Musharraf holds Zardari responsible for murder of Benazir, Murtaza

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DUBAI: Pakistan’s former president Gen (r) Pervez Musharraf has made sensational claims Thursday on murders of Benazir Bhutto and his brother Murtaza Bhutto holding namely  PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari responsible for the crime. He said that Asif Zardari is “having the most to gain from Benazir Bhutto’s murder,” in a video posted on his official Facebook page.

“Asif Ali Zardari is responsible for the Bhutto family’s demise and is involved in the deaths of Benazir and Murtaza Bhutto,” he said in the video which he addressed to the three Bhutto-Zardari children, the Bhutto family and the people of Sindh.

“Zardari was in power for five years, why did he not look into the case, why was the investigation not active — because he was involved in Benazir’s murder,” he adds, as he proceeds into what he termed as his analysis of the case.

Going further, Musharraf said, “The evidence is clear that Baitullah Mehsud and his people were involved in the morder, but who had asked them to target Benazir Bhutto — it could not have been me, the group hated me and the feeling was mutual. “It is a known fact that I wanted Mehsud dead after his group had attempted to kill me,” Musharraf added.

Elaborating his claims, Pervez Musharraf said; “Zardari, on the other hand, had a great relationship with former Afghan president Hamid Karzai, a link he could have used to influence Mehsud and his people”.

Moving to the next point in his analysis Musharraf said, “The charge they are levying against me is that I did not provide Benazir adequate security — something I was not responsible for — the only question I have is, who took the decision to create a hatch in the roof of a bullet and bomb proof car?”

“The other thing is, Benazir had a heavy security detail, she had already addressed the public gathering and gotten into the car unharmed, before someone called her incessantly and got her to wave to the people out of the hatch. Her phone was not found for over two years after the assassination attempt,” he added.

“We have to look at the circumstances and assess the situation. The next question is, who was in the car with her when Benazir died, Naheed Khan, her husband, Makhdoom Amin Faheem and Khalid Shehensha — Zardar’s old jail buddy — were all in the car but the court never even summoned these people to record their statements during the proceedings” he added.

“Shehenshah was made the close-in security in-charge for Benazir, my question is why, what experience did he have in the field? What is even more suspicious is that he was also murdered under mysterious circumstances soon after Benazir’s death,” Musharraf said.

“What is even more strange is that the man who murdered Shehensha was also killed, who is capable of all this one should ask, and the answer is Asif Ali Zardari,” he said, adding that all these questions raise suspicions regarding the case.

Ready to face courts

It is pertinent to mention that just last week, Pervez Musharraf said that he will face the courts in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case in Pakistan after his health improves. In a statement issued by the All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) secretariat, Musharraf said that the recent court verdict was not against him as his case is still pending.

Terming American journalist and lobbyist Mark Siegel’s statement “meaningless”, Musharraf said that his lawyers had already refuted the comments.  Siegel, in his testimony in 2015, had claimed Musharraf had threatened Bhutto with dire consequences if she chose to return to Pakistan from exile.

The former dictator also said that his legal team was looking into the issue of his property’s seizure and that he, or his family, would take appropriate legal action after consultation. He claimed that he was wrongly included in the case on a political basis.

A joint investigation team had implicated Musharraf in the case, saying that his government did not provide adequate security to the former prime minister despite her repeated requests.

ATC court decision

Two weeks before, an anti-terrorism court (ATC) acquitted five Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) suspects and announced 17-year imprisonment for two police officials in Benazir Bhutto murder case.

Apart from Musharraf, five other men — Baitullah Mehsud, Ahmad Gul, Iqramullah, Abdullah, and Faizullah — were also declared absconders.

The case had lingered on for nearly ten years. During the case, 68 witnesses appeared on behalf of the prosecution and recorded their testimonies. The police presented three charge sheets before the court, whereas the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) presented five.

The judge hearing the case was changed eight times.

In 2013, FIA’s special prosecutor in the case was killed by unknown assailants. Doctors said he had been killed with 10 bullets targeting his chest and shoulder.

Benazir Bhutto — twice elected prime minister of Pakistan — was assassinated when terrorists attacked her convoy, as it was leaving the historic Liaquat Bagh after addressing a public meeting on Dec 27, 2007.