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Assassination is shocking to Pakistanis in Rochester

We are part of The Trust Project.

By Matthew Stolle

mstolle@postbulletin.com

Pakistanis in Rochester had a complex response to Benazir Bhutto’s assassination Thursday. They were filled with shock and horror at her death. Some were distraught. But they were not surprised that it happened.

"This seems to be something that has been repeatedly going on for the past few years. She is another victim of that — of the mindless killing," said Tariq Choudhry, an IBM engineer who has lived in Rochester for the past 14 years. "Like her father, she gave up her life for the country."

Rochester’s Pakistani community consists of 30 to 40 families. Several said they immigrated here to take advantage of education and career opportunities that weren’t available in Pakistan.

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Choudhry and other area Pakistanis worry about the fate of their troubled country.

They said Bhutto’s death was a major setback for a country that stands at a crossroads of democracy and the rule of law, on one hand, and chaos and perhaps civil war, on the other.

"Pakistan is one of the key countries in that region that can turn the tide either way, by either going towards democracy or going the way where it becomes something like Afghanistan," said Choudhry, who was born in Rawalpindi, the city in which Bhutto was killed.

The circumstances of the assassination attack remained somewhat muddled. Bhutto, 54, who was the leading candidate to become prime minister, was leaving a political rally. According to witnesses, she raised her head through the roof of her armored vehicle and then collapsed after two or three shots were fired. A large explosion followed. The blast killed more than a dozen other people.

Inside

World condemns assassination — page A4

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