Sunday, December 30, 2007

Bhutto Family Politics

As many of you have been informed, Benazir Bhutto, the ex-prime minister of Pakistan and female head of the Pakistani opposition group Pakistan People's Party, was assassinated on December 27. She follows her father, himself a former prime minister, and two brothers, killed for their ties to their father. Benazir Bhutto was shot multiple times in the head and neck while waving to an adoring crowd at a political rally. The murderer then exploded a bomb that he was carrying, killing himself and several others.

This is not the first time that she had been made a target. The most noteworthy incident was shortly after her return to Pakistan from self-imposed exile in London. The suicide bombing of Friday, October 19, killed 134 people and left over 400 wounded. Bhutto escaped that attack unscathed.

With such opposition to this family, we might wonder why Bhutto's young son, Bilawal Zardari (19), would want to succeed his mother. Ali Dayan Hasan of Human Rights Watch has a good theory. He says that when a member of a family is murdered, it is considered a blood sacrifice. That sacrifice must be honored. To do this, a blood relative must step into the place of the slain family member. So while Bhutto's husband, Asif Ali Zardari, will hold the real power, even as co-chairman, her son Bilawal will become at least a figurehead.

How this assassination came about is still a mystery and may always remain so. It may be that Musharraf's party had something to do with the commission or with the lack of protection that allowed the assassination to take place. It may also be that it was of insurgent origin and beyond anyone's control. One thing is certain, democracy is in mortal danger in Pakistan. If it falls, we will have not only another destabilizing force in Asia, but one that is extremely powerful and dangerous as Pakistan is a nuclear power. Be sure that India, one of our principle allies, will not like that.

Please pray for democracy in Pakistan, and please pray for the spread of the Gospel there. Pakistan is in a precarious position. A missions-based note should also be made. Pakistan is located in the 10/40 window, a strip of the earth measured from ten degrees north to forty degrees north of the equator. This area has been notoriously difficult to access with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is also where most missionaries are killed. Pray for the success of the Gospel in this entire region. Let us also pray that young Bilawal will be reached with the Gospel as he studies at Oxford, and that he grows in wisdom and the love of justice and peace, so that he might rule wisely, justly and purposefully in a nation that America and Europe need as an ally.

UPDATE: It was revealed by Scotland Yard on 02/08/08 that Ms. Bhutto was killed by the explosion, not the gunshot wounds. There is some speculation in the media and outright accusations within Pakistan that this is false and is a government cover-up, concealing the possibility of an assassination by Musharraf's party. His party, on the other hand, has suggested that the assassination attempt and ensuing explosion came from terrorists associated with Al-Qaida. Scotland Yard was asked to perform a "neutral" investigation by the Pakistani Government, the same government that denied an investigation to the U.N.

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