LAHORE, Dec 29: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan is in favour of a UN-sponsored probe into Benazir’s assassination while Awami Jamhoori Tehreek convener and National Workers Party President Abid Hassan Minto does not see a fair investigation under the Musharraf-led set-up.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan chaired a meeting of non-government organisations and civil society members here on Saturday to discuss the nationwide situation following the assassination of Pakistan People’s Party chairperson Benazir Bhutto.

Participants in the meeting expressed their shock and grief at the assassination and agreed that the act was a conspiracy against democracy, HRCP director I.A. Rehman told Dawn.

They agreed that the killing should be thoroughly investigated by impartial international investigators as “nobody would believe the outcome of an inquiry by the government.”

Mr Rehman said the HRCP would urge the political parties to demand a UN investigation, exhorting all members of civil society to back the political parties in their struggle.

He said the HRCP would continue to pressure President Pervez Musharraf and his cohorts to quit power.

MINTO: Awami Jamhoori Tehreek convener and National Workers Party President Abid Hassan Minto has demanded independent investigation of the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, but added such a probe could not be held under the present political and administrative set up.

At a press conference, flanked by the representatives of Awami Jamhoori Tehreek components — National Workers Party, Awami Tehreek, Labour Party Pakistan, Pakistan Masdoor Mahaz, Mazdoor Kissan Party and Inqilabi Workers Group — here on Saturday, he said the heinous murder was part of the policy under which the illegitimate rulers kept themselves in power by spreading fear and terror and obstructing democracy and peoples’ participation in affairs of state.

He said those in power could not abdicate their responsibility for the assassination of the former prime minister because Baitullah Mehsud, who was being accused of masterminding the shameful act by the government, had denied his involvement in the matter.

He demanded President Pervez Musharraf should quit and the present government should be replaced by a set up of national consensus. A tribunal consisting of retired justices Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui, Nasir Aslam Zahid and Rana Bhagwan Das should hold an inquiry into the matter. He said the AJT was of the view that the election scheduled had lost its relevance in the present situation.

Fair elections would be possible only under a government of national consensus after repeal of the controversial amendments to the Constitution made by President Pervez Musharraf through an executive order on and after November 3 without any lawful authority.

MINORITY: Condemning the killing of the PPP chairperson and 22 people, Minority Rights Commission chairman M. Parkash and executive committee director Younis Alam said the tragedy would have far-reaching consequences for the federation.

They said Ms Bhutto was the voice of minorities, workers and women. She was silenced because she wanted to materialise the dream of Quaid-i-Azam for making Pakistan a place where the minorities would enjoy complete religious freedom.