Pak military forced govt to record protest with UN on Benazir murder report

Pak’s military establishment had reacted strongly to the United Nations Commission report on former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s assassination.

Karachi: Pakistan’s military establishment had reacted strongly to the United Nations Commission report on former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, and forced the government to write a letter to the UN to reopen the inquiry, it has been revealed.

Official sources said that the army had termed the UN report that was issued in April this year a “bid to malign the national institution”, and prepared a detailed reply addressing all aspects of the report, the Dawn reports.

The reply was presented to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who was asked to send it to the UN to record the country’s protest against its report.

While convincing the government to register a protest with the UN on the report, the army said that the world body went beyond its mandate by accusing the ISI of conducting covert operations in India and Afghanistan.

The commission also accused former director-general of Military Intelligence, Maj-Gen Nadeem Ijaz, and some top police officials of being involved in hosing down the assassination site within 40 minutes after the killing.

ISPR Director-General Major-General Athar Abbas acknowledged that the military had some reservations on the report because it went beyond the mandate of the UN commission.

“We have conveyed our reservations with special reference to security related issues to the government and asked it to record protest with the UN,” Gen Abbas said.

According to the paper, apart from the issue of hosing down the site and the alleged involvement of some top military officials, some other findings opposed by the military are: “General Musharraf also had the full support of what is known in Pakistan as the ‘establishment’, the de facto power structure that has as its permanent core the military high command and intelligence agencies, in particular, the powerful, military-run ISI as well as Military Intelligence (MI) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB).”

“The capability of the establishment to exercise power in Pakistan is based in large part on the central role played by the Pakistani military and intelligence agencies in the country’s political life, with the military ruling the country directly for 32 of its 62 years as an independent state. General Musharraf finally stepped down as Chief of Army Staff (COAS) on November 28, 2007, handing the post over to his hand-picked successor, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. This did not, however, change the military nature of the regime.”

In its response to the letter sent by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the UN set aside Islamabad’s objection and ruled out the reopening of the inquiry, the paper said.

Qureshi’s letter said the UN commission’s observations about the Pakistan Army and the ISI were not based on evidence, and the report had a serious flaw because the commission had failed to approach third party states or provide some reliable information to unearth, if any, international linkages perpetrating, planning, financing and abetting Bhutto’s assassination, the paper added.

Earlier this month, a Joint Investigation Team formed to investigate the Benazir assassination case had issued its report, again blaming the slain chief of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, Baitullah Mehsud, of masterminding the murder.

However, the UN Commission had said that blaming the TTP leader for the assassination was a bid to divert the investigation from the right direction.