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Karachi Blasts Probe
Benazir steps up pressure on govt

Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto listens to an injured victim, who was hurt in last Friday’s bombing incident, at Jinnah Hospital in Karachi
Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto listens to an injured victim, who was hurt in last Friday’s bombing incident, at Jinnah Hospital in Karachi on Sunday. — Reuters photo

Karachi, October 21
Stepping up pressure on the Pakistani government, former premier Benazir Bhutto today registered a complaint with the police in which she again referred to three unnamed government officials who posed a threat to her life and saying streetlights were deliberately switched off to facilitate the suicide attack on her motorcade.

Bhutto, who made an unannounced visit to the Jinnah Hospital to enquire about Pakistan People's Party workers injured in the blasts, said, "The security by PPP workers and the police was 100 per cent but unfortunately, due to sabotage, the lights on the entire Sharae Faisal avenue were put off. So we couldn't spot the suicide attacker.”

"If the lights were on and if we could have spotted the attackers, no suicide bomber would have been able to come near the motorcade," she said of the attack which killed almost 140 people.

"This should be investigated by the Pakistani authorities," she said. "I don't want security just for myself. It should be given to all leaders, especially those in the Opposition."

Earlier in the day, senior PPP leaders, including Bhutto's close aide Sherry Rehman, Syed Qaim Ali Shah and Aftab Shahban Mirani, went to Bahadurabad police station and submitted a letter from the former Prime Minister for the registration of an FIR.

As at her press conference on Friday, in which she first publicly spoke about the three officials, Bhutto's letter to the police did not name these persons.

However, leading Pakistani newspaper The News had yesterday quoted unnamed sources to identify the three persons as Sindh Chief Minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim, Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, who is also the cousin of PML-Q president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, and Intelligence Bureau chief Brig Ejaz Shah (retd).

The sources also said that Bhutto had demanded their immediate removal.

The streets of Karachi wore a deserted look for the third consecutive day today, largely because of a three-day mourning called by the PPP. Large numbers of people attended funeral prayers organised by the PPP at the People's Secretariat.

Suicide bomber not alone

Investigators probing the suicide attack took in three men for questioning yesterday and also questioned seven militants currently held in jails in Karachi for information on the blasts.

The three men, all from Punjab province, were picked up after being linked to a car from which an attacker allegedly threw a grenade at Bhutto's motorcade a short while before a suicide bomber blew himself up near the former premier's armoured truck.

Investigations have revealed evidence suggesting that the suicide bomber was not alone and was accompanied by four or five accomplices.

Investigators are also focusing on a second severed and badly mutilated head found on a tree a short distance from the site of the two blasts.

The probe had initially centred around a severed head found at the site of the explosions. The police had released photos of this head, believed to be of a local, clean-shaven man in his twenties.

A senior security official told the Dawn newspaper on condition of anonymity that the suicide bomber had been part of a suspicious-looking group of men. This group had been spotted by a policeman standing under a flyover in the Karsaz area. The suicide bomber was supposedly armed with a device containing about 15 kg of explosives and thousands of pellets that caused widespread devastation and mayhem.

Rice speaks to Benazir

Islamabad: US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice telephoned former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and expressed sympathy over the loss of lives in the suicide attack on her rally in Karachi, on Sunday.

Rice, who has played a key role in facilitating secret parleys between the Pakistan People's Party leader and embattled President Pervez Musharraf, said she was heartened that Bhutto escaped the assassination attempt.

Rice also condemned the attack, said a brief statement from the PPP. — PTI



Tops leadership survey

Islamabad: Former Pakistani Premier Benazir Bhutto is a better bet to lead the country than President Pervez Musharraf, according to a new survey.

Fifty per cent of Pakistanis also approved Bhutto's return to the country though respondents in the poll had mixed feelings about the prospect of her becoming Prime Minister for a third term.

The poll, conducted in urban areas of the country by AC Nielsen Pakistan for WorldPublicOpinion.org, found that one in three respondents was opposed to her homecoming.

Equal numbers - 40 per cent - favoured and opposed her becoming Prime Minister for a third term, The Dawn reported today.

The poll of 907 Pakistanis found that Bhutto was marginally ahead of Musharraf in the race to lead the country.

Asked who would be the best person to lead Pakistan, 27 per cent favoured Bhutto while 21 per cent backed Musharraf. Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had a similar level of support, with 21 per cent endorsing him as the best person to lead Pakistan. — PTI



Bhutto responsible: Niece

Benazir Bhutto bears the responsibility for the deaths of 139 people in an attack during her homecoming parade by exposing them to danger for the sake of her own "personal theatre", her estranged niece said.

Newspaper columnist and poet Fatima Bhutto, the granddaughter of late Pakistani Premier Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, also told AFP in an interview that her aunt's return from exile would plunge the country further into turmoil.

"She insisted on this grand show. She bears a responsibility for these deaths and for these injuries," the 25-year-old said at her plush family home in Karachi two days after the bombings.

Fatima Bhutto is the daughter of former Prime Minister Benazir's late brother Murtaza, who was killed by the police in Karachi in 1996 amid murky circumstances that led to the collapse of her second term in government.

Murtaza led a Left-wing extremist group after military ruler Zia-ul-Haq executed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1979 and then fell out with his sister over what he felt was her betrayal of their father's political legacy.

Fatima Bhutto accused the Opposition leader of protecting herself on her return to Pakistan with an armoured truck, while exposing hundreds of thousands of supporters despite warnings of an attack.

Benazir’s Pakistan People's Party dismissed "senseless accusations" that she was responsible for the deaths, saying it was the government's job to protect its citizens. — AFP



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