Islamabad, Dec 28: The Pakistan Government will wait for a formal reaction from major political parties to the tragic assassination of Benazir Bhutto before deciding the fate of the January 8 elections.
Well-placed sources said the government would like to hold elections on time, but boycotts by the Pakistan People"s Party and the PML-Nawaz could change the dynamics of the scenario. Condemning the "cowardly" suicide attack that killed Bhutto, US President George W. Bush urged Pakistanis "to honor Benazir Bhutto's memory by continuing with the democratic process for which she so bravely gave her life."
He called on Pakistanis to stay on the path of democracy after Musharraf ended six weeks of emergency rule ahead of the elections due on January 8. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telephoned Bhutto's husband, Asif Ali Zardari, and her successor as head of the Pakistani People's Party, Amin Fahim, to express her condolences, said State Department spokesman Tom Casey.
Casey urged Pakistan to maintain the date for the elections. "To have some kind of postponement or a delay directly related to it in the democratic process would be a victory for no one but the extremists responsible for this attack," he said.
Rice said in a statement that "Bhutto's passing is a great loss for Pakistan. I knew her as a woman of great courage and had been impressed by her dedication and commitment to democracy and to the future of Pakistan itself."
Bhutto was assassinated in a gun and suicide attack minutes after she addressed a huge election rally here on Thursday. Shots were fired at her before a suicide bomber blew himself up near her bullet-proof jeep as it pulled out of the Liaquat Bagh gate. Bullets pierced her neck and damaged her trachea, which proved fatal.
The attacker blew himself up as guards attempted to overpower him. More than 28 people were killed and some 100 injured, including Benazir"s political secretary Naheed Khan and Sherry Rehman.
Benazir Bhutto was rushed to the nearby Rawalpindi General Hospital (RGH) where she passed away during surgery. Professor Dr Musaddaq conducted the resuscitation but she could not survive due to loss of blood and lack of oxygen to her vital organs.