December 27, 2007, marks a tragic day for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). That was the unfortunate day when Benazir Bhutto was killed while leaving a campaign rally of her party at Liaquat National Bagh in the run-up to the January 2008 parliamentary elections. Benazir was standing out from the sunroof of her bullet-proof vehicle to wave to the crowds.
Just then, a gunman fired shots at her followed by explosions near the vehicle killing approximately 20 people. Bhutto was critically wounded and was rushed to Rawalpindi General Hospital. She was taken into surgery at 17:35 local time, and pronounced dead at 18:16.
The cause of death, whether it was due to gunshot wounds, the explosion, or a combination of both, was not fully determined until February 2008. Eventually, Scotland Yard investigators concluded that she was tossed by the blast and suffered blunt force trauma, which led to her death.
Al-Qaeda commander Mustafa Abu al-Yazid claimed responsibility for the attack, and the Pakistani government stated that it had proof that Baitullah Mehsud, affiliated with Lashkar e Jhangvi, an al-Qaeda-linked militant group, was the mastermind. However, this was vigorously disputed by the Bhutto family, the PPP and Mehsud himself.
On 12 February 2011, an Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Rawalpindi issued an arrest warrant for Musharraf, claiming he was aware of an impending assassination attempt by the Taliban, but did not pass the information on to those responsible for protecting the PPP leader.
A number of riots erupted following the assassination, resulting in approximately 20 deaths, including three police officials. President Musharraf announced a three-day period of mourning.
Benazir's 19-year-old son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari succeeded his mother as titular head of the PPP, with his father effectively running the party until his son completes his studies.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2011