|08USUNNEWYORK1104||2008-11-21 23:17:00||CONFIDENTIAL||USUN New York|
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C O N F I D E N T I A L USUN NEW YORK 001104
1. (C) SUMMMARY: Pakistan is pushing the UN to announce a
Commission of Inquiry into the assassination of Benazir
Bhutto, said UN officials on November 19. Although they
remain opposed to any Security Council action, they have
accepted the principle of an exchange of letters between the
Secretary-General and the Security Council as the means to
provide authorization for a Commission. Pakistan proposes a
Commission that would focus on two pillars: 1) fact-finding,
and 2) a general determination of responsibility for the
assassination. In a P3 meeting November 21, France and the
UK expressed concern regarding the second pillar -
determining responsibility - as well as the UN Secretariat,s
desire for the Security Council to formally approve the
Commission. The P3 decided to work on a common approach and
to meet with the Secretariat after the Thanksgiving holiday.
ACTION REQUEST AT PARA 6. END SUMMARY.
2. (C) POL M/C and Poloff met November 19 with Lisa
Buttenheim, Director of the Middle East and Asia Division in
the UN,s Department of Political Affairs. Buttenheim said
she was approaching P5 members to convey the following
information: Pakistan had asked the UN to begin planning for
a Commission of Inquiry into the Bhutto assassination.
Pakistan wanted the Commission to have two pillars: 1)
establishing the facts surrounding the assassination, and 2)
determining responsibility for the assassination. The
Commission would have six months, and would be comprised of 3
members. Pakistan would pay for initial seed money, but the
UN insisted that the overall funding of the Commission would
need to come from voluntary contributions from member states,
and not just from Pakistan (to preserve the Commission,s
independence). Pakistan would like a substantive and
security technical assessment mission to leave as soon as
possible to begin work on setting up the Commission.
3. (C) Buttenheim said the UN insisted the Security Council
would need a role in setting up the Commission. The UN
proposed sending a letter from the Secretary-General to the
Security Council to explain the Commission and include the
terms of reference. The Security Council would respond with
a letter "taking note" or "welcoming" the Commission, but the
issue would not be part of the Security Council,s agenda.
Pakistan agreed to this procedure.
4. (C) Buttenheim said the UN is nervous about the second
pillar of this Commission. Even though it would not be a
criminal investigation, the Commission would likely be seen
by the Pakistani public as a neutral body that would resolve
all lingering questions regarding the assassination.
Although President Zardari is in favor of the Commission
determining responsibility for the assassination, this
remains very controversial within Pakistan. The UN,s
Department of Safety and Security is worried about the
profile of this potential Commission, as well as the impact
of the Commission,s work on the rest of the UN,s personnel
in Pakistan. Buttenheim asked for our opinion regarding this
second proposed pillar.
5. (C) On November 21, Ambassador DiCarlo met with the French
and UK Deputy PermReps to discuss the Commission. France and
the UK were concerned about the second pillar. Their initial
reaction was to focus the Commission solely on the first
pillar - fact-finding. In addition, they expressed concern
that a clear signal of approval from the Security Council
would link the Security Council to any outcome from the
Commission. They suggested a follow-on meeting with the
Secretariat to determine next steps.
6. (C) ACTION REQUEST: USUN requests Department guidance on
the proposed Commission of Inquiry, especially with regard to
the second pillar. Given the length of time since the
assassination and the limited scope of the Commission, USUN
believes the second proposed pillar (determination of
responsibility) may unreasonably raise expectations within
Pakistan and set the UN up for failure. USUN requests
guidance in advance of the P3/UN meeting, to be held
following the Thanksgiving holiday. END ACTION REQUEST.