U.S. House speaker calls for int’l investigation into Bhutto’s assassination

By Xinhua

Washington : U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi Saturday called for an international investigation into the assassination of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto before providing any more aid to the country.

Support TwoCircles

Pelosi, a Democrat, said in a statement that the U.S. government should make its assistance to Pakistan conditional on the country’s probe of Thursday’s assassination and cooperation in the anti-terrorism war with the U.S.

“The refusal by the (Pakistan President Pervez) Musharraf government to accept international assistance with the investigation of the assassination of former Prime Minister Bhutto, and recent reports that previous U.S. aid to Pakistan has been misspent, raise troubling questions about whether those conditions are being met,” she said.

“These questions must be addressed by the (U.S. President George W.) Bush administration before any additional U.S. aid is sent to the Musharraf government,” she added.

The House speaker also urged the Bush administration to “press the Pakistani government to ensure that the coming election is free and fair,” which was originally set for Jan. 8.

Bhutto, 54, was killed in a suicide bombing when she was leaving an election rally in Rawalpindi, a city near Islamabad.

She served twice as Pakistan’s prime minister between 1988 and 1996. After living in exile for eight years, she returned to Pakistan on Oct. 18. A suicide attack at her homecoming parade in Karachi took more than 140 lives.

The U.S. Congress has set restrictions last week on military aid to Pakistan in 2008 financial year by linking part of the aid package to benchmarks in “democracy” and the fight against terrorism.

However, the U.S. government said that it will get the money from the Congress to aid Pakistan despite the new restrictions on its annual aid package to Pakistan.