--Nic Robertson, Senior International Correspondent
Today's assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is a blow for democracy in Pakistan and seems likely to cement the military's grip on power for the near future.
It will likely raise very serious concerns for the Bush administration that had been working behind the scenes since last summer to encourage Benazir Bhutto to end her exile, return to Pakistan, and seek political compromise with President Musharaff.
With Bhutto now dead, and Musharaff having shocked and disappointed US diplomats and State Department officials with his recent state of emergency, it seems the US has few reliable partners left.
The immediate future for Pakistanis seems undoubtedly one of high uncertainty with suspicion for Bhutto's death variously falling on President Musharaff, the country's intelligence services, and radical Islamists.
Any hope of having free and fair parliamentary elections, as scheduled for next month, appear to have been crushed.