UN commission probing Bhutto`s assassination meets Musharraf

Last Updated: Thursday, November 19, 2009 - 12:43

New York: The UN investigation body probing former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto`s assassination has met and questioned former president Pervez Musharraf in a "frank and cordial" conversation.
The body, looking into the facts and circumstances behind the assassination, has met "dozens" of officials during its investigation, a spokesperson from the Secretary General`s office told journalists here today.

"The Commission of Inquiry says that it had a frank, open and cordial conversation with former president Musharraf, having been able to pose to him many queries on issues central to its mandate," the spokesperson said.

While the UN did not reveal the location of the meeting, a media report in Pakistan quoted Musharraf`s spokesperson Nasim Ashraf as saying that the meeting took place in
Philadelphia on October 27.

A brief statement carried by Dawn newspaper, quoted Musharraf as saying: "While I met the team, I strongly oppose any international probe into Pakistan`s domestic affairs".

Bhutto was killed in a gun and bomb attack at a rally in the garrison town of Rawalpindi in December 2007 while campaigning for parliamentary elections.

Investigations carried out by the then Musharraf government blamed Baitullah Mehsud, a Pakistani Taliban commander who operates in the lawless tribal areas of northwest region. UK`s Scotland Yard was also called to investigate the killing.

Bhutto`s supporters, not satisfied by Pakistani investigations, have accused Musharraf of having involvement in the assassination.

After Asif Ali Zardari became president, Pakistan requested the UN to conduct an independent investigation.

The Commission, which started its work on July 1 to perform "fact finding activities in Pakistan and abroad" was criticised for having a limited mandate.

The mandate of the body is limited to determining the facts and circumstances of the assassination and does not have any competence to establish criminal responsibilities.

The commission members have already met Zardari and members of his cabinet, including Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, and will soon be meeting opposition leader Nawaz Sharif.

It is expected to submit a report to UN chief Ban Ki-moon within six months of starting its work in July.

Ban will then share the report with the government of Pakistan and submit it to the Security Council.

Bureau Report

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First Published: Thursday, November 19, 2009 - 12:43

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