Zardari stops release of Bhutto assassination report



Islamabad: President Asif Ali Zardari stopped Interior Minister Rehman Malik from making public a report on the investigation into the assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto, according to a media report on Saturday.

"Zardari barred Malik from presenting the report at a meeting of the Central Executive Committee of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party that was held on Benazir's fifth death anniversary on Thursday.

"The move came in the wake of an increase in differences between Zardari and Malik," the Urdu newspaper Daily Express quoted its sources as saying.

The President issued instructions to Malik not to make the report public just hours before the PPP held a rally outside the Bhutto family mausoleum at Garhi Khuda Bux in Sindh on Thursday.

Malik had earlier told the media about his intention to make the report public. Bhutto was assassinated by a suicide bomber after addressing an election rally in Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007.

The report said Malik wanted to present the report at the meeting of the PPP's central executive committee.

He even suggested that PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari should launch his political career by revealing the report, sources told the daily.

Bilawal, who is expected to lead the PPP's campaign for next year's general election, formally launched his political career by addressing the massive rally at Garhi Khuda Bux.

Over the past few days, Malik has met members of the team from the Federal Investigation Agency that is investigating Bhutto's assassination and other senior officials.

He had also personally overseen the publication of the investigation report running into several hundred pages.

Malik had planned to distribute copies of the report among PPP leaders and journalists, the report said. Zardari rejected Malik's suggestions and directed the Interior Minister not to present the report before the rally in Garhi Khuda Bux.

On receiving these instructions, Malik directed officials to stop the publication of the report, which was in the final stages.

There has been considerable speculation in political circles in Islamabad about the reported differences between Zardari and Malik, sources said.

PTI