26/11 contrast: On Benazir death probe,Pak doesn’t trust its own agencies

When it comes to the probe in the Mumbai attacks,Islamabad backed its agencies to stonewall India’s demands and asked for more proof....

Written by Pranab Dhal Samanta | New Delhi | Published: February 11, 2009 3:05 am

When it comes to the probe in the Mumbai attacks,Islamabad backed its agencies to stonewall India’s demands and asked for more proof. But barely a week ago,it agreed to the exact opposite — when it came to probing the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

So much so that it has effectively questioned the competence and credibility of its own agencies by providing a sweeping set of guarantees to the three-member probe panel under the ageis of the United Nations.

On February 2,UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon,in a letter to President of the UN Security Council Yukio Takasu,said that the three-member commission would submit a report in six months. Among the many guarantees,Pakistan has even agreed to let the commission bring in experts from any third country to assist the probe while it has been putting all diplomatic efforts to stall the FBI from taking forward the Mumbai probe inside Pakistan.

Though the UN is clear that its understanding with Islamabad is not to carry out a criminal investigation but a “fact-finding” inquiry,Islamabad’s guarantees clearly show the lack of faith the civilian government has on the same investigative institutions that have been entrusted with the Mumbai case. Consider some of these:

•Freedom of movement throughout the territory of Pakistan,including facilities of transport.

•Free access to all places establishments relevant to the work of the commission

•Freedom of access to all sources of information,including documentary and physical evidence,freedom to interview representatives of governmental,as well as other institutions and,in principle,any individual whose testimony is considered necessary

•Protection of those who appear before or provide information to the commission

•No such person shall,as a result of such appearance or information suffer harassment,threats of intimidation,ill-treatment,reprisals,or any other prejudicial treatment.

•The Commission may approach third States with a request for cooperation in the collection of material or information relevant to the case and provision of expert personnel.

Ban has also informed the UNSC that the international commission was being formed after “extensive discussions with the Pakistani authorities” following their formal letter of request on December 27,2007. The mandate of the International Commission,he wrote,would be “to determine the facts and circumstances of the assassination of former Prime Minister Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto”.

In New Delhi,officials said there could be no clearer evidence for the international community to also step in and play a more pro-active role in the Mumbai investigations. After all,they added,the Bhutto family and the Pakistan People’s Party demanded an independent probe because they suspected complicity of Pakistan Army institutions.

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