Caretaker govt apologises for Interior Ministry's 'blunder'

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{image-benazibenazir last pic in rally13_01012008.jpg}Islamabad, Jan 1: As a newly-released video of Benazir Bhutto's assassination and an inconclusive medical report raised new doubts, the Pakistan government apologised for the comments that the former prime minister died after hitting the sunroof lever of her armoured vehicle.

Interior Minister Lt General (retd) Hamid Nawaz asked the media and the people to ''forgive and ignore'' the comment made by ministry spokesman Brig (retd) Javed Iqbal Cheema, which caused a huge uproar, as private TV channels obtained footage, showing the assassin firing shots at the PPP leader. Lt Gen Nawaz was speaking at a media briefing hosted by caretaker Prime Minister Mohammed Mian Soomro.

The Prime Minister first tried to defend Brig Cheema, but on persistent queries referred the matter to Lt Gen Nawaz.

''We are conducting an investigation and all TV footage, all evidence, that would be available will help in reaching a definite conclusion,'' The News quoted Mr Soomro as saying.

Replying to a query on foreign experts to help in the probe, the Prime Minister said Pakistani experts were fully competent to do the job.

Lt Gen Nawaz said, ''The spokesman's comments may have been a mistake as we are faujis and we are not so articulate to present our views as you journalists can. I am sorry if that happened and please forgive us and ignore the comment.'' Detailing the events leading to Benazir's assassination, he said she had a bullet-proof vehicle which could not be damaged by any bomb or bullet.

''Once she was inside it, she was secure and police vans were trying to keep her vehicle clear of other vehicles. But when she emerged from the sunroof she exposed herself to an attack. Nothing would have happened to her even if every one in the world had wanted to hurt her,'' Gen Hamid Nawaz said.

Television footage showed a man firing a pistol at Benazir from just a few meters away as she greeted supporters through the sunroof of her armoured vehicle after a rally on Thursday. Her hair and shawl then moved upward and she fell into the vehicle just before an explosion, apparently detonated by a second man, rocked the car.


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