RAWALPINDI: The Benazir Bhutto assassination case being probed afresh has found a major breakthrough, with a top police official turning approver.
Punjab Police SP Ashfaq Anwar, who was assigned escort duty with 120 police commandos for the slain PPP leader at the venue of her public meeting at Liaquatbagh, has disclosed that the then CCPO Saud Aziz forcibly removed him from the ex-premier’s security.
Recording his four-page confessional statement in Islamabad magistrate Farhat Nadeem’s court, he said he was responsible for escorting Benazir back to Islamabad from the meeting’s venue with 120 police commandos. He had been assigned this task in writing and reached Liaquatbagh on time at (December 27, 2007).
Upon Benazir’s arrival, CPO Saud Aziz ordered him to leave the place but he declined. The CPO again phoned to say that a rally had been fired upon in Islamabad’s locality called Koral before Nawaz Sharif’s arrival, but he again refused to obey the order, saying Islamabad did not come under his jurisdiction.
Upon his third refusal, the CPO said: “I order you to leave Liaqautbagh’s venue and move to Islamabad’s Expressway.” He said he left the place with commandos and reached Expressway where police force under the command of Islamabad Police SP Tahir Ayub was already present.
When he phoned his police boss to ask if he should move back to Liaquatbagh since they were no more required in Islamabad, Saud Aziz said “no” and told him to stay put till further orders.
Likewise, his contingent was subsequently moved to Koral Chowk and Sadiqabad before being told to go home.
He told a joint investigation team that had he been allowed to stay at the public meeting venue, the tragedy might have been averted. Two police officers SSP Tahir Ayub and Dr Moeen attested to the statement.
According to the joint investigation challan, the gun-and-bomb attack was launched on the orders of Baitullah Mehsud by Saeed alias Bilal. Five accused have been nominated in the case while five others are dead. A fresh challan is being presented in the anti-terrorism court No 1 of judge Akram Awan on Saturday (today).
Published in The Express Tribune, October 23rd, 2010.