Pakistani court issues notice to Musharraf in Benazir killing case


Islamabad: A Pakistani court Monday issued notice to former president Pervez Musharraf and nine others after they failed to appear for a hearing in a case relating to the Dec 27, 2007 assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

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Judge Ejaz Ahmad Chaudhry of the Rawalpindi bench of the Lahore High court issued the notice on a petition filed by Chaudhry Aslam, Bhutto’s former protocol officer, seeking the registration of a first information report (FIR) on her killing.

Judge Chaudhry had Sep 1 summoned, among others, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Babar Awan and then Punjab chief minister Pervez Elahi, to appear Sep 28.

Aslam’s petition contends that these individuals were involved in the gun and bomb attack that killed Bhutto as she left a political rally in the garrison town of Rawalpindi adjacent to Pakistani capital Islamabad and that a first information report should be registered against them.

Judge Asif Saeed Khosa had earlier refused to hear the petition when it was presented before him.

Musharraf, who is currently in Britain on a lecture tour, was not expected to respond to the summons. In July, he did not respond to a Supreme Court summons while it was hearing a petition on legality of the emergency Musharraf had imposed Nov 3, 2007. The court later ruled that his action was unconstitutional.

Pakistan’s investigations into Bhutto’s killing, as also one by Scotland Yard, failed to make headway largely because the spot where Bhutto was attacked was hosed down soon after the incident, destroying whatever evidence might have existed.

Pakistan then requested a UN probe into the assassination and this is currently underway.

A UN team had Aug 24 visited the Rawalpindi hospital where Bhutto was rushed after the fatal attack to collect details about her wounds and treatment.

The UN officials interacted with the staff of the Benazir Shaheed Hospital for more than two hours.

Hospital doctor Musaddaq Hussain told the UN team that Bhutto’s autopsy was not conducted on the request of her husband Asif Ali Zardari, who is now the president of Pakistan.

The team also visited the operation theatre, the treatment room and the site where the doctors formally announced her death.

The team earlier visited the site where she was attacked.

Another UN team arrived in Islamabad Monday to continue the probe. A report will be submitted to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon after the investigations are complete. Ban will then share the report with the Pakistani government and the Security Council.

The probe is likely to cost the Pakistani government Rs.200 million.

Baitullah Mehsud, the Pakistani Taliban commander killed in a US drone strike last month, is one of those suspected of having a hand in Bhutto’s assassination.