May 30, 2008 / 2:20 PM / 11 years ago

Pakistan asks U.N. to probe Bhutto assassination

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan has formally requested a U.N investigation into the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, her widower said on Friday.

Asif Ali Zardari, widower of slain opposition leader Benazir Bhutto and co-chairman of the ruling Pakistan People's Party, gestures during a news conference in Islamabad May 30, 2008. Pakistan has formally requested a U.N investigation into the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, her widower said on Friday. REUTERS/Mian Khursheed

“We have already sent the request,” Asif Ali Zardari told reporters after a meeting of the Socialist International Asia-Pacific Committee in Islamabad.

Zardari took over leadership of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) after his wife was killed by a suicide gun and bomb attack while campaigning in the city of Rawalpindi on December 27.

Thanks in part to a sympathy wave, the PPP won an election in February and forged a coalition with three other parties after defeating political allies of President Pervez Musharraf.

Zardari, who took over leadership of the PPP, said Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi will travel to New York to personally discuss the issue with the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Musharraf has opposed a U.N. investigation of Bhutto’s killing, and the previous government blamed Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud of being behind the conspiracy to kill Bhutto.

Mehsud has issued a denial from his stronghold in the South Waziristan tribal lands close to the Afghan border.

The government earlier invited help from Britain’s Scotland Yard to determine how Bhutto was killed, though the British police were not asked to investigate who killed her.

Scotland Yard backed up the government’s earlier conclusion that Bhutto smashed her head against her vehicle during the attack.

The PPP harbors deep suspicions over the government’s findings and doubts whether Mehsud was the real culprit.

Bhutto had long feared members of the Pakistani establishment would plot to kill her after she returned from years of self-exile in October.

Police have arrested at least four Islamist militants suspected of involvement in Bhutto’s killing.

Reporting by Aftab Borka; Writing by Augustine Anthony

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