Tens of thousands gathered at the mausoleum of Pakistan’s former prime minister Benazir Bhutto on the eve of the first anniversary of her assassination.
Some of them walked hundreds of miles to her home town of Garhi Khuda Bakhsh, where Ms Bhutto’s widower, President Asif Ali Zardari, will speak today.
Sher Mohammad, 23, said: “She gave her life for the people of this country, so we can walk a few miles to pay homage to her dignity.”
At the United Nations headquarters in New York, secretary General Ban Ki-moon said yesterday he was hopeful that a UN commission would be established in the near future to investigate Ms Bhutto’s killing in a gun and suicide bomb attack on December 27 last year.
Ms Bhutto was killed as she was leaving a rally in the garrison town of Rawalpindi, just outside the capital of Islamabad, where she was campaigning to return her Pakistan People’s Party to power in parliamentary elections.
Her assassination shocked the world, fanning revulsion at rising militant violence in Pakistan as well as conspiracy theories that the country’s powerful spy agencies were involved.
The government at the time, led by President Pervez Musharraf, blamed Baitullah Mehsud, a Pakistani militant commander with reported links to al-Qaida, citing a communications intercept in which Mehsud allegedly congratulated some of his henchmen. A Mehsud spokesman has denied any involvement.
Mr Musharraf’s government said Ms Bhutto died from the force of the blast and not a gunshot wound, but many of Pakistan’s 160 million people, already sceptical of Mr Musharraf, questioned that account.
Ms Bhutto’s party demanded a UN probe and her widower Mr Zardari, who became president after parliamentary elections in February, also lobbied for one.
The UN chief assured the Pakistani people and government he was committed to search for truth and justice. He agreed to Pakistan’s request for a UN-authorised independent probe into Ms Bhutto’s killing after a meeting in July with Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
UN deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe said yesterday that the UN Secretariat “has been in consultations with the government of Pakistan to determine the nature of the commission, the scope of its mandate and the modalities for its establishment”.
The Security Council, the UN’s most powerful body, must authorise any investigating commission.