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Scotland Yard to assist Bhutto assassination probe
Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad | January 02, 2008 22:51 IST
After flip-flops on what and who killed Benazir Bhutto [Images], Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf [Images] on Wednesday night said Britain's elite Scotland Yard will assist in the investigations into her assassination.
A team from the ace British investigating agency will be arriving in Pakistan shortly to help in the local investigation, he said in a televised address to the nation.
"I am grateful to [British] Prime Minister Gordon Brown. When I put up this request, he agreed," Musharraf said in his first public comments after questions were raised over the government's version of Bhutto's assassination.
"We hope this inquiry will help in removing all doubts and suspicions," he added.
The announcement came amidst serious doubts raised over the Pakistan government's changing versions, including one that said Bhutto died not due to bullet wounds but from the injury caused by a metal lever of her vehicle's sun roof when she fell ducking a suicide bomber attack.
In the wake of a controversy over the government's claim, the interior ministry on Tuesday apologised for the version and later made a U-turn saying the regret was only for certain words used by the ministry spokesperson.
Musharraf said the postponement of the January 8 general elections to February 18 was unavoidable. "The postponement was unavoidable and the decision taken by the Election Commission is correct," he said.
Musharraf said he wanted the elections to be held as per schedule but it had become impossible because of the severe damage to the Election Commission machinery, particularly in Sindh province, in the violence following Bhutto's assassination on December 27.
He said the army and the Pakistan Rangers deployed in Sindh province to deal with law and order situation would stay till the elections and even beyond.
Musharraf said he was determined to have free, fair and peaceful elections.
The commission had on Wednesday deferred the Parliamentary polls by 41 days rejecting the demand of main opposition parties, including that of Bhutto's People's Democratic Party, not to postpone the exercise.
Musharraf expressed confidence that after the elections, the country would get a transparent and democratic government.
In his address, the Pakistan president called for a political reconciliation in the wake of Bhutto's assassination. "This is the time for reconciliation and not for confrontation," he said.
"The nation has experienced a great tragedy. Benazir Bhutto has died in the hands of terrorists. I pray to god almighty to put the eternal soul of Benazir at peace," Musharraf said.
He said Bhutto's mission was to promote democracy and to struggle against terrorism. "I want to assure you that this is my mission too. I want to promote democracy and eliminate terrorism," he said in remarks aimed at reaching out to Bhutto's PPP.
Musharraf, in his nearly 30-minute speech -- his first major address since Bhutto's slaying � said, "We would like to know what led to the martyrdom of Benazir Bhutto."
He blamed miscreants and some political elements of taking advantage of the volatile situation to loot and plunder.
Houses were burnt, shops selectively targetted, particularly those selling arms and ammunition and there were jail-breaks resulting in a serious law and order situation, he said.
Some people with machine guns and rocket launchers were still roaming the streets bringing fear among peace-loving people, Musharraf added.
"We need to fight terrorism with full force and I think if we don't succeed in the fight... the future of Pakistan will be bleak," he said, appealing to the people and the media to support the government and the security agencies.