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Cablegate: Tokyo Media Reaction - Pakistan

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RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TOKYO 005674

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR I/RF, PA/PR/FPC/W, IIP/G/EA, EAP/PD, R/MR,
EAP/J, EAP/P, PM;
USTR FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE;
TREASURY FOR OASIA/IMI;
SECDEF FOR OASD/PA;
CP BUTLER OKINAWA FOR AREA FIELD OFFICE;
PACOM HONOLULU FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY ADVISOR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OIIP KMDR KPAO JA
SUBJECT: TOKYO MEDIA REACTION - PAKISTAN


LEAD STORIES: Most Friday morning papers gave top play
to the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister
Benazir Bhutto on Thursday.

1. "U.S. Concerned About Impact on War on Terror" A
Washington dispatch in the business-oriented Nikkei
wrote (12/28): "The death of pro-American political
leader Bhutto has dealt a heavy blow to the Bush
administration. President Bush condemned the act of
terrorism as a 'cowardly act by murderous extremists
who are trying to undermine Pakistan's democracy,' and
expressed concern about the incident's impact on
democratization in the nation.... Political instability
in Pakistan, which has nuclear weapons, will be a
diplomatic challenge for Washington from the standpoint
of nuclear nonproliferation."

2. "Pakistan Loses 'Key' to Stability" The liberal
Tokyo Shimbun's correspondent report from Bangkok
stated (12/28): "Benazir Bhutto, leader of the Pakistan
People's Party (PPP), was killed on Thursday during her
campaign for the general election to be held on January
8. The PPP appeared certain to do well in the coming
election, and cooperation between Bhutto and President
Musharraf had been expected. The death of the person
who held the key to stability and democratization in
that country will inevitably worsen the confusion in
Pakistani politics."

3. "International Community Faces Challenge" The
conservative Sankei wrote (12/28): "The assassination
of former Prime Minister Bhutto has worsened the chaos
in Pakistan. Further destabilization of the only
nuclear-armed Muslim nation could seriously damage the
U.S. military's ongoing operations in Afghanistan....
The Bhutto-led PPP was expected to gain seats in the
coming general election, and the next Pakistani
administration was expected to take a hard-line
approach to extremists. Bhutto's death has dealt a
severe blow to the global community, including the
U.S., which is looking to eradicate al-Qaeda and the
Taliban."

4. "General Election Could Be Postponed" The liberal
Mainichi's report from New Delhi speculated (12/28):
"The U.S.-outlined scenario of a coalition between
President Musharraf and PPP leader Bhutto following the
general election on January 8 as part of a USG
initiative to democratize the nation has collapsed.
There is speculation that the scheduled election could
be postponed if the political confusion in Pakistan
deepens."

5. "Assassination Adds to Turmoil in South Asia" The
liberal Asahi's report from Bangkok stated (12/28):
"The impact of Bhutto's murder on the international
community will be greater than that of past
assassinations, as the effects will likely be felt
beyond Pakistan. Pakistan became the first Muslim
country to go nuclear in 1998 and has been at the
frontline of the U.S.-led war on terrorism since
9/11.... The general election set for January 8 is
unlikely to be held as scheduled. Rioting in Pakistan
is a distinct possibility, given the strong reaction of
PPP supporters to the assassination. There does not

TOKYO 00005674 002 OF 002


appear to be any way to calm the situation, as Pakistan
appears to be on the verge of explosion."

DONOVAN

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