Local Pakistani-Americans shocked by Bhutto's slaying

December 28, 2007|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

Local Pakistani-Americans said Thursday they were shocked at the news that former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto had been killed in a suicide attack in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

"It is one of the saddest days in the history of a relatively young country," said Sultan Chaudhry, 24, of Hagerstown.

Chaudhry was one of a group of young men gathered Thursday at the Islamic Center of Western Maryland. They said they were saddened by Bhutto's death and unsure of what it would mean for Pakistan.

Chaudhry, a second-year dental student at Howard University in Washington, D.C., said the assassination likely will spur more chaos in Pakistan, which he said has been in political turmoil since its inception.


Bhutto had been back in Pakistan for just more than two months. She left Pakistan in 1999, just before a court convicted her of corruption and banned her from politics, according to The Associated Press.

Her party was expected to do well in next month's legislative elections.

Rehan Waheed, 25, who has a law degree and is in medical school in West Virginia, said Thursday that Bhutto's death matters, even in Hagerstown.

"There are a lot of Pakistani-Americans here. And we have families in these cities where bombs are going off," Waheed said. "If you're not Pakistani, you know someone who is."

Umar Qadri, 18, a freshman at Yale University, said he was not sure what the assassination would mean for U.S.-Pakistan relations.

"The two countries were already on pretty rocky terms. Bhutto seemed likely as a replacement for Musharraf," he said, referring to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. "Now there is none."

Chaudhry agreed, and said it was important to remember that the assassination has nothing to do with religion.

"This is a political event," Chaudhry said. "The kind of people that do this are not Muslim by any definition of Islam. This is not something that Islam would advocate."

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