Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had expressed doubts about a claim by the regime of his former boss Pervez Musharraf that Benazir Bhutto was assassinated by the Pakistani Taliban, a UN investigator has said.
Gen Kayani suspected whether the slain Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud had organised the assassination, as was claimed by an Interior Ministry spokesman at a news conference a day after Bhutto’s death on December 27, 2007.
Former President Musharraf’s government based its claim on an intercept of a conversation between Mehsud and another man that was provided by the Inter-Services Intelligence agency.
Gen Kayani said the Musharraf government’s press conference had been “premature” and that “It should not have been done.”
One cannot conclude culpability solely on a phone intercept; Gen Kayani was quoted as saying by Chilean diplomat Heraldo Munoz, who headed a UN panel that investigated Bhutto’s assassination.
Gen Kayani also considered the performance of the Rawalpindi police after the assassination to have been “amateur”, Heraldo Munoz writes in his new book “Getting Away With Murder”, excerpts from which were released yesterday.
The army chief was referring to the hosing down of the crime scene within hours of Bhutto being killed by a suicide bomber.
“If in 24 hours you don’t completely secure the scene, then you lose the threads to solve a case,” Gen Kayani told Munoz during a meeting in Rawalpindi on February 25, 2010.
Bhutto was killed in a gun-and-bomb attack shortly after addressing an election rally in Rawalpindi. Several aspects of the assassination, including the exact cause of her death, remain shrouded in mystery.
Five men, including Taliban cadres, were arrested in connection with the assassination. Tehrik-e-Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud was blamed for the attack but said he was not involved. He was killed in a US drone strike in 2009.