Rochdale MP condemns Bhutto assassination

December 29, 2007 12:00 AM

The day after the funeral of Benazir Bhutto, Paul Rowen, Rochdale MP and Secretary of the All Party Group on Pakistan, has condemned the brutal assassination of the Pakistan Opposition Leader at a pre-election rally in Rawlinpindi. He said: "Benazir's death is a hammer blow to democracy in Pakistan. Since the execution of her father by General Zia in 1979 she had led the Pakistan People's Party.

"She was a brave charismatic women who was outspoken not just in her opposition to terrorism but also some of the policies of President Musarraf. She knew when she returned to Pakistan that there was a risk to her life but like her father she never flinched from the call of public duty.

"A friend of mine, now living in Rochdale, was a bodyguard for her when she was living in the UK in the 1980's.

"She believed passionately in a democratic Islamic state, a modern Pakistan as successful as say nearby Malayasia.

"Many of us will mourn her loss."

He added: "There must now be a serious concern about whether the planned elections scheduled for 8 January can still go ahead as planned. Threats have already been made against the life of the other opposition leader Narwar Sharif. You cannot have full and free elections if politicians and people cannot move about freely.

"I feel Pakistan is now paying a high price for the military dictatorship of President Musharraf and its bolstering by the Bush and Blair governments. The absence of effective political opposition from the PPP and ML has created a vacuum which religious extremists have occupied.

"We need to see a rapid norminalisation of affairs which the Supreme Court and other organs of government able to operate freely without interference from the government."