Pakistani PM orders inquiry into killing of court official

Islamabad, May 15 (DPA) Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz Tuesday ordered a judicial inquiry into the murder of a senior official of the Supreme Court and a witness in the case against suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry.

Aziz directed the Interior Ministry and the Islamabad police to “make all-out efforts to immediately bring the culprit to book,” a statement from his office said.

Support TwoCircles

Supreme Court Deputy Registrar Syed Hamid Raza was shot dead at his home Monday morning in what colleagues and relatives believe to be a target killing.

Raza had been under “immense pressure” by the government to stand as a witness in the controversial case against the judge, a close aide to Chaudhry said.

President Pervez Musharraf removed Chaudhry on March 9 for alleged abuse of office, sparking countrywide protests by lawyers and the political opposition.

Raza’s murder came amid escalating violence over the suspension, primarily in the southern city of Karachi where more than 45 people died in clashes since Saturday between Chaudhry’s supporters and government-loyal forces.

Another defence counsel for Chaudhry, former interior minister Aitzaz Ahsan, said earlier that the murder might have been “a warning to others.”

However, government officials rejected claims that Raza was assassinated.

“The murder was not a target killing. Preliminary investigations indicate that Raza died while resisting a robbery attempt,” interior ministry spokesman Javed Cheema told reporters in Islamabad Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Acting Chief Justice Rana Bhagwandas set up a two-member panel of Supreme Court judges to conduct an inquiry into the murder.