(New York) - The assassination of Benazir Bhutto is a tragic event with serious implications for Pakistan’s transition to democracy, Human Rights Watch said today.

“Political violence of this nature has claimed far too many innocent lives in Pakistan and it must stop,” said Ali Dayan Hasan, South Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Benazir Bhutto was a democrat who believed in the supremacy of constitutional rule and throughout her career, sought power through the ballot box. Today, she died campaigning for votes and calling for a free election.”

Human Rights Watch called upon the Pakistani government to undertake an independent and transparent investigation into Bhutto’s assassination and fully cooperate with such an investigation.

“Given Bhutto’s public accusations of government threats against her and the absence of judicial independence in Pakistan, an independent and transparent investigation is absolutely essential,” said Hasan.

The government and security forces should ensure that fundamental rights are not violated and people are allowed to peacefully express their grief and anger.

“To prevent Pakistan’s descent into further political chaos at this delicate time, it is essential that both the government and Bhutto’s supporters follow the rule of law and remain peaceful,” said Hasan.