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Former US Envoy Tells of Bhutto's Appeal for Security Help

A former U.S. diplomat who was a long-time friend of Benazir Bhutto says she recently told him she was worried about getting inadequate protection from the Pakistani government.

Peter Galbraith, a former U.S. ambassador to Croatia, told VOA Friday that Ms. Bhutto detailed her security concerns in an e-mail to him on December 11 - more than two weeks before she was assassinated.

The Pakistani opposition leader feared she could be the target of a roadside bomb attack, Galbraith said, and she asked him to contact Iraqi President Jalal Talabani on her behalf for assistance. Ms. Bhutto felt Iraqi expertise could help her security team, and Galbraith said she had lost confidence in the protection she was getting from the Pakistani government.

The American envoy said Mr. Talabani was a friend of his, and that he had previously introduced the Iraqi leader to Ms. Bhutto. He said the former Pakistani prime minister was more concerned about the risk she faced from concealed bombs - "improvised explosive devices," or IEDs, as they are knoiwn in Iraq - than from a suicide attack such as the one that killed her on Thursday.

Galbraith said Ms. Bhutto's assassination was a "devastating setback to democracy" in Pakistan.

He had known the Pakistani opposition leader well for more than 35 years - since the two met as teenage Harvard University students in the United States - and he told VOA her death was "a huge personal loss" for him.