New Delhi Bureau

NEW DELHI: Political parties across the spectrum reacted almost in one voice of shock and dismay and concern about the political process in Pakistan as news about the assassination of former Pakistan Prime Minister and Pakistan People’s Party leader Benazir Bhutto reached here on Thursday evening.

While the Congress described the killing as a “negation of democracy” as the assassination had taken place just weeks before elections were due, the Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) said there were “forces [in Pakistan] which are seeking to destabilise Pakistan and not allowing the transition to democracy to succeed … These forces must be thwarted.”

The Bharatiya Janata Party condemned the assassination and expressed concern not only about how the incident would affect Pakistan but also India in its immediate neighbourhood.

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee described the killing as “big challenge for democracy and peace” and added that the challenge was not only for Pakistan: “We have to fight it out together.”

Leader of Opposition L. K. Advani said “the Talibanisation of Pakistan” was a threat to India.

“Indian democracy abhors the cult of violence. This is negation of democracy itself. She was a charismatic leader whose unrealised potential has been cruelly cut short,” said All India Congress Committee spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi.

He said instability and violence could not be good for Pakistan, as indeed for the subcontinent.

“We hope and trust that the appropriate agencies of Pakistan will get to the root of this most unfortunate incident,” he said.

Condolences

Conveying its heartfelt condolences to Ms. Bhutto’s family and to the people of Pakistan, the CPI (M) expressed its “shock and outrage” at the “dastardly assassination” while CPI national secretary D. Raja feared that the assassination would complicate matters in Pakistan where elections were due to be held. He said there were clearly forces which did not want any form of democracy in Pakistan.

Mr. Advani said he spoke to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was in Goa, and was told that the National Security Adviser would brief Mr. Advani and other political leaders on the development in Pakistan. He condemned the ‘jehadis’ responsible for this killing.

BJP president Rajnath Singh expressed his sympathy and offered condolences to Ms. Bhutto’s family, especially mentioning her children, while former External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh spoke admiringly of Ms. Bhutto’s courage and determination to participate in the democratic process although she was aware of grave threat to her life.

“She had come back to participate in the democratic process in Pakistan despite resistance from the establishment,” he noted.

While Mr. Rajnath Singh was worried about the impact of instability in Pakistan on India, Mr. Jaswant Singh said he was “disappointed” at the “timidity” of the Indian government that continued to maintain silence about serious events in our neighbourhood.”

Mr. Singh said the events did not indicate a lasting peace in our region , and certainly, there was no reassurance about the effect of those developments on the law and order situation here in India.

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