Pakistan in crisis as opposition leader buried

By December 31, 2007

Pakistan (MNN) — Pakistan blames al-Qaida for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. She was buried Friday in her family mausoleum, but her death has triggered chaos and rioting. 

Her assassination plunged Pakistan into crisis and triggered violent protests across her native Sindh province. Bhutto served as Pakistan's prime minister in 1988 and 1996. She had a massive popular support, particularly among the rural poor. 

Because of the tremendous instability her assassination has caused, the Pakistani government is considering postponing the upcoming elections, scheduled to take place less than two weeks from now.  

Pakistan is not the only country being affected by the uproar. Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mission India's Dave Stravers says of the effect on India: "Christians are complaining that some of the national officials that do protect them from local Hindu extremists, their attention is diverted and they're not willing to get involved in another aspect of religious violence because of this fear that Muslim/Hindu animosity might break out in the country."  

His comments refer to the Christmas week violence against believers in Orissa state. There have been unconfirmed reports of Christians being killed in those attacks. At least a dozen church buildings have been destroyed and numerous meetings broken up.

The All-India Christian Council asked for better protection against the continued attacks.  Christians were told that a government visit to Orissa was planned in order to set up procedures that would protect Christians from attack. Now, in the wake of the assassination, religious fervor is being stoked to frenzy. There are concerns that the Muslim/Hindu conflicts will explode along Pakistan's borders with India.

Whenever sectarian violence flares, Stravers says, minorities–in this case, Christians–bear the brunt. "Stability definitely enhances the Gospel, so I'm praying for the peace of Pakistan, and I'm praying of the peace of India, and I'm praying that whatever evil elements in the country that are seeking to use these political events for their own ends, that God will frustrate them."

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