ISLAMABAD: Top officials working during the Musharraf regime at the time of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination may be arrested in the light of a new inquiry report, whose findings were not shared with top PPP leaders on December 26, sources said.
The inquiry, third such investigation into the assassination, was completed under the direct supervision of Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who has been working on it for the past three years after quietly securing permission of President Asif Ali Zardari after becoming the interior minister in April 2008.
The report delves into a question whose answer has so far eluded even the most proficient of investigators: who killed Benazir Bhutto.
President Zardari is said to have stayed the interior minister from sharing the findings with members of the party’s central executive committee who had gathered in Naudero to observe the third death anniversary of their party’s slain chairperson.
Bilawal, who reached Naudero on December 27 from London to attend the anniversary ceremonies along with his sisters Bakhtawar and Aseefa, could not attend the CEC meeting held on December 26 in which the inquiry report was to be presented before the party elders.
Now, the report would be presented before members of the PPP CEC in Islamabad within a week. Bilawal Bhutto is scheduled to attend the meeting.
Earlier, sources said, President Zardari stopped Rehman Malik from presenting the report because he wanted his son, the heir-apparent to the legacy of his assassinated mother and grandfather, to know the truth about the killing.
Inside sources said that the interior minister, explicitly urged both President Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to let Kamal Shah, who was serving as interior secretary at the time of Benazir’s assassination, to continue on the post.
A number of senior party leaders were critical of the decision as they felt that he had not provided adequate security to Benazir Bhutto, which helped her assassins to carry out their job with impunity.
But, Rehman Malik, who believed that Kamal Shah knew a lot, argued that as interior secretary, Shah was the focal person for all official and non-official communication among all departments concerned before and after the assassination.
The sources said Kamal Shah had helped in filling a lot of blanks in one of the most high-profile political murders in Pakistan’s history. Shah, they said, was even given one-year extension in service to extract maximum cooperation in this regard.
In a text message in a response to a question, Rehman Malik said that the inquiry report had been completed by a joint investigation team and it had nothing do with the interior ministry.
But, official sources said, guidelines had been provided by the interior ministry and Malik had been supervising the inquiry.
Top political sources said all members of the PPP CEC had expected a marathon session and a heated debate on the contents of the report.
Sources said, the CEC members, who were disappointed when they were informed by the president that the report would not be tabled during the meeting, did not question the decision, opting to wait for Bilawal to attend the meeting. However, much to the surprise of CEC members, apart from provincial party chiefs, no one was allowed to speak in the meeting.
One CEC member who attended the meeting said although CEC members wanted to speak on some matters, when they saw that it might displease the president, they opted to keep quiet.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 28th, 2010.
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