Slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s daughters have rejected former president Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s accusations against their father, Asif Zardari.
In a video message on Thursday, Musharraf claimed Zardari was behind Benazir’s assassination on December 27, 2007 as well as the killing of Benazir’s brother, Murtaza Bhutto, in September 1996.
In the message, Musharraf had especially appealed to Benazir and Zardari’s children, Bilawal, Bakhtawar, and Aseefa, to heed his words “with an open mind”.
Reacting to the allegations, Aseefa Bhutto Zardari took to Twitter, stating that she is disgusted and appalled by media houses that are giving attention “to this murderer, who ran away”.
Benazir’s other daughter, Bakhtawar, also called for Musharraf to quit talk shows and come to Pakistan to face the courts.
Pakistan Peoples Party leader Khursheed Shah, in his reaction, said that if there was a close link between Zardari and TTP chief Baitullah Mehsud, then why did Musharraf not disclose this earlier.
On Thursday, Musharraf, the former army chief, said he was sending out this message as Zardari had personally called him out by blaming him for Benazir’s murder.
In his message, Musharraf says that a few days ago, the anti-terrorism court hearing the Benazir Bhutto murder case gave its verdict.
“Every Pakistani is concerned that two distinguished police officers got punished but the real terrorists were exonerated,” said Musharraf.
However, one day ago, Zardari remarked that I am responsible for Benazir’s murder. “This is the first time he’s called me out on this by name. I cannot tolerate this,” lamented the former army chief.
Giving his ‘reply’, he said he is especially addressing [Benazir and Zardari’s children] Bilawal, Aseefa and Bakhtawar, as well as the Bhutto family and all Sindhis and Pakistanis who have been following “this murderer of Benazir”.
“I believe that the reason for the Bhutto family’s demise and the responsible person for Benazir and Murtaza’s murder is Zardari. In any murder, it should be noted who benefits and who loses. I lost a lot from Benazir’s assassination while Zardari benefitted,” he said.
Terming [then TTP chief] Baitullah Mehsud’s role in Benazir’s killing “a reality”, Musharraf said all evidence is available in this regard.
He said Mehsud was his enemy and he [Musharraf] wanted him dead.
The former president also hinted at the role of Afghan intelligence agency Khad and then president Hamid Karzai in facilitating the assassination with Zardari.
With regards to the day of the incident, Musharraf said providing security at Liaquat Bagh [where Benazir was killed] was not his responsibility. He questioned the presence of a rooftop hatch in a bulletproof vehicle and also wondered who asked Benazir on the phone to open the hatch and come out to wave to the crowd.
He said an examination of Benazir’s phone could have proved this but it was only made available after two years — “obviously someone must have erased all its data”.
Musharraf also criticised the fact that those sitting with Benazir inside her vehicle — Naheed Khan, Safdar Abbasi, Makhdoom Amin Fahim and “jail buddy” Khalid Shahenshah — were not questioned by the court.
The former president also questioned the credentials of Malik and Shahenshah for becoming “security in-charges” of Benazir.
“It’s suspicious that Shahenshah was killed under unusual circumstances soon after Benazir’s assassination,” said Musharraf, adding that only one person is capable of all this – Zardari. He also questioned the change in Benazir’s return route and Malik’s dashing to Islamabad right after the incident.
Musharraf said the real murderer — Zardari — can be pinpointed by investigating these aspects. “He’s taking my name to divert people’s attention from him. I say he should be brought to book for Benazir and Murtaza’s murders,” he said.
Ending his message, Musharraf said he hopes that all of Benazir’s children are listening with an open mind and understand his logic.