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Old 01-01-2008, 01:59 PM   #91
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Pakistan elections postponed

Story Highlights
NEW: Vote to be delayed at least four weeks, Election Commission source says

NEW: Elections were scheduled for January 8, but poll will be put off until February

Much of election infrastructure has been destroyed in riots

ISLAMABAD (CNN) -- Elections in Pakistan have been postponed for at least four weeks, sources at the country's Election Commission told CNN Tuesday.

The elections had been scheduled for January 8. They have been postponed until sometime in February in the wake of political unrest following the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the sources said.

The Central Election Commission of Pakistan had said a decision on whether to delay parliamentary elections would be made on Wednesday following consultation with political parties.

At a press conference Tuesday morning, commission Secretary General Kanwar Dilshad said various provincial government representatives had suggested that the elections be held after the Muslim month of Muharram, which follows a lunar calendar and this year begins on or about January 9 and continues until February 6.

The commission said it would looking at reports from provincial governments across Pakistan about the law and order situation in making its decision, the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan reported.

Election offices in 13 districts of Sindh province have been destroyed, Dilshad said. Sindh is Bhutto's home province and was the main base of her support.

"The elections aren't postponed," Dilshad said on Tuesday, but also didn't rule out a delay.

"We will tell them (the political parties) about the 13 offices that burned down. We will tell them about the ground realities. And then after the discussions, we will announce," he said.

The meetings with the various political parties are expected to be completed by Tuesday evening, and an announcement made about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday (6:30 a.m. Wednesday GMT).

Dilshad acknowledged that some local governments have asked that the voting be delayed until after Muharram, the first month in the Islamic calendar and one of the religion's holiest.

"There has been some mention of Muharram," he said.

Bhutto, 54, was killed Thursday in a targeted attack that involved a gunman and a suicide blast in Rawalpindi, outside of the capital Islamabad. Her party and the Pakistani government dispute the cause of her death.

The ensuing violence has caused more than $200 million (12 billion Pakistani rupees) in damage.

Pakistan's government described colossal devastation to the country's infrastructure after looters burned more than 150 train cars and wiped out telecommunications lines along the north-south railways, preventing goods and services from getting to all parts of Pakistan.

The two leading opposition parties have demanded that the government press ahead with early elections.

Bhutto's widower, Asif Ali Zardari, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that he was confident the Pakistan People's Party -- which he has taken control of since Bhutto's death -- would be victorious in the poll.

Nawaz Sharif, leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-N party, told reporters earlier that he believed Musharraf intended to delay the vote because his party would not garner enough seats in parliament to rule.

The United States has kept its distance from the issue, saying it was up to the Pakistanis to decide on the timing of the elections.

A U.S. Embassy official based in Pakistan, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the United States "wants to see the election held," but if there is a postponement, "we would not object to it."

The official said that if Pakistanis agreed on the need for a postponement, Washington would like to see a specific date.

"Our greater concern would be if the elections are postponed indefinitely," he said.

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Old 01-01-2008, 02:00 PM   #92
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Ministry backtracks on Bhutto sunroof claims

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NEW: Ministry backtracks on claim Bhutto died because of sunroof latch

Reward offered for ID of two suspects believed involved in assassination

Doctors claim Pakistani police prevented an autopsy on Benazir Bhutto

Lawyer Athar Minallah said the move violated Pakistani criminal law
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistan's Interior Ministry backtracked Tuesday on its statement that Benazir Bhutto died because she hit her head on a sunroof latch during a shooting and bomb attack.

The government also published a reward offer in several national newspapers to anyone who could identify two suspects from the killing.

Interior Ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema told CNN the ministry will wait for the findings from forensic investigators before making a conclusion about her cause of death.

Cheema said he based his statement Friday about the sunroof latch "on the initial investigations and the reports by the medical doctors" who treated her at Rawalpindi General Hospital.

"I was just narrating the facts, you know, and nothing less nothing more," Cheema said.

"There's no intention to conceal anything from the people of Pakistan," an Interior Ministry news release said.

The reward offer, which appeared with photographs of the dead suspects, said that "the person identifying these terrorists will be awarded a cash prize of 5 million rupees (about $81,400) and his identity will also be kept confidential" -- a total reward available of 10 million.

"The response from the public has been nil so far," Punjab spokesman Ashfaq Gondal said Tuesday afternoon.

Athar Minallah, a lawyer on the board that manages Rawalpindi General Hospital, told CNN Monday that doctors did not make the statements attributed to them by the government.

The medical report -- obtained by CNN from Minallah -- made no mention of the sunroof latch and listed the cause of death as "Open head injury with depressed skull fracture, leading to Cardiopulmonary arrest." Read Bhutto's full medical report

Pakistan's Interior Ministry said Thursday it was from a bullet or shrapnel wound, but then it announced a day later that Bhutto died from a skull fracture suffered when she fell or ducked into the car as a result of the shots or the explosion and crashed her head into a sunroof latch.

Bhutto's family and political party maintain that the government is lying, and insist she died from gunshot wounds.

Several videos show a gunman firing a pistol toward her just moments before a bomb detonated nearby as she left a rally.

The U-turn on the sunroof claims will only heighten speculation as to the exact cause of Bhutto's death.

Minallah issued an open letter Monday and released the doctors' clinical notes to distance them from the government statement.

In the letter, Minallah said the doctors "suggested to the officials to perform an autopsy," but that Saud "did not agree." He noted that under the law, police investigators have "exclusive responsibility" in deciding to have an autopsy.

Minallah told CNN that he was speaking out because the doctors at the hospital were "threatened."

"They are government servants who cannot speak; I am not," he said. He did not elaborate on the threats against the doctors.

He said the lack of an autopsy has created "a perception that there is some kind of cover-up, though I might not believe in that theory."

"There is a state within the state, and that state within the state does not want itself to be held accountable," Minallah said.

The three-page medical report, which was signed by seven doctors, described Bhutto's head wound, but it did not conclude what caused it. It noted that X-ray images were made after she was declared dead.

The wound was described as an irregular oval of about 5 centimeters by 3 centimeters above her right ear. "Sharp bones edges were felt in the wound," it read. "No foreign body was felt in the wound."

Rawalpindi's police chief was accused Monday of stopping doctors at the hospital where Bhutto died from conducting an autopsy.

It was a violation of Pakistani criminal law and prevented a medical conclusion about what killed the former prime minister, said Minallah.

However, the police chief involved, Aziz Saud, told CNN that he suggested an autopsy be done -- but that Bhutto's husband objected.

Cheema said the government had no objection to Bhutto's body being exhumed for an autopsy if the family requested it.

Her widower,Asif Ali Zardari, has said the family was against exhumation because it did not trust the government.

Minallah said the family could not have prevented an autopsy at the hospital without getting an order from a judge.

The revelations about the exact cause of Bhutto's death came after new videotape of her assassination emerged, showing her slumping just after gunshots rang out.

The tape provided the clearest view yet of the attack and appeared to show that Bhutto was shot. That would contradict the Pakistan government's account.

A previously released videotape showed a man at the right of her vehicle raising a gun, pointing it toward Bhutto, who was standing in her car with her upper body through the sunroof. He fired three shots, then there was an explosion.

In the video that emerged on Sunday, Bhutto was standing, and her hair and scarf appeared to move, perhaps from the bullet. Bhutto fell into the car, then came the blast. Watch new tape showing apparent gunman »

These images seem to support the theory that Bhutto died at the hands of a shooter before a bomb was detonated, killing another 23 people.

Bhutto's husband, in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer Monday, called for an international investigation into his wife's death, saying the new video proves the Pakistani government "has been trying to muddy the water from the first day." See the likely sequence of events »

"Everything is now very clear that she was shot," Asif Ali Zardari said.

Zardari also called on the U.S. government to push for an international probe. "I want them to help me find out who killed my wife, the mother of my children," he said of the Bush administration.

The reward offer announced: "The public is hereby informed that the two individuals in the above photograph are the accused terrorists involved in the Liaqat Bagh, Rawalpindi Terror Attack, which resulted in the death of the Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and others." 'Mohtarma' is a title of respect in the Urdu language.

"The person identifying these terrorists will be awarded a cash prize of 5 million rupees (about $81,400) and his identity will also be kept confidential," said Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi -- a total reward available of 10 million.

"The response from the public has been nil so far," Punjab spokesman Ashfaq Gondal said Tuesday afternoon.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh contributed to this report

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Old 01-01-2008, 04:24 PM   #93
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This just came up on the breaking news wire on

"Breaking News
Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on the day she was to tell visiting U.S. lawmakers of a plot to rig Pakistan's elections, sources tell CNN."

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Old 01-02-2008, 02:59 PM   #94
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The first thing I thought of when I heard this was;

I can't believe the news today....a little cliche I know, but I was following her in the news everyday. I thought she was a beautiful super strong women. I was really hoping that she would take over and make a change. Hopefully, she did not die in vien and a change will come. She had courage beyond what I think is understandable considering her father met the same fate. Even so to put yourself out there when you know you are a target is so very brave.

I can't help wonder though that if this was a man would the same thing have happened. I think the world is terribly afraid of women who want a change and be a leader.

My heart goes out to her and her family.

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Old 01-02-2008, 05:22 PM   #95
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Originally posted by JCOSTER
I can't help wonder though that if this was a man would the same thing have happened. I think the world is terribly afraid of women who want a change and be a leader.
Pakistan has an extremely long history of brutal political violence. It would have happened if it were a guy, believe me.
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Old 01-06-2008, 11:22 PM   #96
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A good trio of articles, two of them long feature stories, from today's New York Times on Pakistan's political past, present and future.

'Ghosts That Haunt Pakistan' is an overview of the checkered history of civilian governments in Pakistan and their place in the trajectory of its political culture since Independence.

'Next-Gen Taliban' looks at the changing dynamics of the often-violent politics of Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province, a stronghold of the Taliban.

'US Considers New Covert Push Within Pakistan' is a shorter news story on the current debates in Washington over whether expanding covert US military and intelligence operations in northwest Pakistan is an emerging inevitability, an option worth cautiously considering, or a suicidally stupid misadventure.
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Old 01-07-2008, 07:59 AM   #97
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Musharraf Blames Bhutto for Her Death
Pakistani President Blames Bhutto for Her Own Assassination in CBS Interview
The Associated Press


Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf blamed Benazir Bhutto for her own death, saying in an interview broadcast Sunday she should not have poked her head out of her vehicle's sunroof while leaving the rally where she was assassinated.

Bhutto, a former Pakistani prime minister and rival of Musharraf, died Dec. 27 in a suicide bombing and shooting in the city of Rawalpindi.

Musharraf said his government had provided Bhutto with enough protection and it was her own negligence that led to her death. She should have left the rally quickly instead of lingering to wave to supporters, and was lucky to have made it into the vehicle alive, Musharraf said in an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" program.

"I mean, God was kind she went into the car in spite of the fact that she was waving and all that. She did go into the car. Now now is the point. Why did she stand outside the car?" he said.

"For standing up outside the car, I think it was she to blame alone. Nobody else. Responsibility is hers," he added.

On Saturday, Bhutto's husband accused members of Pakistan's government of involvement in his wife's killing and demanded a U.N. investigation. Opposition activists have denounced the government's initial assessment that an Islamic militant was behind the attack and that Bhutto died not from gunshot wounds but from the force of the blast.

Musharraf has acknowledged that investigators may have drawn conclusions too quickly and mishandled evidence, including hosing down the site hours after the attack. But he has insisted his government is capable of conducting its own probe with help from British forensic experts.

He denied in Sunday's interview that he had anything to do with Bhutto's death.

"This is unfortunately a very baseless allegation. Nobody has a right to blame anyone for killing anyone unless they have the proof," he said.

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