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Pakistan blasts remain a whodunit

Investigations into the horrific bomb blasts that greeted the homecoming of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto still make little headway, reports Kamal Siddiqi.
Hindustan Times | By Kamal Siddiqi, Karachi
UPDATED ON OCT 26, 2007 02:22 AM IST

As investigations into the horrific bomb blasts that greeted the homecoming of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto still make little headway, many uncomfortable questions are being asked. Police officials, unwilling to be named, claimed that doubts had even been raised over whether it was indeed a suicide bombing, as the government was quick to call it, or some kind of time bomb, triggered by a remote device.

While a suicide bomber would indicate that a religious militant outfit was behind the attack, the use of remote device could suggest a deeper conspiracy which did not involve Islamic fundamentalists at all. Bhutto has already pointed a finger at two provincial chief ministers and a former intelligence chief, without however, actually naming them publicly, claiming they want her eliminated.

The probe received a further setback when Bhutto herself objected to the leading investigator Manzoor Mughal's presence in the team and had him transferred out. Bhutto maintained that Mughal had played a part in the torture of her husband Asif Ali Zardari when he was in jail in Pakistan.

Bhutto wants foreign investigators brought in, a suggestion her political opponents regard as pernicious. "It seems Bhutto has no confidence in Pakistan and the Pakistani secuirty agencies," said Shaikh Rasheed, Railways Minister.

The bombing may have brought Bhutto closer to President Musharraf, but it has driven a wedge between her party and the ruling party, the Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid). Both the chief ministers accused by Bhutto belong to the PML(Q). "Bhutto alone is responsible. She has brought the attack on herself," said Chaudhry Shujaat Husain, PML (Q) leader.

Sindh Chief Minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim, one of those allegedly named by Bhutto said she was using diversionary tactics. "What people are concerned about is the massive plunder of national wealth that took place while Bhutto was prime minister," he said. "The country wants its money back."

In response, Qaim Ali Shah, a senior leader in Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) questioned Rahim's "mental health"..

Since then, there have been fresh threats to Bhutto, which forced her to postpone a visit to her ancesteral hometown of Larkana as well as a trip to Lahore.

Explosion in swat kills 30

A powerful explosion ripped through a military truck on Thursday in Mingora, a major town in Swat valley, killing 30 people, the second such attack in two days, officials said.

Earlier, on Tuesday night, five soldiers were hurt when a military convoy heading towards Swat came under attack near Thana in Malakand Agency. A truck carrying goods in the 50-vehicle military convoy was blown up when it ran over a remote controlled explosive device.

The attacks are a rejoinder to the operation launched by police and para-military forces in the valley. The intention is to "to reassert the writ of the state" in the troubled northern district of the North West Frontier Province, say authorities.

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