In case you haven't heard, Benazir Bhutto was assassinated this morning (our time) in Pakistan. Here's the link to Josh Marshall's first reaction to the story. And, here's a link to the most recent updates (as of 2PM CST). According to some reports, there is already wide-spread violent reaction to the assassination and, in some circles, Musharrif himself is being blamed for allowing it to happen.
Here's a snip:
"The holding of fair and free elections is not possible in the presence of Pervez Musharraf. After the killing of Benazir Bhutto, I announce that the Pakistan Muslim League-N will boycott the elections," Sharif told a news conference, referring to his party.
Sharif urged other parties to join the boycott of the Jan. 8 parliamentary elections. A collective response, including by Bhutto's own party could seriously undermine the legitimacy of the vote as Musharraf attempts to engineer a transition to democracy after eight years of military rule.
"I demand that Musharraf should quit immediately," he said.
Reaction over the kingdom of Left-Blogsylvania has been pretty consistent in it's praise for Bhutto and condemnation of Musarrif and his regime but it has been duly noted that during her term as Prime Minister, Bhutto was no stranger to corruption and controversy.
Ultimately, of course, the assassination of Bhutto will be defined in terms of what it means to "us"...."us" of course meaning the United States of America. And, I'm afraid, that the prognosis isn't all that good. This could lead to a civil war or something very much resembling a civil war in Pakistan which would be dangerous to our interests in two distinct ways:
First, it will hamper, if not downright end, any efforts to hunt down and destroy the new breeding grounds of terrorist activity in the Warzikistan or northern provinces of Pakistan where we were just starting to make some progress with the Musharrif government. Hence, Taliban-like organizations and Al Queda wannabe organizations can grow and fester in that region if Pakistani forces are pre-occupied with keeping peace within the heartland of the country.
Second, and this is a BIGGIE....Pakistan not only possesses nuclear weapons, it also possesses proven and reliable vehicles to deliver them....within range of India and perhaps even farther...Turkey? Iran? Iraq? Ponder, for a moment, the consequences of a fundamentalist, Taliban-like regime with that capability. Scary huh? I certainly think so.
I won't go as far as some who have already "cannonized" Bhutto. She was no saint as far as I can tell, but at the same time she was a much greater advocate of our version of democracy and secular government than is our current "boy", Musharrif.
this is troubling....deeply troubling.