Bhutto commission will not reopen inquiry

Last Updated: Thursday, April 1, 2010 - 13:46

New York: Following the decision that the Independent Commission of Inquiry will delay disclosing its findings, the United Nations said on Wednesday that the Commission will not reopen its investigations into the death of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto in light of Islamabad`s assertions that two heads of state have additional information on the matter.

"The Commissioners have informed the United Nations that the report is complete," UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky told journalists here.

"They believe that they have finished their work and that there is no need to include any further information. It is for them to consider whether they need to change their report," he added.

The Commission was ready to share its findings but this was postponed following an overnight communication received by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon from Pakistan’s
President Asif Ali Zardari requesting that the disclosure of report be delayed until April 15.

Neither Ban nor Pakistani officials have seen the report.

The UN has not commented on the reason for the delay in disclosing the report but Pakistan’s presidential spokesman, Farhatullah Babar, said the government wanted the commission`s report to include the comments of the three countries that had warned Bhutto.

However, it has rejected reports that it had delayed the publication of its committee probing the former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s assassination on President Asif Ali Zardari’s request.

Denying any interference from Zardari, a top UN official said the extension in duration of the inquiry committee was given purely on ‘technical’ grounds.

Pakistan wants the commission "to include in its report the comments of those three countries which had warned (Bhutto) on her return to Pakistan (in October 2007) that there were serious threats to her life and that she should take adequate precautionary measures," Babar told the media.

"We suggested to the commission that it would be helpful if the viewpoint of those three countries and their heads of governments, which had warned (Bhutto), is also incorporated," he said.

Responding to whether the commission would open investigations in light of Pakistan’s assertion about including the three governments, Nesriky said, "Commissioners have seen a considerable amount of relevant information, including what has been in the news media in recent days.”

"After conferring in light of the latest information, they continue to say that they have completed their work," he added.

Bhutto was killed in a gun and bomb attack at a rally in the garrison town of Rawalpindi in December 2007 campaigning for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in Parliamentary and Provincial Elections. Investigations carried out by then president Musharraf’s government blamed Baitullah Mehsud, a Pakistani Taliban commander who operated in the lawless tribal areas of northwest region.

Britain`s Scotland Yard was called into find whether Bhutto died from the blast or the gunfire. Her party rejected the findings that she died having hit the sunroof while escaping from the blast.

Bhutto’s supporters, not satisfied by Pakistani investigations, have accused Musharraf and his allies were involved in the murder.

Country-wide polls conducted at the time indicated that the majority of Pakistanis believe Musharraf`s government played a role in Bhutto’s assassination.

When Zardari became president, he asked the UN to carry out an independent investigation.

The Commission, which started its work on July 01 to perform "fact finding activities in Pakistan and abroad", was criticised for having a limited mandate.

The Commission commenced on July 01, 2009 and was to have submitted its report on December 31, 2009 but its term was extended for another three months.

The investigative team met with Musharraf in November.

At the completion of its mandate, the Commission will submit its report to the Secretary-General who will share it with the Government of Pakistan and a copy of the report will also be given to the Security Council for information.

PTI




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