Benazir Bhutto’s murder case: SC asks suspects to step down from public offices

Published: April 16, 2012

"How can a sub-inspector have enough courage to probe someone at the helm of affairs?" Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry questioned. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the suspects in Benazir Bhutto’s murder case, including interior minister Rehman Malik, to step down from their public offices so that an independent investigation can take place.

The three member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry comprised Justice Tariq Pervez and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain.

The court noted that a second FIR needs to be registered as the first did not include names of some of the key suspects such as Rehman Malik. It observed that as long as the senior ministers, the high profile suspects, hold offices, an independent investigation is not possible.

Malik’s counsel Anwar Mansoor Khan sought one week’s time from the court to submit a reply on which he was rebutted: “You want to create obstacles in the proceeding. How much longer do you want to linger the matter?”

Chief Justice Chaudhry told Mansoor that Malik should facilitate an independent probe by appearing before the court himself to clear his position as a suspect.

Mansoor replied that his client was ready to present himself, but the CJ said a fair probe was not possible till the accused held the government office. “How can a sub-inspector have enough courage to probe someone at the helm of affairs?”

Justice Hussain noted the trend was that investigation teams were changed to hinder an independent probe.

Justice Pervez pointed out that Malik had stated in his written reply submitted to the court that the accused were already in custody and their charge-sheets had been produced before the courts. The bench observed that the reply had also suggested that the case not be heard anymore.

Questioning the intentions of the PPP-led government, the court noted that Malik and another federal minister Chaudhry Pervez Elahi were ‘opposing’ the registration of the second FIR.

The bench raised its concerns about the apathy plaguing the case. “Why did the government not publish the UN report on which Rs60 million of the taxpayers’ money was spent? Why have no steps been taken in light of the report? Why was the murder of an internationally acclaimed leader not taken up in the assemblies and relevant parliamentary forums?”

It also questioned the intentions of the petitioner Chaudhry Aslam, the protocol officer of Benazir, asking why he had not approached the court earlier.

No counsel appeared on behalf of former law minister Babar Awan. The case was adjourned till April 24.

Reader Comments (6)

  • Naeem
    Apr 16, 2012 - 8:58PM

    Will this again be taken as attack on PPP? I’m sure it will! Anywhere in the mature societies suspects are suspended from their offices till the investigation is completed, even in private companies! Good on supreme court!

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  • Mirza
    Apr 16, 2012 - 9:08PM

    Malik should resign otherwise the SC would go back to sleep, now they are finally awakened all of a sudden. The irony is by asking Pervez Elahi to resign, the court is dislodging the coalition govt. Nice try!
    When this same court can go for Memogate, president and the PM and force their orders on them despite the immunity, why did they not order the publication of UN report? Why are they leaving it to the govt now? The SC court should come out and make decisions and not excuses in the case of both ZAB and BB. Making populist statements every few years is not going to solve the cases.

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  • Apr 16, 2012 - 9:22PM

    PPP and Judiciary both making publicity stunts, 4 years are passed and they are still far away

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  • Falcon
    Apr 16, 2012 - 9:27PM

    Certainly a great move by SC. Even PPP supporters will have to agree that in this case, court’s neutrality is commendable.

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  • Apr 17, 2012 - 12:33AM

    Before a formula to replace the present SC is found, decisions of the present SC have to be accepted. If the SC is asked to vacate posts so should the President, along with his clique. After all his ascent to the throne occurred because of the White House anointment. Even the Prince has dined and wined at the famous building, we are aware of what future may look like.

    Several questions will keep bothering the nation, even if facts have been told. A good number of PPP supporters too want that truth be told but they dare not say so for the fear of reprisal.

    When the bullet hit her, blood would have oozed out from the wound, causing blood drops to spread on the van’s roof and the rest on her clothes, besides on the clothes of persons occupying seats next to her and the seats too

    If the road was ordered to be washed it would have been blood of the poor souls who lost their lives due to the blast. If BB’s blood sample was retrieved from the road surface, what would it prove?

    Why did the van’s windows not have bullet proof glass?

    Why did the person responsible for security on that day, disappeared from the scene before the cavalcade concluded its run?

    Who forbade autopsy, for what reason?

    Most intriguing of all, why did the physician from PIMS who examined the victim on her arrival at the hospital and wrote the report, felt so threatened that he disappeared from the country and claimed asylum in Canada?

    All the reports have to be made public, however much Zardari Junior curses SC, does he really know what happened on the fateful day? Or he too has been kept in the dark?

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  • Apr 17, 2012 - 12:57AM

    Nab him before he runs to London :)

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