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Malik Mumtaz Qadri, left, wearing a garland, after appearing in court in Islamabad in 2011. Credit Aamir Qureshi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Last month I read for the first time my father’s killer’s version of what happened on the afternoon of Jan. 4, 2011. My father, Salman Taseer, was the governor of Punjab, in Pakistan, when he was shot dead by his own bodyguard in Islamabad. He was at the time defending a Christian woman accused of blasphemy.

The laws that condemned her had been instituted in the 1980s by a military dictator. Those were the years when the Saudis, the Pakistanis and — it must be said — the Americans, believing no evil to be greater than that of Communism, flirted with jihad in Afghanistan.…  Seguir leyendo »

The appalling murder in Karachi last week of Sabeen Mahmud is a stark reminder of challenges that human rights defenders face in Pakistan. Ms. Mahmud, 39, had devoted her life to creating an alternative to the religious nationalism promoted by the Pakistani state over recent decades, which has led to a proliferation of violent jihadist organizations. She was gunned down on Friday night as she left the arts center she had founded.

In the country’s largest city, troubled by violence and crumbling institutions, Ms. Mahmud created a hub to promote the arts, harness creative talent and foster democratic dialogue. Since 2007, The Second Floor, commonly known as T2F, had evolved as a small but significant arena for pluralist and secular movements in the Islamic Republic.…  Seguir leyendo »

Seven years have passed since Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan’s former prime minister, was assassinated in Rawalpindi, on Dec. 27, 2007. Her legacy and significance in world history continue to hold a special place in the hearts of the millions of Pakistanis who mourn her death as much as they mourn the death of the dream of what Pakistan might have been had she lived to rule the country just one more time.

As with that of many political icons, Ms. Bhutto’s sudden death left a void in both leadership and inspiration; no politician in Pakistan has been able to fill it. She also left behind a checkered past, with allegations of corruption that still linger, unproved in court for lack of evidence.…  Seguir leyendo »

Cada vez que los medios de comunicación nos sobresaltan con noticias como el asesinato de Benazir Bhutto, o con otras menos trágicas pero no de inferior repercusión -léase la proliferación nuclear llevada a cabo por el padre de la bomba nuclear pakistaní, A. Q. Khan, y las posibles implicaciones de elementos estatales-, uno no puede dejar de tener la impresión de que en Pakistán existen dinámicas ocultas terribles dispuestas a actuar entre bastidores e influir sobre el curso político del país.

El magnicidio recurrente no es patrimonio exclusivo de Pakistán. En la vecina India el Partido del Congreso perdió por los mismos métodos a su líder más carismático, Mahatma Gandhi, y a dos primeros ministros, Indira y Rajiv Gandhi.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last week the world was shocked, and my life was shattered, by the murder of my beloved wife, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. Benazir was willing to lay down her life for what she believed in -- for the future of a democratic, moderate, progressive Pakistan. She stood up to dictators and fanatics, those who would distort and defy our constitution and those who would defame the Muslim holy book by violence and terrorism. My pain and the pain of our children is unimaginable. But I feel even worse for a world that will have to move forward without this extraordinary bridge between cultures, religions and traditions.…  Seguir leyendo »

Benazir Bhutto has never looked so good. This week has seen the international press apotheosising the telegenic Pakistani politician. But the widely expressed view that Bhutto epitomised Pakistan's hopes for democracy, which have now perished with her, seriously overstates what she represented and the implications of her demise.The principal consequence of Bhutto's death is the setback it has dealt to the United States-inspired plan to anoint her, after not-quite free-and-fair elections, as the acceptable civilian face of the continuing rule of Pervez Musharraf. The calculations were clear: Musharraf was a valuable ally of the west against the Islamist threat in the region, but his continuing indefinitely to rule Pakistan as a military dictator was becoming an embarrassment.…  Seguir leyendo »

When, in May 1991, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of India was killed by a suicide bomber, there was an international outpouring of grief. Recent days have seen the same with the death of Benazir Bhutto: another glamorous, Western-educated scion of a great South Asian political dynasty tragically assassinated at an election rally.

There is, however, an important difference between the two deaths: while Mr. Gandhi was assassinated by Sri Lankan Hindu extremists because of his policy of confronting them, Ms. Bhutto was apparently the victim of Islamist militant groups that she allowed to flourish under her administrations in the 1980s and 1990s.…  Seguir leyendo »

Prospects of democracy in Pakistan were rising when Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif returned to the country and decided to contest elections. Movement for the rule of law spearheaded by lawyers and civil society actors in response to the unlawful deposition of the chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry, since March 2007 was also a healthy development for the country. However, Musharraf started backtracking on the understanding he had developed with Benazir as his political allies were getting uncomfortable with the reception she was getting across the country.

And then came the assassin's bullet - in a professionally executed, targeted killing - raising important questions about the role of elements from within the establishment.…  Seguir leyendo »

There is no law and certainly no order in my country. What happened this past week has shaken every Pakistani. Benazir Bhutto was no ordinary person. She served as prime minister twice and had returned to Pakistan in an effort to restore our country to the path of democracy. With her assassination I have lost a friend and a partner in democracy.

It is too early to blame anybody for her death. One thing, however, is beyond any doubt: The country is paying a very heavy price for the many unpardonable actions of one man -- Pervez Musharraf.

Musharraf alone is responsible for the chaos in Pakistan.…  Seguir leyendo »

Una de las peores meteduras de pata a lo largo de mi carrera política fue un intento frustrado de besar a Benazir Bhutto. Habíamos asistido a una reunión y, aunque hasta entonces no habíamos coincidido más que en algunas ocasiones, ella me saludó calurosamente, como si fuéramos viejos amigos, por lo que, cuando llegó el momento de despedirnos, fui a darle unos besos en las mejillas, como habría hecho con la mayor parte de mis colegas del sexo opuesto. Casi se echó a gritar y se escabulló de mí como pudo, dejando claro que semejante proximidad física resultaba absolutamente inapropiada.

Si mi falta de sensibilidad cultural tiene alguna excusa, es la de que esta mujer parecía evidentemente que se encontraba en su salsa en occidente.…  Seguir leyendo »

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto followed two months of urgent pleas to the State Department by her representatives for better protection. The U.S. reaction was that she was worried over nothing, expressing assurance that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf would not let anything happen to her.

That attitude led a Bhutto agent to inform a high-ranking State Department official that her camp no longer viewed the backstage U.S. effort to broker a power-sharing agreement between Musharraf and the former prime minister as a good-faith effort toward democracy. It was, according to the written complaint, an attempt to preserve the politically endangered Musharraf as George W.…  Seguir leyendo »

With the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan's survival depends on the outcome of a struggle between the army and Bhutto's Pakistan People's party, now headed by her 19-year-old son Bilawal. The protagonists are mismatched and the odds are that Pakistan will not make it.For all its flaws, the PPP is Pakistan's only true national institution. As well as overwhelming support in the Bhutto family's home province of Sindh, it has substantial support in Punjab and North-West Frontier Province. Like many south Asian political parties, it is a family affair, but it has an enduring platform: opposition to military rule.

Pakistan's army has long defined itself as the guardian of the nation, and successive generals have used this role as their excuse to seize and hold power.…  Seguir leyendo »

El asesinato de Benazir Bhutto, la primera mujer que gobernó un país islámico, es un duro golpe contra las perspectivas democráticas de Pakistán e incluso su viabilidad como Estado. Mientras el caos y la confusión se apoderan del país, no debemos perder de vista la responsabilidad parcial del presidente Pervez Musharraf en este giro de los acontecimientos. Como mínimo, Musharraf no puede ser absuelto del hecho de que su gobierno no proporcionó a Benazir Bhutto suficiente seguridad.

Benazir Bhutto tuvo que pagar con la vida su valor al desafiar a extremistas de todo tipo: Al Qaeda, los talibanes, los partidos políticos religiosos y los militares de la línea dura.…  Seguir leyendo »

Como suele ocurrir con los grandes personajes cuyas vidas excepcionales exceden los límites de la vida misma -he aquí a alguien que supo desde muy pequeña lo que quería decir larger than life-, la existencia de este bello animal político, de esta atractiva y carismática mujer cuyo último asalto al trono del poder quedó ahogado en sangre el pasado jueves, mientras esparcía las semillas de la democracia y el racionalismo en el territorio más árido para esa siembra que imaginarse quepa, puede ser contada de dos maneras.

En la primera versión vemos a una joven abnegada e inteligente, en cuya formación han confluido los mejores vientos del este y del oeste, que de vuelta a su país, tras dejar huella académica y una estela de corazones rotos en los campus de Harvard y Oxford, ve a su padre encaramado al puesto de primer ministro por las urnas y derrocado, encarcelado y condenado a muerte por los militares.…  Seguir leyendo »

With half her adult life spent either in exile or in prison, Benazir Bhutto might have lived like a medieval princess, but she died like an ordinary, modern Pakistani. When the assassin struck, Ms. Bhutto, the former prime minister, was doing what so many Pakistanis most love to do: electioneering.

Two months earlier, when she had arrived in Karachi after eight years in exile, there were legitimate questions about her democratic credentials. Even her die-hard supporters were embarrassed by her blatant deal with Pakistan’s military ruler, President Pervez Musharraf, the very man who had publicly vowed that she would never return to the country.…  Seguir leyendo »

El trágico asesinato de la ex primera ministra Benazir Bhutto va a sumir Pakistán en el luto y el caos. Su muerte simboliza el desastre general que nos envuelve a todos, sobre todo en Oriente Próximo y Asia, pero también en Estados Unidos y parte de Europa. Lo significativo de este último asesinato -y de los que seguramente vendrán a continuación- es lo común, casi inevitable, que se ha hecho este tipo de suceso en nuestra zona del mundo.

Si queremos poner fin a este horror que está devorando cada vez más regiones árabes y asiáticas y absorbiendo ejércitos de Estados Unidos y otros países occidentales, debemos empezar por hablar seriamente sobre qué significa y por qué ocurre.…  Seguir leyendo »

El asesinato de Benazir Bhutto ha desestabilizado Pakistán hasta el confín del caos, hasta el punto de que la tensión desborda el escenario de la nación surgida de la partición india, trasmite precariedad a todo su marco geopolítico y arriesga el improbable orden mundial que venía realquilando el vacío posterior a la guerra fría. Un sistema mundial más o menos estable habitualmente no deja de convivir con la existencia de focos de caos y anarquía pero la magnitud de la circunstancia pakistaní tras el atentado contra Benazir Bhutto es algo más, de un potencial capaz de alterar factores y resultados de orden global.…  Seguir leyendo »

Like a large rock dropped from a great height into a murky pond, Benazir Bhutto's murder has sent shockwaves rippling outwards from Pakistan across the region and the wider international community.

The full impact of this political tsunami may take months to assess. But decisions made in the next few days will be crucial in preventing an immediate, nationwide descent into chaos. As so often in the past, all eyes are on Pervez Musharraf.

The assassination is widely seen as having further weakened Pakistan's embattled president. Some of Bhutto's aides accuse him of complicity in her death or, at the very least, failing to ensure adequate security.…  Seguir leyendo »

Who killed Benazir Bhutto? Despite formal admission of responsibility by al-Qaeda, we may never know for sure. In one recent conversation she told me that she had “solemn warnings” from a dozen groups who saw her as the main obstacle to their dream of transforming Pakistan into an “Islamic state”, whatever that means.

I first met Benazir in 1971 when I was a house guest of her father, the Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, in their home town of Larkana, Sind. From the deference Bhutto showed his daughter, it was clear that Benazir, then barely 16, was meant to carry the mantle of the political dynasty that he hoped to start.…  Seguir leyendo »

Benazir Bhutto's assassination leaves slim possibilities for a democratic transition that now matters more than ever to the United States. Bhutto and the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) illustrate what's best and worst about Pakistani politics. The party and the drive for democratic politics are remarkably resilient. The PPP boasts a nationwide following, with a dedicated core in Sindh and southern Punjab. But the tragedy of Pakistan is that the PPP and other major parties are family fiefdoms, built on personal loyalty, with no record of developing new leaders or permitting opposition within the ranks. This structure strengthens the tendency to view political office as a possession.…  Seguir leyendo »