Alleged suspect in Shahbaz Bhatti case arrested in UAE

Published: February 12, 2012
Officials remain unoptimistic about breakthroughs.  PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Officials remain unoptimistic about breakthroughs. PHOTO: AFP/FILE


One of the two suspects in the murder case of former minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti was arrested in Dubai with the help of the International Police (Interpol). He was still to be repatriated to Pakistan after fulfilling legal formalities, which are likely to take over a week.

Officials attached to the case were not too optimistic of the arrest proving to be a breakthrough in investigations. “The names of these two suspects were given by someone who was already released by the court on account of being mentally unstable,” a police official said on Saturday on the condition of anonymity.

Ziaur Rehman and Malik Abid, both residents of Faisalabad, were identified as possible suspects by a pastor named Hafiz Nazar, who was arrested by the Karachi police in March last year. He was arrested and handed over to Islamabad after the Karachi police intercepted his phone calls made to a minorities’ member of the Punjab Assembly from Sargodha.

“However, this man (Hafiz Nazar) proved to be mentally unstable and was later released. He was called in for questioning many times after, but did not prove to be of any use,” said a police official who had investigated Nazar.

Nazar mentioned the names Rehman and Abid, and ‘suspected’ that these two could be involved in murdering Bhatti over property issues. The police said the suspects were not in Pakistan and were later found to be in Dubai.

The Islamabad police approached the Interpol for their arrest. Recently, the Interpol informed them that Zia-ur-Rehman was arrested, while Malik Abid was still at large. However, it was not clear if he had fled or was still in Dubai.

“To treat them as prime suspects would be wrong. We have no evidence to suggest that they were involved in the murder even though they could have certain issues with him,” said the police official.

Both suspects belonged to Faisalabad, the former minister’s native city. They had differences with Bhatti over property issues, “but they were not capable of carrying out such a high-profile assassination,” said the official.

“Investigations regarding the case were muddy and not carried out in a proper manner, some evidence points towards sectarian or militant violence,” he added.  “Now that one of them was arrested, he would be interrogated to establish what they know about the murder.”

The only person who mentioned the suspects in his conversations, Hafiz Nazar, a former pastor, had allegedly made a telephone call to a member of the Punjab Assembly from Sargodha, Tahir Nazeer Chaudhry, and discussed possible suspects involved in the murder.

However, he retreated from his claims before the police, maintaining that they were only assumptions.

Islamabad police in June last year produced him before an anti-terrorism court (ATC) which released him on the basis of lack of evidence. Instead of the arrest triggering optimism about the closure of the case, the official said: “I am afraid that information from him would take us back to the start of investigations.”

Published in The Express Tribune, February 12th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • muhammad jibran
    Feb 12, 2012 - 10:31AM

    //“but they were not capable of carrying out such a high-profile assassination,” said the official. //
    then why the headline with the word suspect in it.the federal interior minister has repeatedly said that shahbaz was murdered by religious fanatics because of his opposition to the blasphemy laws.the real killers should be arrested.


  • Aftab kenneth Wilson
    Feb 12, 2012 - 11:18AM

    There is always no evidence against any person associated with Jehadi organization.Recommend

  • Hasan Z.
    Feb 12, 2012 - 12:35PM

    … and there are always people wish to implicate anyone with a name Molvi, Qari or Mufti.

    If you read carefully even these guys are suspect due to a property dispute … lets not give it a religious colour to earn sympathy & dollars.


  • Salman
    Feb 12, 2012 - 1:31PM

    Well if authorities have involved Interpol then definitely it might be a big catch and the person they have released Hafiz what ever was in response of cooperation from his side to name the suspect. Security agencies are rightly playing low regarding the latest developments.


  • Riaz Khan
    Feb 12, 2012 - 2:18PM

    Even if they are arrested, they would be released due to our lenient laws & pressure on judges not to sentence! Whole system is rotting.


    Feb 12, 2012 - 2:25PM

    I live in KHI and the way jihadi org jamat ud dawa was facilitated by gov to hold its jalsa pretty much says everything.


  • faraz
    Feb 12, 2012 - 2:50PM

    Rehman Malik told in interview that SSP is responsible for his murder


  • Feb 12, 2012 - 6:55PM

    Jamat ud Dawa is not an an anti Pakistani organization, i have studied them very deeply


  • faraz
    Feb 12, 2012 - 7:49PM


    Break away factions of LeT were involved in attacks on the army installations, ISI offices


  • Feb 12, 2012 - 11:05PM

    U r propagating its a lie, it has never been proved


  • faraz
    Feb 13, 2012 - 12:49AM


    Aqeel, alias Dr Usman, who attacked GHQ, was a member of LeT. Ilyas Kashmiri was part of LeT; he was involved in attacks on Mehran Base, Parade Lane mosque and ISI offices. LeT provided refuge to Al Qaeda after 911, and Al Qaeda is allied with TTP which is responsible for 40,000 deaths. You know nothing about militant groups inside Pakistan.


  • laiba
    Feb 13, 2012 - 2:02AM

    “To treat them as prime suspects would be wrong. We have no evidence to suggest that they were involved in the murder even though they could have certain issues with him,” said the police official.


  • Sunny
    Feb 13, 2012 - 4:47PM

    I have long been predicting that UAE has become a capital of criminals, corrupt fugitive politicians and its banks are replacing Swiss Banks for looted money from third world countries. Imran Khan has rightly said Karachi could have surpassed UAE in development had there not been unrest started from eighties – now we know why UAE spread and funded unrest in Karachi and now in Balochistan.


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