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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 January 2008, 11:33 GMT
Scotland Yard's Pakistan casebook
By Mazhar Zaidi
BBC Urdu service

Following the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, the Pakistani government initially said there was no need for outside help with the investigation into the murder.

Benazir Bhutto
Many questions remain about Ms Bhutto's murder

Now the government has performed an apparent U-turn, with President Pervez Musharraf saying on Wednesday that the UK would be sending investigators from Scotland Yard to help in the inquiry.

It will not be the first time Scotland Yard has come to the help of Pakistan after an assassination.

But will the UK detectives have more joy than their predecessors?

Back in 1951 Pakistan asked the UK for help after the country's first Prime Minister, Liaqat Ali Khan, was shot dead in what was then called the Company Bagh (park) in Rawalpindi.

The park was renamed Liaqat Bagh in his honour. Fifty-six years later it was in this same park that Ms Bhutto's attacker, or attackers, struck.

The parallels between 1951 and December 2007 go beyond location. After Mr Khan's death, many opposition leaders said outside investigators were needed because they believed that some government officials were themselves involved in the murder conspiracy.

As in the case of Ms Bhutto, the government back in 1951 initially rejected outside help before agreeing that an expert from Scotland Yard come to Pakistan.

But for reasons never disclosed, the British investigator was asked to leave Pakistan only few weeks into his investigations. The Pakistani authorities never revealed anything about the investigation.

Brother's death

Move on four and a half decades to September, 1996 when another politician was killed outside his home in Karachi and the demand for help from Scotland Yard was again heard in the country.

Asif Zardari by photo of Benazir Bhutto
Asif Zardari has ruled out an autopsy

This time the dead politician was Murtaza Bhutto, the brother of Benazir Bhutto. Ms Bhutto was at that time prime minister and she enlisted the help of British Home Office forensic experts and former experts of Scotland Yard.

But not long after the President, Farooq Leghari, sacked Ms Bhutto's government, which stood charged with corruption, and Mr Leghari sent the British experts back home.

The Scotland Yard detectives heading out for Pakistan now do not face the easiest of tasks.

No one can even agree as to whether a gunman shot Ms Bhutto. Her widower, Asif Zardari, is against exhuming the body to resolve the dispute. He ruled out an autopsy, suggesting that the results would be manipulated.

The detectives are unlikely to make much progress from the scene of the crime - it was hosed down not long after the killing.

And a major question to be answered is how much co-operation will the British detectives get from the various police and intelligence organisations in Pakistan, some of whose members may be far from inclined to want to work with foreign police.



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