Summons to Mush, Malik as plea claims hand in Bhutto murder

Lahore, September 01: A Pakistani court on Monday asked former President Pervez Musharraf and Interior Minister Rehman Malik to appear before it on September 28 for the hearing of a petition alleging their involvement in the assassination of ex-premier Benazir Bhutto as part of an “international” plot.

Besides Musharraf and Malik, the Lahore High Court also issued notices to Parliamentary Affairs Minister Babar Awan, former Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and 12 others.

The notices were issued in response to a petition filed by Bhutto’s former protocol officer Chaudhry Muhammad Aslam.

Aslam’s counsel Mansoor Ahmed alleged that Bhutto’s murder was the result of an “international conspiracy” in which Musharraf and the other respondents were involved.

Bhutto was killed in a gun and bomb attack while leaving a ground in Rawalpindi after she had addressed an election rally on December 27, 2007.

Ahmed said: “Rehman Malik and Babar Awan changed Bhutto’s route while they both fled from the scene in a car which they were not allowed to use as per protocol plan. Only (presidential spokesman) Farhatullah Babar was allowed to sit in this car.”

He asked the court to order the registration of an FIR against the respondents for alleged involvement in the murder of Bhutto.

The petition was initially fixed before Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, but he declined to hear it on the ground that his brother is the chief of the Federal Investigation Agency, which is investigating Bhutto’s killing.

The Chief Justice of the High Court then fixed the case before Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry.

Others named in the petition include former Intelligence Bureau chief Ijaz Shah, former caretaker Interior Minister Hamid Nawaz, former Interior Secretary Kamal Shah and former interior ministry spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema.