Draped in a black shawl, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto wept and prayed at her younger brother’s grave Sunday. A mob of 600 youths burned tires, threw stones and vowed revenge for his death in a gunbattle with police.
Bhutto ordered a judicial inquiry into Friday’s shooting in the southern city of Karachi in which seven supporters of her brother Murtaza were also killed.
Bhutto’s mother, Nusrat, denied accusing her daughter of involvement in her son’s murder, blaming instead “a deep-rooted conspiracy against the Bhutto family.”
The prime minister’s father was overthrown as Pakistan’s leader in a coup and hanged on the orders of a military dictator in 1979, and her youngest brother died mysteriously in France in 1986.
“Look what has been done to my family,” Benazir Bhutto said to friends who came to her home to comfort her.
Sitting cross-legged on the floor fingering her Islamic beads, her eyes were swollen and tears flowed freely as she spoke about her estranged brother, who was 42, just one year younger than her.
“How awful it must have been for his children to hear the shooting outside and for their father to be killed on their doorstep,” she said. “What could be a greater tragedy?”
Murtaza Bhutto was killed outside his home. Police said his bodyguards and supporters opened fire on police who had stopped his cavalcade.
Pakistan newspapers suggested Sunday a police crackdown that had begun several weeks ago against Murtaza Bhutto and his supporters spun out of control. One of his aides had been arrested three days earlier and several charges had been filed against Murtaza Bhutto.
Meanwhile, Nusrat Bhutto denied accusing her daughter of involvement in the killing. She had said Saturday that the prime minister and her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, were at fault and she was going to file charges against them.
“I believe Murtaza Bhutto was killed through a deep-rooted conspiracy against the Bhutto family,” she said in a statement released Sunday.
“The vicious, malicious and the unkindest remarks attributed to me are only designed to create confusion in the people’s mind with a view to diverting attention from the real culprits whom the independent commission will identify,” she said.
Others did blame Benazir Bhutto and her government.
At the funeral Saturday, emotional supporters chanting “Benazir is a killer” vowed to take revenge.
On Sunday, a mob burned tires and a bank building and vandalized several other buildings in Larkana, about 180 miles north of Karachi. Shops were closed and except for demonstrators the streets were deserted.
A heavy contingent of police and paramilitary Rangers patrolled the grave site as well as Benazir Bhutto’s ancestral home and the home of Murtaza Bhutto. Benazir and Murtaza were once close, but political differences tore them apart. Murtaza Bhutto was trying to depose his sister and had set up a breakaway faction of the governing Pakistan People’s Party.
He accused her of corruption and mismanagement. She accused him of supporting change through violence rather than politics.