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UN to Investigate Benazir Bhutto Killing

February 05, 2009 04:14 PM
by Denis Cummings
The United Nations is to investigate the December 2007 assassination of Benazir Bhutto, hoping to find the individuals responsible for the attack.

UN to Open Bhutto Investigation

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced Wednesday in Pakistan that the UN will create an independent inquiry into the death of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was killed Dec. 27, 2007 in a suicide shooting and bombing attack.

The initial investigation, carried out by the Pakistani government, determined that Bhutto was killed by the bomb and that Taliban warlord Baitullah Mehsud masterminded the attack. Bhutto’s party, the Pakistan People’s Party, believes that Bhutto was killed by a bullet, however, and that former President Pervez Musharraf, a member of the rival PML-Q party, was behind the attacks.

Though a British investigation completed last February supported the findings of the Pakistani government investigation, the PPP maintained that the government withheld evidence and pushed for an independent investigation.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Bhutto’s widower, says he is pleased with the UN announcement. “We believe the commission’s findings will eventually expose the financiers, the organizers, the sponsors and the conspirators of this terrorist act and bring them to justice,” he told government officials Wednesday.

The UN investigation, according to Pakistani paper The Dawn, will be led by Chilean Ambassador Heraldo Munoz. Former Indonesian Attorney General Marzuki Darusman and a Swedish representative will round out the three-man commission.

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Benazir Bhutto was the daughter of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, founder of the PPP and prime minister from 1973 to 1977, who was hanged by the government in 1979. Following her father’s death she went into self-imposed exile but returned in 1986 to take control of the PPP.

In 1988, she was elected prime minister, becoming the first female leader of a Muslim-majority nation. She served two terms, from 1988 to 1990 and from 1993 to 1996, before being dismissed on corruption charges. She left Pakistan in 1999, spending the next eight years in Dubai and London.

At the urging of the United States, President Musharraf agreed to grant Bhutto amnesty from corruption charges, allowing her to return to the country and run in the January 2008 national elections. At her arrival in Pakistan on Oct. 18, 2007, two bombs allegedly planted by al-Qaida militants exploded, killing more than 100 people. Bhutto survived and pledged to continue campaigning.

Musharraf declared a state of emergency and briefly placed Bhutto under house arrest. Bhutto was highly critical of the decision to declare a state of emergency, and announced that it would be nearly impossible to maintain a working relationship with Musharraf.

“As breakups go, it was pretty spectacular,” Time magazine wrote in metaphor. “Bhutto ended months of speculation over a pending marriage of convenience between her and Pakistan’s President … by announcing she was breaking off the engagement.”

On Dec. 27, 2007 at a campaign rally in Rawalpindi, a gunman shot at her and set off a suicide bomb. Bhutto was killed, either by a bullet or piece of shrapnel to the head or by hitting her head against the sunroof of her car.

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