x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

UN chief vows to 'expose' Bhutto killers

The UN secretary-general will establish an independent commission of inquiry into the assassins of former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

ISLAMABAD // A UN investigation into the killing of former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto will eventually bring her assassins to justice, the Pakistani president and the UN secretary general said. Mrs Bhutto's husband, the Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari, said yesterday that a three-member commission would probe the Dec 27 2007 gun-and-suicide bomb attack. "We believe the commission's findings will eventually expose the financiers, the organisers, the sponsors and the conspirators of this terrorist act and bring them to justice," Mr Zardari told government officials after meeting UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon. Mr Ban said he would "very shortly" establish an independent commission of inquiry that would be headed by a "very distinguished person." He did not elaborate and gave no details on the mandate of the probe.

The UN announced in July that a probe would be launched into the assassination. Mrs Bhutto was killed as she was leaving a rally in the garrison town of Rawalpindi, where she was campaigning to return her Pakistan People's Party to power in parliamentary elections. The United States and other Western nations made no secret of their support for the politician, who they saw as a solid ally against Islamist militancy wracking Pakistan. The government at the time, led by president Pervez Musharraf, blamed Baitullah Mehsud, a Pakistani militant commander with reported links to Qa'eda. CIA officials also said Mr Mehsud was the chief suspect. But Mrs Bhutto's party repeatedly hinted that Gen Musharraf or his allies were involved and demanded a UN probe, claiming it was the only way the whole truth would be revealed. Mr Zardari, who became Pakistan's president after parliamentary elections in February, continued lobbying for a UN inquiry. Since taking power, Mr Zardari has angered some critics within his party by not aggressively investigating the slaying of his wife, apparently content to rely on the UN probe. Four people are already on trial in connection with Mrs Bhutto's murder. The trials are being held behind closed doors and no information has been released as to their alleged roles.

* AP