Pak gives clean chit to Mush in Bhutto case

Pak`s Former premier Benazir Bhutto was assassinated by Taliban, a chargesheet filed by Pakistani investigators has said, while giving clean chit to former military ruler Pervez Musharraf of any involvement in the case.

Last Updated: Nov 16, 2010, 16:01 PM IST

Islamabad: Former premier Benazir Bhutto
was assassinated by Taliban, a chargesheet filed by Pakistani
investigators to an anti-terrorism court has said, while
giving clean chit to former military ruler Pervez Musharraf of
any involvement in the case.

The chargesheet filed by a joint investigation team of
the Federal Investigation Agency to a Rawalpindi-based court
yesterday held the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan responsible for
the attack that killed Bhutto on December 27, 2007.

The court is conducting the trial of several suspects
arrested in connection with the assassination.

The 48-page chargesheet, which came almost 35 months
after the assassination, is based largely on investigations
carried out during the Musharraf regime.

It gives a clean chit to Musharraf, who resigned as
President in 2008, and functionaries of the then federal and
Punjab governments.

"JIT has so far not come across any evidence regarding
abetting and facilitating the Dec 27, 2007, attack on Benazir
Bhutto at Liaquat Bagh, Rawalpindi, by any functionary of
provincial or federal government. Despite efforts, the JIT has
so far not been able to examine Gen (retired) Pervez Musharraf
in this regard," the report said.

Senior unnamed officials of the interior ministry were
quoted by the Dawn newspaper as saying that Khalid Qureshi,
the head of the JIT and chief of FIA`s Special Investigation
Group, tried to contact Musharraf but Interior Minister Rehman
Malik stopped him by saying that the former general had "some
kind of deal" with the Pakistan People`s Party-led government.

The chargesheet indicated that investigators had not
conducted an interview with any serving army officer,
including army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Lt Gen Nadeem
Taj, who was chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence at the
time of Bhutto`s death and Maj Gen Nadeem Ejaz Mian, the then
Military Intelligence chief.

JIT sources told the Dawn that senior military
officials did not allow to the team to get the statements of
these generals.

The chargesheet said that though the Punjab government
was aware of serious threats to Bhutto’s life and kept her
under detention and banned her rallies, it failed on the
fateful day to provide her foolproof security.

The investigators said they could not find any helpful
leads from the investigation into the attack on Bhutto`s
procession in Karachi`s area on October 18, 2007, that killed
about 140 people.

The chargesheet accused slain Tehrik-e-Taliban
Pakistan chief Baitullah Mehsud and Ibadur Rehman, Abdullah
and Faiz Muhammad (former students of Akora Khattak madrassa
in Nowshera), Ikramullah, a would-be suicide bomber, Aitzaz
Shah, Sher Zaman, Hasnain Gul, Muhammad Rafaqat, Rasheed
Ahmed, Nasrullah and Nadir of helping and financing the attack
on Bhutto. The attack was to have been carried out by two suicide
bombers - Bilal and Ikramullah.

While Bilal blew himself up, Ikramullah fled the spot
after the blast.

Former Rawalpindi police chief Syed Saud Aziz and
former Rawal Town Superintendent of Police Khurram Shahzad
were charged with criminal negligence of duty and hosing down
the crime scene shortly after Bhutto was killed.

Experts have said the hosing down destroyed vital
evidence.

The report named 124 people as prosecution witnesses,
including Bhutto`s former security officer Major (retired)
Imtiaz Hussain, her driver Javedur Rehman and doctors who
examined her body.

An audio tape of slain Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud,
in which he indirectly admitted responsibility for Bhutto`s
assassination, was verified by the JIT.

The investigators said they had contacted the UN
Commission that probed the assassination but it did not
provide any evidence.

"The JIT sought additional evidence from the United
Nations because its commission pointed out at a number of
other aspects of the case. However, the ministry of foreign
affairs on July 22, in writing, conveyed to the JIT that no
such evidence is coming," said the report.

The investigators also contacted the Afghan
government, which reportedly conveyed to Bhutto reports of a
threat to her life.

The Afghan foreign ministry said it had no record
which suggested that President Hamid Karzai had informed
Bhutto about a possible threat to her life.

The report also said the UAE government had informed
Bhutto and the ISI about the threat to her life.
The anti-terrorism court scheduled the next hearing of
the case for November 23, when charges are likely to be
formally framed against the accused.

PTI