Bhutto's Assassination Risks Security, Democracy

"Right now [the Pakistani government] is aligned to the interests of the U.S., not of the Pakistani people," said Malik. "You need a government in Pakistan that is democratically elected [so Pakistanis] can be aligned with their government, and then the U.S. will follow."

"The only thing that I want as a Pakistani-American is to have the country flourish and have a democracy," added Malik. "The election would be a step forward, but this assassination is not two but three steps backward."

Pakistan's Future: More Violence?

A statement by Musharraf in which he blamed terrorists for the assassination and vowed to find whoever was responsible evidently did little to quell Pakistanis, many of whom erupted in violence following Bhutto's assassination, setting fire to cars, trains and posters bearing Musharraf's image.

The violence might only get worse as more Pakistanis turn against the government, said Rick Barton, co-director of the bipartisan Washington-based Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project, which recently completed a report on the relationship between Pakistan and the United States.

"There will probably be larger street demonstrations and more public expression," said Barton. "[The assassination] shows that Musharraf isn't really in control, and while some will hold him responsible for the actual assassination, others will see it as a sign of lack of social order, and that it was really impossible to protect [Bhutto] all along.

"These are catalyzing events that affirm that the authorities aren't in charge," Barton continued.

The assassination may be interpreted by Pakistanis as an opportunity to conduct similar attacks in the future, said Elder, a professor who covers Pakistan in his courses.

"I would expect things to become more violent," said Elder. "Once this kind of attack occurs and is successful, it's tempting for others to try similar tactics on other candidates."

For Pakistani Americans, said Malik, the thought that future candidates might feel too threatened to campaign makes the assassination an even greater blow to the success of democracy in Pakistan.

"Other parties will be scared for their safety, and may not be willing to come out in the open and address people," said Malik. "Pakistanis want elections, democracy, but they want fair elections."

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