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Pakistan Unlikely to Act on Bhutto Report, UN Envoy Haroon Says

Pakistan is unlikely to take steps to address the security and judicial failures detailed in a report on the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the nation’s envoy to the United Nations said.

“I have witnessed history in my country for the last 60 years and nothing is ever taken to conclusion,” Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon said in an interview today. “We have had great trauma in Pakistan that did not lead to reform.”

Bhutto’s 2007 assassination might have been prevented had the government and security forces taken adequate steps after death threats were made against her, the UN-backed report said. The subsequent investigation “lacked direction, was ineffective and suffered from a lack of commitment to identify and bring all of the perpetrators to justice,” the report said.

Haroon, 59, said the 65-page report, commissioned by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and released yesterday, was a “very clean factual picture” that was “well-conceived, well-written and well-intentioned” and contained no major errors.

The report called for “police reform measures” to “operate in a structure of accountability for protecting the rights of the individual.” It said Pakistan needs “strong and effective intelligence services” and that the “democratic rule of law in Pakistan could be greatly strengthened.”

Past Violence

Past violence in Pakistan, including the “loss of East Pakistan,” the 1979 execution of Bhutto’s father, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and military ruler General Mohammad Zia ul-Haq’s death in a plane crash in 1988 all failed to produce better leadership, Haroon said.

“We started off in undivided India a far more brilliant small group of people who disengaged from India and went our way knowing we could do better,” Haroon said. “We did in the first 25 years. Then we decided to go in mad directions and policies and since then it has been all the way down.”

Pakistan now needs “strong leadership and incorruptible leadership,” said Haroon, whose family owns the Pakistani media group Dawn.

The government doesn’t need U.S. help building democracy as suggested today in Washington by State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, Haroon said.

“We will continue to work with Pakistan, to make sure that we build the institutions of democracy going forward and help them defend them as well,” Crowley told reporters.

“I don’t think you can help anything,” Haroon said, meaning the U.S. “When the U.S. was not a democracy, in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, we were a democracy,” he said, referring to the disenfranchisement of African-Americans. “The time it took you to get adult franchise we were already under adult franchise. We may have retarded today but we were a full-fledged democracy.”

The U.S., Haroon said, should “observe the Bible which they believe in” rather than “paying off people to be corrupt.”

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