Court orders arrest of Musharraf in Bhutto case

Islamabad – A Pakistani anti-terrorism court had issued an arrest warrant for exiled former president Pervez Musharraf in connection with the 2007 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, a spokesman for Musharraf said today.

Bhutto was killed in a gun and suicide bomb attack after an election rally in the city of Rawalpindi on December 27 2007, weeks after she returned to Pakistan after years in self-imposed exile.

Her assassination was one of the most shocking events in Pakistan’s turbulent history, and remains shrouded in mystery.

“The court has issued an arrest warrant and asked that he should be produced before the court during the next hearing on February 19,” said Musharraf spokesman Saif Ali.

Ali said the decision was apparently based on a report by the Federal Investigation Agency, which linked Musharraf to the case. The public prosecutor was not immediately available.

Musharraf, a former military chief who came to power in a bloodless coup in 1999, has lived in self-imposed exile since he stepped down under threat of impeachment in 2008. He spends most of his time in London and Dubai.

He has, however, expressed his intention to return to Pakistan and said he aimed to establish offices for his new political party by March.

The warrant for Musharraf’s arrest follows a similar court order in December for the arrest of two senior police officers on allegations they failed to provide adequate security for Bhutto before her assassination.

A report by a United Nations commission of inquiry released in New York last year said any credible investigation into Bhutto’s killing should not rule out the possibility that members of Pakistan’s military and security establishment were involved.

It heavily criticised Pakistani authorities, saying they had “severely hampered” the investigation. The initial investigation blamed a Pakistani Taliban leader and al-Qaeda ally, Baitullah Mehsud, for Bhutto’s murder.

Musharraf, himself the target of at least two bomb attacks, has repeatedly dismissed suggestions he, the security agencies or military were involved in killing his old rival.

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