Top Democrat Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has charged that the Pakistan regime under President Pervez Musharraf has "no credibility" and sought an "independent international" probe into the killing of Benazir Bhutto.
"I don't think the Pakistani government, at this time, under President Musharraf has any credibility at all. They have disbanded an independent judiciary, they have oppressed a free press", Senator Clinton said in an interview to CNN.
"Therefore, I'm calling for a full, independent, international investigation (into Bhutto's killing), perhaps along the lines of what the UN has been doing with respect to the assassination of Prime Minister Hariri in Lebanon", she said.
The Senator from New York stressed "it is critically important that we get answers. Those answers are due, first and foremost, to the people of Pakistan, not only those who were supportive of Benazir Bhutto and her party, but every Pakistani, because we cannot expect to move towards stability without some reckoning as to who was responsible for this assassination".
Clinton urged Musharraf and Pakistan government to realise that it was in their interest to understand whether or not it was al-Qaida or some other offshoot extremist group "that is attempting to further destabilise and even overthrow the Pakistani government, or whether it came from within, either explicitly or implicitly, the security forces or the military in Pakistan".
The Democrat front-runner for the US presidential polls in 2008 also warned Musharraf against acting "as though they can destabilise Pakistan and retain their positions; their positions of privilege, their positions of authority.
"That is not the way it will work. So, I am really calling on them to recognise that the world deserves the answer, the Bhutto family deserves the answer. But this is in the best interests of the Pakistani people and the state of Pakistan", Clinton said.
Pressed on what specific kind of investigation into Bhutto's assassination she wished, she said, "there are other institutions that are international that have credibility, like INTERPOL and others, so it doesn't have to be the exact model of the Hariri investigation, but it needs to be international, it needs to be independent, it needs to have credibility, and nothing that would happen inside of Pakistan would".
However, she did not favour "an American investigation where we send our law enforcement personnel, because I'm not sure that would have credibility for a different reason."
The former first lady also asked Musharraf to ensure "same ground rules" for all parties in the upcoming polls of January 8, 2008.
"If President Musharraf wishes to stand for election, then he should abide by the same rules that every other candidate will have to follow", she said.
Seeking early "free and fair elections", the Democrat from New York said: "Obviously, it's going to take some time for Benazir Bhutto's party to choose a successor. Nawaz Sharif has said that he won't participate at this time. I believe, again, some kind of international support for free and fair elections in a timely manner would be incredibly important."
Clinton also stressed on the need for moving towards establishment of an "independent judiciary" in Pakistan.
"The people in the streets are wearing suits and ties. They are lawyers, they are professionals, they are the middle class of Pakistan, which really offers the very best hope for a stable democratic country", she added.