.:: Don't insult Bhutto's death: Zardari to Musharraf ::.

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Old 08-Jan-2008
.:: Don't insult Bhutto's death: Zardari to Musharraf ::.

Benazir Bhutto's husband has attacked Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf for saying the opposition leader was to blame for her own assassination by poking her head out of her car sunroof.

Asif Ali Zardari said that Musharraf's admission that a bullet may have killed her -- not a blow to the head from the sunroof lever as officials previously said - showed the authorities had "something to hide".

"I think he is trying to shift responsibility, to say the least," Zardari, 51, said in an interview on Monday night at the Bhutto family's ancestral home in the rural southern village of Naudero.

"She's on record of having written to him asking permission for international assistance and security which they denied her," said Zardari, who has called for a UN probe into his wife's death.

Zardari's comments intensified the rancour between Musharraf and Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party, now co-chaired by him and the couple's 19-year-old son Bilawal, ahead of February 18 elections.

Musharraf told US television network CBS that Bhutto was at fault for putting her upper body outside the sunroof to greet supporters at an election rally on December 27, moments before she was killed in a gun and suicide attack.

"I think it was she to blame alone. Nobody else. Responsibility is hers," he said.

Asked if he felt insulted by Musharraf's comments, Zardari added, "It's a total insult to the cause of democracy that he could not save the one person that could keep Pakistan together."

Speaking in a plush sitting room filled with photographs of Bhutto, after meeting more mourners at the house, Zardari was also scathing about Musharraf's admission to CBS that a bullet may have caused the fatal injury.

"They have changed stories four times... Why do you think you change stories? Because you have something to hide," said Zardari.

He dismissed Musharraf's claims that Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network was behind the attack.

"Al-Qaeda are not standing against us at the election and moreover they have also denied it. Why should we believe (the government) and not them?"

But he said that if elected, the PPP would continue the former premier's pro-Western outlook and strong stance against Islamic militancy -- adding that he would welcome more US assistance.

The Pakistan army on Sunday reacted angrily to a New York Times report that the White House was considering approving military operations inside Pakistan to target Taliban and al-Qaeda militants.

"The Americans are already in the Pakistani territory, we are only trying to mince words by saying they are not," Zardari said.

Bhutto "in her wisdom talked that Pakistan needs more help, that nothing is being done... and that Talibanisation is going from bad to worse," he said.

Zardari said the PPP was well prepared for the elections, which have been postponed from January 8 to February 18 because of violence sparked by Bhutto's death, but claimed they had already been "heavily rigged."

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