The assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto Thursday will likely add to the chaos in Pakistan, complicating an already difficult lobbying effort.
Bhutto's party, the Pakistan People's Party, has been represented by Burson-Marsteller and its affiliates, including BKSH & Associates and polling firm Penn, Schoen, Berland & Associates, since last January. Registrations filed with the Department of Justice last year show the party agreed to pay a one-time fee of $75,000 for polling services, along with $28,500 per month for other services. Among the companies' duties: coordinating meetings for Prime Minister Bhutto with U.S. officials. No one at Burston-Marsteller could be reached for comment on Bhutto's assassination Thursday.
The turmoil in Pakistan has already had fallout on K Street. Cassidy & Associates withdrew from a $1.2 million contract with Pakistan's government last month, after President Pervez Musharraf declared emergency rule. Read Legal Times' story about that here. The embassy still has a $55,000 per month contract with Van Scoyoc Associates, led by Mark Tavlarides.
"This is a terrible day for Pakistan and this is very sad," Tavlarides says, adding that it's too early to say anything else about the assassination or the events surrounding it. He says he hasn't received calls from the Hill yet, but "I think eventually what you’ll see people are going to want to see investigations" into who is responsible.