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Musharraf to be questioned in Benazir murder investigation

The government has decided to include former president and military dictator Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf in the investigation into the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

world Updated: Nov 23, 2010 11:42 IST

The government has decided to include former president and military dictator Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf in the investigation into the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

Federal Investigation Agency's (FIA) joint investigation team (JIT) has prepared a detailed questionnaire that will be forwarded to Musharraf in Britain in a few days, Dawn reported Tuesday.

Musharraf ruled Pakistan for nine years after taking power in a bloodless coup in 1999. He stepped down in 2008 and left Pakistan. He now lives in London.

“We have prepared a questionnaire for the former president to record his statement,” Dawn quoted FIA director general Waseem Ahmed as saying.

He added: “We want to record the statement of everybody who has any connection with the case.”

Bhutto was assassinated Dec 27, 2007 after addressing an election rally in the northern Pakistani city of Rawalpindi. A teenaged shooter was seen aiming for her head in the CCTV footage before a powerful suicide blast killed at least 24 people participating in the rally.

The interior ministry at that time had accused the Taliban of plotting to kill Bhutto while the doctors had said that "her head banged against the lever of the sunroof which caused her death".

To a query on why Musharraf was being included now when the JIT had submitted its report to an anti-terrorism court, Ahmed said the case would remain open until all supplementary information was obtained.

The JIT has held Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan responsible for killing Bhutto and said that slain TTP chief, Baitullah Mehsud, masterminded the fatal attack.

The 32-point questionnaire had been sent to the interior ministry for approval.

“After getting the approval, we will send it to Musharraf through both e-mail and by post,” said Ahmed.

Questions relating to security lapses have been asked in the questionnaire. Musharraf is being asked as to why he didn't provide foolproof security to Bhutto after she had narrowly escaped a bomb blast in Karachi’s Karsaz area Oct 18, 2007.

Musharraf's spokesman, Fawad Chaudhry, said the former president had nothing to do with the security of Bhutto.

He said the government’s decision to send the questionnaire to Musharraf was an attempt to politicise the case.

“The FIA should know that a Scotland Yard team which completed its investigation into the case had met Musharraf and recorded his statement,” he was quoted as saying.