Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

Pakistan People's Party to hold meeting in wake of leader Bhutto's death to decide on polls

Pakistan People's Party to hold meeting in wake of leader Bhutto's death to decide on polls

The opposition Pakistan People's Party is set to hold a critical meeting Sunday in the wake of leader Benazir Bhutto's assassination to decide whether to still take part in parliamentary elections due Jan. 8.
The People's Party meeting, which will also hear a reading of Bhutto's last will and testament, comes amid growing controversy surrounding her death.
The government rejected Saturday foreign help in investigating Bhutto's assassination. The Islamic militant group blamed by officials for the attack that killed Bhutto denied any links to the killing, and Bhutto's aides accused the government of a cover-up.
A pullout by the Pakistan People's Party could destroy the credibility of next month's poll, already being boycotted by Pakistan's other main opposition leader, Nawaz Sharif.
Washington has pressured its ally, President Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in a coup eight years ago, to push ahead with the election to promote stability in this nuclear armed nation.
Mass unrest among her supporters has left at least 44 people dead and tens of millions of dollars of damage. Rioters have destroyed 176 banks, 34 gas stations, 72 train cars, 18 rail stations, and hundreds of cars and shops.
They have also wrecked nine election offices _ along with the voter rolls and ballot boxes inside _ hampered the printing of ballot slips and the training of poll workers, the election commission said. The commission has called an emergency meeting for Monday.
Musharraf has ordered security chiefs to take firm action to curb the unrest.
Meanwhile, the uncertainty over the circumstances of Bhutto's assassination has intensified since she died Thursday when a suicide attacker shot at her and then blew himself up as she waved to supporters from the sunroof of her armored vehicle outside a campaign rally.
Authorities initially said she died from bullet wounds, but subsequently Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema said Bhutto was killed when the shockwaves from the suicide bomb smashed her head into the sunroof as she tried to duck back inside the vehicle.
Bhutto's spokeswoman Sherry Rehman said, "We saw a bullet wound in the back of her neck. What the government is saying is actually dangerous and nonsensical. They are pouring salt on our wounds."
The government blamed the attack on Baitullah Mehsud, head of the Tehrik-i-Taliban, a newly formed coalition of Islamic militants along the Afghan border believed to be linked to al-Qaida and committed to waging holy war against the government.
But a spokesman for Mehsud, Maulana Mohammed Umer, said, "We strongly deny it. Baitullah Mehsud is not involved in the killing of Benazir Bhutto."
Cheema said Bhutto's party was free to exhume her body to conduct an autopsy, but rejected calls for an international investigation. An independent domestic judicial investigation should be completed within seven days of the appointment of its presiding judge, he said.
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday that an international probe was vital because there was "no reason to trust the Pakistani government," while others called for a U.N. investigation.
____
AP reporters Zarar Khan in Larkana, Sadaqat Jan and Munir Ahmad in Islamabad, Ishtiaq Mahsud in Dera Ismail Khan and Afzal Nadeem and Ashraf Khan in Karachi contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-07-31 10:52 GMT+08:00