The independent commission tasked with looking into the facts and circumstances surrounding the 2007 assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto will begin its work on 1 July, the United Nations announced today.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent a letter to Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan’s President and Ms. Bhutto’s widower, informing him of the start of the Commission of Inquiry, Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement.
The Commission, headed by Ambassador Heraldo Muñoz of Chile, will have a mandate of six months and will be fact-finding in nature, as noted by the Secretary-General in February, when he announced his intention to set up the probe.
“The duty of determining criminal responsibility of the perpetrators of the assassination remains with the Pakistani authorities,” said today’s statement.
The other members of the Commission, set up in response to a request from the Pakistani Government, is Marzuki Darusman, former Attorney General of Indonesia, and Peter Fitzgerald, a veteran of the Irish National Police who has served the UN in a number of capacities.
The Commission will submit its report to the Secretary-General within six months of the start of its work. Mr. Ban will share the report with the Government and submit it to the Security Council for information.
Noting that the anniversary of Ms. Bhutto’s birth is this Sunday, the statement added that the UN is committed to assisting Pakistan by determining the facts and circumstances of her death.
Meanwhile, UN agencies and their partners are pressing ahead with their efforts to support the 2.5 million people forced to flee their homes by the ongoing conflict between Government forces and militants in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province (NWFP).
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has welcomed the airlift yesterday of more than 35,000 kilogrammes of relief supplies, donated by the Irish and the Norwegian Governments, for its operations on behalf of internally displaced persons (IDPs).
The urgently-needed relief goods, which include tents, blankets, kitchen sets and mosquito nets, are now on their way to the agency’s operational hub in the Province, where they will be used to support the camps housing many of the displaced.
The UN said that the $543 million humanitarian appeal launched about a month ago to deal with the needs of Pakistan’s displaced has so far received only 30 per cent of the necessary funding.