Pakistan's ex-president Musharraf indicted over assassination of Benazir Bhutto


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Pakistan's ex-military ruler General Pervez Musharraf was formally indicted by a court Tuesday for his alleged role in the 2007 assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto.

“He 's charged with abetting and conspiracy to murder [Benazir Bhutto]," Musharraf’s lawyer, Ilyas Siddique, said after the court hearing in Rawalpindi. "Abetting means he helped in the murder. Conspiracy means he planned something illegal which led to the murder

Musharraf, who was once Pakistan’s most powerful man and was its ruler at the time of Bhutto's assassination, denies the charges. "Our position is categorically not guilty," Siddique added.

His indictment is an unprecedented event in a nuclear-armed country ruled by the military for half of its 66-year history, and shatters an unwritten rule that the top military brass are untouchable as the South Asian country tries to shake off the legacy of decades of military rule.

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

Pakistani Taliban militants were blamed for the attack. However, a 2010 United Nations report said Bhutto's death could have been prevented and said Musharraf's government has “failed profoundly” to give her adequate protection.

However, a former adviser to Musharraf described Tuesday's case as “politically motivated"

Saying he failed to provide ample security to Benazir Bhutto is a non-starter,” Chaudhry Faisal said. “Legally, it's not the president's job to provide security."

Faisal, who wrote about the case Tuesday in Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper, added: “If an army chief can be prosecuted for a murder he isn't related to, or a security failure he is not directly involved in, wouldn't they be in the dock tomorrow as well, considering there is a security failure almost every day in this country?"

Five alleged militants were charged in 2011 over the attack, but they have yet to face trial.

Musharraf lost power with the return to democracy in 2008, and spent time in exile before returning to Pakistan.

There was tight security at the court for Musharraf's appearance Tuesday, where Judge Chaudry Habib ur Rehman read out the charges against him, and six others accused.

Another hearing was scheduled in the case for Aug. 27
1999 Pakistani coup d'état

The 1999 Pakistani coup d'état was a bloodless coup d'état in which the Pakistan Army and Chief of Army Staff and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Pervez Musharraf overthrew elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his existing elected government.
On 12 October 1999, Sharif replaced Musharraf with Inter-Services Intelligence Director-General Lieutenant-General Ziauddin Butt as Chief of Army Staff while Musharraf was en route from Sri Lanka to Karachi, Pakistan.
Sharif ordered the commercial airline on which Musharraf was traveling to not land in Pakistan airspace, although supposedly the airplane did not have a sufficient amount of fuel to do so.
The Pakistan Army learned of the order and seized control of Karachi airport in order to allow the plane to land, and beginning the coup d'état. On 14 October 1999, two days after the coup, Musharraf declared a state of emergency and issued a Provisional Constitutional Order. The Provisional Constitutional Order created many issues, as a large number of justices refused to take oath under it.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered that Musharraf could only allow army rule to remain in place for three years, and as a result, Musharraf held a national referendum on 30 April 2002.
Many alleged that this referendum was heavily fraudulent, although Musharraf's government held that these accusations were simply propaganda spread by the opposition.

After months of contentious relations with Prime Minister Sharif, Musharraf was brought to power through a military coup d'état in 1999, subsequently placing the Prime minister under a strict house-arrest before moving him to Adiala Jail in Punjab Province.

With Shaukat Aziz having completed his term as Prime Minister and the suspension of the Chief Justice in 2007, Musharraf dramatically fell from power in 2008, tendering his resignation of the presidency after facing potential impeachment, led by the elected opposition parties

. Musharraf then lived in self-imposed exile in London for four years, returning to Pakistan on 24 March 2013, in order to participate in the upcoming general elections, despite receiving death threats from the Taliban.
Whilst absent from Pakistan, the country's courts issued arrest warrants for both Musharraf and Aziz, for their alleged involvement in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and Akbar Bugti.
He was disqualified from taking part in the 2013 election by High Court judges in April 2013.