Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 389
Joe Biden's Senate office has released the following statement on the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
Washington, DC – Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE) issued the following statement today after the assassination of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto:
“This is a terrible day. My heart goes out to Benazir Bhutto’s family, friends and followers.
“Like her father before her, Benazir Bhutto worked her whole life – and gave her life – to help Pakistan become a democratic, secular and modern Muslim country. She was a woman of extraordinary courage who returned to Pakistan in the face of death threats and even after an assassination attempt the day of her return, she did not flinch. It was a privilege to know her these many years and to call her a friend.
“I am convinced Ms. Bhutto would have won free and fair elections next week. The fact that she was by far Pakistan’s most popular leader underscores the fact that there is a vast, moderate majority in Pakistan that must have a clear voice in the system. Her assassination makes it all the more urgent that Pakistan return to a democratic path.
“This fall, I twice urged President Musharraf to provide better security for Ms. Bhutto and other political leaders – I wrote him before her return and after the first assassination attempt in October. The failure to protect Ms. Bhutto raises a lot of hard questions for the government and security services that must be answered.
“I know that Benazir’s followers will be tempted to lash out in anger and violence. I urge them to remain calm – and not play into the hands of the forces of destruction. I urge Pakistan’s leaders to open a fully accountable and transparent investigation. We must find out who was behind this and bring those responsible to justice. And the United States should offer any assistance necessary, including investigative teams, to get to the bottom of this horror.
“The way to honor Benazir Bhutto is to uphold the values for which she gave her life: democracy, moderation and social justice. I join with the Pakistani people in mourning the loss of a dear friend.”###
On October 24, 2007, Senator Biden wrote to Pakistan’s President Pervaiz Musharraf expressing the need for effective security for all candidates – particularly Benazir Bhutto – who would be participating in the upcoming election. Sen. Biden had previously written President Musharraf in September before Ms. Bhutto returned to Pakistan, urging him to provide her with full security. The full text of the October letter, signed also by Senators Leahy and Lieberman, is below:
October 24, 2007
President Pervaiz Musharraf
c/o The Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
3517 International Court, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Dear President Musharraf:
We write to express our sympathy for the tremendous loss suffered by Pakistan in the October 18 suicide attack during a rally welcoming Pakistan Peoples Party leader Benazir Bhutto. The brutal murder of 140 Pakistani citizens in Karachi was a senseless tragedy, and we extend our condolences to you, to the victims’ families, and to all of the people of Pakistan.
We believe this devastating attack serves as a stark reminder of the need for effective security mechanisms for the protection of all candidates and their supporters (particularly, although not exclusively, Ms. Bhutto and members of her party), who will be participating in the coming election. To this end, we ask you to take the following points under close consideration, as you and your government develop a plan to confront these serious challenges:
1. We believe it is very important to the democratic process that Ms. Bhutto be provided the full level of security support customarily afforded to any former Pakistani Prime Minister. One of the most important security provisions would be government-provided bomb-proof vehicles and jamming equipment, in order to protect Ms. Bhutto and other senior political leaders from roadside bombs and improvised explosive devices.
2. We are troubled by allegations—well-founded or not— of potential links between certain currently-serving or retired military or intelligence officials and extremist forces who might target secular politicians. In order to dispel any suspicion of complicity on the part of any past or present government officials, we urge you to ensure that any individual involved in (or alleged to have been involved in) past political action against Ms. Bhutto and her supporters be excluded from any part of the former prime minister’s security detail.
3. We urge you to refrain from using security concerns as a rationale for imposing a ban on political rallies. We believe your government, like the governments of other nations afflicted by the scourge of terrorism, can adequately protect political leaders and their supporters without stifling the democratic process.
4. We urge the government of Pakistan to conduct a thorough and transparent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the attack of October 18. We also encourage the government of Pakistan to accept whatever forensic, intelligence, and investigatory support from outside countries might be necessary to ensure a successful outcome to this inquiry. If the resources of the U.S. government would be helpful in bringing the perpetrators of this terrible assault on innocent Pakistanis to justice, we stand ready to facilitate the provision of such resources in any way we are able to do so.
We share the pain that you, and all Pakistanis, suffered at the brutal murder of 140 of your fellow citizens. We continue to believe in the critical importance of a strong friendship between the people of United States and Pakistan.
Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
United States Senator
Joseph I. Lieberman
United States Senator
Patrick J. Leahy
United States Senator###