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Progress unlikely in Bhutto killing

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – A lack of political will and fear of upsetting powerful vested interests will likely scuttle any efforts to find Benazir Bhutto’s assassins, analysts said Friday, a day after a U.N. report blamed the former military regime for failing to protect her and called for a through investigation.

The publication of the report led to fresh calls for a new probe into the killing of the former prime minister, but they were met with skepticism that the killers would be brought to justice.

Many critics noted the current government – led by Bhutto’s widower, President Asif Ali Zardari, and made up of members of her political party – had not made the investigation into her death a top priority despite being in power for the last 18 months.

Bhutto was killed on Dec. 27, 2007, in a gun and suicide-bomb attack as she was leaving a rally in Rawalpindi city, where she was campaigning to return her party to power in elections after returning from nearly nine years in self-imposed exile.

The country was then ruled by the deeply unpopular ex-President Pervez Musharraf and battered – as now – by al-Qaida and Taliban violence. Supporters of Bhutto hinted that Musharraf or his allies in the security forces may have played a role in the killing in order to prevent her from returning to power.

The report was highly critical of steps taken by investigators in the aftermath of the death, including the hosing down of the crime scene, the failure to perform an autopsy and their decision to hold a media conference the day after in which they blamed a Taliban commander. It also said Musharraf failed to make serious efforts to ensure her safety.


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