Rice urges for calm in Pakistan after Bhutto assassination


Washington : US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice urged on Thursday the Pakistani people to stay calm following the assassination of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.

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“The deadly results of this attack will no doubt test the will and patience of the people of Pakistan”, said Rice in a statement.

“We urge the Pakistani people, political leaders and civil society to maintain calm and to work together to build a more moderate, peaceful and democratic future”, she added.

State Department spokesperson Tom Casey said in the daily briefing that Rice expressed her condolences in two phone calls to the husband of Bhutoo, Asif Ali Zardari, and Amin Fahmi, the likely successor of Bhutto in the leadership position of the People Party.

White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said that President George W. Bush would call later today Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

“Whoever perpetuated this violence was someone who was an enemy of democracy”, affirmed Stanzel while noting that the United States expects a thorough investigation in the assassination.

“We expect that that will happen, I think we are willing to work with our allies in Pakistan to make sure that does happen”, he added.

In return, the senior fellow on Pakistan in the Council on Foreign Relations David Markey said in a media conference call that this assassination “would reinforce” the idea in the White House and State Department that Musharraf is relevant to US policy and expected that Bush would “lean more to Musharraf” as Pakistan is battling terrorism.

This assassination came nearly two weeks before the anticipated January 8 parliamentary elections in Pakistan, a platform through which Bhutto was hoping to return to front seat of Pakistani politics as Prime Minister.

“I do think that it would be a victory for no one but the extremists responsible for this attack to have some kind of postponement or delay directly related to it in a democratic process”, said Casey about a potential delay of this election.