DES MOINES, IOWA -- John McCain reacted this morning to the assassination of Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
"I think we all can appreciate why this is so important to America. Pakistan is our ally in our war against the Taliban in Afghanistan. I think you know that Pakistan is a nuclear armed state... I think you also know that there has been a lot of domestic upheaval going on in that country. And apparently it was proceeding to a situation where Musharraf would step down as the leader of the military and was running for president. He very likely was going to succeed there, and Benazir Bhutto was probably going to be the prime minister. An uneasy relationship between Benazir Bhutto and Musharraf."
"It probably would have been a different situation, but the democratic process would have moved forward. Her opponent, an individual named Sharif, is probably a person that has a history in Pakistan that, at least in my person opinion was not the most admirable."
"I don't know all the circumstances surrounding her death and it's not really important right now except that it was a great tragedy. And, of course, whenever something like this happens you figure out who are the winners and losers."
"Right now there is significant unrest in Pakistan as we speak. There are people who are blaming Musharraf for it. That's why I say, 'who are the winners and losers?' It seems to me that the winners are the radical Islamic extremists. Benazir Bhutto had dedicated herself and had said on several occasions that she would fight a battle against jihadists and radical Islamic extremists. And she promised the people of Pakistan that.
"Obviously when something like this happens who is it that gains, and that is the elements of unrest, disorder and revolution. So I don't know what's going to happen in Pakistan right now. I do know that since they are a nuclear-armed state, since they are our key ally in Afghanistan where we have been having difficulties that this is a very tense and difficult time. I hope that we can see the unrest subsided. I hope that we can see the commitment again of Musharraf for fair and free elections. And obviously one of the keys to this is going to be law and order. Whether law and order will be able to be maintained or not. I hope that will be the case. But it's going to be a significant time of unrest."
"What can the United States of America do? The United States of America can express our advocacy for the rule of law, express our willingness to help in what every way we can with the democratic and economic needs of the country, and that we recognize this is a very difficult time for Pakistan and the Middle East. I'd like to tell you I can wave a magic wand or have some elixir that would cure this problem. It's going to be a very tense and unsteady time in Pakistan and the United States does care for the reason I've mentioned to you before.
"If I were president of the United States, I would be on the phone right now, and I would be meeting with the National Security Council, and I would be seeing ways that we could restore order, or maintain order, or restore order, whichever is the case in Pakistan. I know the players I know the individuals, and I know the best way to address this situation."
"So our sympathy goes out to the people of Pakistan for the loss of this fine and decent woman, who came back from exile to serve her country, knowing full well that she was placing her life in risk."