Pak to give request letter for Bhutto murder probe to UN by tomorr

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Islamabad, Jun 5 (UNI) Pakistan's permanent representative to the United Nations Munir Akram will present the formal letter of request to the UN secretary-general in New York by tomorrow, seeking constitution of an international commission to probe into the assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto.

Akram was here last week to discuss this key matter with the top political leadership, including Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Pakistan People's Party Co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari, local daily The News quoted diplomatic sources as saying.

He had especially been called from New York by the Foreign Office for high-level consultations to finalise the strategy for the crucial move, the newspaper added.

During his stay in the capital, the ambassador also held long sessions with the Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir in this regard.

Akram left for New York on the weekend and carried with him the four-page letter of request.

The letter was finalised after exhaustive consultations among the Ministries of Law and Justice, Foreign Affairs and Interior.

The letter addressed to the UN secretary-general comprised two parts: one is the 'preamble' with the detailed background and the other is the 'operative' or the 'actionable part' which contains the request for setting up an independent international commission to investigate the assassination of Ms Bhutto.

Apparently in the letter a specific reference has been made to a December 2007 UN Security Council resolution that condemned the killing of Ms Bhutto and underscored the need to expose all those behind it.

The letter also mentioned the unanimously adopted resolutions by the National and provincial Assemblies calling for the UN investigation into Ms Bhutto's assassination.

Contents of the letter were likely to be made public after it had been delivered to the UN secretary-general by the Pakistani envoy.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had announced at a joint news conference with Law Minister Farooq H Naek on May 22 that the government had prepared a formal letter of request for international probe, which they would hand over to the UN secretary-general.

However, scheduling problem in setting up a meeting between the two ministers and the UN chief led to the decision that Pakistan's permanent representative should be asked to present the letter to avoid further delays.

Ambassador Akram is expected to discuss with the UN chief the general contours of the international commission that the government has in mind.

His attempt would aim to make a case for an option that would allow a credible, independent inquiry without compromising Pakistan's sovereignty.

UNI XC RJ RK1408

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