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Bilawal says he doesn't trust probe under Musharraf regime
January 08, 2008 18:09 IST
Last Updated: January 08, 2008 19:21 IST
Taking on president Pervez Musharraf [Images], Bilawal Bhutto on Tuesday made it clear that he did not trust any investigation under the present Pakistan regime into the assassination of his mother Benazir Bhutto [Images] to be transparent.
He also alleged that a lot of forensic evidences has already been destroyed.
The 19-year-old son of Benazir said that his mother would have been alive if the security sought by her had been provided by the Pakistan government.
Addressing a press conference in London [Images], Bilawal, who is studying at the Oxford University, said, "We do not believe that the investigation under the Pakistan government has the necessary transparency".
Benazir was assassinated on December 27 after she addressed an election rally in Rawalpindi, near the Pakistan capital Islamabad.
Bilawal, anointed chairman of the Pakistan People's Party, said he did appreciate that a team of Scotland Yard has gone to Pakistan to assist in the investigations, but went on to note, "Already so much forensic evidences have been destroyed".
The PPP has raised its pitch demanding a United Nations probe into the former premier's assassination.
Recalling that Benazir had requested protection by the Pakistan government, Bilawal said, "It is our belief that had she been provided with adequate protection, she would have been alive today".
"Since the death is under investigation, I am not going to comment on who, we believe, is responsible for it," a composed Bilawal said.
Asked whether he nursed any fears, Bilawal said, "I fear for my country. I fear that if free and fair elections are not held, then the country may disintegrate".
When asked if he feared for his life, he replied, "I fear for my privacy".
On several occasions during his press meet, Bilawal asked the media to respect his privacy and allow him to complete his undergraduate studies.
"My mother was always very open to the press. I am only too willing to give time to talk to journalists, and I should like to continue the good relationship. But, in moderation, not only for my own sake, but also for the sake of my fellow students and the college".
Bilawal, who fielded questions from the international media with ease, said he was prepared to schedule press conferences. "But, when I am in Oxford, I hope that I can be left alone. On behalf of my sisters in Dubai, I also like to request you to respect their privacy," he added.
On Indo-Pak relations, Bilawal said, "I believe Pakistan should be able to have a peaceful co-existence with all its neighbours".
He said the running of the PPP would be left to his father, Asif Ali Zardari, who is the co-chairman. "At the moment, I am concentrating only on my studies," he said.
On the drawbacks of his being an 'outsider', Bilawal shot back, "It was not my choice to live outside Pakistan. It was made impossible as my mother was sent in exile. I cannot pretend to relate in the same way as people living there, but I am fully aware of what is happening there," he said.
Asked how he could lay claim to the leadership of the PPP when he had not lived most of his life in Pakistan, Bilawal said, "I do not intend to claim the leadership. The central committee of the party decides the leadership issue. I fully intend to complete my studies first".
"If the people of Pakistan do not want the Bhutto leadership, they will not vote for it," Bilawal said.
Asked whether the reputation of his father would affect the image of the party, Bilawal said, "My father was in prison for years but nothing has been proven against him."
About the impact of his mother's assassination, he said, "It made me more resilient and I feel that I really want to see democracy in Pakistan. We have lost our best hope, but we haven't lost our only hope".
"You know there is a Pakistani slogan that says 'how many Bhuttos can you kill'. From every house, a Bhutto will come".
On the political aspirations of his cousins, Bilawal sounded cautious. "I love my cousins. My mother never commented in public against them and I would love to unite the family. But when my mother was alive, they did not support her political ideology," he said.
Bilawal had no qualms in admitting that Benazir had 'not specifically mentioned' his name in her will. "She has mentioned my father's name," he said, adding that at the time of crisis, an obvious reference to her period in exile, this was felt necessary by the family.
Bilawal also candidly stated that he had never harboured political aspirations. "I was called and I stepped up and did what I was asked to do".
"I was raised by my mother. I was not completely involved in what she did but she informed me about everything," he said.
Bilawal said Benazir was courageous and loved being with the people, despite the risks.
"On the day of her death, she knew that so many thousands had travelled far across the country to see her. It was the same courage she showed when she stood in the front of the bus when she returned from exile last October," he said.
Benazir had survived the explosions that had left over 140 killed at her homecoming rally on October 18.