Political parties condemn Bhutto's assassination

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New Delhi, Dec 28 (UNI) A distraught political establishment in India today tried to come to terms with the assassination of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto with major parties saying the brutal murder would deal a major blow to the democratic processes in the neighbouring country.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi visited the Pakistan High Commission and signed the condolence register, expressing sorrow over the killing of the Pakistani leader.

''It was with the deepest sense of horror and sorrow that I have learnt of the tragic demise of Madam Benazir Bhutto. In her sad and untimely demise, Pakistan and South Asia have lost an outstanding political leader, who was passionately committed to the cause of moderation, democracy and peace and friendship between our two countries,'' Dr Singh said.

''I convey my heartfelt condolences to the members of the bereaved family and the people of Pakistan,'' the Prime Minister added.

Earlier in the day, Ms Gandhi also expressed similar sentiments in her condolence message in the register kept at the mission.

The Prime Minister has convened a meeting of all party leaders this evening to apprise them of the security scenario in the backdrop of the assassination of the former Pakistan Prime Minister Bhutto's assassination triggered widespread condemnation in Jammu and Kashmir with various political parties believing the turbulent democratic situation in the neighbourhood could hit the ongoing peace process between the two countries.

Terming Bhutto's killing ''a major setback to the return of democracy in Pakistan,'' Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who was in New Delhi said, ''It is not the assassination of an individual but of democracy in Pakistan, which would impact the politics of the sub-continent.'' Jammu and Kashmir Governor Lt Gen (Retd) S K Sinha said the ongoing peace process between India and Pakistan would certainly be affected following the assassination of Bhutto.

Talking to mediapersons on the sidelines of a function in Jammu, the Governor described the situation in Pakistan as ''very shocking and grave'' and expressed the hope that the people of the neighbouring country would come out of the sordid phase soon.

About 25 people, including four security jawans, were injured when police lobbed teargas shells and resorted to repeated baton charge to disperse violent demonstrators in Srinagar, protesting the assassination of the Pakistani leader.

Former J&K Chief Minister and National Conference patron Farooq Abdullah said the killing of Bhutto was a loss to entire South Asia, which could affect the peace and democracy in the region.

Expressing its deep shock over Bhutto's killing, the Communist Party of India (CPI) in a statement in New Delhi said, ''It is a serious setback to the ongoing process of revival of democracy in Pakistan.'' CPM general secretary Parkash Karat, while talking to mediapersons after addressing the inaugural session of the 19th Punjab State CPM Conference in Chandigarh, said the assassination of the former Pakistan Prime Minister would effect the ongoing peace process between India and Pakistan.

Condemning the brutal and tragic assassination of Bhutto Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav in his condolence message in New Delhi said, ''Ms Bhutto was a charismatic and outstanding leader and her contribution to the bi-lateral relations between India and Pakistan will be long remembered.'' President of All India Muslim Majlis-E-Mushawarat (AIMMM) Syed Shahabuddin also expressed his deep shock at the killing of the leader of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP).

''The assassination of Ms Bhutto at this juncture will not only destabilise Pakistan but put a question mark on its very survival as a functional state in the long term which demands delegitimising and controlling the cult of violence and terrorism,'' Mr Shahabuddin said in his condolence message.

Strongly condemning the ghastly assassination of the charismatic Pakistani leader, the Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) spokesperson N Thulasi Reddy in a statement in Hyderabad said her services to the people were too well-known and had been hailed across the globe. Undoubtedly, her death would put Pakistan in a limbo and push it deeper into the unshakeable arms of fundamentalists.

UNI

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