Musharraf to testify in Bhutto case
Pakistan's former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf may testify in the coming weeks in the case relating to former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's murder. An anti-terrorism court (ATC) of Rawalpindi may summon Musharraf to defend himself and counter the evidence produced by prosecutors in the Bhutto murder case. However, it is not yet confirmed whether Musharraf will attend personally or testify via video link.
Who was Benazir Bhutto?
Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan's Peoples Party was the 11th Prime Minister of Pakistan, serving two non-consecutive terms in 1988–90 and 1993–96. In 1996, charges of corruption levelled against her led to the dismissal of her government by the President. Bhutto conceded her defeat in the 1997 parliamentary elections and went into exile in 1999. She returned in 2007 to fight the 2008 parliamentary elections.
Benazir Bhutto assassinated
After a political rally at Liaquat National Bagh in Rawalpindi, shots were fired at Bhutto and a suicide bomb was detonated. She sustained severe injuries and was rushed to Rawalpindi General Hospital where she was declared dead. Medical reports suggested that shrapnel and gunshot wounds killed her. However, Pakistan's Interior Ministry claimed that she fractured her skull due to the bomb's impact.
Bhutto barred from seeking private bodyguards
In May 2007, Bhutto asked for additional protection from private security agencies Blackwater and Armor Group; however, their visas were denied by the Pakistani government. Emails from Bhutto, from October 2007, saying she would blame Musharraf for her death if she were killed, were published after her death. She stated that despite several requests, the Musharraf government did not provide adequate security for her.
Al-Qaeda claims Bhutto's assassination
On 27 December, al-Qaeda commander Mustafa Abu al-Yazid claimed responsibility saying, "We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat the mujahideen." He further stated that Ayman al-Zawahiri ordered the killing in October 2007. However, on 30 December, MI5 sources said that factions of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence may be responsible for the assassination. The Pakistani government denied these allegations.
UN investigation holds Pakistan government responsible
On 5 February 2009, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon sent a commission to investigate Benazir Bhutto's assassination on Government of Pakistan's request. The UN report concluded that the security measures provided to Bhutto by the government were "fatally insufficient and ineffective." It added that "the hosing down of the crime scene and failure to collect and preserve evidence, inflicted irreparable damage to the investigation."
PPP coalition wins elections, Musharraf in exile
After the 2008 election, a coalition emerged led by the PPP. Mr Musharraf stepped down as president and left Pakistan, living in exile in the UK and Dubai. He returned in March 2013 in an abortive attempt to stand in national elections in May. Prosecutors placed him under house arrest on allegations that his government failed to provide adequate security for Ms Bhutto.
On 20 August 2013 ex-President Musharraf was indicted on three charges, for murder, conspiracy to murder, and facilitation of murder in connection with his alleged failure to provide adequate security for Bhutto – charges for which he is reportedly denying responsibility.