Bhatti`s killing not religiously motivated: Report

A family rivalry over property was behind the assassination of Pak Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti early this year.

Islamabad: A family rivalry over property was
behind the assassination of Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, who was gunned down earlier this year, and the killing
was not religiously motivated, a media report said Tuesday.

Bhatti`s murder in Islamabad was due to a property
dispute between relatives and police investigators have
concluded the killing was not religiously motivated in their
latest report despite the fact that the Punjabi Taliban had
claimed responsibility for the assassination, The Express
Tribune newspaper reported.

However, Bhatti`s murderers have fled Pakistan and are
currently believed to be in Dubai or Kuala Lumpur, according
to an investigator.

The murderers have not been identified as yet. "We will
approach Interpol for their arrest," an investigator said.

"Shahbaz`s murder is said to be linked to a chronic
rivalry with relatives who lived in Faisalabad five years
ago," claimed an investigator associated with the Joint
Investigation Team (JIT) that probed the assassination.
Interpol has not been contacted for assistance because there are no clues about the exact location of the accused, said an unnamed Interior Ministry official.

"We cannot put our case before Interpol without
substantive proof," he said.

"Firstly, we wanted to close the investigation but then
we learnt that there was a chronic ethnic and property dispute
between the two families which led to Shahbaz`s murder," said
an unnamed police official.

New clues have led police to a family who left Pakistan
due to the rivalry with the Bhattis, the JIT said in its
latest report.
This family earlier lived in Bhatti`s hometown of
Khushpur, which has produced famous priests and nuns, but some
of its members are now reportedly living in the UAE.

Two or three of them had converted to Islam and are
living in Malaysia, said an unnamed member of the JIT.

The Taliban had initially claimed responsibility for the
assassination of Bhatti, who was gunned down a short distance
from his home in Islamabad on March 2 as he was driving to
work.

His brother Paul Bhatti has said that the murder was
plotted by Al Qaeda-linked militant commander Ilyas Kashmiri.

All but two of Bhatti`s brothers moved to Europe
following the assassination due to security reasons.

Asked if his brother`s murder was a case of family
rivalry, Paul Bhatti had earlier said that Interior Minister
Rehman Malik had told him he had contacted Interpol to arrest
some accused from the UAE.

There had been no further progress in the probe, Paul Bhatti quoted police officials as saying.

He also said he would ask the Prime Minister to set up a
judicial commission to investigate the murder.

Minister for Inter-Faith Harmony Akram Masih Gill said he
would take up the matter with the President and the Prime
Minister on August 11, when Shahbaz Bhatti`s memorial trust
will be inaugurated.

"Paul will also speak to both dignitaries to convey the
minorities` resentment which is increasing with every
passing day," Gill said.

PTI

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