Was then Pakistani premier Benazir Bhutto misguided about the investigation into the murder of her brother Mir Murtaza Bhutto when she was allegedly provided ‘fabricated evidences’ in a bid to turn it into a ‘blind case’?
Investigations conducted by this scribe reveal that during one of the briefings on Murtaza’s case, the former prime minister received two different ‘packs of photographs’ of Murtaza’s car; one by a senior intelligence official and the other by the police investigators.
“I was shocked at how powerful some of our agencies are… they could even misinform the prime minister, as they did in Murtaza’s case,” she told me two months after the murder.
The photographs provided by the intelligence official showed several bullet holes on the roof of Murtaza’s vehicle, which had been fired upon by the police. The police investigators’ photographs, however, showed no bullet holes in the roof.
“When I asked the police about the bullet holes, DIG Shoaib Suddle denied there were any. But, since I was confused, I sent two close aides to look at the vehicle and they confirmed the police version,” Benazir said.
An unimpeachable source who had closely monitored this case disclosed that during the investigation it was established that some evidence, including the photographs, were ‘fabricated’.
Confusion also prevailed over which bullet hit Murtaza and why was he taken to the nearby Mideast hospital instead of the government-run Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC).
“Murtaza was alive when he was shifted to Mideast hospital and remained alive for two hours. He could have been easily shifted to JPMC,” the source said.
Benazir was misinformed of this as well; she was told Murtaza expired within 30 minutes and could not be shifted to JPMC.
Murtaza Bhutto, head of his own faction of Pakistan Peoples Party-Shaheed Bhutto (PPP-SB), left his 70 Clifton residence in Karachi for a public meeting around 5:30pm after addressing a press conference. Investigations further revealed that the police’s initial plan was to stop him outside his house and disarm his guards. Murtaza had already left, by the time the police arrived. Then SSP Murtaza Durrani (currently heading Highway Police) led the operation.
Murtaza had created quite a stir two days prior after he went to the police lockup for Ali Sunnara’s release following the latter’s arrest.
Sources said the SSP’s team was aware of possible resistance from Murtaza’s motorcade and had special instructions to stop them at all cost. It was decided that his guards would be disarmed and he would be allowed to leave.
Knowing full well that Murtaza would never allow his workers to be taken into custody in his presence, the police entered into a quarrel with him. Subsequently, Murtaza and his party leader Ashiq Jatoi along with their guards were killed in cold blood in what was termed a ‘police encounter’.
Former Intelligence Bureau chief Masood Shareef Khattak, former city police chief Dr Shoaib Suddle, senior police officers Shahid Hayat, Ray Tahir, Shakib Qureshi, and 11 other police officials were charged with murder, arrested and tried. All were acquitted last year. Interestingly the court also acquitted the state case against Shaheed Bhutto activists.
The question is why the intelligence official supplied Benazir Bhutto with fabricated evidence. Sources said Suddle was taken aback when he saw the photographs. When asked to determine their veracity, he went to see Murtaza’s vehicle again. On finding no bullet holes in the roof, he sent a report to the concerned agency about the fabricated photographs.
When Benazir’s government was toppled, former president Farooq Leghari and former interim chief minister Mumtaz Bhutto reached an understanding to proceed against Asif Ali Zardari. No accused police officer, however, was ready to become an approver against him.
How and why the fake photographs were sent to Benazir remains a mystery. With both her and Murtaza not in the world anymore, no one might ever learn why a prime minister was misguided by the intelligence agencies.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 22nd, 2012.