Pakistan court urges speedy Musharraf arrest

Former Pakistan president is wanted over 2007 murder of ex-PM Benazir Bhutto.

Rawalpindi: A Pakistani court asked the government on Saturday to speed up the arrest of former president Pervez Musharraf amid uncertainty over whether Britain would honour a warrant for his arrest.

Musharraf, who lives in self-imposed exile in London, is wanted over the 2007 murder of ex-premier Benazir Bhutto. Prosecutors accuse him of failing to provide her with enough security and an arrest warrant was issued in February.

"The court asked the prosecution to expedite execution of arrest warrants for Pervez Musharraf for early completion of the trial," public prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali said after a hearing on Saturday.

"We produced before the court the government`s correspondence with the British Home Office including a copy of a letter saying the warrants are under process in Britain," Ali said. The next hearing is set for April 23.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who visited Islamabad on Tuesday, said during his trip that Britain would "look into any warrant that is produced" but highlighted the absence of an extradition treaty between the two countries.

The former president and military ruler is alleged to have been part of a "broad conspiracy" to have his political rival killed before elections, though the exact nature of the charges against him has not so far been made clear.

Bhutto was killed after addressing an election campaign rally in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, near the capital Islamabad, on December 27, 2007.

At the time, Musharraf`s government blamed the assassination on the chief of the Pakistani Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, who denied any involvement.

Mehsud was killed in a US drone attack in August 2009, one of the most high-profile casualties of the covert American campaign targeting al Qaeda and its allies in Pakistan`s lawless tribal belt on the Afghan border.

Bhutto, who served two terms as prime minister, had returned from exile two months before she was killed to stand for election.

Her widower Asif Ali Zardari led her Pakistan People`s Party to election victory in February 2008 and is now president.

Bureau Report