RAWALPINDI: The security in-charge of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto has said that had the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader not opened the sunroof of her bullet-proof vehicle to wave to party workers, her death on December 27, 2007 could have been avoided.
Former SSP Major (retd) Imtiaz Hussain gave the statement during cross-examination by the defence lawyer in the special anti-terrorism court in Adiala Jail hearing the ex-premier’s murder case.
Read: Benazir’s assassination: Mirza holds Malik responsible for faulty investigation
His statement appears an about-turn from his previous stance when he had criticized the lack of security for Benazir at Liaquat Bagh, Rawalpindi, the venue of her rally at the day of her assassination.
In his statement, the ex-SSP said that on the day of her assassination, Benazir left Zardari House in Islamabad at 1:30pm for Liaquat Bagh to address a political rally. “I was sitting in the front next to the driver [Javaidur Rehman] and the former premier was in the back seat with PPP leaders Makhdoom Amin Fahim and Nahid Khan.”
Senator Safdar Abbasi, security guard Khalid Shahanshah and Benazir’s personal servant Raziq were in the backmost seat, he added.
As soon as the vehicle left the rally venue and entered Liaquat Road party workers gathered around the car and started chanting slogans in party’s favour, explained Hussain.
He recalled that as Benazir opened the vehicle’s sunroof and began waving to party workers and supporters, gunshots were heard followed by a blast which injured her and she slumped into the seat.
The vehicle’s passengers told the driver to rush to a hospital which he did, but they were forced to change cars on Murree Road after the driver said the vehicle could no longer be driven owing to the blast impact. They then moved into PPP leader Sherry Rehman’s vehicle which was following them and rushed to General Hospital. He said doctors tried to tend to the former prime minister but could not save her.
Read: Benazir’s assassination: All but one accused have met their fate, says Zardari
Blaming Benazir for her death, the witness said had Bhutto not gotten out of the sunroof to respond to supporters, this tragedy could have been prevented.
State prosecutor Chaudhary Azhar strongly objected to this statement saying Hussain had retracted his earlier statement to the investigation team as it was different from what he had just said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2015.