Associated Press Writer
From Moscow to Washington to New Delhi and points in between, dismay
and condemnation poured forth Thursday over the assassination of
Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, along with concern for the
stability of the volatile region. World leaders lauded her bravery and
commitment to democratic reform.
The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to condemn the killing.
In India, which has fought three wars against Pakistan, Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh said Bhutto is irreplaceable, and noted she had striven
to improve relations between the two nuclear-armed countries.
"I was deeply shocked and horrified to hear of the heinous
assassination," Singh said. "In her death, the subcontinent has lost
an outstanding leader who worked for democracy and reconciliation in
In Texas, a tense-looking President Bush demanded that those
responsible be tracked down and brought to justice.
"The United States strongly condemns this cowardly act by murderous
extremists who are trying to undermine Pakistan's democracy," Bush
told reporters at his ranch in Crawford. "We stand with the people of
Pakistan in their struggle against the forces of terror and
He later spoke briefly by phone with Pakistan President Pervez
Musharraf but White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said he had no
Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai, who met Bhutto earlier on
Thursday in Islamabad, said he was "deeply pained" by the
assassination of "this brave sister of ours, a brave daughter of the
"She sacrificed her life, for the sake of Pakistan and for the sake of
this region," he said. "I found in her this morning a lot of love and
desire for peace in Afghanistan, for prosperity in Afghanistan and ...
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani condemned Bhutto's killing and said
Pakistan had lost a courageous politician who stood firm against "the
forces of darkness and terror."
"We in Iraq know (the impact) of the blind terror that has become a
global plague, killing innocents and shaking the foundations of
stability" in nations, Talabani said in a statement released by his
In a letter to Musharraf, French President Nicolas Sarkozy called the
attack an "odious act" and said "terrorism and violence have no place
in the democratic debate and the combat of ideas and programs."
Sarkozy said Bhutto had paid "with her life her commitment to the
service of her fellow citizens and to Pakistan's political life" and
urged Pakistan's elections be held as scheduled on Jan. 8.
Bhutto, a former two-time prime minister of Pakistan, was killed in a
suicide attack in Rawalpindi just 10 weeks after she returned to her
homeland from eight years in exile. A suicide attack on her homecoming
parade killed more than 140 people. The articulate, poised 54-year-old
had lashed out at the spread of Islamic extremism as she campaigned
for next month's parliamentary elections.
The United States had been at the forefront of foreign powers trying
to arrange reconciliation between Bhutto and Musharraf, who under
heavy U.S. pressure resigned as army chief and earlier this month
lifted a state of emergency, in the hope it would put Pakistan back on
the road to democracy.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for "all Pakistanis to work
together for peace and national unity."
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Pope Benedict
XVI was immediately informed of the "terrible news."
"One cannot see signs of peace in this tormented region," Lombardi said.
In Britain, where Bhutto had attended Oxford University, Prime
Minister Gordon Brown said she "risked everything in her attempt to
win democracy in Pakistan and she has been assassinated by cowards who
are afraid of democracy."
"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," Brown said.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said the attack "is clearly
aimed at destabilizing the country." He beseeched Pakistanis to
refrain from violence.
Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., was in Pakistan and on his way to dinner
with Bhutto when he heard about the attack. Kennedy told The
Associated Press in a telephone interview that Pakistanis are setting
fires in the countryside "that are lighting up the sky tonight."
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told reporters in Caracas: "We
received the news with great pain, and I hope this is never repeated
ever again, anywhere."
Calling for peace, he said, "Whoever loses respect for the life of a
human being loses respect for the life of humanity."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the "cowardly terrorist attack
... also targets the stability and democratic process of Pakistan."
The Chinese the Foreign Ministry's spokesman, Qin Gang, said in a
statement posted on the ministry's Web site: "We strongly condemn this
terrorist act. We are shocked by Benazir Bhutto's assassination and
extend our condolences to families of Bhutto and other victims."
In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a telegram to
Musharraf saying Bhutto's murder is "a challenge thrown down by forces
of terrorism not only to Pakistan but also to the entire international
community," Russian news reports said.
Israeli President Shimon Peres said Bhutto "feared nothing and served
her country with valor."