I don’t think Musharraf can now avoid be blamed for failing to provide Bhutto with the security she needed. Even worse for him that this should happen in Rawalpindi, the Army HQ and one of the most heavily-fortified cities in Pakistan.
There may be a groundswell of anger to be marshalled – the question is by whom. Musharraf wants this to be anger against terrorists and calls for unity (ahead of an election!) no doubt hoping to revive that old rule that an incumbent’s popularity rises during a war or terrorist attack. His
Nawaz Sharif’s pledge to fight her war, which James mentions, can translate as a message to PPP: unite behind me and avenge her death by ousting Musharraf. Musharraf may decide he doesn’t fancy this prospect, and cancel the 8 Jan elections (if Bush lets him) on the pretext of allowing the PPP to regroup.
It is remarkable how much in politics can be reshaped in short period of time following a death or atrocity. Giuliani’s conduct after 11 September has become the basis for his presidential bid. Aznar’s tawdry attempt to blame ETA for the 3/11 Madrid bombings finished him. Blair’s manoeuvring after John Smith’s death assured him the succession. So Pakistan’s future may hinge on what happens in the next short while.