Al-Qaeda claims Bhutto assassination (Press TV/Iran)

A spokesperson for the al-Qaeda terrorist network has claimed responsibility for killing former premier Benazir Bhutto in Rawalpindi Thursday.

“We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat [the] mujahadeen,” Al-Qaeda’s commander and main spokesperson Mustafa Abu Al-Yazid told Adnkronos International (AKI) in a phone call from an unknown location, speaking in faltering English, Asia times reported. Al-Yazid is the main al-Qaeda commander in Afghanistan.

It is believed that the decision to kill Bhutto was made by al-Qaeda No. 2, the Egyptian doctor, Ayman al-Zawahiri in October.

Al-Qaeda had earlier claimed responsibility for the October 19th attack that targetted Bhutto but missed her and killed 139 people.

Al-Qaeda claims Bhutto assassination (Press TV/Iran)

The chief strategist of Senator Barack Obama’s campaign said Thursday that the assassination of the Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto “underscores the case for judgment” when voters begin to select their presidential candidates next week.

The strategist, David Axelrod, said voters should take into consideration that the Iraq war led to the rise of terrorist activity and political instability in Pakistan. Mr. Axelrod said that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton backed the Iraq war in 2002, while Mr. Obama did not.

“She was a strong supporter of the war in Iraq, which we would submit was one of the reasons why we were diverted from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Al Qaeda, who may have been players in this event today,” he said, according to Time.com. “So that’s a judgment she’ll have to defend.”..

Obama Aide Ties Pakistan to Iraq War (NYT)

Ms. Bhutto’s death leaves the Bush administration with no visible strategy for extricating Pakistan from its crisis or rooting out Al Qaeda and the Taliban, which have made the country their most important rear base.

Betting America’s security (and Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal) on an unaccountable dictator, President Pervez Musharraf, did not work. Betting it on a back-room alliance between that dictator and Ms. Bhutto, who had hoped to win a third try as prime minister next month, is no longer possible.

That leaves Mr. Bush with the principled, if unfamiliar, option of using American prestige and resources to fortify Pakistan’s badly battered democratic institutions. There is no time to waste…

The Bush administration has to rethink more than just its unhealthy and destructive enabling of Mr. Musharraf. It also must take a hard look at the billions it is funneling to Pakistan’s military. That money is supposed to finance the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. As a report in The Times on Monday showed, Washington hasn’t kept a close watch, and much of it has gone to projects that interested Mr. Musharraf and the Pakistani Army more, like building weapons systems aimed at America’s ally, India. Meanwhile, Al Qaeda and the Taliban continued, and continue, to make alarming gains.

The United States cannot afford to have Pakistan unravel any further. The lesson of the last six years is that authoritarian leaders — even ones backed with billions in American aid — don’t make reliable allies, and they can’t guarantee security…

After Benazir Bhutto (Editorial NYT)

Foreign policy analysts and diplomats said that if there were one thing that Ms. Bhutto’s assassination has made clear, it was the inability of the United States to manipulate the internal political affairs of Pakistan. Even before the assassination, the United States had limited influence and did not back Ms. Bhutto to the hilt.

“We are a player in the Pakistani political system,” said Wendy Chamberlin, a former United States ambassador to Pakistan, adding that as such, the United States was partly to blame for Mr. Musharraf’s dip in popularity. But, she added: “This is Pakistan. And Pakistan is a very dangerous and violent place.”

That said, Pakistan has never been more important for the United States than it is right now as it teeters on the edge of internal chaos. Bush administration officials have been trying mightily to balance the American insistence that Pakistan remain on the path to democracy and Mr. Musharraf’s unwillingness to risk unrest that would allow Al Qaeda and the Taliban to operate more freely, particularly with American and NATO troops next door in Afghanistan…

Salvaging U.S. Diplomacy Amid Division (NYT)

In any case, "al-Qaida" is just a name which can be used to mean everything or nothing. It will now be difficult to find out who exactly killed Benazir – especially when the government made sure they washed away all forensic evidence in the twelve hours after the murder.

But this is not just an individual’s death; it is also the killing of the only national party in the country. The fact that Benazir had held the Pakistan People’s Party together also means that the party – in a condition emblematic of Pakistan as a whole – suffered from over-centralisation and over-personalisation. This combination of institutional and political failure underlines how important it is that politicians and civil society in Pakistan now carefully consider their options. The military and its cronies have to be forced to withdraw before democracy takes root in the country. As long as they refuse, the path of politics in Pakistan will remain extremely bloody.

Pakistan after Benazir Bhutto (Ayesha Siddiqa in openDemocracy)

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