Rawalpindi   -   The Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi Bench on Tuesday expressed annoyance over non-appearance of two accused Aitzaz Shah and Sher Zaman in former prime minister Benazir Bhutto (BB) murder case before the court in trial and issued their arrest warrants.

The division bench of the LHC comprising of Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan and Justice Sadiq Mehmood Khurram heard appeals against the verdict of Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC), Rawalpindi, in BB assassination case in which all five accused were acquitted.

The apex court also issued notice to City Police Officer (CPO) Rawalpindi while directing him to arrest Aitzaz Shah and Sher Zaman and present them before the court on next date of hearing.  The other three accused in BB murder case – Rafaqat Hussain, Husnain Gull and Abdur Rashid are still languishing in Adiala Jail as they failed to submit their surety bonds.

Pakistan People Party (PPP) Co-Chairman and former President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari had filed appeal against the acquittal of five accused, while ex-CPO Rawalpindi Saud Aziz and Khurram Shahzad, a former Superintendent of Police (SP) at Rawal Town have challenged their sentences in the LHC, Rawalpindi Bench.

When the division bench of LHC took up Benazir Bhutto assassination case, Senior Advocate Sardar Abdul Latif Khan Khosa requested the bench to issue summon of former military dictator and President of Pakistan Gen (R) Pervez Musharraf. The judges of apex court remarked that they are examining the presence of the accused and on the next date they would hear him on this issue.

Khosa was accompanied by Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, former PM, Ex-Chairman Senate Syed Nayyar Hussain Bukhari, former Senator Farhat Ullah Babar, spokesman to former President Malik Amir Fida Paracha, Ijaz Durrani and Nazir Dhoki.

ATC Rawalpindi Special Judge Muhammad Asghar in 2017 had acquitted five Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) suspects and awarded 17-year imprisonment to two police officials in BB murder case.

The ATC had also declared Gen (R) Pervez Musharraf an absconder in the case. Saud Aziz, who was police chief of Rawalpindi when Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in 2007 in a gun-and-bomb attack in Liaquat Bagh, and Khurram Shahzad, a former Superintendent of Police (SP) at Rawal Town, were each awarded 17 years in prison. Both top cops were accused of negligence in security arrangements which subsequently led to the assassination of the former prime minister in a gun-and-bomb attack outside Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh on December 27, 2007. Charges against the five TTP suspects namely Rafaqat Hussain, Husnain Gull, Sher Zaman, Aitzaz Shah and Abdul Rashid were dropped by the ATC. The court had directed authorities to seize Musharraf’s properties and issue perpetual arrest warrants for the former dictator. The division bench of LHC postponed the hearing in Benazir Bhutto assassination case until October 19, 2020.

Talking to media men after hearing, Sardar  Latif Khan Khosa said former military dictator Gen (R) Pervez Musharraf , the main accused in BB murder case, could not be arrested so far despite court issued his arrest warrants.  He said CPO Rawalpindi had not executed the court orders in the high profile murder case. He said the police officers who were awarded punishments in Benazir Bhutto murder case were not only reinstated but also promoted to the next ranks.