The Real News Network senior analyst Aijaz Ahmad comments on the bomb attack targetting former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
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ZAA NKWETA, PRESENTER/PRODUCER: Benazir Bhutto arrived to great fanfare in Karachi, but eleven hours of peace was suddenly broken: a bomb exploded metres from Bhutto’s vehicle. At least eight people are dead and approximately eighty are wounded. Recently, several unidentified groups have issued death threats to the former prime minister. The death toll is expected to rise. We now go to the Real News political analyst, Aijaz Ahmad. Aijaz, what do you make of the developments today? There was an obvious lapse in security.
AIJAZ AHMAD, SENIOR NEWS ANALYST: Well, I’m not really sure if you can call it a lapse in security, because the government did assign twenty thousand policemen to this rally. But when you hold a rally of a million or more in a city in which thousands of weapons are circulating all over the place, a number of extremist groups are active, the police force itself is infiltrated by extremist elements, you cannot ever guarantee that something like this will not happen.
NKWETA: So whom do you think is responsible for this?
AHMAD: That’s very hard to tell, because Benazir Bhutto is, first of all, the most popular politician in Pakistan, and if she were to participate in the elections, she would win hands down. There are a number of opponents of her who would be very interested in disrupting this process. Secondly, the United States is in the process of putting together a team at the head of the Pakistani state consisting of President Musharraf, Benazir Bhutto, and the incoming chief of the army staff, General Kayani. In order to contain and fight, expand the war in Waziristan, in northwestern Pakistan against the Taliban, al-Qaida, and so on.
NKWETA: So how do you see this affecting the power sharing agreement between Bhutto and Musharraf?
AHMAD: The negotiations are still going on between the two of them. This one incident itself will not derail those negotiations. But if this incident is followed by more periodic violence, then grounds are prepared even for the declaration of an emergency or a martial law because the country becomes uncontrollable, in which case the so-called deal falls through.
NKWETA: And in terms of influencing or affecting the upcoming elections?
AHMAD: Well, that is, again, very uncertain. We are at a very critical point. The Supreme Court of Pakistan is in the process of issuing a judgment in a day or two whether or not Musharraf is even qualified to be a presidential candidate. If a negative judgment comes from the Supreme Court, then of course this violence can be used as the basis for the declaration of martial law also.
NKWETA: At the time of this report, hospital sources confirm 119 dead and over 300 injured. Numbers are expected to rise.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.