Bhutto accuses government of cover-up in bombing

Benazir Bhutto on Monday accused the Pakistani government of staging a cover-up after it refused her request for British and American experts to join the inquiry into last Thursday’s suicide bombing.

”If people have nothing to hide then they should be open to investigators from all over the world,” the former prime minister told a press conference at her closely guarded Karachi home. ”It’s simply not right that attempts should be made to cover up an assassination attempt … Obviously some people are being protected.”

Earlier the Interior Minister, Aftab Khan Sherpao, rejected her call for foreign technical help. ”I would categorically reject this. We are conducting the investigation in a very objective manner,” he said.

Police are questioning three men in connection with Thursday’s suicide attack on a procession in honour of Bhutto that killed 138 people and wounded about 300.

Her comments reflect the contentious nature of police investigations in Pakistan. Several inquiries have been marred by allegations of political interference, and police technical abilities are limited.

On Thursday night Bhutto’s blood-splattered bus was accessible to reporters for several hours after the blast. ”The Pakistani police are perhaps not to the quality you will see on television with CSI, [Crime Scene Investigation]” said a Western diplomat in Karachi.

The investigation is also overshadowed by rancorous relations between Bhutto and Musharraf’s political party. On Monday Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, president of the PML-Q party, accused Bhutto’s husband, Asif Zardari, of secretly orchestrating Thursday’s attack in order to stir sympathy for her return.

”We will also say all this was a conspiracy,” Hussain told Geo television, noting that Bhutto had entered her armoured bus just before the attack. – Reuters

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