ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister and chairperson of the Pakistan Peoples Party Benazir Bhutto was given a firm assurance from the highest authorities in both Pakistan and the United States that she would be the next prime minister after the 2007 general elections, revealed a forensic report on the data retrieved from the recently-found personal BlackBerry phones of Ms Bhutto.
The Express Tribune has learnt that one of her close associates, who is now a member of the National Assembly, informed the former premier through an email that the then US secretary of state and the then director-general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had also given the nod.
Close to five dozen e-mails have been retrieved from the two BlackBerry phones recovered by a special team of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) a few days ago.
“Respected Prime Minister (Benazir Bhutto), the United States confirmed that a crucial message had been sent to intelligence agencies of Pakistan, specifically not to interfere in party affairs and stay away from the electoral process. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and director-general Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) have done a secret deal for your (Benazir Bhutto) premiership.
Congratulations Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and warm regards,” read an e-mail sent by a leading PPP leader on October 23, 2007, to Benazir Bhutto calling her “Respected Prime Minister”. The name of this person has been kept anonymous by The Express Tribune.
The e-mails retrieved by the forensics laboratory revealed various facts that helped connect the dots in the investigation of the assassination of the former premier.
An email was sent by Benazir to Ron Suskind, an American journalist, some days prior to her assassination. The former prime minister, while referring to the then president of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf said that he wrote to his friend that he (Musharraf) gave her an alarming message: “You (Benazir) should understand that your security is based on the state of relations between you and me (Benazir and Musharraf).”
In another e-mail, dated October 26, 2007, the slain PPP leader wrote a letter to her advisor in Washington DC, Mark Siegel, in which she expressed dissatisfaction over her security.
She wrote: “Nothing will happen, just wanted you to know. If it does, in addition to the names in my letter to President Musharraf, I would hold Musharraf responsible. I have been made to feel insecure by his minions and there is no way what is happening in terms of stopping me from taking private security or using tinted windows of four police mobiles to cover all sides could happen without him (Musharraf).”
Bhutto also sent an SMS message to Daphne Barak, a famous interviewer who often writes for Mail Online. In reply to an SMS message, Barak wrote: “Bibi, you are going to Pakistan. It’s a trap for you now. But you are insisting to go back.”
The Express Tribune further learnt that the FIA’s Forensics Lab, after retrieving data from Benazir’s BlackBerry phones, has collected it to compare with the current facts and testimonies, including those of former City Police Officer Rawalpindi Saud Aziz and Superintendent Police Rawalpindi Khurram Shehzad.
Close to four hundred contact numbers have been saved by the FIA’s Forensics team.
Meanwhile, the latest investigation report compiled by the FIA investigation team probing the Benazir murder case has come down hard on Pervez Musharraf. The report compiled by head of investigation team Khalid Qureshi says:
“Musharraf was equally responsible for facilitation and abetment of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto through his government and justified failure in providing her the requisite security protection that her status demanded twice. There was a security lapse.” The fresh report is likely to be submitted to Interior Minister by end of this week. The report also says: “Musharraf himself appointed Saud Aziz on junior assignment in Rawalpindi on April 10, 2008.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 9th, 2011.