Pakistan's government to ask UN for Bhutto probe

Pakistan's new coalition government will ask the United Nations to help investigate last year's assassination of Benazir Bhutto, her widower said on Sunday.

Pakistan's government to ask UN for Bhutto probe
Asif Ali Zardari, co-chairman of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), called Bhutto's December 27 assassination part of a conspiracy "aimed at breaking up Pakistan" and said the government was drafting a request for the UN to help with the investigations.

Speaking at a joint conference with Nawaz Sharif, leader of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, PPP's junior partner in the government coalition, Zardari stressed their parties' determination to cooperate.

The parties "will stay together for the welfare of the country," he said. "Democracy is at work in Pakistan," he said.

Their 24-member cabinet is scheduled to be sworn in on Monday by President Pervez Musharraf.

They plan an ambitious 100-day programme including addressing issues like security and electricity shortages.

Zardari and Sharif are the leaders of the two main coalition parties, but neither are elected members of parliament, forcing them to watch parliamentary debates from the spectators' area.

The distribution of ministries will be based on the number of seats won in the February 18 election, with PPP holding 11 cabinet posts compared to Sharif's eight, PPP spokesman Farhatullah Babar said.

PPP member Yousuf Raza Gillani was sworn in as prime minister on Tuesday.

Other smaller partners in the coalition include the North-west Frontier Province-based Awami National Party (ANP), which won 13 seats, and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F (JUI-F), which has six MPs.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), which won 25 seats in the election is considering joining the coalition, having supported Gilliani's election. On Sunday, Sharif however expressed reservations.

Babar said the cabinet will be expanded, but the coalition partners agreed to keep it much smaller than the 70-member cabinet of former prime minister Shaukat Aziz.

Last Mod: 31 Mart 2008, 12:28
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