M A I N   N E W S

Benazir had proof of ISI-EC nexus, claims Zardari

New Delhi, January 1
Former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was killed because she was planning to expose an ISI plot to rig the elections, her husband Asif Zardari claimed today. “Yes, I am confirming that,” Zardari told CNN-IBN when asked about a media report that Bhutto was killed as she was planning to expose an ISI plot to rig the elections.

He said Bhutto “has been exposing and talking about the rigging mechanism which is part of this cartel government. And the cartel league is part and parcel of the conspiracy.”

Zardari said Bhutto has already named some people in a letter to President Pervez Musharraf who she felt threatened from and has left another letter that the party was considering.

Bhutto had written a letter to Musharraf on October 16 in which she had named three members of his government who should be investigated in the event of any attack on her.

He also rejected the government’s argument that more time was needed for the elections as poll offices have been targeted in rioting and the ballot paper printing process had been interrupted.

“I don’t agree with you because the printing system today is improvised and therefore it’s not a reason. When there was a war in Afghanistan, they called an election. Sri Lanka is always in the state of war and they have elections. This is not war, this is rioting,” Zardari said.

He said the Pakistan People’s Party would take all routes possible to go to the people during the campaigning.

Zardari, however, made it clear his son, 19-year-old Bilawal, who has been made chairman of the PPP following his mother’s death, will not take to the streets to campaign for the party.

Meanwhile, Ghinwa Bhutto, sister-in-law of slain Benazir Bhutto, has opposed the demand for a probe into the former Prime Minister’s assassination on the lines of the UN’s investigation of the killing of Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri, saying it would tantamount to direct interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs.

Ghinwa, who is of Lebanese origin and was married to Bhutto’s brother Murtaza, said Bhutto’s killing should be investigated by Pakistani investigators. — PTI



Newest U-turn
Rezaul H. Laskar

Islamabad, January 1
On a day of flip-flops, the Pakistan government today apologised for its claim that former premier Benazir Bhutto was not shot to death but hours later retracted on it.

Interior minister Hamid Nawaz Khan clarified that the government still stood by the “factual position” that Bhutto died of a skull fracture and not from a bullet wound.

His remarks came hours after he was quoted by the media as urging people to “forgive and ignore” comments made by his ministry’s spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema that Bhutto had struck her head on a metal lever on the sunroof of her armoured Toyota Land Cruiser, resulting in a fatal skull fracture.

But Khan said his apology was only for some “crude words” that the spokesman had used and it had “no effect on the factual position” taken by the government. Asked by Dawn News channel if the interior ministry still believed Bhutto was not shot, Khan replied: “So far, that is the position.”

“There is no change in the factual position,” he said, adding the investigation into Bhutto’s death “is going to take some time”. Cheema’s comments that Bhutto died after hitting her head on a metal lever in her car were made at a news conference a day after she was assassinated in Rawalpindi on December 27.

The comments created a uproar after TV channels obtained privately shot photos and video footage which showed a gunman shooting at Bhutto.

Meanwhile, the home department of Punjab province today issued a front-page advertisement in newspapers offering a reward of Rs 1 crore for information about the gunman and the suspected suicide bomber seen in the photos and video footage of the assassination. — PTI



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