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UN to investigate Benazir's killing

July 11, 2008 12:46 IST

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has agreed to Pakistan's request to constitute an independent commission to inquire into the assassination of former Prime Minister  Benazir Bhutto.

But modalities and details are yet to be worked out for which the United Nations would hold consultations with Pakistan as also member States, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said after a 45-minute meeting with Ban last evening.

These include financial mechanism, composition, number of members, mechanism to ensure unhindered access to sources of information and ensuring its objectivity, impartiality and independence.

Addressing a press conference after the meeting, Qureshi said the commission will identify culprits, perpetrators, organisers and financiers behind the December 27 assassination of the Pakistan People's Party leader during an election rally in Rawalpindi.

 The PPP had demanded a UN-appointed independent inquiry saying it did not trust the government probe into the killing of their 54-year-old leader but the demand was rejected by president Pervez Musharraf [Images].

 However, after emerging victorious in the February 18 elections, the PPP-led coalition government ensured that the National Assembly passed a resolution for an independent UN inquiry.

"Broad understanding has been reached on the nature of the commission, its funding mechanism and composition," he said, adding that it would have access to all relevant information to reach its conclusions.

The modalities are yet to be worked out and its members would be decided by Ban in consultation with Pakistan.

But the minister declined to give details, saying they have yet to be "concretised".

However, Pakistan's United Nations Ambassador Munir Akram was more cautious in his assessment. Speaking from the same podium, he said the main outcome of the talks was "positive response" from Ban.

"What's concrete is a broad understanding on some very difficult issues, and we obviously have to work further to flesh them out, so it's premature to announce them before we've actually finished them up," he said.

Qureshi said Ban need not seek approval of the Security Council to constitute the commission but did not clarify who would authorise the funding.

Diplomats said the funding can only be authorized either the Council or the General Assembly.

"What is being discussed and for which consultations are required are the modalities. In principle, we have decided to move forward but modalities have to be discussed," Qureshi said.

Asked about the time frame, Qureshi said Pakistan would like the inquiry to be completed in the shortest possible time period but it was not for Islamabad to dictate the timeframe. However, "the broad understanding is that it should be done in the shortest possible time. We do not want it to be going on for years."

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