BB’s homicide nonetheless stays a thriller


15 years have passed since the assassination of former prime minister and Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) chairperson Benazir Bhutto, but the mystery of her murder has not been resolved yet.

No one has been able to unravel the complexities of the ex-premier’s brutal murder. This important case in the country’s history has been pending in the Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi bench for the last five years.

The former prime minister was martyred in a suicide attack on December 27, 2007, along with 27 party workers at the main gate of Liaquat Bagh when she was returning after addressing a historic gathering.

Four inquiries were conducted by the police, FIA, Scotland Yard, and United Nations and seven challans were presented in the court in this case while 12 judges were changed during 291 hearings in which 57 witnesses appeared before the court to record their statements.

American journalist Mark Siegel was also presented as a witness, whose video link statement was recorded from the Pakistani embassy in the United States, but the murder mystery remained unsolved.

The five suspects including Aitzaz Shah, Sher Zaman, Abdul Rasheed, Rafaqat and Hasnain were arrested by the Punjab Police and declared as alleged suspects but all of them were acquitted on August 31, 2007, by a special anti-terrorism court after 10 years of proceedings while two senior police officers including the then-CPO Saud Aziz and SP City Khurram Shehzad were each sentenced to a total of 17 years in prison and were fined Rs1 million each.

The eighth accused, former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, was declared an absconder for not showing up in the court and an order was issued for confiscation of his properties.

Out of the five acquitted suspects, Aitzaz Shah, Sher Zaman and Hasnain have been released, while Abdul Rasheed and Rafaqat are still imprisoned in the Adiala Jail.

The appeal of the suspects against their convictions, the appeal against the acquittal of five suspects by then-president Asif Ali Zardari and the appeal against the absence of proclaimed offender General (retd) Pervez Musharraf are pending before the high court. Their hearing is expected in the first quarter of the upcoming year in February 2023.

The defence counsel Advocate Raja Ghaneem Abir says that the ATC unjustly sentenced the two police officers in this case.

“It is expected that they will get relief from the high court and these convictions will be overturned. Whereas in a criminal case, any accused cannot be trialled in absentia. Benazir Bhutto’s murder case cannot be trialled against Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf until he comes to Pakistan. Due to his non-appearance in the court, the subordinate court declared him an absconder and ordered the confiscation of his property besides issuing the perpetual warrant of his arrest,” he explains.

“Nothing else can be done against him until he arrives back to Pakistan,” he says and believes that the subordinate court rightfully acquitted all the five arrested suspects as the PPP did not pursue the case.

On the other hand, the families of the workers, who were martyred along with their party leader, are annoyed with the PPP leaders.

Hamza Raza, the son of Shaheed Rafiq Raza, while talking to The Express Tribune said: “The PPP did not give us anything in exchange for the martyrdom of our father. At that time, I was 12 years old, now I am working hard to earn my living.” No one came to help us out in our times of need despite promises, he lamented.


Published in The Express Tribune, December 27th, 2022.

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