Washington, Dec.29: A socio-cultural anthropologist at the Washington University in St. Louis, who lived in Pakistan for six months and researched Islamic movements in that country and Afghanistan, has described the assassination of Benazir Bhutto as loss for both Pakistan and the world.
Robert L. Canfield, a professor of anthropology and of Jewish, Islamic and Near Eastern Studies in Arts and Sciences, said that while everyone knew she was a target of terrorists, he did not contemplate her possible murder after the first failed attack. Another attempt at her assassination was no great surprise, but its success has been a shock. Her demise in any case is a shock to Pakistan and to the world, owing to its implications, Canfield said.
"The extensive measures taken to kill her reveal that there were enemy elements out there who regarded the prospect of her coming to power as a threat," Canfield adds.
Bhutto represented an element that could have imposed strictures on radical Islamist groups in Pakistan, which are now enjoying much latitude, as there is absence of a rule of law, he claims.
Canfield, who spent nine years in Afghanistan and has studied Islamic identity issues in Central Asia since the early 1990s, says that whatever Benazir was personally, she was, for many, a symbol.
"She represented the hope of a fresh break from the stultifying administration of Pervez Musharraf and a prospect for turning around a country trapped in a downward spiral," he says.