Bhutto is dead. She was 54.

No doubt Musharraf will once again proclaim martial law in Pakistan. Will elections on January 8th still be held? When you’ve got a president putting lawyers in jail, with militants being released, there is little faith in Musharraf’s leadership from the elite. But instability is the real issue for everyone, so you may see a rallying behind him, if only for the short run.

Pakistan has over one hundred nukes, according to Dennis Ross. Their security is in the hands of the Pakistani military.

The first
woman to lead a Muslim nation has been assassinated at a time she hoped to rise again to power. Bhutto symbolized the possibility of liberalization of Pakistan. She died of shots to her chest and neck, then the assailant blew himself up.

Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated Thursday
outside a large gathering of her supporters where a suicide bomber also killed
at least 14, doctors and a spokesman for her party said. … ..

… .. The attack came just hours after four supporters of former Pakistan
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif died when members of another political party opened
fire on them at a rally near the Islamabad airport Thursday, Pakistan police

Several other members of Sharif’s party were wounded, police said.

Bhutto, who led Paksitan from 1988 to 1990 and was the first female prime
minister of any Islamic nation, was participating in the parliamentary election
set for January 8, hoping for a third term. … ..

Bhutto Assassinated

Bhutto had put together a list after the October attack of people who wanted her dead, many of whom were in the Musharraf government, with others who were part of extremist groups also against her.

Anger on the streets is no doubt building. The blowback over Bhutto’s assassination hasn’t begun.

To add, update and recap what I’ve said before, this is simply the most dangerous place on earth. We need to redeploy from Iraq, switch our focus to Afghanistan, as well as the border to Pakistan. Clinton’s statement in a Dem debate, where she criticized Obama’s ideas, is instructive. But read Senator Biden’s guest blog on Pakistan, which he recently shared with all of you.

Building a New Relationship

Beyond the current crisis lurks a far deeper problem. The relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan is largely transactional — and this transaction isn’t working for either party. From America’s perspective, we’ve spent billions of dollars on a bet that Pakistan’s government would take the fight to the Taliban and Al Qaeda while putting the country back on the path to democracy. It has done neither.

From Pakistan’s perspective, America is an unreliable ally that will abandon Pakistan the moment it’s convenient to do so, and whose support has done little more than bolster unrepresentative rulers.

It is time for a new approach.

We’ve got to move from a transactional relationship — the exchange of aid for services — to the normal, functional relationship we enjoy with all of our other military allies and friendly nations. We’ve got to move from a policy concentrated on one man – President Musharraf – to a policy centered on an entire people… the people of Pakistan. Like any major policy shift, to gain long-term benefits we’ll have to shoulder short term costs. But given the stakes, those costs are worth it.

Here are the four elements of this new strategy. … .. read Biden’s whole post

In addition, Mash has written guest posts on Pakistan, another one here, which you should check out. I interviewed Karl Inderfurth recently about Pakistan, which will give you interesting insight into the area. Senator Biden’s been talking about this area of the world for months, especially as it relates to Iraq.. Senator Obama mentioned Pakistan in a speech in August. Clinton has spoken against Musharraf’s move of martial law, blaming Bush for the failures in Pakistan.

Bhutto’s assassination should remind everyone that the need for a seasoned nominee has never been more important to Democrats. Imagine an event like this during the general election with John McCain as the Republican nominee. Get it?

UPDATE III: What in the world is Bill Richardson thinking?

UPDATE II: Joe Scarborough says it help Rudy. Classy guy to start equating it to the horse race.

UPDATE: Via TPM, Husain Haqqani, who was a confidante of Bhutto’s for decades, made a statement:

As for what comes next: Haqqani doubts that Musharraf will go forward with scheduled elections. “The greatest likelihood is that this was aimed not just aimed at Benazir Bhutto but at weakening Pakistan’s push for democracy,” he says. “But the U.S. has to think long and hard. Musharraf’s position is untenable in Pakistan. More and more people are going to blame him for bringing Pakistan to this point, intentionally or unintentionally. It’s very clear that terrorism has increased in Pakistan. It’s quite clear that poverty has increased in Pakistan. … anti-Americanism might come in, as people say, ‘You know what, why should we support this [pro-U.S.] regime that has not delivered anything to us?'”

Growing emotional, Haqqani says people should know that “Benazir Bhutto was a very warm person. She was a very strong and courageous person, a very forgiving person. To have gone what she went through — her father assassinated by one military dictator [General Zia ul-Haq], her two brothers assassinated, no one in the elite fully loyal to her… The whole Pakistani security establishment thinks Pakistan should be governed as a national-security state. She resisted that completely, and that doesn’t get seen enough. She questioned their right to govern.”