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Pakistan probes assassination of top general as Musharraf battles exit talk

Pakistan probes assassination of top general as Musharraf battles exit talk

Security agencies launched a joint investigation into the suicide bombing that killed the army's surgeon general, the most senior military official to be assassinated since Pakistan joined the U.S. war on terror.
A team comprising senior officials of the Federal Investigation Agency, the police and the army is probing the assassination of Lt. Gen. Mushtaq Baig, said Interior Secretary Kamal Shah on Tuesday.
He said the team will look into all aspects including any possible foreign involvement.
Baig was killed Monday when a bomber blew himself up next to his car after it stopped at a traffic light on a busy road in Rawalpindi, a city just south of the capital, Islamabad.
"Let the investigators move a little. Then they can pinpoint who could be behind the attack," Shah told The Associated Press.
So far the government has only blamed people who were "damaging the cause of Islam," a reference to religious extremists.
Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said Baig was the most senior army officer killed in an attack since President Pervez Musharraf sided with Washington against al-Qaida and the Taliban after the attacks in the United States of Sept. 11, 2001.
Suicide bombers have struck repeatedly in Rawalpindi, where the army has its headquarters, mostly targeting security forces. A gun and suicide attack also killed opposition leader Benazir Bhutto in Rawalpindi on Dec. 27.
Musharraf himself survived at least three attempts on his life before he retired as army chief in November.
He is now fighting for his political survival after Feb. 18 parliamentary elections in which his allies were soundly defeated. Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party, or PPP, finished first.
A presidential spokesman dismissed suggestions from three U.S. senators that Musharraf might beat a dignified retreat from power.
Musharraf was elected to a new five-year presidential term last year by Pakistani lawmakers, "not by any senator from the United States," spokesman Rashid Qureshi said Monday on Dawn News television. "So I don't think he needs to respond to anything that is said by these people."
On Tuesday, Bhutto's widower Asif Zardari denied a Wall Street Journal report that he had offered to work with Musharraf.
Zardari had only pointed out that the opposition does not have the two-thirds parliamentary majority required to impeach the president, said his spokesman, Farhatullah Babar.
"That does not mean we will have a working relationship with Musharraf. That relationship will be determined by the parliament," Babar said.
He confirmed that Zardari told the Journal about the need to establish democracy without getting into a confrontation.
In a separate written statement issued on behalf of Zardari, Babar said "there is a huge difference between the admission of a ground reality (the absence of a two-thirds majority) and an explicit desire to seek a working relationship with the president."
The PPP won 87 out of 272 seats in Pakistan's parliament while former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's party won 67.
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Associated Press reporter Vijay Joshi contributed to this report.


Updated : 2020-12-02 00:23 GMT+08:00