Benazir assassination: Malik points at prominent seminary

Published: February 22, 2012
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In briefing to Sindh Assembly, interior minister reiterates blame on Musharraf.

In briefing to Sindh Assembly, interior minister reiterates blame on Musharraf.

KARACHI: 

No ground was shattered on Tuesday when Interior Minister Rehman Malik vociferously blamed former president Pervez Musharraf and former Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan head Baitullah Mehsud for Benazir Bhutto’s assassination.

He however did add a new revelation – one that involves one of the largest seminaries in Pakistan, Darul Uloom Haqqania in Akora Khattak.

Malik was briefing Sindh’s lawmakers on the findings of the investigation report on the former prime minister’s assassination. The Sindh Assembly had unanimously passed a resolution last week, calling on the federal government to make the report public.

The presentation by Malik and the head of the investigation team, Khalid Qureshi, provided a detailed, if rehashed, narration of the progress in the investigations.

They spoke about formation of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, the links of those accused in the case to the noted Darul Uloom Haqqania  and the forensic evidence compiled.

The briefing also noted the background in which Benazir had arrived, and Musharraf’s opposition to her arrival before the elections.

Primary responsibility

Malik blamed Musharraf for creating an enabling environment by not providing Benazir security, and Mehsud for ordering the killing.

The government is in talks with Interpol to bring Musharraf back to the country through the issuance of a red notice, he said.

Despite its thoroughness, however, neither the report nor the briefing had any revelations vis-à-vis the primary question – who killed Benazir Bhutto?

“We will always have questions until those responsible are brought to justice,” Sindh Assembly Speaker and PPP leader Nisar Khuhro said at the end of the briefing.

Malik did, however, attempt to absolve himself, and the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, of any blame, and convince the electorate that the party had not put the issue on a back burner.

The latter was confirmed when Sindh Local Government Minister Agha Siraj Durrani said: “No one can say now that we did not do anything.”

When asked why a post-mortem had not been ordered, Malik blamed the police officers.

“The doctor requested the police officer on duty thrice to do a post-mortem, but the officer did not allow him. We are prosecuting the officers responsible for the negligence,” he said.

A slide in the presentation noted that Naheed Khan, Benazir’s secretary, was responsible for security at the December 27 rally at Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh. While Khan’s role was not scrutinised, a lawmaker questioned what Malik’s responsibilities were. He said he acted as a liaison officer, and was not at every rally of Benazir’s.

“Because she had made me a member of the Central Executive Committee, she told me to start attending rallies and come along. That’s why I was there,” the interior minister said.  He also refuted the charge that the car he was in had sped away from the assassination scene and blamed the previous government for its negligence in providing Benazir security and not letting the PPP hire private security.

However, a US embassy cable released by WikiLeaks had stated that while the US had recommended three security firms to the PPP, her chief of security, retired Major General Ahsan, said “that he and the PPP are completely against any outside organisation overseeing their security and that he only trusts PPP personnel.”

Backing off

Malik told lawmakers that many of those contacted to give their statements never came forth – including Afghan President Hamid Karzai, an official leader of a ‘Muslim country’ and former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

“Karzai sent Mohtarma [Benazir] a message that her life was in danger. But when we asked him to give a statement, he refused. So did this Muslim country that had sent a letter [about the threat]. I have lodged my protest. We approached Condoleezza Rice through the US and were told she would not give a statement.”

Rice’s statement was essential because she was “responsible for the reconciliation”, Malik said, as he elaborated his own role as a ‘liaison officer’ for Benazir, who began talks with Musharraf, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and other political parties for her return.

Benazir on NRO

Malik also talked about the chronically contentious National Reconciliation Ordinance. “This NRO which is used against the PPP…. I can swear it was not Benazir Bhutto who approved the NRO draft,” Malik said.

“She wanted reconciliation and a truth and justice commission, which is in the Charter of Democracy as well. I spoke to General Hamid [Javed, Musharraf’s chief of staff] and told him that Benazir Bhutto does not agree to the draft,” he said.

“Then we were told to speak to Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Mushahid Husain. But Benazir said she did not agree because she told me that they would use this [the NRO] against the PPP later,” he added.

Malik said that retired and serving generals as well as the PML-Q leaders were available to speak on this.  He also said a military official visited Benazir a night before the December 27 rally to speak about the upcoming elections, but she did not agree with his stance.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 22nd, 2012.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • PakArmySoldier
    Feb 22, 2012 - 5:45AM

    It it was up to me I would close down all these religious seminaries. If someone would like to pursue religious education, do it on a college level.

    Recommend

  • Dawood
    Feb 22, 2012 - 7:33AM

    Watch as the whole nation gets embroiled in the nitty gritty and misses the bigger picture. The elections are upon us and PPP has waited just the right time to re-open the case. The next few months they’ll continue to derail the discussion by talking about the mood of the rally, the air pressure in the tires, who was there and who wasn’t and eventually we’ll stop asking what the government itself was doing all this time to find the murderers? When they weren’t in power they demanded power to catch the culprits. Then they came into power and now they are still asking the same question, albeit many years later just when elections need bibi once again.

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  • Sehr.Siddiqui
    Feb 22, 2012 - 8:04AM

    Governments are not there only to politicize the issues and indulge in blame game as is being done by present government. Present government will not make serious efforts in bringing the killers to book who as identified by Benezir Bhutto are being rewarded. Role and responsibility of Rehman Malik, Babar Awan are as much questionable as that of persons identified by BB in her email to Mark Seigel.Recommend

  • wa
    Feb 22, 2012 - 8:28AM

    for GOD’S sake rehman malik. you just issue statementsRecommend

  • Karim
    Feb 22, 2012 - 9:21AM

    “However, a US embassy cable released by WikiLeaks had stated that while the US had recommended three security firms to the PPP, her chief of security, retired Major General Ahsan, said “that he and the PPP are completely against any outside organisation overseeing their security and that he only trusts PPP personnel.”

    I believe she was able to hire private security? She was an affluent lady and an attempt on her life was already made when she landed Pakistan?. As state can not provide fool proof security to anyone when there are suicide bombers around.

    Recommend

  • Mirza
    Feb 22, 2012 - 9:47AM

    The last lines say it all. If BB did not agree to the officers that was the end of her. No wonder all the evidence was washed off quickly after her murder.

    Recommend

  • Tony C.
    Feb 22, 2012 - 11:02AM

    Although Pakistan is constantly denigrated as being a corrupt country and its leaders are usually described in various amused ways by outsiders, it is of some comfort to see that the issue of Benazir Bhutto does not go away. I have been in several countries and one can almost smell the corruption, particularly in the West, and it is from the highest level down.. It is difficult to pay off the local policeman, but corruption is rife at the higher levels. Changing tack slightly, it is of some interest to remember that President Kennedy was assassinated some 46 years or so, and the Americans have never really attempted to work out why it happened in all that time. They merely picked up a patsy and had him murdered before he could be brought to trial. Let us hope, that unlike the West, there are some honest people in Pakistan who will continue to pursue the Bhutto case until it is brought to a satisfactory conclusion.

    Recommend

  • wali baba
    Feb 22, 2012 - 12:30PM

    The lion is about to loose its domain. poking the same issue by this government is just to keep their vote bank’s integrity. The last time they got the votes was just the same late lady. If they were sincere they had four years in which they could not do anything.i am not against the investigation, it should be pursued but by sincere people.

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  • Lobster
    Feb 22, 2012 - 3:55PM

    PPP wants to win yet another election on Benazir assassination. You are in government, why did you let Musharraf go? Why you do not raid whatever seminary who is involved, it has been 4 years

    Recommend

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