Bhutto killing: Pakistan denies delaying UN probe report


Islamabad: Fresh tensions seem to be brewing between Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, with the latter denying Wednesday that the government had asked the UN to delay the release of its report into the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

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“We had not asked United Nations commission to delay the report about the facts and circumstances of the assassination,” Gilani told the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament.

His statement came a day after a spokesman of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was quoted as saying that the release of the report, scheduled for Tuesday, had been deferred to April 15 at Zardari’s request.

Noting that parliament had unanimously decided to seek a UN probe into Bhutto’s killing in a gun and bomb attack December 27, 2007 as she left a political rally in the adjacent garrison town of Rawalpindi, Gilani asked: “How can we stop the investigation report?”

Analysts here said the statement, distancing the government from the delay in the release of the probe report, could trigger fresh tensions between Gilani and Zardari, who have been engaged in a fierce turf battle. Gilani has often asserted that he, and not Zardari, runs the country.

Pakistan had in July 2008 sought a UN probe into Bhuttto’s killing after its own investigations and one by Scotland Yard failed to make headway.

This is largely because the spot where Bhutto was killed was hosed down soon after, destroying whatever evidence that could have been gathered.

The UN probe had begun in June 2009 and is believed to have cost the Pakistani government Rs.200 million.