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US, Pak promised Benazir she will be next PM: Report

Source: PTI
February 09, 2011 20:19 IST
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Slain Pakistan People's Party leader Benazir Bhutto was given an assurance by the "highest authorities" in Pakistan and the US that she would be the next Prime Minister after the 2008 general elections, according to a media report on Wednesday.

Data retrieved from Bhutto's two BlackBerry phones, which were recently found by the staff at her home in Karachi, revealed the "firm assurance" given to her by authorities in Pakistan and the United States that she would be the next premier, The Express Tribune newspaper quoted its sources as saying.

An unnamed close associate of Bhutto, who is now a member of parliament, informed Bhutto through an email that the then US Secretary of State and the then chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency had "given the nod" to her becoming the next premier, the report said.

One email sent by a leading Pakistan Peoples Party leader to Bhutto on October 23, 2007 said, "Respected Prime Minister, the United States confirmed that a crucial message had been sent to intelligence agencies of Pakistan, specifically not to interfere in party affairs and stay away from the electoral process. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and director-general Inter-Services Intelligence have done a secret deal for your premiership. Congratulations Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and warm regards."

Two-time former premier Bhutto, who returned to Pakistan from self-exile in October 2007, was barred from a third stint as Prime Minister under a constitutional provision.

Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who was the ISI chief in 2007, had held secret negotiations with Bhutto on a possible power-sharing arrangement with then President Pervez Musharraf before her return to Pakistan. Kayani was replaced as ISI chief by Lt Gen Nadeem Taj in October 2007.

Nearly 60 e-mails were retrieved from Bhutto's BlackBerry phones by a special team of the Federal Investigation Agency, The Express Tribune reported.

The e-mails revealed "various facts that helped connect the dots in the investigation" into Bhutto's assassination in Rawalpindi in December 2007, the report said.

In an e-mail sent by Bhutto to American journalist Ron Suskind some days before her assassination, she referred to an "alarming message" sent by Musharraf, "You (Bhutto) should understand that your security is based on the state of relations between you and me (Bhutto and Musharraf)."

In another e-mail dated October 26, 2007, Bhutto informed Mark Siegel, her spokesman in the US, about her dissatisfaction with her security. "Nothing will happen, just wanted you to know. If it does, in addition to the names in my letter to President Musharraf, I would hold Musharraf responsible," she wrote.

Bhutto wrote, "I have been made to feel insecure by his minions and there is no way what is happening in terms of stopping me from taking private security or using tinted windows of four police mobiles to cover all sides could happen without him (Musharraf)." Bhutto also sent an SMS to journalist Daphne Barak and received a reply.

In the reply, Barak wrote, "Bibi, you are going to Pakistan. It's a trap for you now. But you are insisting to go back."

The FIA's forensic lab, after retrieving data from Bhutto's BlackBerry phones, has started comparing it with facts and testimonies, including those of former Rawalpindi police chief Saud Aziz and Superintendent of Police Khurram Shahzad, who have been arrested for alleged negligence in providing security to Bhutto.

The latest investigation report compiled by the FIA's team probing the Bhutto assassination has come down hard on Musharraf.

The report states, "Musharraf was equally responsible for facilitation and abetment of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto through his government and justified failure in providing her the requisite security protection that her status demanded twice. There was a security lapse."

The report also states, "Musharraf himself appointed Saud Aziz on junior assignment in Rawalpindi on April 10, 2008." This report is likely to be submitted to the Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik by end of the week, the daily reported.
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