Benazir Bhutto was killed by the Taliban: report


Islamabad : Pakistan’s former prime minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated by the Taliban, a report submitted in a terrorism court has said and added that there was no evidence of the involvement of the Musharraf government in the killing.

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The joint investigation team (JIT) of the Federal Investigation Agency submitted a challan to an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi Monday.

Dawn reported Tuesday that the 48-page document gave a clean-chit to former president Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf and functionaries of then federal and provincial governments.

The team held the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan responsible for the assassination.

Bhutto was assassinated Dec 27, 2007 after addressing an election rally in the northern Pakistani city of Rawalpindi. A teenaged shooter was seen aiming for her head in the CCTV footage before a powerful suicide blast killed at least 24 people participating in the rally.

The interior ministry at that time had accused Taliban of plotting to kill Bhutto while the doctors had said that “her head banged against the lever of the sunroof which caused her death”.

“JIT has so far not come across any evidence regarding abetting and facilitating the Dec 27, 2007, attack on Mohtarma 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 (red) Pervez Musharraf in this regard,” said the report submitted in court and seen by Dawn.

Senior officials said JIT chief Khalid Qureshi attempted to contact Musharraf, but Interior Minister Rehman Malik stopped him by saying that the general had “some kind of deal” with the present government.

The report charged Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan chief Baitullah Mehsud along with former students of a madrassa in Nowshera – Ibadur Rehman, Abdullah and Faiz Muhammad – in planning the attack. The suicide bomber was Ikramullah.

The video tape of Baitullah Mehsud in which he had admitted responsibility for Bhutto’s killing has been verified as correct by the investigators.

Former Rawalpindi police chief Syed Saud Aziz and another senior police official, Khurran Shahzad, have been charged with criminal negligence of duty and hosing down the crime scene.

The report didn’t mention any interview with any serving army officer.

Sources said the military ‘high-ups’ did not allow to the team to get their statements.

The report clearly stated that though the Punjab government was aware of threats to Bhutto’s life, it failed to provide her foolproof security.