Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bhutto Mourned Around the World

Bhutto mourned at home-in-exile in Dubai

4 hours ago

DUBAI (AFP) — Supporters of slain Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto in Dubai, where she made her base through eight years of exile, were left in shock Thursday following her assassination two months after she returned home.

"I'm so sad. I feel that my own sister is dead," said Zubeir Bashir, Middle East spokesman for Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party.

"This is a big tragedy for Pakistan. This is a very big shock for us," he told AFP by telephone as he headed to the Bhutto family home in Dubai.

Bashir said that members of Bhutto's family who had remained in the Gulf emirate after her return to her homeland in October were already on their way to Pakistan.

Her husband Asif Zardari was urgently awaiting a flight back to help make the funeral arrangements, Bhutto's spokesman Farhatullah Babar told Pakistani state television.

Dozens of cars were seen outside Bhutto's home in an upmarket neighbourhood of the city on Thursday evening while police deployed to try to prevent press photographers from taking pictures.

The leader of Bhutto's party in the United Arab Emirates, Mohammed Akran Farooqi, choked with emotion as he tried to express his grief over her killing in a suicide attack in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi.

"I can't say anything... I'm totally upset," he said between sobs.

Bhutto had received threats that suicide bombers would be sent to kill her before she returned home, but on the eve of her departure from Dubai in October she insisted she was undeterred.

"I don't believe that a true Muslim will make an attack on me... Islam forbids suicide bombings," she told reporters.

The UAE, which hosted her during her years of exile, condemned the assassination, along with governments across the Middle East.

"The UAE has been tormented by this huge loss, which did not hit Pakistan only, but also affected the UAE," Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan said in a statement carried by the official WAM news agency.

"Words fail to express our condemnation of this criminal act and our pain for the loss of Benazir Bhutto," he said.

The 22-nation Arab League condemned what it called a "heinous terrorist crime."

The 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference condemned the "outrageous and brutal murder."

The bloc's secretary general Ekmeleddin Ihsanogulu said the killing was "an attack on stability and peace in Pakistan and an open provovation aiming at derailing the efforts of unity, reconciliation and democratic process."

Pakistan's western neighbour Iran condemned "the criminal action today in Rawalpindi."

"The Pakistan government should use all efforts to identify the terrorist group which caused this incident and punish them to prevent terrorist groups from finding opportunities to undertake such actions again," foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini told state television.

Iran's regional archfoe Israel, which has no diplomatic relations with Muslim-majority Pakistan, also spoke out against the killing.

"Benazir Bhutto was a courageous woman who did not hide her ideas, did not know fear and served her country with courage," President Shimon Peres said said in a statement.

"I had the opportunity to meet her on several occasions and she expressed great interest in what was happening in Israel during those encounters and said she hoped to visit once she returned to power."

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit urged Pakistani politicians "to overcome their differences in this critical period to guarantee the security and stability" of Pakistan.

He called on them to fight "the forces of extremism and terrorism which want to disturb stability in a way that would have an impact not only on the future of Pakistan but on that of the entire region."

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