Re: [prezveepsenator] Militants, Bhutto aides allege cover-up
- Does anyone believe that Musharraf is not behind this and that he has become a full-blown dictator, orhas my cynicism got the best of me again?----- Original Message ----
From: Greg Cannon <gregcannon1@...>
To: firstname.lastname@example.org; UTEP Progressives <email@example.com>
Sent: Saturday, December 29, 2007 8:40:46 AM
Subject: [prezveepsenator] Militants, Bhutto aides allege cover-up
http://news. yahoo.com/ s/ap/20071229/ ap_on_re_ as/pakistan; _ylt=AoEuI. Fm3_t2aEvcw201Yo Os0NUE
Militants, Bhutto aides allege cover-up
By RAVI NESSMAN, Associated Press Writer 17 minutes
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - An Islamic militant group said
Saturday it had no link to Benazir Bhutto's killing
and the opposition leader's aides accused the
government of a cover-up, disputing the official
account of her death.
The government stood firmly by its account of
Thursday's assassination and insisted it needed no
foreign help in any investigation.
"This is not an ordinary criminal matter in which we
require assistance of the international community. I
think we are capable of handling it," said Interior
Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema.
Bhutto's aides said they doubted militant commander
Baitullah Mehsud was behind the attack on the
opposition leader and said the government's claim that
she died when she hit her head on the sunroof of her
vehicle was "dangerous nonsense."
Cheema said the government's account was based on
"nothing but the facts"
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham
Clinton called for an independent, international
investigation into Bhutto's death — perhaps by the
United Nations — saying Friday there was "no reason to
trust the Pakistani government."
Attackers opened fire at a motorcade of Bhutto's
supporters as they returned to Karachi after her
funeral, killing one man and wounding two, said Waqar
Mehdi, a spokesman for Bhutto's party. The government
said mass rioting has killed 38 people and caused tens
of millions of dollars in damage.
In Rawalpindi, thousands of Bhutto supporters spilled
onto the streets after a prayer ceremony for her,
throwing stones and clashing with police who fired
tear gas to try and subdue the crowd.
President Pervez Musharraf told his top security
officials that those looting and plundering "must be
dealt with firmly and all measures be taken to ensure
(the) safety and security of the people," the
Associated Press of Pakistan reported.
Pakistan's election commission called an emergency
meeting for Monday to discuss the violence's impact on
Jan. 8 parliamentary elections.
Nine election offices in Bhutto's home province of
Sindh in the south were burned to the ground, along
with voter rolls and ballot boxes, the commission said
in a statement. The violence also hampered the
printing of ballot papers, training of poll workers
and other pre-election logistics, the statement said.
The U.S. government, which sees nuclear-armed Pakistan
as a crucial ally in the war on terror, has pushed
Musharraf to keep the election on track to promote
stability, moderation and democracy in Pakistan,
American officials said.
Prime Minister Mohammedmian Soomro said Friday the
government had no immediate plans to postpone the
election, despite the violence and the decision by
Nawaz Sharif, another opposition leader, to boycott
Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party also called a meeting
Sunday to decide whether to participate in the vote.
Her widower, Asif Ali Zardari, told the British
Broadcasting Corp. that their son would read a message
left by Bhutto and addressed to the party in event of
Roads across Bhutto's southern Sindh province were
littered with burning vehicles, smoking reminders of
the continuing chaos since her assassination Thursday.
Factories, stores and restaurants were set ablaze in
Pakistan's biggest city, Karachi, where 17 people have
been killed and dozens injured, officials said.
Army, police and paramilitary troops patrolled the
nearly deserted streets of Bhutto's home city of
Larkana, where rioting left shops at a jewelry market
The government blamed Bhutto's killing on al-Qaida and
Taliban militants operating with increasing impunity
in the lawless tribal areas along the border with
Afghanistan. It released a transcript Friday of a
purported conversation between Mehsud and another
militant, apparently discussing the assassination.
"It was a spectacular job. They were very brave boys
who killed her," Mehsud said, according to the
But a spokesman for Mehsud, Maulana Mohammed Umer,
denied the militant was involved in the attack and
dismissed the allegations as "government propaganda."
"The fact is that we are only against America, and we
don't consider political leaders of Pakistan our
enemy," he said in a telephone call he made to The
Associated Press from the tribal region of South
Waziristan, adding that he was speaking on
instructions from Mehsud.
Cheema said the government had evidence to back its
"I don't think anybody has the capability to carry out
such suicide attacks except for those people," he
Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party accused the government
of trying to frame Mehsud, saying the militant —
through emissaries — had previously told Bhutto he was
not involved in the Karachi bombing.
"The story that al-Qaida or Baitullah Mehsud did it
appears to us to be a planted story, an incorrect
story, because they want to divert the attention,"
said Farhatullah Babar, a spokesman for Bhutto's
After the Karachi attack, Bhutto accused elements in
the ruling pro-Musharraf party of plotting to kill
her. The government denied the claims. Babar said
Bhutto's allegations were never investigated.
Bhutto was killed Thursday evening when a suicide
attacker shot at her and then blew himself up as she
left a rally in the garrison city of Rawalpindi near
Islamabad. The attack killed about 20 others as well.
Authorities initially said she died from bullet
wounds, and a surgeon who treated her said the impact
from shrapnel on her skull killed her.
But Cheema said she was killed when she tried to duck
back into the armored vehicle during the attack, and
the shock waves from the blast smashed her head into a
lever attached to the sunroof, fracturing her skull,
"We gave you absolute facts, nothing but the facts,"
he said. "It was corroborated by the doctors' report.
It was corroborated by the evidence collected."
Bhutto's spokeswoman Sherry Rehman, who was in the
vehicle with her boss, disputed the government's
"To hear that Ms. Bhutto fell from an impact from a
bump on a sunroof is absolutely rubbish. It is
dangerous nonsense, because it implies there was no
assassination attempt," she told the BBC.
"There was a clear bullet wound at the back of the
neck. It went in one direction and came out another,"
she said. "My entire car is coated with her blood, my
clothes, everybody — so she did not concuss her head
against the sun roof."
The government said it was forming two inquiries into
Bhutto's death, one to be carried out by a high court
judge and another by security forces.
Associated Press writers Zarar Khan in Larkana,
Sadaqat Jan in Islamabad, Ishtiaq Mahsud in Dera
Ismail Khan and Afzal Nadeem in Karachi contributed to