200,000 Pakistanis gather to honor Benazir


Karachi : Around 200,000 Pakistanis have gathered at the mausoleum of Pakistan’s former PM Benazir Bhutto to mark the first anniversary of her assassination.
Ceremonies in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh, southern Pakistan, are expected to include prayers, poetry and speeches. Benazir Bhutto was killed in a gun and suicide bomb attack as she was leaving a rally in the garrison town of Rawalpindi, just outside the capital of Islamabad on December 27, 2007. People from all over Pakistan have been traveling by train, bus, car and even on foot to the Bhutto family mausoleum in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh.

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“She gave her life for the people of this country, so we can walk a few miles to pay homage to her dignity,” Sher Mohammad, who walked hundreds of kilometres to the mausoleum, told the Associated Press.

Mrs Bhutto’s widower, Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari, is expected to speak at the ceremony. Thousands of police officers have been deployed in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh, amid fears that Mr Zardari could also be targeted. At United Nations headquarters in New York, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said yesterday that he was hopeful a U.N. commission will be established in the near future to investigate Bhutto’s killing. The government at the time, led by President Pervez Musharraf, blamed Baitullah Mehsud, a Pakistani militant commander with reported links to al-Qaida, citing a communications intercept in which Mehsud allegedly congratulated some of his henchmen.
A Mehsud spokesman has denied any involvement. Bhutto’s party and Zardari demanded a UN probe. U.N. deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe said the U.N. Secretariat “has been in consultations with the government of Pakistan to determine the nature of the commission, the scope of its mandate and the modalities for its establishment.” The Security Council must authorize any investigating commission. “The secretary-general is hopeful that, with the progression of the discussions, the commission could be established in the near future,” Okabe said.