Govt initiates action over UN report on Benazir Bhutto’s assassination

Officials named in UN report suspended
By Syed Irfan Raza

ISLAMABAD: Four days after the release of the UN Commission’s report on Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, the federal government went into action and suspended eight officials, including former City Police Officer (CPO) Saud Aziz, who were responsible for former prime minister’s security at the venue of her last public meeting. Their names were also included on the Exit Control List (ECL).

These officials have been suspended and the contract of Director-General of Civil Defence Brig (retd) Javed Iqbal Cheema has been cancelled. Brig Cheema, as the spokesman for the interior ministry, was the first government official to state that Ms Bhutto had died because of injuries she sustained when she hit the lever of the escape hatch of the vehicle she was travelling in. He was serving as DG National Crisis Management Cell (MCMC), a department of the interior ministry, at that time.

However, on Sunday there was no official word about the fate of the PPP leaders identified by the UN report for having provided ‘insufficient’ security cover to Ms Bhutto. These PPP leaders include high-profile government functionaries such as Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza.

Aware perhaps of the fingers being pointed at him, Mr Mirza claimed on Sunday that he and Rehman Malik were under investigation and that he had volunteered himself for it. However, there has been no confirmation of this from the interior minister.

Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar confirmed the suspension of the eight officials and said the orders had come from the prime minister. “The action on the UN report has been started on the directives of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.”

He added that the officials’ names had been placed on the ECL.

Those who have been suspended include former Rawalpindi CPO Saud Aziz; former District Coordination Officer (DCO) Rawalpindi Irfan Elahi; Former Inspector General Police, Rawalpindi, Chaudhry Abdul Majeed; Superintendent Police Ashfaq Anwar; SP Operations Yaseen Farooq and Khurram Shahzad. The suspended officers are expected to be presented before the second Joint Investigation Team (JIT), which is investigating the murder of Ms Bhutto, in a couple of days. They are expected to testify before the JIT.

Sources within the PPP say an FIR would also be registered against former president Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf, the suspended officials and some PPP leaders who had been made responsible for her security by the party. The decision to take action in the light of the UN report was taken by the PPP Core Committee meeting held on Saturday. The meeting was chaired by President Asif Ali Zardari.

Some PPP leaders are willing to confirm this. For instance, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira has promised action against all those responsible for Ms Bhutto’s death. “Action will be taken against all those who have been identified in the UN report including those who were in the black Mercedes,” he told a private television channel.

The UN Commission’s report says that the black Mercedes was part of the security detail as the back-up vehicle. This Mercedes was supposed to follow the vehicle of Ms Bhutto as she left Liaquat Bagh. However, the report concludes that the Mercedes left ahead of Ms Bhutto and it exited the venue a few minutes before the shooting and the blast took place, which claimed the lives of the PPP chairperson and some party workers.

According to dissident PPP leader Senator Safdar Abbasi, who was in Ms Bhutto’s vehicle, Mr Rehman Malik, Law Minister Babar Awan and Presidential Spokesman Farhatullah Babar were in the black Mercedes.

However, these are not the only PPP leaders who have been thrust into the limelight by the UN report. The commission’s findings also mention that Ms Bhutto’s then security advisor Zulfiqar Mirza and others had formed a security force —Janisaraan-i-Benazir Bhutto — comprising 5,000 volunteers who were supposed to form a human shield around her at public meetings. But, it appears, that this force was missing from Liaquat Bagh at the time of her killing.

Some security analysts believe that the UN Commission’ report has provided enough lead to initiate criminal investigations to catch the planners, abettors, financiers and killers.

Sources close to Saud Aziz say that he is ready to face justice and that he is confident that he can fight his case at any forum. According to the sources, he is claiming that he has not received any such orders.

Mr Aziz is also reported to have questioned why no action had been taken against Musharraf, who had been directly held responsible by the UN commission for the then government’s neglect of Ms Bhutto’s security.

Source: Dawn, 19 Apr, 2010

5 responses to “Govt initiates action over UN report on Benazir Bhutto’s assassination”

  1. socratese (from pkpolitics):

    all small minions have been placed under house arrest and those who let her succumb to her injuries on road side are sitting all cozy in their offices, like rahman malik, and Babar Awan.

    Lets see when naheed khan and safdar abasi are place under house arrest or may be arrested for the lapse of security by naheed and her husband and asking BB to stand up and answer the slogans that day.

    Neither they place on ECL parvez elahi, and nor they even mentioned a single person from Pak Army, that will interesting if they could even mention the name of DG ISI or MI of that time.

  2. Editorial: After the UN report

    In the wake of the UN Investigation Commission’s
    findings, action is being taken against some officials named in the report with statements from the government that everybody named will be investigated. Acting swiftly, the government has moved to examine the indicted. Individuals such as the then Chief Police Officer (CPO) Saud Aziz, the Additional IG Punjab Chaudhry Abdul Majid who was then the head of the Joint Investigation Team, ex MI Chief Major General Nadeem Ijaz who, allegedly, directly ordered Saud Aziz to hose down the crime scene — a now infamous scandal surrounding the murder — and Director General of Civil Defence Brig (retd) Javed Cheema, who hastened to prematurely ‘predict’ that Benazir Bhutto died due to a renegade lever, amongst others in the security establishment.

    With fingers steadfastly pointed now at anyone even remotely associated with the security of the late PPP leader, all local and international eyes remain focused on how the government of her widowed husband will act in the face of such allegations. It remains to be seen how conclusive the follow-up investigation and criminal proceedings will be. The UN has also named the passengers in the black Mercedes that was part of the motorcade and who failed to act in time to speed the victim off to the hospital. The passengers, as named in the report, were Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Sindh Home Minister Zulfiqar Mirza, Presidential Spokesman Farhatullah Babar, Law Minister Babar Awan and General (retd) Tauqir Zia.

    However, the most glaring name in the report remains that of former President Pervez Musharraf, under whose government this fatal lapse of security occurred. The government is now considering all the steps required to register a First Information Report (FIR) against the former dictator who is currently enjoying an international hiatus. Recently spotted merrily dancing away at an event in Long Island, Musharraf dismissed the UN report as a laughable document. At the cost of breaking his bubble, this report was launched and conducted with public money, to the tune of millions of dollars, and the Pakistani public takes its contents very seriously.

    Reportedly seeking asylum in the UK now, Musharraf and his knowledge of the security or lack thereof needs to be interrogated in detail. It would be unacceptable if Musharraf were to be feted like Altaf Hussain and enjoy immunity from investigation in Britain. The follow-up criminal investigation, which is set to get fully underway in less than 24 hours, should not spare anyone right from the bottom upwards. If Musharraf is found culpable, no leniency should be shown to a man who left the country devastated because of martial rule and who may be responsible for the death of not just a party leader, but also a former Prime Minister. Her status is why the UN agreed to carry out investigations in the first place.

    If proved guilty, the government has its own ways of extracting wanted personal from foreign shores. The issuance of red warrants to Interpol to bring back Musharraf cannot be ruled out. There are already voices claiming that hauling in Musharraf would annoy the military establishment. The government should not be deterred by such doomsayers. Whilst democracy may be the greatest revenge, nothing tastes sweeter than justice served.\04\20\story_20-4-2010_pg3_1

  3. Benazir’s murder: Govt mulling action against Musharraf’s kin

    ISLAMABAD: Consultations are underway at the Presidency to decide if action should be taken against two close relatives of former president Pervez Musharraf over the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, according to sources. Maj Gen Nadeem and Major Gen (r) Nusrat Naeem are accused of “torturing” political leaders, while Maj Gen Nadeem – who was MI chief at the time of Benazir’s assassination – also ordered officials to wash away the crime scene outside Rawalpindi’s Liaqat Bagh. Both of them are close relatives of Musharraf’s spouse. The sources said it was likely that Nadeem – who is currently posted as the Gujranwala log area commander – would be retired compulsory and action would be launched over Benazir’s assassination, with a criminal investigation underway following the release of a UN report. staff report\04\20\story_20-4-2010_pg1_3