City MP's warning after death of Bhutto

SCOTS MP Mohammad Sarwar today warned of a huge tide of anger in Pakistan after Benazir Bhutto's assassination.

Mr Sarwar, who is in Pakistan and was due to meet Ms Bhutto this week, said it would be a major challenge for the country to maintain law and order.

The Labour MP for Glasgow Central is an international observer for the January elections which have been thrown into doubt by yesterday's suicide bombing.

Pakistan was said to be on a knife-edge today as Ms Bhutto was being laid to rest near her father in the family's ancestral village in Sindh's Larkana district. THE REACTION


Govan councillor, who met Bhutto on two visits to Glasgow:

"I am so sad to hear of Mrs Bhutto's death.

"When she visited Govan in 2001 I was struck by how beautiful and intelligent she was.

"She was extremely popular in Glasgow, and the Pakistani community is in shock today."


Hillhead councillor and keen observer of Pakistani politics:

"This is a terrible event, and I have no doubt the responsibility lies with the Taliban.

"Mrs Bhutto was an outspoken critic and had promised to crack down on them, while they had threatened to assassinate her on many occasions."


Convener of the Muslim Council for Scotland:

"It's very tragic news and very unfortunate to have happened 10 to 15 days before the elections. It could upset everything."


Glasgow Lord Provost 1999-2003:

"This is a very great tragedy. She had the courage to go back and fight in a country where attempts were being made on her life.

"She showed amazing courage and resilience. This is a great loss to democracy and efforts must be concentrated to try to find a way to restore democracy in Pakistan."


Muslim Association of Great Britain:

"On US prompting she returned to Pakistan, despite warnings there would be bloodshed. She put not just her own life on the line, but her followers too."


Glasgow SNP MSP:

"This is a terrible blow to Pakistan. I feel a deep sense of sadness."

Her husband Asif Ali Zardari and her children have arrived from Dubai to attend the funeral.

The assassination of the Oxford-educated politician at a campaign rally in Rawalpindi, as reported in later editions of last night's Evening Times, sparked riots across Pakistan by her enraged supporters.

And as the demonstrations spread today, leaving at least nine more people dead, hopes for democracy were hanging by a thread in the nuclear-armed country.

Speaking from Pakistan, Mr Sarwar told the Evening Times: "There are demonstrations in a number of cities and the shops and businesses are shut.

"The next few days will be very difficult. People are very angry and I am sure there is going to be a strong reaction from the people of Pakistan.

"I am not sure how the Pakistani government is going to maintain law and order in these difficult circumstances. It is anybody's guess."

He said at first he was told there had been a suicide attack and that Ms Bhutto was critically ill.

Mr Sarwar added: "After half-an- hour the phone started ringing to say she had died. It is tragic.

"People knew there were difficult circumstances but nobody thought for a minute that she would die in such tragic circumstances.

"People are deeply upset and we are in a state of shock. It will be a huge challenge for the people of Pakistan and the government here because people are very angry."

He also recalled his personal friendship with Ms Bhutto and how she had stayed at his house during the 1980s.

Early this year, before her return to Pakistan, she flew to Glasgow in a bid to drum up funds and political support for her People's Party.

She hosted an event at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, before attending a dinner at Celtic Park with 1500 guests.

Now, the death of Ms Bhutto, President Pervez Musharraf's most powerful opponent, has plunged Pakistan into turmoil.

A suicide bomber opened fire with a gun as the 54-year-old left a rally, before blowing himself up, killing 20 more people.

The slaughter, which has sparked widespread violence across Pakistan, has plunged forthcoming elections into doubt.

Opposition leader Nawaz Sharif announced he was boycotting the January 8 poll, while President Musharraf was said to be thinking about postponing the election.

He blamed Islamic terrorists for the killings, pledging in a nationally televised speech: "We will not rest until we eliminate these terrorists and root them out."

World leaders were united in condemnation of the attack, paying tribute to Ms Bhutto's bravery and commitment to democratic reform.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said she "risked everything in her attempt to win democracy in Pakistan".

He added: "The terrorists must not be allowed to kill democracy in Pakistan, and this atrocity strengthens our resolve that the terrorists will not win there, here, or anywhere in the world."

US president George Bush looked tense as he spoke to reporters, denouncing the "murderous extremists who are trying to undermine Pakistan's democracy".

In India, which fought three wars against Pakistan, prime minister Manmohan Singh said Ms Bhutto was irreplaceable, and added that she had striven to improve relations between the two countries.

UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon called for "all Pakistanis to work together for peace and national unity".

Vatican spokesman, Rev Federico Lombardi, said Pope Benedict XVI was immediately informed of the "terrible news" for the "tormented region". Dynasty stained by bloodshed and grief

THE suicide attack that killed Benazir Bhutto cut short an epic life, one bathed in blood and awash with controversy.

Her father was hanged and a brother was shot to death.

She had risen to become the Muslim world's first female prime minister, only to lose office and flee Pakistan for most of a decade in the face of accusations she was corrupt.

And when, finally, she returned in October to marshal the opposition against President Pervez Musharraf, her homecoming parade in Karachi was targeted by a suicide attacker.

Her father was Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, from a wealthy land-owning family in southern Pakistan and founder of the populist Pakistan People's Party.

The elder Bhutto was president and then prime minister of Pakistan before he was thrown out in a 1977 military coup; two years later, he was executed by the government of General Zia-ul Haq.

A year later, her youngest brother, Shahnawaz, had died under mysterious circumstances in France; the family insisted he was poisoned, but no charges were brought.

The elder Bhutto had sent his daughter to study politics and government at Harvard and then at Oxford, where she was elected to lead the prestigious debating society, the Oxford Union.

Ms Bhutto returned to Pakistan after her father's death, swearing to continue his work.

She was detained several times before being exiled to England in 1984. Two years later, she returned again to lead rallies for the restoration of civilian rule.

In 1988, Ms Bhutto gave birth to the first of her three children. She led her party to an election victory and became the first woman to lead a modern Muslim nation.

Her first administration was clouded by allegations of corruption and her administration was dismissed after 20 months.

She was re-elected in 1993. But three years later, her brother Murtaza died in a gun battle with police in Karachi; Ms Bhutto's husband, Asif Ali Zardari, was charged with his murder.

Ms Bhutto accused President Farooq Leghari of involvement in Murtaza's death, and Leghari dismissed her second government amid fresh allegations of misrule.

She left Pakistan in 1999, just before a court convicted her of corruption and banned her from politics. The verdict was later quashed.