The Questions for Pakistan Now An update on the assassination of Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto.
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The Questions for Pakistan Now

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The Questions for Pakistan Now

The Questions for Pakistan Now

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ALISON STEWART, host:

Here at THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT, we are continuing to cover the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and the aftermath.

Let's get the latest now from Rachel Martin.

RACHEL MARTIN, host:

Hey, thanks, Alison. There is some news to update you on. The investigation is moving forward into the death of Benazir Bhutto. Investigators are examining the remains of the man that they suspect of killing opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. Security officials say Bhutto was killed by gunshots, the head and neck. The blast killed at least 17 other people, and it's still unclear who is responsible. But Pakistani police say the blast bears all the hallmarks of strikes by Islamist militants trying to destabilize the government of current President Pervez Musharraf.

Now, supporters of Bhutto are blaming Musharraf's government for her death, saying he didn't provide enough security for her. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of them had gathered in southern Pakistan today to pay their last respects to Benazir Bhutto. The former prime minister has been laid to rest in her ancestral home in the southern Sindh province of Pakistan.

And NPR's Philip Reeves is there and describes the scene.

PHILIP REEVES: They wept, they beat their heads and they mobbed her funeral cortege. Benazir Bhutto was, in life, always able to generate vast and emotional crowds of supporters in her heartland, the Pakistani province of Sindh. And today, in death, she is doing the same.

MARTIN: Now, as thousands of mourners grieve the violence that broke out after her death continues throughout the country, at least 10 people have been killed. Responsibility for Bhutto's killing - a bomb and gun attack that claimed the lives of 20 bystanders as well - has yet to be determined, as I mentioned. But many Bhutto supporters, they do blame Musharraf, saying his government simply didn't do what they had promised to do in terms of giving her the kinds of security mechanisms she needed to protect herself. And some have called for his resignation.

The already unstable political climate in Pakistan has now worsened in the turmoil surrounding Bhutto's death and many doubt that the January 8th elections that are scheduled will take place at all. The United States, which always saw Bhutto as an asset in its efforts to democratize the Muslim world, saw her as a key part of that. The U.S. has pushed for the elections to go forward.

Here's State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey.

Mr. TOM CASEY (Deputy Spokesman, U.S. Department of State): It would be a victory for no one but the extremists responsible for this attack to have some kind of postponement or delay directly related to it in the democratic process.

MARTIN: The other major opposition leader in Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, has said his party will boycott the January 8th elections. This is obviously an unfolding story, and we'll continue to bring you any updates as they come.

STEWART: All right. Rachel Martin, thank you so much. We'll see you about 20 minutes for some more news.

MARTIN: Sounds good.

STEWART: Sounds good. You know what else sounds good? A blog name?

JOHN FUGELSANG, host:

What sounds good?

STEWART: You don't have it? Jacob. Oh, all right.

MARTIN: I was going to offer to sing it for you but…

STEWART: Oh, okay. Well, Laura Conaway, we're happy to see you anyway, music or no music. Laura Conaway is our Web editor. She's been working her little fingers to the bone in the past 24 hours. What's going on, Laura.

LAURA CONAWAY: Well, one of the things that the Internet sort of coughed back up at us yesterday was a mash-up from the interview we did with a woman named Farah Ispahani. It was a gripping interview. She is a member of Benazir Bhutto's media team and she was there when the attack happened, and she was there at the hospital when Bhutto died. And someone named Relics109(ph) on YouTube took the interview and cut it to some pretty amazing images of news from the day, some still images, some of just people talking, people surging. And we're going to try to actually to get in touch with him for the blog later on today, but I do recommend you checking it out. It's just - it's one of those cool things that the Web does. They take what you do and then they move it forward.

STEWART: Do you have any sense of how he found it? Was he just a listener or a…

CONAWAY: You know, I think it's just that that interview with Farah Ispahani was just one of those things that just - it is exactly the moment. And when you listen to it, you were hearing the moment. And that's powerful. I think people just found it virally.

FUGELSANG: How can they search for that on YouTube?

CONAWAY: Actually, it's right on our site.

FUGELSANG: Even better.

CONAWAY: We picked it up. Yeah. It's right at BRYANT PARK - npr/bryantpart.org.

STEWART: How did, as the Web editor - I mean, we've been on the air technically, since October 1st, we've been in piloting season all through the summer. For you as the Web editor, having a breaking news story for the first time - I don't mean to put you on the spot here - how did you decide you wanted to coordinate your coverage on the blog? Our coverage, I should say.

CONAWAY: Well, I think you sort of divide it up. You ask people - certain people to say find these images, find this video, find this or, so that you really rely on your colleagues. We're fortunate to have a very smart and fast staff, and they surprise you with things.

STEWART: Mm-hmm.

CONAWAY: There are certain categories for things you know you want to go after. You know, you want to get citizen bloggers. You want, you know, you want to get citizen voices and so you send that part of it out. And somehow, our other - it just, it all piles up. I have to say when I went home yesterday and I'd looked at everything that was there, I was amazed and then we added some more to it, so…

STEWART: There's a lot of depths on it, on the blog, in terms of the coverage. It really is amazing. I was also sort of fascinated with how many people immediately want to sound off about how uncomfortable this made them feel. The blog post that you put up immediately, "Sound Off: Bhutto Killed. Feeling Queasy?", so many people weighed in - not in the Ron Paul numbers, but quite a few.

CONAWAY: There are times when…

STEWART: Over 70 at this point.

CONAWAY: There are times in blogging when you can sort of feel the public lurch towards something. It's palpable. And people are writing in, talking about Bhutto as a hero, people are writing in to talk about President Musharraf should take some blame for failing to protect her.

I got one very moving letter from someone named Ashan(ph), who says that he is visiting family in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, which, of course, is where the attack happened, and talked to one of the father's doctors at a local hospital. And the doctor's main questions were how can we reform Pakistan? How can it be done? And the person says, all I can say was that even God has not helped nations who were unable to help themselves. Very moving stuff.

STEWART: Laura Conaway, our Web editor, as I said, working quite hard. Please join us in the conversation at npr.org/bryantpark.

Thanks, Laura.

CONAWAY: Thank you.

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