Pak to Probe Ex-Official Role Following Bhutto Killing

Rezaul H Laskar/Islamabad
Pak to Probe Ex-Official Role Following Bhutto Killing
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani today set up a committee to ascertain within a week whether a top army official related to Pervez Musharraf had directed police officials to hose down the site where former premier Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in December 2007.

A statement issued by the Prime Minister's media office said Gilani had constituted a three-member fact finding committee headed by Cabinet Secretary Abdul Rauf Chaudhry to determine whether the then "Director General, Military Intelligence gave an order to police official(s) for washing (or) cleaning of the crime scene".

Maj Gen Nadeem Ijaz Ahmad, who is related to former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, was the head of Military Intelligence at the time of Bhutto's assassination.

Gilani directed the committee to submit its report to him "within seven working days".

The other members of the committee are Maj Gen Sajjad Ghani, Vice Chief of General Staff, and Fayyaz Tooru, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) of Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa province.

The move by Gilani came nine days after a report by a UN commission that probed Bhutto's assassination said the police's "actions and omissions," including the hosing down of the crime scene and failure to collect and preserve evidence, "inflicted irreparable damage to the investigation".

The hosing down of the site within hours of Bhutto's death in a suicide attack on December 27, 2007 sparked a major controversy.

Since the UN panel released its report, police and civil officials have traded charges as to who was responsible for ordering the scene to be washed.

Rizwan Ahmed, who heads the state-run Punjab Emergency Services, has said the crime scene in Rawalpindi was cleaned on the direction of Saud Aziz, who was earlier police chief of the garrison city.

The UN panel's report quoted sources as saying that Saud Aziz "did not act independently" in deciding to hose down the crime scene.

"One source, speaking on the basis of anonymity, stated that CPO Saud Aziz had confided in him that he had received a call from Army Headquarters instructing him to order the hosing down of the crime scene," the report said.

"Another source, also speaking on the basis of anonymity, said that (Saud Aziz) was ordered to hose down the scene by Maj Gen Nadeem Ijaz Ahmad, then Director General of Military Intelligence," the report added.

Since the UN issued its report, the government has removed eight civil and police officials from active service.

It has also terminated the contractual service of Brig (retired) Javed Iqbal Cheema, who was the spokesman of the interior ministry at the time of Bhutto's assassination and had claimed at a news conference that she died after hitting her head on a lever in her bulletproof vehicle.
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