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Thousands in Pakistan mark second anniversary of Bhutto’s death


Islamabad: Thousands of people Sunday commemorating the second anniversary of the death of Pakistan’s former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, called on the government to unmask her assassins.

Bhutto was killed in a gun-and-bomb attack when she was leaving a park after an election rally in the garrison town of Rawalpindi Dec 27, 2007.

Crowds of people, including children, on Sunday travelled to the Bhutto family mausoleum in the Garhi Khuda Bakhsh village in Sindh province.

Many wailed and wept as others recited from the Koran and prayed, footage aired by several television channels showed.

Members of Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) called for her killers to be brought to book.

A United Nations commission probing Bhutto’s death had been due to present its report by the end of the year, but it has now been given another month to complete the investigation.

Strict security arrangements were observed in the wake of a series of militant attacks across the country in recent weeks.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani along with his cabinet members visited the mausoleum, where he vowed to take forward Bhutto’s mission to strengthen democracy in the country.

The PPP formed a coalition government after the February 2008 general elections and later forced former military strongman Pervez Musharraf to resign under threats of impeachment.

Bhutto’s widower, Asif Ali Zardari, became the president but faced criticism after few months in office for holding onto the sweeping powers he inherited from Musharraf as well as for a controversial amnesty that shielding him and his aides from corruption charges.

Musharraf had issued the decree, known as National Reconciliation Ordinance, as part of a power-sharing deal with Bhutto.

The Supreme Court scrapped the amnesty Dec 16, 2009, reopening the cases against more than 8,000 beneficiaries, including Zardari who now enjoys presidential immunity against prosecution.

Several leaders of the PPP’s main opposition, the Pakistan Muslim Leagues-Nawaz party, and civil rights activists have asked Zardari to relinquish the charge on moral grounds.

But the beleaguered president on Sunday said he was seeing a “conspiracy” behind the pressure from his political opponents, establishment and media to quit his office.

“One should not take our patience as a weakness,” Zardari told a gathering in the southern Naudero town to mark the second anniversary of his late wife’s death.

“There are only two places for Asif Ali Zardari – either president or prime minister house or jail,” he remarked.