Thursday, December 27, 2007

Assassination politics

The etymology of the word "assassin" is weird. At the time of the Crusades, the original Assassins were fanatical members of a Muslim sect in Persia who consumed hashish—their name meant "hashish eaters" in Arabic—in order to get high before carrying out murder raids. Since then, assassination has become a callous political act in all kinds of societies throughout the world, including the USA.

Benazir Bhutto went to school in her native Karachi, then she moved on to Harvard and Oxford, where she was the elected president of the celebrated debating club known as the Oxford Union. Educated in these great ivory towers of western civilization, she returned to a context of violence that carried off her father and brothers. Later, she and her husband were accused of getting involved in various corruption affairs.

Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan from exile on 18 October 2007, and immediately escaped from an initial assassination attempt that killed and injured hundreds of people. Today, her luck ran out. Observers are asking an obvious question: Is it possible that today's attack might be the work of al-Qaeda and followers of Osama bin Laden? There's a more down-to-earth question: In the wake of Benazir Bhutto's assassination, will General Pervez Musharraf still allow the 2008 elections to take place? If so, how will Bhutto's PPP [Pakistan Peoples Party] react to the brutal disappearance of their charismatic leader?

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