Muslims on earth and the Aga Khan, their leader, is a smart and Westernized man who has high popluarity in the Western Media.
PLUS Bhutto is an Ismaili herself, did you know that? Her family is a traditional Ismaili family.
Just wanted to mention that

Ben Rogers is quite right to point out the malign influence of Zia Ul Haq, who had Benazir Bhutto's father executed. Reagan & Thatcher's support of his regime was out of necessity in light of the Cold War and Afghanistan but the consequences of his islamisation of the Pakistan Legal code and Constitution and of strengthening of salafist influence in the security and armed forces have not been good for Pakistan or the West.

On the day of her murder it is worth celebrating the good about Benazir Bhutto, her courage, her democratic credentials, the hope she bought. Time enough later to consider her weaknesses. She was the best hope in forthcoming elections for a Pakistani government opposed to the islamists, to one likely to take forward discussions on Kashmir with India, to move Pakistan away from the fundamentalism General Zia built.

It is a bad day for our forces in Afghanistan and for our interests in a peaceful sub-continent.

I have been listening to the BBC World Service's coverage and they keep referring to the reaction from Britain, "the former colonial power". Is that necessary?

A tragic, horrifying and shocking death of a brave and beautiful woman. Very sad.

' "the former colonial power". Is that necessary? '

Its the BBC putting down some markers so that they can then suggest its our obligation to do something, and our obligation to take millions of Pakistani asylum seekers if the whole country goes pear shaped.

reply to the above person "Zman" .. What a wrong information You have Benazir and her family doesnot belong to the Ismaili Muslim or(Aga Khani) sect she and her family Belongs To Shia Muslim Sect . Please before making any post gather some information.


Zia was the root of the bloody problem. He supported all and every Islamist going. That is why the CIA were strongly suspected of being involved in his assassination.
You are right that General Zia used religion to radicalise young Pakistani's against his enemies, however General Zia was not assassinated, but rather died in an accidental plane crash.

At that time anyway, not just General Zia but also the Mujahadeen and Osama Bin Laden were still allied to the CIA - The USA at that point saw the big threats as being Shia Islamists especially Iran and any governments of Socialist leanings, when Benazir Bhutto became Pakistan's PM the CIA had mixed feelings about it.


Firstly my friend, Hamid Hemani, replied 100% correct that benazir bhotto and her family is tradionally a Shia Itna Shiri Muslim (which is Twelver Shia Islam) and secondly Zman your lack of information and grip on assasination topic clearly shown. Because its already been proved in book:

"The Assassin Legends: Myths of the Isma'ilis"
written by Farhad Daftray published by I. B. Tauris & Co. Ltd: London, 1994

that it was a myth created by marco polo and others that ismailies are assasins and they are trained to do this in order to get success in next world. And unfortunately due to lack of grip on this topic European or Western writers accepted this myth and propogate this much that it becomes truth to them. Writer farhad daftray destroy this myth in his book by giving references to the primary sources and logical proves.

Kindly read this book my friend. Before posting anything be 100% sure that you are well aware of the topic on which you are commenting and please talk on the topic which is being in discussion rather taking it to some other(religious) topic.


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