U.N. Probe: Bad Security Blamed For Bhutto Death
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
The political course of Pakistan changed dramatically in the closing days of 2007 when former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated. Just weeks earlier she'd returned from exile and was campaigning to return to power. Now a U.N. report has come to some damning conclusions about her assassination, among them that the government of then-President Pervez Musharraf, quote, "deliberately failed to investigate Bhutto's murder." NPR's Julie McCarthy is following this story from the capital, Islamabad. Hello.
JULIE MCCARTHY: Hi, Renee.
MONTAGNE: Now, does the U.N. investigation answer the question that has never been answered of who exactly killed Benazir Bhutto?
MCCARTHY: And according to the U.N., the news conference that was called by the Interior Ministry just 24 hours after her assassination saying the killer was found, the case was closed, was a deliberate whitewash that really kind of prejudiced any further investigation.
MONTAGNE: There's a conspiracy theory about members of Bhutto's own family being involved, and even including her own husband, who is the current president, Asif Ali Zardari.
MCCARTHY: That's right. It may sound shocking to a lot of people, but that theory is also widely heard on the streets of Pakistan, that President Zardari was involved in his wife's own murder. But it was completely debunked by this U.N. commission investigation. They said they had spoken to President Zardari on several occasions, and Chile's Ambassador Munoz said there is no credible evidence to support such a hypothesis. He said they spoke to more than 250 people and they determined these theories were based in opinion, not fact, and they didn't have any merit.
MONTAGNE: Now, did Pakistan officials cooperate with the U.N. investigation into Bhutto's death? I mean considering it sounds like the whole investigation suggests that they weren't very helpful in the first place.
MCCARTHY: The report talks about the need for criminal investigations into the role of extremists like the Taliban and al-Qaida, who made no bones about wanting Bhutto dead. But the U.N. also said the role of the establishment needed a thorough review. The U.N. investigators said that they were mystified, that's their word, by efforts of certain high ranking Pakistani government authorities to obstruct access to military and intelligence sources.
MONTAGNE: And any reaction thus far to this report from there in Islamabad?
MCCARTHY: Well, the president's spokesman said the findings confirmed what Bhutto's People's Party had maintained all along, that there was not adequate protection given to Benazir Bhutto, and they're also, of course, satisfied that the Bhutto family name really has been cleared by the U.N. investigation.
MONTAGNE: We've been talking to NPR's Julie McCarthy in Islamabad. Thanks very much.
MCCARTHY: Thank you, Renee.
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