From Himal Southasian:
The ‘daughter of the East’ is dead. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Rawalpindi is a tragedy that puts Pakistani politics in a tailspin, forestalling a return to democracy and heralding ever more violence in the public arena. The killing sends a tremor across the political landscape of Southasia. The former prime minister was one of the best-known faces among the region’s politicians, a modern and urbane woman who dared to join the hurly burly of grimy politics. Nearly continuous military rule over the decades has left the Pakistani polity fragile and brittle. With the elections slated for 8 January 2008, the hope was that Pakistan would, once again, attempt the transition to sustained democracy. There were critics who questioned Benazir’s willingness to end her days in exile to join an imperfect electoral terrain as defined by President Pervez Musharraf. But there was no question that even flawed polls would nudge Pakistan away from military rule and towards democratic functioning. If the people of Pakistan would prosper in peace under a democracy, Benazir held out the hope for its ushering.