Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was killed in an apparent suicide bombing today.
UPDATE: Pajamas Media has a roundup of links on the assassination. On CNN, Peter Bergin is speculating that there was likely some involvement with the Pakistani military due to the assassination happening in Rawalpindi. Previous assassination attempts against President Pervez Musharraf had involved low-level members of the military.
CNN is reporting that Bhutto’s husband said that she was shot in the neck before the suicide bomber blew himself up. There have been conflicting reports over whether Bhutto died from bullet wounds or shrapnel from the blast.
UPDATE: Some quick reactions: This could plunge Pakistan into civil war. Bhutto had some following with members of the Pakistani upper class who were sick of Musharraf and wanted to see Pakistan move towards democracy. With Bhutto assassinated, everything is in doubt. On the good side, perhaps this will unite the Pakistani people against al-Qaeda and the extremists in their own midst. This may force Musharraf to move harder against the extremists, especially along the lawless Pakistan/Afghan border.
For America, these events remind us that we can’t simply withdraw behind our borders. This is no time for isolationism, nor is it a time for a foreign policy based on naïvete. The brewing crisis in Pakistan could easily become a nightmare scenario for the world—if Pakistan’s nuclear weapons fall into the hands of Islamic extremists, it would be disastrous for the region and for the world.
UPDATE: Jules Crittenden has more links and insights on the fallout of Bhutto’s assassination. He suspects that this assassination was a collaborative act between al-Qaeda and Taliban linked jihadis and the Pakistani military. We would like to draw a line between the two, but Pakistani government and military is rife with radical Islamists. That line simply cannot be so cleanly made.
We have far more questions than we do answers, and the lack of answers is making a bad situation even worse. If Pakistan falls into civil war, we had better be prepared to take Pakistan’s nukes out of the equation or the results could be too terrible to countenance.