Angry mobs of Bhutto followers are now raging through the streets and provinces of Pakistan venting their anger at the death of a leader who they felt could restore democracy in their land and, hopefully, address issues of terrorism. Police are firing at demonstrators, bands of youth are closing down factories and other angry Pakistanis are burning cars, and, even ambulances as people attempt to find a way to express their emotions of fury at what has happened to their leader. President Musharraf announced thee days of mourning but made no mention of a state of emergency not did he indicate any change in the upcoming election for a new parliament. Leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, his political party, are reportedly now in hiding and they even have switched off their cell phones to escape detection.
Benazir Bhutto originally returned to Pakistan hoping to forge some type of alliance with Musharraf, but the president’s blunders in denying entry to Nawaz Sharif, sacking the supreme court, and then declaring a state of emergency helped set the stage for the current situation. There is scant doubt many members of the Musharraf military and Intelligence agents did not look favorably on Ms. Bhutto and strong suspicion exists they somehow are connected to the assassination. That is the horn of the dilemma– Musharraf’s own people disagree with efforts to ally with the United States or to attack terrorism. The Taliban originally were supplied and aided by the Pakistan Intelligence sector and undoubtedly many of those same people hate America hate secularism as personified by Bhutto.
Where does Pakistan go from here? The prospects are not good. Nawaz Sharif never completely shared the secular ideas of Bhutto and her party, at this point, lacks a figure who approaches her stature. An important step that Musharraf can take is restoring the Supreme Court judges to give a semblance of legality to the situation and entrusting them with responsibility for ensuring there is a fair election. Pakistan will have to wait for another figure to emerge who can lead their nation from the confusion that has been the product of Musharrafism.