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Pakistani Reactions Mixed Regarding UN Bhutto Report

A much anticipated report from the United Nations has blamed Pakistani authorities for lapses in security that led to the 2007 assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. VOA reports on the response to the findings from Islamabad.

Responses are mixed in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, following the release of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry report examining the assassination more than two years ago of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

The report was highly critical of the Pakistani government under then-President Pervez Musharraf, as well as the Punjabi provincial government and local police for security lapses, which it found led to Ms. Bhutto's death.

Officials with Ms. Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party praised the report's findings Friday, saying they supported their belief that the Musharraf government was responsible for the former prime minister's death.

Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar also told VOA that he believes the U.N. report finally puts to rest allegations that Ms. Bhutto's family, specifically her husband current President Asif Ali Zardari, was involved in her assassination.

"Their report says that there was no evidence," said Farhatullah Babar. "There were only rumors, and the rumors were doing rounds because the efforts and attempts to make investigations were subverted by the incumbent."

But speaking to local media, former Musharraf spokesman Rashid Qureshi said Mr. Musharraf was never in a position to affect Ms. Bhutto's security. He also highlighted that at the time, it appeared that both Ms. Bhutto and those responsible for her security seemed content with it.

He said the blame ultimately lies with the deceased.

"It was very, very, very unfortunate, but if Benazir Bhutto had not stood up in that vehicle, she would have been protected, and perhaps, things would have been different today," said Rashid Qureshi.

Ishtiaq Ahmad, an associate professor of International Relations at Islamabad's Quaid-i-Azam University, says the U.N. commission's mandate was very narrow in the fact that it only could determine the circumstances in which Ms. Bhutto died. If anything, Ahmad says the commission raises more questions than answers.

"It says that the Musharraf regime deliberately manipulated the investigation process actually, by telling the world the cause of death and the culprit within 24 hours," said Ishtiaq Ahmad. "It basically creates a suspicion that it was involved in the incident."

Under the terms of the agreement between the United Nations and the Pakistani government, Pakistani authorities are responsible for investigating any criminal responsibility. So far, the government has not elaborated on what it plans to do with the findings of the U.N. report.