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'ISI diverting US aid to rig coming Pak polls'

Source: PTI
January 01, 2008 18:40 IST
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Benazir Bhutto was scheduled to meet two senior United States lawmakers to hand over a 'confidential' report on diversion of US aid for fighting militants to rig the upcoming parliamentary polls the day she was assassinated, her top party official has claimed.

The report alleged that the Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence was using some of the $10 billion American aid to run a covert election operation from a safe house in a central district of Islamabad, senior Pakistan People's Party official Sarfraz Ali Lashari told The Times.

According to the official, who works in PPP's election monitoring cell, the operation's aim was to undermine Bhutto's party and to ensure victory for the Pakistan Muslim League (Q), which supports President Pervez Musharraf, in the polls slated for January eight.

"The report was done by some people who we have got in the services. They directly dealt with Benazir Bhutto, She was planning to share the contents of the report with the British Ambassador and the senior US politicians," Lashari was quoted as saying.

The British newspaper claimed that the two senior politicians -- Patrick Kennedy, a Democratic Congressman for Rhode Island, and Arlen Specter, a Republican member of the Senate Sub-committee on Foreign Operations -- have confirmed that they were planning to have dinner with Bhutto on Thursday.

Bhutto's widower Asif Ali Zardari, the new co-Chairman of the PPP, has also confirmed the existence of the report and its basic contents as well as the former Premier's plans to meet the US lawmakers last Thursday.

Asked if the report contained evidence that the ISI was using US funds to rig the elections, he said: "Possibly so," but declined to give further details.

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