Family members identify the dead in a Karachi,
morgue following the suicide
bombing on October 19, 2007
(Paula Bronstein/ Getty Images) A suicide attack in Pakistan aimed at Benazir Bhutto should not have been a surprise. Bhutto herself expressed fears of an attack on her life by "retired military officers aligned to Islamic extremists," according to the Christian Science Monitor . Although Bhutto disavowed any real fear of the Taliban (as opposed to the Pakistani military establishment), Baitullah Mehsud, a Pakistani Taliban leader, threatened Bhutto's assassination.
The attempt, when it did come, killed 136 people who were waiting to see Bhutto. She escaped unscathed and vowing not to be intimidated.
Former Prime Minister Bhutto was returning to Pakistan to discuss the possibility of sharing power with the current president and Army Chief Pervez Musharraf. Bhutto left after Musharraf's 1999 coup, after she was accused of corruption.Although he was recently re-elected to office, the legitimacy of his service as a civilian leader while head of the army is in question. He recently agreed to grant Bhutto amnesty on those corruption charges.
Bhutto and Musharraf, and their respective political parties, are for most purposes enemies. But they come together on their shared willingness to ally themselves with the United States. Indeed, the U.S. actually brokered the amnesty to ensure her return to the country.
According to an
The US feared that a disruption of the political dialogue would mean a hiatus in Pakistanís political transition, and delay military operations against the thousands of Taliban and al-Qaeda forces gathering in North Waziristan before launching attacks on the Afghan provinces of Khost, Paktia, Paktika, Gardez and Ghazni, and then Kabul with unending waves of suicide missions. If the Taliban were allowed to hatch their plans unmolested during a political vacuum in Islamabad, Washington believed the Taliban would seize the upper hand in Afghanistan.