The United Nations on Tuesday delayed till April 15 the release of its probe panel's report on the assassination of former Pakistani premier Benazir Bhutto following a request from Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, Benazir's husband.
"Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has accepted an urgent request by the President of Pakistan to delay the presentation of the report of the Commission of Inquiry into the facts and circumstances of the assassination of the former Pakistani Prime Minister Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto until April 15, " a statement issued by Ban's office said.
The reasons for the request have not been disclosed but Nesirky underlined that only the Commission knew the contents of the report, which had not been seen by Ban or any other member of his office.
Meanwhile, a UN spokesperson said in Islamabad that the world body would close all its offices across Pakistan for three days ahead of the release of the panel's report.
Benazir was killed in a gun and bomb attack at a rally in Rawalpindi in December 2007 while campaigning for Pakistan Peoples Party in parliamentary and provincial elections.
Investigations carried out by then president Pervez Musharraf's government blamed Baitullah Mehsud, a Pakistani Taliban commander who operates in the lawless tribal areas of northwest region, for the attack. Bhutto's supporters, not satisfied by Pakistani investigations, have accused Musharraf and his allies of having a role in the murder.
When Zardari became president, he asked the UN to carry out an independent investigation. The Commission, which started its work on July 1 last year to perform 'fact finding activities in Pakistan and abroad,' questioned Musharraf and other Pakistani leaders in November last year.
In Islamabad, presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said the country had requested the delay so that the commission could attempt to question two heads of state who, he said, had called Benazir before her death warning her of “serious threats to her life.”
He declined to say which heads of state he was referring to, saying it would be unethical. It was unclear why the commission had not spoken to them. “This can make the report more credible,” he told AP in Islamabad.
The three-member commission is led by Chile's UN Ambassador Heraldo Munoz. The other members are former Indonesian attorney general Marzuki Darusman, now a member of the National Commission of Human Rights, and Ireland's former deputy police commissioner Peter Fitzgerald, who headed the initial UN inquiry into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri in 2005.
Under terms agreed to by the UN and the Pakistani government, the commission was to determine facts and circumstances but Pakistani authorities would determine any criminal responsibility.
A spokesman of the Ministry of Interior, in a press statement said that “three countries had sent high security alerts on the assassination attempt prior to the return of Benazir Bhutto to Pakistan. One of the three countries has already supplied the said information to UN Commission whereas the information from the other two countries including statements of some foreign dignitaries has not yet been received to the UN Commission.
The government of Pakistan feels that the information is of paramount importance in this matter and hence this information may be included in the final report of the UN Commission. Accordingly, the government of Pakistan had requested the UN Commission to wait for receipt of said information to be included in the final report of UN Commission, said the spokesman.