'Rogue elements' from establishment may have been involved in Benazir's murder: Musharraf

ISLAMABAD (Dawn/ ANN) - "I don't have any facts available. But my assessment is very accurate I think... A lady who is known to be inclined towards the West is seen suspiciously by those elements," Musharraf said. 

Former president Pervez Musharraf said that during his reign there may have been elements within the establishment that conspired with the Taliban to murder former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, the BBC reported.

When asked by the BBC on Bhutto's 10th death anniversary if rogue elements within the establishment could have been in touch with the Taliban about the killing, the former military ruler responded: "Possibility. Yes indeed. Because the society is polarised on religious lines."

Adding that his assessment was a hunch rather than solid proof, he said: "I don't have any facts available. But my assessment is very accurate I think... A lady who is known to be inclined towards the West is seen suspiciously by those elements."

But there are some who continue to strongly believe Musharraf himself was directly involved in what transpired on December 27, 2007, when a 15-year-old from South Waziristan shot Bhutto at Liaquatbagh before blowing himself up.

Journalists Mark Seigel and Ron Suskind have repeatedly claimed that months before her assassination, Bhutto was telephoned by Musharraf who told her not to return to Pakistan.

"He [Musharraf] said that her safety, her security (or lack thereof) was a function of her relationship with him," said Seigel.

Immediately after the call, Bhutto said: "He threatened me. He told me not to come back. He warned me not to come back," according to Siegel, who added that Musharraf had said he would not be responsible for what happened to her if she returned.

According to the BBC report, Musharraf strongly denied making the call and dismissed the idea that he would have ordered her murder. "Honestly I laugh at it. Why would I kill her?"

Bhutto's son, Bilawal, who has since succeeded his mother as PPP chairman, agrees with Seigel and Suskind's assessment.

"Musharraf exploited this entire situation to assassinate my mother," says the younger Bhutto.

"He purposely sabotaged her security so that she would be assassinated and taken off the scene."

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