Pak to probe ISI officials role in Benazir murder plot

Last Updated: Monday, December 27, 2010 - 19:02

Karachi: Pakistan may widen the scope of
investigations into the killing of former premier Benazir
Bhutto to probe the possible involvement of some intelligence
officials in the plot.

The investigations into the assassination are likely
to be expanded to unveil some faces who have so far been out
of picture, the Dawn reported.

The paper said the move to widen the investigation is
likley to be ordered as three years of probe have failed to
unravel the conspiracy of who killed Bhutto.

"So far little conclusive evidence has emerged about
who planned or perpetrated the assassination, or under whose
ultimate authority the crime scene investigation was so
mismanaged," the paper said on the third anniversary of the
gory killing of the charismatic leader.

The probability of probing intelligence officials, the
paper said had been thrown up after the arrest of the two
former police officers who have told investigators that some
intelligence officials were in contact with them on the
fateful day of December 27, 2007.

The move to step up investigations has come up as
ruling Pakistan`s People`s Party (PPP) feels red faced that
the investigations have reached an almost dead end when it is
at the helm of affairs.

Severely criticising the Yusuf Raza Gilani led
government, the Pakistani newspapers on Monday carried special
editorials saying that Benzair Bhutto assassination
investigations may go the same way as that of another premier
Liaquat Ali Khan, whose killing remains unsolved to this day.

The Federal Investigation Agency obtained on Thursday
six days` physical custody of former chief of Rawalpindi city
police Saud Aziz and SP Khurram Shahzad to recover the
cellphones they were using on the day the former prime
minister was assassinated in a gun-and-bomb attack outside
Rawalpindi`s Liaquat Bagh.

The agency had sought a 12-day remand, but the special
judge of Anti-Terrorism Court-III granted six days.

The two former police officers were taken into custody
on Wednesday after a trial court hearing the case cancelled
their pre-arrest bail.

Special Public Prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali told
reporters after the court proceedings that arrested officers
had informed the investigators that four officers of the
Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence had been
in contact with them.

But he said that their names could not be disclosed
now because it was yet to be ascertained in what context they
were in contact with the accused.

If concrete evidence was found against the
intelligence officers they would be included in the
investigation.

The FIA investigators said in the court that forensic
tests of the cellphones were needed to ascertain who had been
in contact with the two police officers on the day of
Benazir`s assassination.

Advocate Zulfiqar said that phone data would help the
investigators to know if other elements were also involved in
the murder.

He said the police officers had given divergent
statements about the cellphones and the numbers used by them
three years ago. First they said they had lost the phones and
later claimed that these had broken up.

Advocate Malik Muhammad Rafique, the counsel for Saud
Aziz, said the cellphone data could be collected from the
mobile companies concerned, and not from the police officers.
It was surprising, he said, that the investigators had sought
the data three years after the incident.

The two police officers were brought to the court
without handcuffs in a van with windows covered with
newspapers.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had a few months ago
formed a three-member committee, headed by Cabinet Secretary
Chaudhry Abdul Rauf, which excluded from inquiry some top
military officials who allegedly ordered the hosing down of
the assassination site. The inquiry report, however, has not
been made public.

The UN commission on Benazir`s assassination had
accused MI`s former director general Maj-Gen Nadeem Ijaz and
some top police officials of being behind the hosing down of
the site.

The joint investigation team has prepared the 32-point
questionnaire for the former president.

Interior ministry sources said the document contained
questions relating to security lapse and asked the former
president why he did not provide adequate security to Ms
Bhutto although she had expressed fears about threats to her
life.

Gen (retd) Musharraf`s spokesman Fawad Chaudhry said
the former president had nothing to do with the security of
Bhutto.

He termed the government’s move to send the
questionnaire to Gen Musharraf an attempt to politicise the
case and damage him politically.

PTI



First Published: Monday, December 27, 2010 - 19:02

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