Already two explanations are being forwarded insofar as the culprits of the assassination are concerned. The first is that the Taliban or some other Islamic militant organization targeted Benazir for her promising to tackle extremism and militancy. They saw her as a threat and killed her just like they tried to kill Musharraf or Shaukat Aziz or Sherpao. The second explanation is more of a conspiracy theory. It says that our military agencies in consort with the senior leadership of the PML-Q took Benazir out because she was a threat to their hold on power. They point to the fact that another strong party – the PML-N – was targeted earlier in the day. They also point, somewhat more credibly, to Benazir’s letter to Musharraf before she returned to
The second explanation holds significantly more potential for violence. The Chaudhries are from
As I type this, reports of violence in the urban areas of Sindh are coming through on television. In
There is a very good reason a number of analysts on television have already shone a light on calming Sindhi sentiments. There is a very good reason Nawaz Sharif, a Punjabi leader of a large national but largely Punjabi party for non-Pakistani readers, said in his press conference a little over a half hour ago that “in their time of grief, I want Sindh to know that the PML-N is with them…that Nawaz Sharif is with them.” Center-province relations have been fraught at the best of times but this type of incident has Archduke Ferdinand-type power. Almost everyone – student organizations, political parties, religious organizations – is armed at the neighborhood or district level, and those that are not armed can become so fairly quickly (in
Even if that worst-cast scenario does not materialize, there is bound to be certain level of street violence in the coming days. Riots and strikes should be the norm and I anticipate extremely high levels of tension. I think we can also safely say goodbye to the prospect of elections in January. The idea of elections does not just seem implausible to me at this point but also somewhat inappropriate. At the very least they should be postponed four weeks to give everyone time to grieve (and take a deep breath). What sort of elections would we see under the current circumstances anyway?
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