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UN condemns Bhutto assassination, says it threatens international peace and security

UN condemns Bhutto assassination, says it threatens international peace and security

The U.N. Security Council vigorously denounced the killing of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, describing her death Thursday as a serious blow to stability in the region and demanding justice for "this reprehensible act."
The council's members emerged downcast and stern-faced from a two-hour emergency session, most of it conducted behind closed doors, to issue a unanimously approved statement saying the council "condemns in the strongest terms" Bhutto's assassination at a campaign rally.
"Terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security," said the council, which urged "all Pakistanis to exercise restraint and maintain stability in the country."
Italy's U.N. Ambassador Marcello Spatafora, this month's president of the 15-member council, said it sought "to flag what are unacceptable acts" that threaten to destabilize the region. "There are no words for condemning this kind of act."
Bhutto, a 54-year-old mother of three, served twice as Pakistan's prime minister between 1988 and 1996 before returning to Pakistan in October from an eight-year exile. Just after speaking to a campaign rally for the Jan. 8 parliamentary elections, she was shot by an assailant who then blew himself up. She died later at a hospital; at least 20 others were killed in the attack.
"Pakistan is in a state of shock," said Farukh Amil, a deputy permanent representative of Pakistan to the U.N. "Pakistan itself remains a victim of terrorism. ... These terrorists are targeting all forces of modernism. However, the government of Pakistan remains absolutely committed to fighting terrorism in all its forms and manifestations."
In answer to reporters' questions, diplomats said they had not discussed whether President Pervez Musharraf could have done more to protect Bhutto while she campaigned as her rival. CNN reported it had obtained an e-mail Bhutto sent to a colleague in Washington this fall in which she says Musharraf was not doing enough to protect her.
Her death was viewed not only as a serious threat to nuclear-armed Pakistan's democratic process, but also more broadly to stability in the region, where U.S. President George W. Bush has leaned heavily on Musharraf's regime to help with the American-led fight against terrorism since Sept. 11, 2001.
"The world has much at stake in the success of Pakistan's democratic institutions," said U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, who described Bhutto, the first woman to be elected leader of an Islamic country, as a close personal friend and "courageous figure."
"It's a great tragedy because she stood for moderation, for rule of law, for democracy in her country, and her death is a loss for the cause of moderation, democracy, and rule of law for Pakistan," Khalilzad told reporters. "She was clear headed about the problems of her country, the challenges that she faced _ even the security challenges she faced."
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was "shocked and outraged" by her assassination.
"This represents an assault on stability in Pakistan and its democratic processes," Ban said. "I strongly condemn this heinous crime and call for the perpetrators to be brought to justice as soon as possible."
The council stressed that all nations "need to combat by all means" such terrorist acts, while still following U.N. rules and international law.
"The Security Council underlines the need to bring perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of this reprehensible act of terrorism to justice," the council said in a statement that also urged nations "to cooperate actively with the Pakistani authorities in this regard."
It was little over two months ago that the Security Council strongly condemned the Oct. 18 suicide attack on Bhutto's homecoming procession as a "heinous act of terrorism" and urged all countries to cooperate in bringing the perpetrators to justice.
That previous attack on her homecoming parade in Karachi killed more than 140 people and wounded hundreds more. Bhutto narrowly escaped injury, but the bombing of her cavalcade had raised questions about whether Musharraf's government would continue to allow large campaign rallies to be held _ and about Bhutto's safety.


Updated : 2020-12-03 16:23 GMT+08:00