Gunmen knew Bhatti’s secret routine?

Published: March 4, 2011

Police officials inspect the bullet-riddled car of Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti following an attack in Islamabad on March 2, 2011. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: 

Slain minorities affairs minister Shahbaz Bhatti was using his official residence as a smokescreen and actually lived in a rented house with his family in Sector I-8/3, where he was gunned down in an ambush on Wednesday, The Express Tribune has learnt.

Yousuf Nishan, Bhatti’s brother-in-law, confirmed that the minister was living with his mother and the family in the ground portion of the rented house.

“The impression that he was keeping his office as his residence in Sector I-8/4 was created deliberately,” said Nishan. “Even the security escort of the minister was unaware that he used to slip from the backdoor into a private car for his actual residence in I-8/3 with his mother and return the same way in the morning.”

This showed that he was keeping his actual address secret, as “he did not even trust his own security guards, particularly after the killing of Salmaan Taseer,” said Bhatti’s brother-in-law.

A senior police official confirmed Nishan’s claims.

The news that the minister was concealing his true address and that his assassins found it anyway raised the question of how they found out.

Nishan said that Gul Sher, the minister’s trusted driver, was the only person outside the family to know of his “secret routine”. But the police do not consider him a prime suspect.

“Gul Sher was with him for over ten years. The minister’s family has not raised suspicions over his character so  far and no other evidence suggests his involvement. However, he is being investigated,” said Senior Superintendent of Police (Operations) Tahir Alam.

Sources said the minister’s driver had given the police four different statements, each contradicting the other, during his initial interrogation.

The SSP conceded that it was strange the assailants did not eliminate Gul, leaving evidence against them behind. The police prepared a sketch of one of the shooters with the help of a description given by the driver.

Bhatti appeared to have expected an attack. “Two days before his death, he had gathered the entire family at his residence and told them that the militants could get him anytime,” said a family member of the minister who did not want to be named.

On Thursday, security agencies collected details of people living in the vicinity of the minister’s residence in I-8/3. “People living in the same neighbourhood may have provided information on the minister’s movement,” said one official involved in the collection.

Police officials said the call record of the minister’s personal cell phone was being screened for possible clues. Fifteen people, including a cleric of a local mosque, were picked up for interrogation, said a police official, but he added that no “fruitful” information had been extracted from them yet.

A police team was also looking into the pamphlets found at the crime scene showing claims of responsibility for the killing reportedly by Tehreek-i-Taliban Punjab (TTP). “It could be an attempt to throw off the investigators,” said SSP Alam.

Another police official close to the investigation said the style the pamphlets were written in and the way they were distributed did not match the TTP’s style.

Earlier, DIG Bani Amin said important clues had been found.

Investigators suspected the assailants had used cabs to conduct a reconnaissance of Bhatti’s movement, his routine and exit routes for the attackers. Some vendors and cab drivers found frequently in the area were also picked up and interrogated by the police.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 4th, 2011.

Reader Comments (25)

  • Babloo
    Mar 4, 2011 - 7:51AM

    The driver is certainly a suspect in divulging information about ministers movements.Recommend

  • F Robinson
    Mar 4, 2011 - 8:42AM

    Pakistan is a nation where lawyers support blasphemy laws and demonstrate in favor of the killer. Where word of a Mullah is the law of the land.
    How can a US diplomat held hostage can get justice in such a country? Recommend

  • riaz
    Mar 4, 2011 - 9:01AM

    what a shame. They knew he was target but did nothing to prevent it. What kind of govt. is this ?Recommend

  • Sumair
    Mar 4, 2011 - 10:20AM

    Sadistic and condemning… Recommend

  • RizwanTKhan
    Mar 4, 2011 - 10:34AM

    This story narrates Minister was indeed a very high profile target and yet PPP didn’t do much for his protection. This is the reality of our Muslim nation. We all Muslims of this country are responsible for his death. Non Muslims are special people in the Muslim country and shall be given special treatment and indeed we gave him a special treatment by exposing him.

    We Muslims have yet again disgraced our religion. Kudos!Recommend

  • M. Tauseef Barlas
    Mar 4, 2011 - 11:41AM

    they are more clever than police and with better weapons.
    better to close police department and make all MNA ministers.Recommend

  • M. Tauseef Barlas
    Mar 4, 2011 - 12:01PM

    @RizwanTKhan:
    when noboby stops hated speach against any religion and any sect, then these things keeps happening.Recommend

  • M. Tauseef Barlas
    Mar 4, 2011 - 12:02PM

    we should say WHT KIND OF PEOPLE WE ARE. Recommend

  • M. Tauseef Barlas
    Mar 4, 2011 - 12:03PM

    @F Robinson:
    lawyers and judges are two seperate things.Recommend

  • jc
    Mar 4, 2011 - 12:11PM

    disgusted to see your express 24/7 reporter on television covering the funeral with his hand in his pocket and dressed scruffily. is there no respect for the dead anymore?Recommend

  • Jeddy
    Mar 4, 2011 - 1:00PM

    This was not a random act of violence, it was as assassination carried out by some highly paid professional. By killing him has distracted international attention away from Raymond Davis which was drawing all the attention. Worldwide Christian community is condemning the killing. There is really no other reason for the assassination than this. Bhatti posed not threat to anyone, he was just target of opportunity nothing more.Recommend

  • bilal ak.
    Mar 4, 2011 - 1:35PM

    @f robinson…watch ur words and talk how dare u say that …Recommend

  • Arif
    Mar 4, 2011 - 2:34PM

    @F Robinson:
    US is a nation where bishops launch burn Quran movement and demonstrate against construction of mosque. How can a Pak woman (Aafia) held hostage can get justice in such a country?Recommend

  • goggi
    Mar 4, 2011 - 2:52PM

    @RizwanTKhan: have we any religion at all? this sudden hocus-pocus love for the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) but in fact the minds and hearts utterly poisoned with hate. DO YOU WANT TO BE LOVED FROM SUCH PERVERTED PEOPLE WHO HOLD DAGGARS, GUNS, BOMBS, ACID etc etc IN THEIR HANDS AND SHOUT “WE LOVE YOU, WE KILL INDISCRIMINATELY ANYBODY FOR YOU, WE DESTROY IN YOUR LOVE EVERY LIVING BEING WHOM THE ALMIGHTY THE GREAT GAVE BIRTH????????????????”
    I am not sure whether you say yes or no, but from one fact I am billions% sure and that is: PROPHET MOHAMMAD(pbuh) WILL WEEP MORE TEARS THEN THE WATER IN OUR OCEANS WATCHING THE GARBAGE AND HATRED BEING THROWN AT HIM (na-auzbillah) AND AT ISLAM FOR WHICH HE SACRIFICED HIS WHOLE LIFE.
    As a human being I feel very embarrassed and ashamed at the attitude of the muslim people. I guess we are close to a civil war, India don`t need to make a war with us, we shall slaughter us ourselves and this is already happening.Recommend

  • Ayaz F. Farooqi
    Mar 4, 2011 - 3:30PM

    @Robinson what justice you are talking about for a foreigner who was working for a spy agency in the garb of a diplomat and killed 2 Pakistanis in broad daylight. By the way there are currently more than 800 such ‘diplomats’ in Pakistan, and are certainly the cause of most of our ills. If they are thrown out of Pakistan, I am sure there will be peace and less law and order problems in my beloved homeland.Recommend

  • Ussi
    Mar 4, 2011 - 3:41PM

    @F Robinson:
    a US diplomat or terror-suspect US official? ask Obama n try to confirm it??? Recommend

  • goggi
    Mar 4, 2011 - 5:14PM

    @Jeddy: in one way Mr: Bhatti ( God give peace to his soul, ameen) is also self responsible for his murder. After the assasination of the Punjabs Governor( Allahswt give his soul peace, ameen), Mr. Bhatti as a professional should have known that he is now the next target, and have kept a very low profile. What do you think what Mrs. Rehman, the 3rd candidate, is doing now??Recommend

  • ABD
    Mar 4, 2011 - 5:46PM

    @F Robinson..
    Your statement just actually makes me wonder whether this was also done by the CIA…just think about it…all international attention is now focused on this…and what’s more, we are hearing of “Punjabi Taliban”…..maybe American style of humiliating Punjab keeping Davis as hostage?Recommend

  • Nasir
    Mar 5, 2011 - 12:50AM

    @Robinson is very right. It is really funny to see Pakistanis jumping around because of his comment. Ask yourself can you expect any justice from your courts and be honest. On top of that Davis is being tried in a court room which is famous for letting terrorists get away!Recommend

  • raja
    Mar 5, 2011 - 4:32AM

    @F Robinson:
    Mr Bhutti killing will lead to lot of changes he gave his life for a greater cause i hope leaders will wake up.
    law is blind judiciary is independent he will get fare trial On lawyer issue In pakistan if you cant find any job become Lawyer most of them did not event won a single case they make money by selling forms and some time try to get fame by protesting as you mentioned judiciary is different But I am afraid In cast of Mr Raymond (R ED) Law will not be on his sideRecommend

  • raja
    Mar 5, 2011 - 4:35AM

    Give Full powers to Shabaz Sharif and take him away from his brother for two years he will change every thing full power mean full Recommend

  • Mehnaz
    Mar 5, 2011 - 4:51AM

    @bilal ak: F Robinson said nothing out of line that you have to be all “how dare you said that”…

    @ goggi: Are you seriously suggesting that Mr. Bhatti was responsible for his assasination?
    I think Mr. Bhatti & Mr. Taseer were brave men of high morals and integrity, and were not scared of calling a spade a spade! They had guts to stand up to the mullahs & the Qadris & all wrong that is done under the umbrella of blasphemy law (unlike Mr. Rehman et al)! Please do not belittle their sacrifice by blaming them for their own murders! Recommend

  • Mirza
    Mar 5, 2011 - 8:18AM

    The responsiblility of killing of ZAB, BB, Salman, Bhatti, etc., goes to PPP, not the religious fanatics! Nobody can protect against these trained jehadis. When the security officers cannot be trusted then the only solution is to bring in guards from outside.

    This is not a joke. Quaid did not have one singel Muslim in his security detail. In addition, he appointed an Englishman as the chief of the armed forces. The second one was also an Englishman Gen Gracy.

    It was only after the death of the Quaid, did first Muslim Ayoub Khan was made chief of the army. Starting for him most of the army chiefs abused the nation and the constitution.

    It is a shame that there is no outrage against the religious terrorists, only the victims are criticized. It is not surprising that only the leaders of secular ANP and PPP are murdered and no right wing terrorists are blamed!

    Mirza, USARecommend

  • ABD
    Mar 5, 2011 - 10:20AM

    @Nasir….Raymond Davis should not be let go at any cost because he was a CIA agent…most Lahoris care about Lahore and don’t want their city to become another Kabul or Baghdad where American agents can roam around freely..thats why they hate Davis…how dare him for messing with LahoreRecommend

  • Mar 6, 2011 - 4:17AM

    Pakistan is a nation where lawyers support blasphemy laws and demonstrate in favor of the killer. Where word of a Mullah is the law of the land.
    How can a US diplomat held hostage can get justice in such a country?

    Lawyers of PMLN where celebrating the assassination of political rival.Anyway Lawyers are suppose to Support Laws. Pakistan is a nation of Laws, not like America where George Bush gave a presidential Pardon to criminals and cia thugs involved in crimes from South America to giving US State Secrets to Israel.

    He is not a dipolomat, he will get the same justice as every other pakistani.Dont it ? then dont come to pakistan shooting civiliansRecommend

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