Pakistan Warns of Conspiracies on Bhutto’s Killing Anniversary

Posted December 27th, 2011 at 8:05 pm (UTC-5)
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Pakistan's ruling party on Tuesday warned the country's fragile democracy is at risk, as the South Asian nation marked the fourth anniversary of the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Tens of thousands of mourners, including Pakistani leaders, rallied at the marble mausoleum in Gahri Khuda Bakhsh in Sindh province that is Mrs. Bhutto's final resting place.

Bhutto, who was twice elected prime minister, was killed along with at least 20 others in a gun and suicide bomb attack on December 27, 2007, in the garrison city of Rawalpindi after addressing an election rally. No one has ever been convicted of her murder.

Speaking to reporters during the rally Tuesday, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said the investigation into Bhutto's assassination “had been completed, and the case was under judgment.” He also said the country's interior ministry could soon share with the public some of the information about her death. Many of those in the crowd echoed calls for justice.

Mrs. Bhutto's husband, embattled Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari assured those assembled he will not step down and that he will not let anyone break his political federation. In a separate statement, he called on “democratic forces and patriotic Pakistanis” to foil conspiracies “against democracy and democratic institutions.”

The government in Islamabad faces mounting criticism over the release of a secret memo allegedly sent to Washington asking for U.S. assistance in preventing a supposed army coup following last May's U.S. raid that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. The military has rejected the accusation and urged Pakistan's highest court to investigate the source of the memo.

The memo has fueled speculation about a growing rift between the country's civilian and military leaders, but the two sides have made efforts to defuse the tension.