Amid rising political temperature in Pakistan, ex-military ruler Pervez Musharraf dropped a bombshell on Thursday accusing Asif Ali Zardari, former president and husband of slain prime minister Benazir Bhutto, of murdering her, as well as her brother Murtaza Bhutto.
In a video message posted on his party’s social media page, Musharraf claimed that Zardari was responsible for the Bhutto family’s demise.
“He was involved in the assassinations of Benazir and Murtaza Bhutto,” the country’s former president and Army chief said, adding that that he wanted to directly address Bilawal, Bakhtawar and Asifa Bhutto, the three children slain PM, the people of Sindh province and people of Pakistan.
Benazir was shot in the head in a gun and bomb attack in the garrison city of Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007, after addressing a political rally. Her brother, Murtaza, was shot dead in 1996 in Karachi when she was the PM. Murtaza’s wife Ghinwa Bhutto and daughter Fatima Bhutto had blamed Zardari for the murder. In 2008, Zardari was acquitted of the charges of ordering the murder.
“The first thing that needs to be seriously addressed is who gained the most from BB’s death. In this case, I had everything to lose as I was in power and the murder put my government in a difficult situation,” Musharraf said.
“There was just one person who benefited from Benazir’s assassination, and that was Asif Ali Zardari,” he said. “Why did he (Zardari) not actively look into the investigation of his wife’s murder when he was the country’s president for five years?” Musharraf asked. “The only reason was that he himself was the killer,” the retired general said.
Terming the former Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Beitullah Mehsud’s role in Benazir’s assassination a reality, Musharraf said all evidence is available in this regard.
“Mehsud had carried out several attacks on my life and he was my enemy. I as well as the government wanted him dead,” he said. “Certainly, I could not influence him to murder a person,” he said, hinting that the role of Afghan intelligence agency Khad, and then president Hamid Karzai, in facilitating Benazir’s assassination in collaboration with Zardari cannot be ruled out.
Musharraf said that he has been blamed for providing inadequate security to Benazir. “The only question that I ask is who took the decision to create a hatch in the roof of a bullet and bomb proof car?”
“Another thing is that Benazir had already addressed the public gathering and got into the car unharmed, before someone called her relentlessly on phone and got her to wave to the people out of the hatch. Her phone was not found for over two years after the assassination attempt,” he alleged.
Moreover, Musharraf asked why people sitting with Benazir inside her vehicle — Naheed Khan, Safdar Abbasi, Makhdoom Amin Fahim and Zardari’s “jail buddy” Khalid Shahenshah — were not questioned by the court.
The former president also questioned the credentials of ex-home minister Rehman Malik and Shahenshah for becoming security in-charges of Benazir.
What is even more suspicious, Mushrraf said, was that Shahenshah was murdered under mysterious circumstances soon after Benazir’s death.
“Even more strange is that the man who had murdered Shahenshah was also killed. Who is capable of all this, one should ask. The answer is Asif Ali Zardari,” Musharraf said.
Last month, the anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi had acquitted five alleged terrorists of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in the verdict of Benazir murder case while awarding 17-year detention to two senior police officers.
On Monday, Zardari had challenged the verdict in a high court, stating that Musharraf had masterminded the conspiracy to kill Benazir. The petition claimed that statement of American journalist Mark Siegel and foreign ministry’s former spokesperson Javed Iqbal Cheema as well as probes by the Scotland Yard and United Nations had offered “concrete evidence” of Musharraf’s involvement.