TOPICS > Politics

Pakistan On Edge After Bhutto’s Assassination

December 28, 2007 at 6:05 PM EDT

JUDY WOODRUFF: Tumult and emotion in Pakistan a day after the death of Benazir Bhutto.

We have two reports, beginning with Robert Moore of Independent Television News, who filed this report from Islamabad.

ROBERT MOORE: Her body was draped in the flag of her political party, what a symbol of an election campaign and a transition to democracy that has gone so terribly wrong here.

Benazir Bhutto was buried in her home village amid tumultuous and chaotic scenes, a white ambulance carrying the body of this charismatic but polarizing politician on one last epic journey. The grief and emotion was overwhelming at times, for this was Sindh Province, the heartland of her family’s political dynasty.

Ms. Bhutto’s body was placed in the vast marble family mausoleum next to her father. Father and daughter were both former prime ministers of Pakistan, one executed by the military 29 years ago, the other assassinated just yesterday, most likely by extremists linked to al-Qaida.

Family members, like millions of their supporters, could not contain their emotions today, as Benazir Bhutto was laid to rest.

ZULFQAR ALI BHUTTO, Nephew of Benazir Bhutto: What has happened is incredibly tragic. And we recognize that she is the fourth Bhutto to die and she is a shahid.

ROBERT MOORE: The killer chose his moment carefully yesterday. This is the latest video of Benazir Bhutto in the seconds before the assassins struck. She was standing up through the sunroof of her vehicle, extraordinarily vulnerable, and she paid for that fact with her life, although the exact cause of death is now in dispute, the camera panning off as people dived for cover.

JAVED IQBAL CHEEMA: Then she was taken down and was thrown by the force of that shockwave of the explosion. Unfortunately, one of the levers on the left side, the lever of the sunroof, hit her.

ROBERT MOORE: Throughout the day and throughout the country, violence has flared, as Bhutto supporters struggle to accept they lost their leader in so shocking a manner just days before the election.

In Peshawar in the northwest, hundreds of people ransacked offices linked to President Musharraf. Rioting also broke out in Rawalpindi, where we watched for much of the day stone-throwing youngsters battle it out with police on the streets, this, of course, the city where the assassination took place.

The violence we have witnessed here on the streets of Rawalpindi has not been well-organized. And the police have been easily in control. But how can campaigning continue with streets in such turmoil, with one leading candidate dead and others vowing a boycott of the polls?

Many cities in this turbulent country seemed almost abandoned today. All business halted. It seems everyone is catching their breath and taking stock, stunned by events.

Violence in Karachi

JUDY WOODRUFF: Some of the worst violence has been in the southern city of Karachi.

ITN correspondent Inigo Gilmore reports from there. .

INIGO GILMORE: Karachi is burning, all around, the smoldering debris of anarchic unrest. Petrol stations are closed, shops shuttered, streets usually choked with traffic almost deserted. As a wave of anger continues to ripple through Karachi, mobs of young men are taking to the streets, bringing the city to a standstill.

Pakistani officials have now issued shoot-on-sight orders, after gunmen killed a policeman and wounded several others. But in the city of Benazir Bhutto's birth, it may take more than that to douse the flames of unrest.

FERMAN MASSIH (through translator): I have seen young people throwing rocks and burning cars and buses. They set them on fire, run away, come back, and then they burn more. Everyone is enraged. She was going to create jobs for the people. Now they won't get them. That's why they are reacting like this.

INIGO GILMORE: Ending military rule and returning to power to the people was Bhutto's mantra and a source of hope for supporters here that next month's elections might usher in a new Pakistan.

And while Karachi's cricket lovers play on amid the mourning, many believe the election contest should be abandoned.

TARIO MAHMOOD: I don't think so it should happen. It should be -- it should be delayed.

INIGO GILMORE: The election should be delayed, you think?

TARIO MAHMOOD: Yes. If they don't let -- it would -- you can see it will create more problem for the people.

INIGO GILMORE: In Karachi, like Pakistan as a whole, political loyalties are dangerously divided. And distrust now runs deeper than ever.