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US lawmakers ask Bush Administration to back UN probe into Benazir's death    2008-01-02 09:54:02    

Washington, Jan 2 : Twelve US lawmakers have rejected the White House contention that the murder of former premier Benazir Bhutto is an internal matter for Pakistan, and have instead urged an international investigation as in the case of Lebanese leader Rafik Hariri.
Twelve US lawmakers have rejected the White House contention that the murder of former premier Benazir Bhutto is an internal matter for Pakistan, and have instead urged an international investigation as in the case of Lebanese leader Rafik Hariri.

They have also called for elections to be held on January 8, and declared that apart from the withholding of 50 million dollars to Pakistan as decided by Congress, they may also seek "additional restrictions" in future Appropriation Bills.

In a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the legislators wrote, "We are deeply concerned with recent Bush Administration statements with respect to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. It troubles us that the White House today said that the matter of the assassination of Benazir is an internal matter for Pakistan."

"In fact, in other circumstances we have not hesitated to join in calls for international investigations of crimes with sovereign nations when the actions had worldwide implications and there were legitimate issues raised about the objectivity or capability of a host government to conduct the investigation alone - as was the case in the assassination of Rafik Hariri," they added.

Furthermore, there are serious questions and contradictions emerging regarding the circumstances of Benazir's death, including statements by doctors who examined her and videotape that clearly shows that she was shot by a bullet.

These contradictions demonstrate the need for a vigorous and independent international investigation into her cause of death, legislators wrote."

"With respect to the upcoming elections, the leaders of Pakistan's largest political parties have joined in calling for the elections to go forward as scheduled on January 8," the Daily Times quoted lawmakers, as saying.

They said that the White House has stated that the political parties should determine the elections, and the largest of which has demanded that the elections should go forth as planned.

"Yet the White House also said that if the election is postponed, it should be postponed to a date certain. This is not the right message to send, as it is practically an open invitation to postpone those elections," they said.

"We urge you and President Bush to clearly call for elections to take place as scheduled, and to endorse an international investigation by the UN of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Our support for future aid to Pakistan is at stake over this issue," the lawmakers wrote.

Sincerely, Representatives Steve Israel (D-NY), Joseph Crowley, Ron Klein (D-FL), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), James McGovern (D-MA), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), Ron Kind (D-WI) and Adam Smith (D-WA). (ANI)
© 2007 ANI

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