Musharraf dissatisfied with Bhutto probe

(AP)- President Pervez Musharraf said Thursday that uncertainty remained about the exact cause of Benazir Bhutto's death, despite an initial government report that she was killed when a bomb blast slammed her head into her vehicle.

"One should not give a statement that's 100 percent final. That's the flaw that we suffer from," Musharraf said at a news conference, noting that more evidence was emerging about the attack. "We needed more experience, maybe more forensic and technical experience that our people don't have. Therefore I thought Scotland Yard may be more helpful."

Musharraf said he also reached out to British investigators for assistance to dispel accusations that Pakistan's military or intelligence services were involved.

"We don't mind going to any extent, as nobody is involved from the government or agency side," he said.

Speaking a week after Bhutto's assassination in a shooting and suicide bombing, Musharraf denied there had been a security lapse and implied that Bhutto, who was greeting supporters through the sunroof of her armored vehicle at the time of the attack, was partly responsible.

"Who is to be blamed for her coming out (of) her vehicle?" he asked, adding that others in the vehicle had not been hurt in the attack.

Bhutto had been allowed to have the police superintendent of her choice in charge of her security, had four vehicles with a total of 30 officers with her, and 1,000 more police deployed at the Rawalpindi rally where she was slain, he said.

Musharraf said it was the responsibility of Bhutto's party leadership to stop supporters from swarming her vehicle, as any police action against them would have involved a baton charge or the firing of tear gas.

He conceded there were shortcomings in Pakistan's handling of the case, including the hosing down of the bomb site hours after the attack, widely seen as undermining a detailed forensic examination. But he dismissed any suggestion there was a plan to conceal evidence.

"I'm not fully satisfied. I will accept that: cleaning the area. Why did they do that? If you are meaning they did that by design I would not say no. It's just inefficiency, people thinking things have to be cleared, traffic has to go through," he said.

Musharraf also denied reports that al- Qaida was getting stronger in Pakistan, but said the country faced an increasing threat from Taliban militants.

He blamed Islamic militant leaders Baitullah Mehsud and Maulana Fazlullah for 19 suicide attacks in the past three months. Over the same period, militant-related violence killed 400 people and wounded 900 others, he said.

"We know that these two people are responsible," he said.

A day after Bhutto's killing, government officials accused Mehsud of orchestrating the attack. A Mehsud spokesman denied responsibility. Musharraf did not directly blame Mehsud on Thursday.

A senior police investigator said Pakistani police have already secured key evidence, including the suspected bomber's remains, two pistols and cell phones.

Scotland Yard investigators, with their superior forensic techniques, could help determine whether either pistol was fired in the attack and also could examine video, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation.

Bhutto's supporters have insisted that a U.N. probe would be the only way to reveal the truth behind her assassination. They have dismissed Musharraf's announcement that Scotland Yard will join the investigation.

"The mist of confusion will be cleared only if the regime accepts the party's demand for holding a U.N. inquiry into the assassination as was done in the case of Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri's murder," said Farhatullah Babar , a spokesman for Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party.

"The regime has lost all credibility. Neither a domestic inquiry nor vague foreign involvement ... would lay to rest the lingering doubts and suspicions," he said.

The unrest following Bhutto's death prompted the government to delay parliamentary elections from Jan. 8 to Feb. 18, a decision criticized by both Bhutto's party and the other main opposition group, led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif .

Although both parties said they would still run in the elections, opposition leaders called on Musharraf to resign.

"Free and fair polls are impossible under his leadership," said Javed Hashmi , a senior member of Sharif's party. "Such a thing is unthinkable if he is there."

A leading research group, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, warned that Pakistan risks falling into civil war if Musharraf remains in power. The institute called on the United States - which continues to support Musharraf - to recognize him as "a serious liability, seen as complicit in the death of the popular politician" Bhutto.

"It is time to recognize that democracy, not an artificially propped-up, defrocked, widely despised general has the best chance to provide stability," the group's Asia director, Robert Templer , said in a statement accompanying the report.

"Unless Musharraf steps down, tensions will worsen and the international community could face the nightmare of a nuclear-armed, Muslim country descending into civil war," Templer said.

Musharraf , who took power in a 1999 coup, said in a televised address Wednesday that he supported election authorities' decision to delay the vote due to riots that followed Bhutto's death. The violence killed nearly 60 people and caused tens of millions of dollars in damage.

Major nuclear medical project launched in Iran
Major nuclear medical project launched in Iran
MFA: Iran maintains good cooperation with IAEA
MFA: Iran maintains good cooperation with IAEA
Iran's Atomic Organization responds to IAEA reports
Iran's Atomic Organization responds to IAEA reports
Loading Bars
Latest
Iran unable to slow down coronavirus infection spread
Turkey sees growth in number of vehicles in February
Azerbaijani parliament approves agreements signed by government with several countries
Azerbaijani oil prices for March 23-27
Minister: No problems with supply of bread in Georgia
Export of fruits, nuts from Georgia up in January-February 2020
Turkey urges int’l organizations to boycott so-called "election" in occupied Nagorno-Karabakh
China helps Uzbekistan to fight coronavirus
Kazakhstan's biggest oil transporting company eyes buying locally-made equipment
Volume of cargo transshipment via Turkish Port of Mersin disclosed
Coronavirus cases increase in Georgia
Turkey’s state water administration opens tender to rent vehicles
Azerbaijan extends benefit terms for contributions to mandatory health insurance for non-oil sector employees
Iran talks production of equipment in its oil sector
Turkey's municipality attracts foreign insurers via tender
Turkish university opens tender to attract foreign IT companies
Turkmen company masters production of nonwoven fabric
Azerbaijan extends terms for use of mandatory health insurance
Pakistan's National Commission for Human Rights condemns so-called "parliamentary and presidential elections" in occupied Nagorno-Karabakh
SOCAR: No restrictions on fuel sale in Azerbaijan
Weekly review of Azerbaijan's precious metals market
Turkey discloses cargo transshipment via Port of Zonguldak
South Korea to pay families hundreds of dollars to ease coronavirus impact
Iran's exports to African countries announced
Export volume of startup companies via Iran's Markazi Province announced
Iran announces its copper exports
Uzbekistan's total external debt increases
Georgia bans movement of buses in self-governing cities and administrative regions
Turkey discloses cargo transshipment via Port of Samsun in January-February 2020
Analyst: Forecast for oil prices depends on coronavirus spread
Azerbaijan Insurers Association: insurance community must promptly prepare plan for transition to distant operation mode
Kazakhstan’s oil & gas company opens tender to buy pumps
Scientific sphere switches to digital mode in Turkmenistan
Passenger trains operating to Kazakhstan’s Atyrau to be suspended over coronavirus fears
Charter flight to bring Georgian citizen from Bulgaria
Next plenary meeting of spring session of Azerbaijani Parliament kicks off
Iran's exports through Golestan customs announced
Review of oil, gas operations in Azerbaijan in January-February 2020
Foreign investments in Iran's Fars province increase
Uzbekneftegaz contunues to increase gas production of Uzbekistan
Georgia increases import of wood, furniture from Turkey
Fatal work accident occurs along Balkan Stream route
COVID-19 cases reach 97 in Georgia
Turkmen state concern announces tender to purchase material and technical resources
Weekly review of Azerbaijani currency market
No direct financial loss suffered from postponing of F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix
US allocates funds to Georgia amid COVID-19 pandemic
Iranian currency rates for March 30
Georgia confirms new case of coronavirus
Azerbaijan's Ministry of Internal Affairs lists facilities suspending work during quarantine
Tender to purchase material and technical resources opens in Turkmenistan
Uzbekistan sees increase in coronavirus cases
Iran's chemical, petrochemical industry increases production
More coronavirus cases detected in Kazakhstan
Production not to stop in Iran amid Coronavirus
Armenia violates ceasefire with Azerbaijan 24 times
MP: Massive donations to Azerbaijan’s Fund to Support Fight against Coronavirus shows national solidarity
Number of coronavirus cases in Germany rises to 57,298
Iranian government pays loan to damaged businesses
China unexpectedly cuts reverse repo rate by most in five years to support virus-hit economy
VISA considering Azerbaijan as financial market open to innovations
Israeli PM Netanyahu’s aide tests positive for coronavirus
South Korea coronavirus cases rise steadily, more financial aid expected
Trump extends national social distancing guidelines to April 30
Vietnam PM asks major cities to prepare for lockdown to stop virus
Trudeau continues self-isolating after his wife's recovery from COVID-19
5.1-magnitude quake hits Northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge
Egypt condemns Yemeni Houthis' missile attacks on Saudi cities
France reports 2,599 new coronavirus cases, 292 additional deaths
Turkey's COVID-19 cases rise to 9,217, death toll hits 131
All Moscow’s residents to stay in home self-isolation from Monday
Somali army kills 142 al-Shabab militants during operation
Syria reports 1st death case of COVID-19
Coronavirus deaths fall again in Italy
EIA decreases previously forecast oil extraction volume in Kazakhstan for 2020
Brunei reports 6 new cases of COVID-19, 126 in total
Nearly 20,000 COVID-19 cases confirmed in UK
Saudi Arabia expands lockdown as coronavirus death toll doubles
Spain’s coronavirus death toll rises by 838 overnight to 6,528
Saudi intercepts missiles in attacks claimed by Yemen's Houthis
Herbal medicine being tested for treatment of coronavirus in Iran
VISA considering Azerbaijan as financial market open to innovations
Permanent representative: PACE leadership must change approach periodically demonstrated in relation to Azerbaijan
Kazakhstan's Atyrau to close for quarantine to battle coronavirus spread
Enterprises in Iran's industrial parks restore production
Azerbaijan confirms 27 more coronavirus cases
Expert: Impact of global shocks on Azerbaijan's economy and society is minimal
Azerbaijan's Central Bank attracts funds
Turkey reveals volume of cargo transshipment from France through its ports
Azerbaijan extends deadlines for paying taxes and filing declarations
Production of some Iranian industrial products decreases
Azerbaijani company to increase disinfectant production
Iran's Ministry of Industry, Mines & Trade announces volume of foreign investments
Volume of cargo transshipment through Turkish port of Tekirdag announced
Turkey reveals volume of cargo transshipment from Morocco through its ports
Management Union of Medical Territorial Units: Epidemiological situation in Azerbaijan under control
Total amount of donations to Azerbaijan’s Fund to Support Fight against Coronavirus disclosed
Turkey reveals volume of cargo transshipment from Ukraine through its ports
Iran reveals volume of investments in employment loans
Coronavirus confirmed in one more Kazakh city
All news