Al Qaeda tries for civil war in Pakistan?
Al Qaeda leaders know how to tug on the emotional strings of the Muslim population. This attack is probably intended to have the same effect as the attack on the golden dome mosque in Iraq, creating a factional war in Pakistan which may give their Taliban allies an opportunity to take advantage of the chaos that would ensue. Chaos is a standard al Qaeda strategy. Pakistan needs to find a way to remain calm and not have angry people get in the way of the hunt for the killers.
Within hours of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, angry mobs took to the streets, attacking police patrols and government buildings.
Amid fears of a full-blown civil war, four people were reported killed in Karachi, the southern port city, where thousands of protesters fired shots, blocked roads with burning cars and torched government buildings. Two people were shot dead in the eastern city of Lahore and four people were reported killed in smaller towns in the eastern province of Sindh, Ms Bhutto’s stronghold. A mobset fire to a train in Hyderabad, in Sindh, and police fired teargas into crowds in Peshawar, in Pakistan’s volatile northwest.
The mood in Ms Bhutto’s home town of Larkana, Sindh, was tense. Crowds set two banks on fire. In the central city of Multan some protesters fired shots into the air and many shouted slogans, including “Long live Bhutto” and “Musharraf is a dog”, in reference to the President.
Paramilitary forces were put on red alert and told to clamp down on violent protest. “There is trouble almost everywhere,” a police official said.
Hundreds of Ms Bhutto’s supporters had gathered outside the hospital in Rawalpindi where she was taken. On hearing of her death, some just wept but many turned violent, smashing the glass door at the entrance of the emergency unit and throwing stones at cars. They clashed with the police, shouting: “Killer, killer, Musharraf”.
Leaders of Ms Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party fanned the flames by accusing the Government of a fatal security lapse. “We repeatedly informed the Government to provide her proper security and appropriate equipment including jammers, but they paid no heed to our requests,” said Rehmani Malik, a party spokesman.
Blaming terrorists for Ms Bhutto’s death, President Musharraf vowed to redouble his efforts to fight them. “This is the work of those terrorists with whom we are engaged in war,” he said in a nationally televised speech.
“I have been saying that the nation faces the greatest threats from these terrorists. Today, after this tragic incident, I want to express my firm resolve. I express my resolve that – and I also seek solidarity from the nation and cooperation and help – we will not rest until we eliminate these terrorists and root them out.”