President Pervez Musharraf denied accusations the military or intelligence services were involved in the killing of Benazir Bhutto, but said he was not satisfied with Pakistan's probe into her death.
At a news conference Thursday in Islamabad, Musharraf said his request for British investigators to help local police probe the assassination was intended to dispel any suspicions about the involvement of government officials.
Pakistan's government has been criticized over its security arrangements for Bhutto. She had said elements in the ruling party were trying to kill her.
"We don't mind going to any extent, as nobody is involved from the government or agency side," he said.
Musharraf said there was no security lapse, and implied Bhutto was partly responsible for her own death in the suicide and gun attack on Dec. 27.
"Who is to be blamed for her coming out her vehicle?" he asked.
He pointed out that others in the vehicle were not hurt in the attack, but that Bhutto was greeting supporters through her sunroof at the time.
Pakistan provided Bhutto with protection and warned her she faced threats if she returned to her home country after eight years of self-imposed exile, said Musharraf.
Bhutto's party calls for UN probe
Musharraf conceded there were shortcomings in how Pakistani police handled the case, such as hosing down the bomb site hours after the attack. But he dismissed suggestions the cleanup was a deliberate obstruction.
"I'm not fully satisfied. I will accept that: cleaning the area. Why did they do that? … It's just inefficiency, people thinking things have to be cleared, traffic has to go through," he said.
Musharraf had announced late Wednesday that British investigators would join local officers in probing the attack, but Bhutto's party has dismissed that as insufficient.
The Pakistan Peoples Party is calling for the United Nations to investigate her death, saying "vague" help from Scotland Yard is not enough to reveal the truth.
"The mist of confusion will be cleared only if the regime accepts the party's demand for holding a UN inquiry into the assassination as was done in the case of Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri's murder," Farhatullah Babar, a spokesman for Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party, said Thursday.
"The regime has lost all credibility. Neither a domestic inquiry nor vague foreign involvement … would lay to rest the lingering doubts and suspicions," Babar said.
Government must request help, UN says
UN spokeswoman Michèle Montas told reporters the world body is ready to help Pakistan investigate the Dec. 27 assassination, but would not act without a request from Islamabad.
"In the case of Mr. Hariri, it was a request from the Lebanese government," she said.
Scotland Yard said a small team of officers from the Metropolitan Police's Counterterrorism Command will head to Pakistan by the end of the week.
The White House expressed support for the involvement of British officers and said a UN investigation was not necessary now.
"Scotland Yard being in the lead in this investigation is appropriate and necessary, and I don't see, we don't see, a need for an investigation beyond that at this time," said presidential spokeswoman Dana Perino.
A senior police investigator, who spoke on condition of anonymity to the Associated Press because of the sensitivity of the investigation, said Thursday that police in Pakistan already had secured key evidence, including the suspected bomber's remains, two pistols and mobile phones.
Scotland Yard investigators, with their superior forensic techniques, could help determine whether either pistol was fired in the attack and also could examine video, he said.