Report of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry
into the facts and circumstances of the assassination of
former Pakistani Prime Minister Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto
On 27 December 2007, former Pakistani Prime Minister Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto
was assassinated as she left a campaign event at Liaquat Bagh, in the Pakistani city of
Rawalpindi. In the attack on Ms Bhutto, 24 other people were killed and 91 injured.
After a request from the Government of Pakistan and extensive consultations with
Pakistani officials as well as with members of the United Nations Security Council,
the Secretary-General appointed a three member Commission of Inquiry to determine
the facts and circumstances of the assassination of the former prime minister. The
duty of carrying out a criminal investigation, finding the perpetrators and bringing
them to justice, remains with the competent Pakistani authorities.
The Secretary-General appointed Ambassador Heraldo Muñoz, the Permanent
Representative of Chile to the United Nations as head of the Commission as well as
Mr Marzuki Darusman, a former Attorney-General of Indonesia, and Mr Peter
FitzGerald, a former Deputy Commissioner of the Irish Police, the Garda Siochána.
The Commission commenced its activities on 1 July 2009 and provided its report to
the Secretary-General on 30 March 2010.
In the course of its inquiry, the Commission received significant support from the
Government of Pakistan and many of its citizens. The Commissioners and staff
traveled frequently to Pakistan in the furtherance of its mandate. The Commission
conducted more than 250 interviews, meeting with Pakistani officials and private
citizens, foreign citizens with knowledge of the events in Pakistan and members of
the United Kingdom Metropolitan Police (Scotland Yard) team that investigated
aspects of the assassination. The Commission also reviewed hundreds of documents,
videos, photographs and other documentary material provided by Pakistan’s federal
and provincial authorities and others.
The Commission also met with representatives of other governments such as
Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Some relevant senior officials were not made available to the Commission, but the
Commission is satisfied that this did not hinder its ability to establish the facts and
circumstances of the assassination. Pertinent information from these sources,
including on threats to Ms Bhutto, nevertheless, was already in the possession of
Pakistani authorities and eventually came to be known by the Commission.
The Commission was mystified by the efforts of certain high-ranking Pakistani
government authorities to obstruct access to military and intelligence sources, as
revealed in their public declarations. The extension of the mandate until 31 March
enabled the Commission to pursue further this matter and eventually meet with some
past and present members of the Pakistani military and intelligence services.
The report addresses the political and security context of Ms Bhutto’s return to
Pakistan; the security arrangements made for her by the Pakistani authorities, who
bore the primary responsibility to protect her, as well as her political party, the
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP); events immediately before and after the assassination;
and the criminal investigations and actions of the Pakistani Government and police in
the aftermath of the crime.
Ms Bhutto’s return to Pakistan on 18 October 2007 and assassination on 27
December 2007 culminated a year of intense political conflict, revolving largely
around the elections scheduled for later that year and their potential for opening a
transition to democracy after eight years of military rule. It was also one of the most
violent years in Pakistani history. She returned in the context of a tenuous and
inconclusive political agreement with General Pervez Musharraf, as part of a process
facilitated by the United Kingdom and the United States.
Ms Bhutto’s assassination could have been prevented if adequate security measures
had been taken. The responsibility for Ms Bhutto’s security on the day of her
assassination rested with the federal Government, the government of Punjab and the
Rawalpindi District Police. None of these entities took the necessary measures to
respond to the extraordinary, fresh and urgent security risks that they knew she faced.
The federal Government under General Musharraf, although fully aware of and
tracking the serious threats to Ms. Bhutto, did little more than pass on those threats to
her and to provincial authorities and were not proactive in neutralizing them or
ensuring that the security provided was commensurate to the threats. This is
especially grave given the attempt on her life in Karachi when she returned to
Pakistan on 18 October 2007.
The PPP provided additional security for Ms. Bhutto. The Commission recognizes
the heroism of individual PPP supporters, many of whom sacrificed themselves to
protect her; however, the additional security arrangements of the PPP lacked
leadership and were inadequate and poorly executed.
The Rawalpindi district police’s actions and omissions in the immediate aftermath of
the assassination of Ms Bhutto, including the hosing down of the crime scene and
failure to collect and preserve evidence, inflicted irreparable damage to the
investigation. The investigation into Ms Bhutto’s assassination, and those who died
with her, lacked direction, was ineffective and suffered from a lack of commitment to
identify and bring all of the perpetrators to justice. While she died when a 15 and a
half year-old suicide bomber detonated his explosives near her vehicle, no one
believes that this boy acted alone.
Ms. Bhutto faced threats from a number of sources; these included Al-Qaida, the
Taliban, local jihadi groups and potentially from elements in the Pakistani
Establishment. Yet the Commission found that the investigation focused on pursuing
lower level operatives and placed little to no focus on investigating those further up
the hierarchy in the planning, financing and execution of the assassination.
The investigation was severely hampered by intelligence agencies and other
government officials, which impeded an unfettered search for the truth. More
significantly, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) conducted parallel investigations,
gathering evidence and detaining suspects. Evidence gathered from such parallel
investigations was selectively shared with the police.
The Commission believes that the failure of the police to investigate effectively Ms
Bhutto’s assassination was deliberate. These officials, in part fearing intelligence
agencies’ involvement, were unsure of how vigorously they ought to pursue actions,
which they knew, as professionals, they should have taken.
It remains the responsibility of the Pakistani authorities to carry out a serious, credible
criminal investigation that determines who conceived, ordered and executed this
heinous crime of historic proportions, and brings those responsible to justice. Doing
so would constitute a ma jor step toward ending impunity for political crimes in this
1. On 27 December 2007, former Pakistani Prime Minister Mohtarma Benazir
Bhutto was assassinated as she left a campaign event at Liaquat Bagh, in the Pakistani
city of Rawalpindi. In the attack on Ms Bhutto, 24 other people were killed and 91
2. In May 2008, the Government of Pakistan requested the Secretary-General of
the United Nations to establish an international commission for the purpose of
investigating the assassination of Ms Bhutto. After extensive consultations with
Pakistani officials as well as with members of the United Nations Security Council,
the Secretary-General decided to appoint a three member Commission of Inquiry to
determine the facts and circumstances of the assassination of the former prime
minister. It was agreed with the Government of Pakistan that the international
commission should be fact-finding in nature and not be a criminal investigation. The
duty of carrying out a criminal investigation, finding the perpetrators and bringing
them to justice, remains with the competent Pakistani authorities. On the basis of this
agreement, the Secretary-General wrote to the President of the Security Council, on 2
February 2009, informing of his wish to accede to the request and establish a three
member Commission of Inquiry. The President of the Security Council responded on
3 February 2009 and took note with appreciation of the intention stated in the
Secretary-General’s letter. That exchange of letters, including the agreed terms of
reference of the Commission, is attached as Annex.
3. The Secretary-General appointed in February 2009 Ambassador Heraldo
Muñoz, the Permanent Representative of Chile to the United Nations as head of the
Commission. Two additional Commissioners were later appointed: Mr Marzuki
Darusman, a former Attorney-General of Indonesia, and Mr Peter FitzGerald, a
former Deputy Commissioner of the Irish Police, the Garda Siochána. The
Commissioners were supported by a small staff that included professionals with
expertise in criminal investigation, law and political affairs.
4. The Commission was mandated to submit its report to the Secretary-General
within six months from the start of its activities. The Secretary-General was to share
the report with the Government of Pakistan and submit it to the Security Council for
information. The Commission was to commence its activities on a date to be
determined by the Secretary-General and officially communicated to the Government
of Pakistan. The Secretary-General announced the commencement of activities of the
Commission of Inquiry on 1 July 2009, after a period during which the Secretariat
raised voluntary funds to support the work of the Commission and built its staffing
and administrative structure. In December 2009, the Secretary-General announced an
extension of three months of the Commission’s mandate to 31 March.
5. The Commissioners travelled to Pakistan in July and September 2009 and in
February 2010 in furtherance of the inquiry. They met with and interviewed a wide
range of Pakistanis, both officials and private citizens. They also conducted
interviews at locations outside Pakistan and met with representatives of other
governments. Commission staff travelled frequently to Pakistan during the mandate
period. Commissioners and staff conducted more than 250 interviews with Pakistanis
and others both inside and outside Pakistan. Many of the persons interviewed by the
Commission requested anonymity. Therefore, the report does not include a list of
those interviewed. The Commission also reviewed hundreds of documents, videos,
photographs and other documentary material provided by federal and provincial
authorities in Pakistan and others.
6. In the course of its inquiry, the Commission received significant support from
the Government of Pakistan and many of its citizens. The Commission wishes to
express its gratitude for this cooperation. At the United Nations, Pakistan’s
Permanent Representative, Ambassador Abdullah Haroon, provided valuable support
as well. The Commission was mystified, however, by the efforts of certain high-
ranking government officials to obstruct access to Pakistani military and intelligence
sources, as revealed in their public declarations. The extension of the mandate until
31 March enabled the Commission, among other things, to pursue further this matter
and eventually meet with some past and present members of the military and
intelligence agencies. The Commission also made contact with representatives of
several foreign governments and, in some cases, with their intelligence services.
Pertinent information from these sources, including on threats to Ms Bhutto,
nevertheless was already in the possession of Pakistani authorities and eventually
came to be known by the Commission.
7. This report sets out the Commission’s findings on the facts and circumstance of
Ms Bhutto’s assassination.
II. Facts and Circumstances
A. Political Context
8. Ms Bhutto’s assassination occurred against the backdrop of a political power
struggle in Pakistan over the continuation of military rule under General Pervez
Musharraf, the President of Pakistan, or the restoration of democratically-elected
civilian government. Ms Bhutto’s return to Pakistan was a flashpoint in this struggle,
the outcome of which would have significant consequences for the country’s major
political actors. In addition, as will be described below, 2007 was an exceptionally
violent year in Pakistan, which saw sharp increases in violence carried out by Islamist
extremists and by the state.
Political assassination and impunity in Pakistan
9. Ms Bhutto’s assassination was not the first time in Pakistan’s brief national
history that a major political figure had been killed or died in an untimely fashion.
The country’s first prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, was assassinated in 1951 in the
same park where Ms Bhutto was assassinated; the assassin was killed by police on the
spot, but broader responsibilities, including who might have been behind the killing
have never been established. Ms Bhutto’s father, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, president of
Pakistan from 1971-73 and prime minister from 1973-77, was deposed in a military
coup in 1977, charged with the murder of a political opponent’s father and hanged in
1979. Many believe that the judicial process against Mr Bhutto was deeply flawed
and politically-motivated. Later, General Zia ul Haq, the military leader who deposed
Mr Bhutto and ruled Pakistan for 11 years, died in a plane crash together with the
United States ambassador to Pakistan in 1988; investigations by the United States and
Pakistan into the crash came to conflicting conclusions, and it remains the object of
much speculation. Other killings of political figures that have never been solved
include the deaths of Ms Bhutto’s two brothers, Shahnawaz, who was killed in France
in 1985 and Murtaza, killed in Pakistan in 1997. The list continues to grow, more
recently with the killings, among others, of Nawab Akbar Bugti, a 79-year old
Balochi nationalist leader in a military operation in August 2006 and three other
Balochi nationalist leaders in April 2009, including Ghulam Mohammed Baloch.
10. There has been little concerted effort by law enforcement and justice sector
institutions to bring to justice those who planned, supported, financed or carried out
these and similar crimes. This situation has contributed to a widespread expectation
of impunity in cases of political killings. People do not expect the perpetrators –
beyond those at the lowest levels – to be identified and brought to justice.
Political and security context
11. Ms Bhutto’s return and assassination culminated a year of intense internal
political conflict in Pakistan. This revolved, in large measure, around the elections
scheduled for late 2007, with their potential both for opening a transition to
democracy after eight years of military rule and for engendering significant changes
in the political forces that would head the new government. It was also one of the
most violent years in Pakistani history, with dramatic increases both in extremist
attacks carried out by radical Islamists against local targets, including suicide
bombings, and in the use of force by the authorities against opposition movements.
Finally, the year unfolded in a context of heightened international concerns about the
strength of the Taliban and Al-Qaida in the region and increased pressures on
Pakistan to take on a heavier role in the fight against them.
12. Pakistan had been under military rule since 1999, when General Musharraf,
Chief of Army Staff, led a military coup that deposed an elected government. His
regime first suspended the constitution and then modified it to provide a legal
framework for the government and to strengthen presidential powers. Within that
framework, power was concentrated in the person of General Musharraf, who, after
elections in 2002, was both Chief of Army Staff and President of Pakistan. With this
dual authority, General Musharraf drew on the power of the military, while at the
same time building an alliance of political parties in the national and provincial
assemblies, which ensured additional control over other important power centres.
This alliance included the Pakistani Muslim League-Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q), which
controlled the provincial government in Punjab, the country’s largest and wealthiest
province, and in Sindh; the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) with its historic
base in Karachi; and, during most of the period, the Mutahiddah Majlis-i-Amal
(MMA), which comprised the bulk of the Islamist parties. General Musharraf’s
decision to consent to the United States request for Pakistani collaboration in the war
on terror after 11 September 2001 also meant that he enjoyed the firm backing of the
United States and its western allies.
13. General Musharraf also had the full support of what is known in Pakistan as the
“Establishment”, the de facto power structure that has as its permanent core the
military high command and intelligence agencies, in particular, the powerful,
military-run the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) as well as Military Intelligence (MI)
and the Intelligence Bureau (IB). The capability of the Establishment to exercise
power in Pakistan is based in large part on the central role played by the Pakistani
military and intelligence agencies in the country’s political life, with the military
ruling the country directly for 32 of its 62 years as an independent state. General
Musharraf finally stepped down as Chief of Army Staff (COAS) on 28 November
2007, handing the post over to his hand-picked successor, General Ashfaq Parvez
Kayani. This did not, however, change the military nature of the regime.
14. The post of prime minister has been suspended five times in Pakistan due to
martial law or another form of military intervention, and no elected civilian prime
minister has ever served a full five-year term in Pakistan. Most were deposed or
dismissed through some form of direct or indirect military intervention. Before the
election of 2007, Ms Bhutto, as the head of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) had
twice served as prime minister, from December 1988 to August 1990 and from
October 1993 to November 1996. Her first government ended after just 20 months,
and her second lasted less than three years. Both times, she was dismissed by the
sitting president, Ghulam Ishaq Khan and Farooq Leghari, respectively, based on
allegations of corruption and nepotism. While both men were civilians, each had
close ties to the military. Ms Bhutto and the PPP believed that it was the military, or
more broadly, the Establishment, that forced her out.
15. By 2007, when new parliamentary elections and the Electoral College vote for
the presidency were scheduled, there were increasing pressures for an end to direct
military rule, both internally and internationally, including from the United Kingdom
and the United States. Pakistan’s two main opposition political parties, Ms Bhutto’s
PPP and the Pakistani Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), had put aside their long-term
rivalry and worked together since early 2005 to define a common framework for a
return to democratic rule. This agreement, the “Charter for Democracy”, was signed
in May 2006 by Ms Bhutto and Mr Nawaz Sharif, the respective leaders of the PPP
and the PML-N.
16. Tensions deepened in the country after 9 March 2007, when General Musharraf
suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. The Government brought an
action for his removal based on allegations of his interference in matters before the
lower courts and the abuse of power to gain favours for his son and to access state
resources beyond those due his office. Nonetheless, numerous observers have
identified two key issues at stake, both central to the political context. The first
involved Supreme Court actions to summon and question senior military and
intelligence officials in dozens of cases of people who had disappeared in recent
months, brought by relatives who feared they had been illegally detained by state
security forces. The Government maintained that the Court was undermining its
efforts to combat terrorist groups. The second issue pertained to the composition of
the Court and its increasingly independent decisions, which took on great relevance,
given its authority to determine the legality of the upcoming presidential election,
which was certain to face constitutional challenges.
17. Public response against General Musharraf’s action was strong, especially from
legal professionals, who cited the actions as a clear infringement on judicial
independence. Organized by the country’s Supreme Court Bar Association and local
bar associations, they held scores of public debates, rallies and street demonstrations
calling for the reinstatement of the Chief Justice. This opposition soon became the
“lawyers’ movement”, growing over the year into one of the largest mass movements
in Pakistan’s history, as it galvanized a broad range of sentiments opposed to
continued military rule. The movement became a key factor in the political dynamics
that year, and its activities formed a backdrop for the intensifying struggle for
18. Chief Justice Chaudhry was reinstated on 20 July 2007, by a 13-member panel
of the Supreme Court. The dispute had not only sparked mass public protests, it also
led to an unusually well-documented disclosure of participation by Pakistan’s
intelligence agencies in political and judicial matters. Chief Justice Chaudhry’s
affidavit to the Supreme Court in reference to the charges against him described how
he was called to Army House by General Musharraf and told that he was being
suspended. General Musharraf was accompanied at the meeting by Prime Minister
Shaukat Aziz, five other active duty generals and one brigadier, including the
Directors General of MI, the ISI and the IB and the President’s military Chief of
Staff. Affidavits by the Directors General of MI and the IB as well as the president’s
Chief of Staff were presented as part of the Government’s case against the Chief
19. The year also saw a dramatic increase in political violence both by the state and
by radical Islamists. Thousands of participants in the demonstrations called by the
lawyers’ movement were beaten and jailed; its leaders were put in solitary
confinement, and many charged with terrorism or sedition. Police raided at least two
major television stations, some 250 journalists were arrested in the course of the year
and severe restrictions were placed on the media. At the same time, reports by
credible human rights organizations documented the disappearance of hundreds of
Balochi nationalists and the extrajudicial killings of some, whom the government
claimed were members of Islamist terrorist groups. Staged “encounters” in which
detained terrorism suspects were killed by security forces, were on the rise, as well;
according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, 234 people were killed in
police encounters in Punjab province alone.
20. There was a steep increase in extremist violence by radical Islamists, especially
after the government’s attack in July on pro-Taliban militants and their supporters at
the Red Mosque, in the heart of Islamabad, which led to a week-long battle. The
Special Investigations Group of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), which
supports investigations in these cases, informed the Commission that 44 suicide
bombings took place in 2007, killing some 614, a dramatic rise from eight such
incidents in 2006. Of these bombings, 35 occurred after the Red Mosque siege.
Credible non-governmental sources put the total number of suicide bombings at
closer to 70, with more than 900 dead. The territorial reach of these actions was
significant, with suicide bombings occurring in the North West Frontier Province,
Punjab and Sindh and most major cities, including the capital, Islamabad, and
Rawalpindi, where Army Headquarters is located. Suicide bombings and other
attacks were often directed against police and military personnel. Other attacks were
carried out in public places, causing many civilian casualties.
21. The government’s long-running campaigns against radical Islamist militants
punctuated by intermittent truce attempts, particularly in the Federally Administered
Tribal Areas (FATA) and the Swat region of the North West Frontier Province
(NWFP), faced serious difficulties in 2007. In July, shortly after the Red Mosque
siege, militants declared an end to a ten month truce in Waziristan and launched a
series of bombing attacks that took 70 lives in just two days. The military suffered
important losses in the region, with at least 250 soldiers taken as hostages in August
by the Taliban, led by Baitullah Mehsud. After negotiations between the government
and Mr Mehsud, the hostages were exchanged in November for about 57 captured
militants. Earlier, in Swat, the NWFP provincial government, closely allied to
General Musharraf, had struck a truce in May 2007 with the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariah
Muhammadi, which eventually joined up with Baitullah Mehsud’s Tehrik-i-Taliban
Pakistan (TTP). The truce was seen by many analysts as giving the militants de facto
control of Swat, but it soon broke down and fighting resumed there in September.
The negotiations for Ms Bhutto’s return
22. Ms Bhutto left Pakistan to live in Dubai in 1998, two years after she was
deposed as prime minister in November 1996. She continued to lead the PPP during
her nine years of self-imposed exile and was deeply involvement in party affairs from
afar. During this period, she fought against the corruption charges levelled against
her in Pakistan, Spain and Switzerland, and struggled to have her husband, Asif Ali
Zardari, released from Pakistani prison, where he faced charges both for corruption
and his alleged involvement in the murder of Murtaza Bhutto. In her final book,
Reconciliation, she wrote of the difficulties of being a persona non grata for years in
international political circles because of the charges. Her determination to return to
full political life in Pakistan led her to engage in a dialogue toward this end with
General Musharraf, despite her sharp criticism of his military government.
23. Serious efforts at rapprochement between Ms Bhutto and General Musharraf
had begun in 2004. Some of General Musharraf’s closest advisors told the
Commission that they encouraged him to open channels with Ms Bhutto believing
that it would be better if General Musharraf had a broader base of political support for
his next presidential term and that there were sufficient common interests between the
two to make such an alliance feasible. A discrete process was set in motion, with at
least five meetings in 2005 and 2006 between Ms Bhutto and General Musharraf’s
team, which included Tarik Aziz, former Secretary of the National Security Council,
General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, then Director General of ISI and, in later meetings,
Lt. General Hamid Javed, General Musharraf’s Chief of Staff. While these meetings
were important for identifying areas of common interest, they did not produce any
concrete agreements. To break the stalemate, a direct meeting between Ms Bhutto
and General Musharraf was arranged, and the two met secretly on 24 January 2007 in
Abu Dhabi. They met again on 27 July in Abu Dhabi. She and a few close advisers,
which included Mr Rehman Malik and Makhdoom Amin Fahim, had ongoing
contacts with General Musharraf’s team.
24. The discussions were facilitated by the governments of the United Kingdom
and the United States, which were deeply involved in the process. Both governments
gave priority to ensuring a continued leadership role for General Musharraf, as they
believed this was vital for the ongoing war against terror, while at the same time they
believed the effort could be strengthened with a credible civilian partner heading the
government. The United Kingdom played an early role (2004-05) in urging Ms
Bhutto and General Musharraf to engage in discussions and in encouraging the
United States to see Ms Bhutto as a potential partner. Later, the United States would
play an increasingly active role in persuading General Musharraf to agree to an
“accommodation” with Ms Bhutto. Both General Musharraf and Ms Bhutto had
numerous contacts about the process with United States State Department officials at
the highest levels throughout 2007.
25. In September 2007, after she announced the date she would return to Pakistan,
Ms Bhutto began to raise her concerns and needs regarding her personal security in
these discussions, especially with her contacts in the United States Government.
Representatives of the United States Government told the Commission that they
provided advice to Ms Bhutto on hiring Pakistani private security firms used by
diplomatic missions and spoke at least once with the Musharraf camp about her
security arrangements. The same officials said, however, that the United States had
not accepted any responsibility for Ms Bhutto’s security in Pakistan. Other sources
close to Ms Bhutto told the Commission that she had expected the United States to
play a strong role in urging General Musharraf to provide her with all of the security
support she needed.
26. General Musharraf informed his close political allies, including the PML-Q
leadership, about the process after his January 2007 meeting with Ms Bhutto.
Throughout the year, most of them continued to express their deep reservations, even
arguing against seeking PPP support for General Musharraf’s re-election as president,
confident that they could win alone, sure that they would carry the day in the
parliamentary elections and concerned that a broadened alliance would diminish their
power. Similarly, few in the PPP senior leadership believed that an alliance with
General Musharraf would benefit the party.
27. As recounted to the Commission by interlocutors from all parties to the
discussions, Ms Bhutto laid out several issues of concern in the meetings. The most
central of these were: (i) her return to Pakistan to participate in politics; (ii) free and
fair elections in 2007; (iii) Musharraf’s resignation from the Army; (iv) amnesty in
the criminal cases against her and her husband, Asif Ali Zardari; and (v) the
elimination of the ban on third terms for former prime ministers, which would impede
her from holding that office again. The same sources indicated that General
Musharraf’s chief goals were to accommodate international interests in having Ms
Bhutto return and to ensure his continuity in power.
28. Media coverage of the process led to a generalized perception that they would
likely govern together after the elections, with General Musharraf continuing as
president and Ms Bhutto serving as prime minister. A number of sources interviewed
by the Commission confirmed that this option had been under discussion, but that the
outcome depended on the results of the general elections. The PML-Q leadership had
also been assured by General Musharraf that if they won the elections, their leader
Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, would become the next prime minister. Other options, such
as Ms Bhutto becoming Senate Chairperson had also been raised. The specific terms
of a power-sharing agreement between Ms Bhutto and General Musharraf were fluid
and never unequivocally finalized.
29. In August and September 2007, there were intense behind the scenes
discussions between Ms Bhutto and General Musharraf and their respective teams.
Both shared an increasing sense of urgency, but had different priorities. For Ms
Bhutto, the most pressing concern was the creation of a legal mechanism to eliminate
old criminal corruption charges against her and her husband; for General Musharraf,
the most immediate issue was ensuring PPP support for his re-election as president.
After a meeting in Dubai, other meetings in Islamabad and many last minute
discussions, compromise agreements on both core issues were reached in the first
week of October, less than two weeks before Ms Bhutto’s announced return.
30. Negotiations on the question of the old cases were turned over to high-level
representatives of the PML-Q and PPP, who met in September at an ISI safe house in
Islamabad at least twice. During these and later meetings, they drafted what would
become the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), which provided a virtual
amnesty for political figures “found to have been falsely involved for political reasons
or through political victimization in cases” brought against them between 1986 and
October 1999. On 5 October 2007, General Musharraf signed the NRO. On 6
October, General Musharraf was re-elected president by the Electoral College,
composed of the members of the sitting Parliament and Provincial Assemblies.
While the PPP members abstained from the vote, they stayed in the session, which
was required for a quorum after other opposition party members refused to participate
and withdrew. This allowed the PML-Q votes in favour of General Musharraf to
carry the day.
31. According to several sources, General Musharraf was unable to convince the
PML-Q to agree to support the lifting of the ban on third terms. Party leaders were
deeply opposed to the measure, as they feared it would ultimately diminish their
power, facilitate Mr Nawaz Sharif’s return and give a boost in the elections to both
Ms Bhutto and Mr Sharif. Thus, there was never any agreement to create the legal
possibility of a third term for Ms Bhutto.
32. This situation increased the importance for Ms Bhutto that the elections be
carried out in a free and fair manner. She wrote extensively in her book,
Reconciliation, about election rigging in previous elections, detailing her assertions
that the ISI and MI had played the key role in these actions. In addition to this history,
there were well-documented problems with the voter lists in 2007, which had to be
redone at mid-year, along with thousands of complaints from PPP and PML-N
activists that PML-Q authorities were preparing the ground for local rigging. Yet for
Ms Bhutto to become prime minister, the PPP would have to win the elections with a
sufficient majority and build the needed alliances to ensure that, in a new National
Assembly, they could pass legislation allowing a third term. This placed additional
pressure on her, not only to be vigilant on potential rigging, but also to carry out a
vigorous public campaign to win votes.
Benazir Bhutto’s return to Pakistan
33. Ms Bhutto’s announcement on 14 September that she would return to Pakistan
on 18 October 2007 to lead the PPP electoral campaign was made in this context. It
was also a major point of contention with General Musharraf. He and others close to
him believed that he had a firm agreement with her that she would return only after
the elections, then scheduled for November. Several persons interviewed who have
first-hand knowledge of the situation told the Commission that General Musharraf
was furious when Ms Bhutto made her announcement and, according to one source,
believed that her action represented “a total breach of the agreement”. Other
informed sources said that Ms Bhutto seemed equally stunned by General
34. The PPP had decided in July 2007 at a meeting of its Central Executive
Committee meeting in London that Ms Bhutto would continue to head the party, that
her participation in the campaign was critical to raising the chances of victory and
that she would announce the date for her return in September.
35. Throughout the negotiations, General Musharraf’s principal argument for
insisting that Ms Bhutto postpone her return until after the elections was security
concerns. He and his team emphasized the threats against her by extremist groups and
the great risks of campaigning. When Ms Bhutto announced her decision to return to
campaign, General Musharraf’s team reiterated those arguments to her, as they
continued to do after her return.
36. While Ms Bhutto expressed to many of her closest associates her fears about
these and other threats, they say that she did not fully trust the warnings on threats
that General Musharraf and his government passed on to her. According to diverse
sources, she had a clear understanding of the serious risks she faced. However, Ms
Bhutto believed that General Musharraf was using the security issue as a ploy to
intimidate her, to keep her out of Pakistan and to prevent her from campaigning. Ms
Bhutto’s underlying distrust of General Musharraf and her fears that the elections
would be rigged led her to carry out a very active campaign, with much public
exposure, despite the risks she faced.
37. On 18 October 2007, Ms Bhutto returned to Pakistan from exile, flying into
Karachi from Dubai. Her husband stayed behind, a deliberate decision made on
security grounds. Enormous crowds met her at the airport in Karachi and along the
Sharea-e-Faisal highway, slowing the progress of her cavalcade to her destination at
the mausoleum of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, where she had
intended to deliver a speech. Shortly after midnight, near the Karsaz neighborhood,
an explosion went off near the armoured truck in which she was riding. A second,
much more powerful explosion followed. Ms Bhutto was not hurt, but many others
were, with the official toll put at 149 deaths and 402 injuries.
38. Ms Bhutto stated shortly after the attack that she was not accusing the
government for the attack. However, on 21 October 2007, she attempted to lodge a
formal complaint in the form of a First Information Report (FIR) to supersede the
Karachi police’s FIR, which she believed to be too narrow in scope. In her FIR,
which was only registered long after her death, after a protracted court process, she
referred to the threat against her posed by persons she named in a 16 October 2007
letter she sent to General Musharraf. While Ms Bhutto’s FIR application does not
name these persons, Pakistani and foreign media soon reported that Ms Bhutto’s letter
referred to Lt.General (ret) Hamid Gul, Director General of MI under the General Zia
ul-Haq dictatorship and Director General of the ISI during her first tenure as prime
minister; Brigadier (ret) Ejaz Shah, Director General of the IB and former ISI official;
and Mr Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, PML-Q Chief Minister of Punjab, one of General
Musharraf’s closest political allies. The Ministry of the Interior later discounted any
involvement by these men in the attack.
39. The Sindh police investigation of the attack never advanced. A former high-
level ISI official told the Commission, however, that the ISI conducted its own
investigation and near the end of October 2007, captured and detained four suspects
from a militant cell; the whereabouts of these four could not be confirmed by the
Commission as of March 2010.
40. The relationship between General Musharraf and Ms Bhutto deteriorated further
with General Musharraf’s decision on 3 November 2007 to declare emergency rule,
suspend the constitution, promulgate a series of measures that amounted to martial
law, and again sack Chief Justice Chaudhry, together with a number of other high
court justices. The Chief Justice and two-thirds of the country’s senior judges were
put under house arrest. General Musharraf explained the decision as necessary to
contain the rise in extremist violence. Virtually all of the sources who spoke with the
Commission about this decision, including some close to General Musharraf, believe
that the decisive factor was, instead, the imminence of the Supreme Court ruling
regarding the legality of General Musharraf’s recent re-election as president and his
eligibility to hold dual posts as president and Chief of Army Staff. General
Musharraf believed that the Court was going to rule against him.
41. Led by the PPP and PML-N, political protests flared throughout the country
against the emergency rule measures and against military rule. Violent confrontations
between police and protestors occurred in a number of cities, with hundreds of
injuries reported in the media. In November alone, the Government acknowledged
the arrest of some 5,000 protesters; a number of PPP and PML-N candidates were
among them. Some in the PML-Q began to call for a postponement of the elections,
adding an additional degree of uncertainty to the situation. On 9 November, Ms
Bhutto was briefly placed under house arrest. The next day in a speech in Islamabad,
she broke with General Musharraf, denouncing his actions, calling for an end to the
military government and announcing that any deal with him was off.
42. A number of sources close to the situation told the Commission that once back
in Pakistan, Ms Bhutto increasingly understood that by contemplating plans for
governing together with General Musharraf, she risked having to share with him the
growing public ire against his government. She feared that her on-going political
relationship with him could potentially weaken her politically, diminish her
legitimacy and lessen possibilities for a solid PPP victory.
43. While Ms Bhutto reportedly later re-established contacts with General
Musharraf through intermediaries, she turned more of her energies toward her
campaign and to strengthening her relationship with Mr Nawaz Sharif and the PMLN.
On 25 November, Mr Sharif was allowed to return to Pakistan from Saudi Arabia,
following a failed attempt in September when he was detained at the airport and
deported for violating the terms of an agreement that sent him into exile for 10 years
after he was deposed as prime minister by General Musharraf in 1999. The PPP and
the PML-N continued to discuss strategies for the elections, and in some districts
decided to run a single candidate. Both Ms Bhutto and Mr Sharif reconfirmed their
commitment to the Charter of Democracy and believed that there could be a strong
PPP and PML-N alliance after the elections.
44. General Musharraf lifted the emergency rule measures on 16 December. Ms
Bhutto was assassinated 11 days later. By the time of her assassination, the
possibility of rehabilitating the relationship between the two had clearly waned. The
Commission received no compelling evidence that either Ms Bhutto or General
Musharraf believed that she or he still needed the support of the other to achieve their
ultimate political goals.
B. Security arrangements for Ms Bhutto
Government security for Ms Bhutto
45. As Ms Bhutto’s determination to return to Pakistan on a date of her choosing
became clear, the Musharraf government began to make security arrangements for
her. These arrangements included relaying intelligence warnings of threats against
her, providing some security measures as well as deputing a police officer to act as
Ms Bhutto’s liaison with local authorities.
46. The Commission reviewed numerous documents provided by the Ministry of
Interior as well as provincial governments that noted intelligence warnings of threats
against Ms Bhutto. The authenticity of these documents was confirmed through
numerous interviews. These threat warnings were regularly communicated by the
Interior Ministry or intelligence agencies such as the ISI and (MI) directly to Ms
Bhutto, and through Mr Rehman Malik and Major (ret) Imtiaz Hussain, a police
officer deputed as her liaison and personal protection officer.
47. The documents reveal significant threats to Ms Bhutto, particularly around
three time periods – from just before her return to Pakistan in October, from early to
mid-November, and from mid-to late December. For instance, on 20 December, the
Military Operations Directorate informed Interior Secretary Syed Kamal Shah that
Usama bin Laden had ordered the assassination of General Pervez Musharraf, Ms
Bhutto and Maulana Fazal ur Rahman, a religious and political leader. Another
warned that an attack on Ms Bhutto and Mr Malik could be launched on 21
48. The Commission was told by present and former senior officials of the ISI that
they had received intelligence regarding threats to Ms Bhutto from representatives of
the Governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In the case of the
United Arab Emirates, their officials confirmed to the Commission that government
to government information sharing occurred. The ISI officials stated that, on at least
two occasions, representatives from both countries flew to Pakistan to provide this
and other information, which generally coincided with their own. Some threat
warnings were also relayed directly to Ms Bhutto or people close to her by foreign
governments. The Commission learned that one such instance occurred in Dubai
when she was urged by a high authority not to return due to the grave security
situation in Pakistan. Ms Bhutto also mentioned in her final book that she was given
specific information that four different groups were planning to send suicide bombers
to attack her. Mr Rehman Malik informed the Commission that he received
information from a “brotherly country” about another significant threat aimed at Ms
Bhutto and himself. Mr. Malik did not specify the details of the threat.
Notwithstanding the warnings received directly by Ms Bhutto or her aides, the main
conduit of information flow regarding such warnings was between the ISI and foreign
49. The Director General of the ISI, Major General Nadeem Taj, met with Ms
Bhutto in the early morning hours of 27 December at Zardari House in Islamabad.
Directly knowledgeable sources told the Commission that they spoke both about the
elections and about threats to Ms Bhutto’s life; versions differ as to how much detail
was conveyed about the threats. The Commission is satisfied, that at the least, Major
General Taj told Ms Bhutto that the ISI was concerned about a possible terrorist
attack against her and urged her to limit her public exposure and to keep a low profile
at the campaign event at Liaquat National Bagh (Liaquat Bagh) later that day.
50. The Interior Ministry, as a matter of routine, passed on many of these threat
warnings, often in writing, to provincial authorities and advised them to take
“foolproof” security measures. The Commission found that none of these documents
contained clear and specific instructions to protect Ms Bhutto, and the federal
Government took no measures to ensure that its advice was followed by provincial
51. In meetings with the Commission, the then Interior Secretary Mr Syed Kamal
Shah minimized the federal Government’s role in her security, noting that these
communications from the federal Government were merely advisory since under
Pakistan’s federal structure, responsibility for policing and law and order are with
provincial authorities. Several senior federal and provincial officials, however,
asserted to the Commission that it was rare for provincial authorities to ignore or
reject a federal request. “These are taken as instructions,” was how Mr Khusro
Pervez, the then Home Secretary of Punjab, put it to the Commission. Similar views
were expressed by then Inspector General (IG) of Punjab Ahmed Nasim. Moreover,
when the federal and provincial governments are headed by the same political party
or alliance, as was the case in 2007, then it is even rarer for provincial authorities to
ignore a federal request.
52. The Commission has reviewed one Interior Ministry letter, dated 22 October
2007, which is clearly a federal directive. Sent to all provincial governments, it
orders them to provide stringent and specific security measures for Messrs. Shaukat
Aziz1 and Chaudhry Shujat Hussain as ex-prime ministers. Both were from the PMLQ
party and were General Musharraf’s close allies. The annex to the Interior
Ministry letter instructed provincial authorities to provide VVIP-level security for the
two ex-prime ministers, listing the specific measures to be implemented. Despite a
search of their archives, at the request of the Commission, Punjab provincial
authorities could not find a similar directive from federal authorities in the case of Ms
Bhutto, also an ex-prime minister. The Commission was told by the then Interior
Secretary Mr Kamal Shah that the 22 October directive was the result of an
instruction from Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz. When asked why no such directive
was issued to safeguard Ms Bhutto, he did not provide a clear answer, noting only
that federal authorities had issued a directive on 18 October to Sindh provincial
authorities to protect Ms Bhutto when she arrived from exile. The Commission finds
it inexcusable that federal authorities did not issue a similarly clear directive as the 22
October directive for ex-Prime Ministers Aziz and Hussain to protect Ms Bhutto.
This is all the more troubling as she had been attacked in Karachi just three days prior
to the 22 October directive, and intelligence agencies had specific, on-going and
credible threats to her.
53. Mindful of the complex security situation in Pakistan and of the threats against
her, Ms Bhutto and her aides made frequent and specific requests to federal and
provincial governments to augment her security. They asked for bullet-proof vehicles
and vests, frequency jammers, permission to allow tinted windows for her vehicles,
and additional trained security personnel as well as the Pakistani Rangers to protect
1 Mr Aziz was prime minister when the letter was written, but was expected to step down in favour of a
care-taker government. He did so on 15 November.
her entourage and her residences. The government partially acceded to these
54. Among Ms Bhutto’s first requests was permission to be accompanied by a
foreign security detail when she returned to Pakistan from exile. General Musharraf
rejected the request on national sovereignty grounds.
55. Federal and provincial authorities responded positively to some of Ms Bhutto’s
requests. For example, they posted policemen outside Zardari House in Islamabad
and Bilawal House in Karachi and provided some police escorts when she travelled,
but these escorts were generally minimal. The requests for jammers were met in
some cases, but the PPP often complained that they did not work properly.
Particularly in Sindh and the North West Frontier Provinces, the provincial
governments provided some security support for Ms Bhutto in response to several
specific requests by provincial and national PPP leaders, as well as by Ms Bhutto’s
security officer Major Imtiaz.
56. In November, citing security threats, the Government took two specific and
controversial measures. Acting on the request of the Punjab Home Department, the
federal Government restricted Ms Bhutto from leaving Zardari House in Islamabad
on 9 November and thwarted a planned protest at Liaquat Bagh against General
Musharraf’s emergency declaration. The Punjab Home Secretary also issued a
detention order against her on 9 November, citing the security threats against her as
well as the vulnerability of the Liaquat Bagh venue to terror attacks. Although she
was allowed to venture outside Zardari House on 10 November, she was again put
under house arrest on orders of the Punjab Home Secretary in Lahore on 13
November, preventing her from leading a Long March for Democracy from Lahore to
Islamabad to protest emergency rule.
57. Ms Bhutto, the PPP and many observers believed that these drastic measures
were politically motivated. The Punjab Chief Minister at that time, Mr Chaudhry
Pervaiz Elahi of the PML-Q, justified the house arrests as a preventive measure for
her protection, considering the specific threats against her. While security may
indeed have been a consideration, given the circumstances and timing of the house
arrests, politics also played a key role. Indeed, one senior Interior Ministry official
had no doubts that the motive for the house arrests was “political.” Even the Punjab
Home Secretary who issued both the detention orders told the Commission that they
were for her protection and “administrative” reasons.
58. On 26 December, the Peshawar police made stringent security arrangements for
Ms Bhutto’s public meeting in that city. The Peshawar police chief Tanveer ul Haq
noted that the local PPP cooperated with him in planning the event, although it took
him three days to convince them to shift the original venue of the public meeting
from a vulnerable location to the more secure local stadium. Reports that the police
had arrested a potential suicide bomber at the venue were unfounded. The police did
arrest a boy who was found to be carrying minute amounts of explosives without a
detonator in his trouser pocket, the remnants from a wedding celebration he had
attended earlier that day. Mr Haq said that the boy was released after the police were
satisfied with his testimony.
Official security liaison
59. Just before Ms Bhutto returned to Pakistan, the government offered her two
candidates to serve as her personal protection officer and more importantly as liaison
with the Pakistani authorities. She chose Major (ret) Imtiaz Hussain, a Senior
Superintendent of Police (SSP) whom she trusted as he had served with her during
her tenure as Prime Minister in 1993-96. The ISI also offered three other candidates,
according to ISI Deputy Director General, Major General Nusrat Naeem, but Ms
Bhutto turned them down.
60. Major Imtiaz was the only permanent government-provided security officer for
Ms Bhutto. His main role was to be with Ms Bhutto at all times and to liaise with the
local administration and police. He also made requests to federal and provincial
authorities for specific security support such as jammers, bullet-proof vehicles and
vests and trained police personnel to escort Ms Bhutto’s entourage. Major Imtiaz did
not receive adequate support from the government to carry out his duties effectively.
No support staff was assigned to him by the government; nor did it accede to many of
his specific requests. Despite the Commission’s efforts, it could not establish whom
Major Imtiaz reported to other than Ms Bhutto while carrying out his duties, but he
did coordinate with the other PPP security people surrounding Ms Bhutto.
61. Major Imtiaz also advised Ms Bhutto on her own security responsibilities. He
noted that he had advised her many times not to expose herself by standing through
the escape hatch of her armoured car to wave to the crowds, but she would usually
ignore his advice and sometimes express anger at being told what to do. On the day
of her assassination, Major Imtiaz did not advise Ms Bhutto not to stand up through
the escape hatch.
62. The Commission finds that the federal Government did not have a
comprehensive security plan to protect Ms Bhutto. It also failed to fix responsibility
for her security in a specific federal official, entity or organization. Instead, the
federal government expected provincial authorities to provide fool-proof security for
Ms Bhutto, but did not issue the necessary, specific and detailed instructions
commensurate to the threats and never followed up to ensure effective measures were
undertaken. She was treated in a discriminatory manner in comparison to other ex-
prime ministers. Despite the many threat warnings relayed to them, the provincial
authorities, particularly in Punjab, failed to strengthen Ms Bhutto’s security in
PPP security for Ms Bhutto
63. The PPP is a political party, not a security agency. The responsibility for Ms
Bhutto’s security rested with the government. Nevertheless, Ms Bhutto believed that
the government of General Musharraf could not be trusted to provide adequate
security for her. The PPP therefore made its own security arrangements for Ms
Bhutto to augment whatever level of protection the government afforded to her.
64. Mr Asif Ali Zardari, Ms Bhutto’s husband, was deeply involved in planning Ms
Bhutto’s security for her return to Pakistan. Ms Bhutto and Mr Zardari relied to a
significant extent on persons close to them to plan and organize the PPP’s security for
her. They included former senior FIA official Mr Rehman Malik and Sindh PPP
leaders Mr Zulfikar Ali Mirza and Mr Agha Sirraj Durrani.
65. Mr Malik described his role to the Commission as Ms Bhutto’s “national
security advisor”, not her physical security advisor. He also liaised with the federal
authorities on behalf of Ms Bhutto and participated as her representative in
negotiations with General Musharraf and his aides. However, most PPP leaders
understood Mr Malik’s role as encompassing all aspects of Ms Bhutto’s security.
Many also said that he coordinated with Ms Bhutto’s protection detail, including with
Major Imtiaz and Mr Tauqir Kaira. The Commission finds that, in addition to what
Mr Malik himself described, he performed a significant role in the overall
management of Ms Bhutto’s security. His letters to the authorities regarding threat
warnings and requesting specific security support reflect this involvement.
66. The PPP made specific security arrangements for Ms Bhutto in each of the
provinces, but focused particular attention on Sindh and Punjab Provinces. The initial
focus was on Sindh. The security arrangements for Ms Bhutto’s return to Karachi
were organized by Mr Mirza, a former army doctor who headed the PPP’s reception
committee in Karachi to welcome Ms Bhutto from exile. He was supported by Mr
Durrani. They were soon joined by a Major General(ret) Ahsan Ahmed, who was
appointed to head the PPP’s security committee for Ms Bhutto’s arrival. Messrs.
Mirza and Durrani however, continued to function as the primary people responsible
for Ms Bhutto’s security in Karachi. Mr Mirza oversaw the construction of a bulletproof
truck for Ms Bhutto and her entourage to use in the planned procession from
the Karachi airport to the mausoleum of Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
67. Messrs. Mirza and Durrani drew volunteers from the PPP’s student and youth
wings and organized them into the “Jaan Nisaar Benazir” (JNB) 2. The JNB’s main
task was to form a human chain around Ms Bhutto to stop suicide bombers from
reaching her, but they also performed additional security duties. According to the
organizers, the JNB numbered around 5,000 of whom about 2,000 were uniformed
and formed the human chain around Ms Bhutto’s truck on 18-19 October. Mr Mirza
said that he and some of the JNB volunteers were armed. The remaining 3,000 were
2 The Urdu term Jaan Nisar Benazir means those willing to give their lives for Benazir.
and posted at key points along the procession route to deter potential trouble.
Combined with the Sindh police security cover, the PPP security arrangements
formed a formidable barrier. Despite this, two blasts hit the procession. Most of those
killed were the JNB volunteers. In her posthumously published book, Reconciliation,
Ms Bhutto credited the JNB with saving her life in the Karachi attack.
68. Messrs. Mirza and Durrani described the Karachi police cooperation as initially
lukewarm but it improved as Ms Bhutto’s arrival date neared. They also described
Sindh government security deployment on 18-19 October as inadequate, but they
credited the deployed policemen with doing a commendable job. The PPP’s Sindh
security committee and the Karachi police worked closely on all aspects of security
for Ms Bhutto’s return from exile, including an evacuation plan in the event of just
such an attack. Messrs. Mirza and Durrani said the evacuation worked as planned.
69. After the Karachi attack, the PPP reviewed the security arrangements for Ms
Bhutto. In light of the threat against her, Messrs. Mirza and Durrani decided that a
core group of 250-300 JNB volunteers would always travel with Ms Bhutto
throughout Sindh. A smaller number of them were also sent on two occasions to
Punjab Province as added protection for Ms Bhutto, although they did not accompany
her to Liaquat Bagh, the public park in Rawalpindi where Ms Bhutto’s held her last
public meeting on 27 December.
70. The PPP’s security for Ms Bhutto in Punjab was not as elaborate as in Sindh,
partly due to a lack of leadership and the absence of a JNB-like corps. Even so, Ms
Bhutto was surrounded by two groups of PPP security throughout her travels in
Punjab. These groups also accompanied her to Peshawar and Jammu and Kashmir.
71. One group of PPP security comprised 14 unarmed men under the leadership of
Mr Chaudhry Muhammad Aslam, who coordinated his activities with Major Imtiaz
and Mr Tauqir Kaira, leader of the second group. These men travelled with Ms
Bhutto’s entourage in Islamabad, Punjab, Peshawar and Jammu and Kashmir. Their
main task was to form a security cordon around Ms Bhutto. All were PPP party
activists, and many told the Commission that they had been with Ms Bhutto since
72. The other group of PPP security around Ms Bhutto was led by Mr Kaira, whose
men were armed. This group provided the first line of defense around Ms Bhutto.
Mr Kaira also had the role of coordinating Ms Bhutto’s convoy, checking the vehicles
and ensuring their place in the convoy. He coordinated his daily tasks with Major
Imtiaz and Mr Chaudhry Aslam. The Commission could not establish whom he
reported to on a daily basis, especially as the campaigning picked up in December.
Mr Kaira died on 27 December while trying to protect Ms Bhutto.
73. Mr Khaled Shahenshah, a PPP supporter since his student days, accompanied
Ms Bhutto on her travels in Pakistan and served as her personal bodyguard. He was
with Ms Bhutto on the stage in Liaquat Bagh on 27 December and in her car when the
fatal attack occurred. Mr Shahenshah was killed in Karachi a few months after Ms
Bhutto’s death. Media reports at the time attributed the killing to his alleged links in
the Karachi underworld. Some people have pointed out to the Commission Mr
Shahenshah’s strange hand gestures while on the stage in Liaquat Bagh and alleged
that he was involved in a conspiracy to assassinate Ms Bhutto. But others, including
several PPP leaders, dismissed such notions. The Commission did not uncover any
new facts that support the conspiracy theory surrounding Mr Shahenshah’s behaviour.
74. Ms Bhutto’s convoy included two main vehicles – an armoured white Toyota
Land Cruiser and a bullet-proof black Mercedes-Benz car – and other vehicles for
security staff and senior PPP leaders. She would choose one of the main vehicles for
a trip, and the other would accompany as the decoy and back-up vehicle.
75. Ms Bhutto was acutely aware of the threats to her and had gone to considerable
lengths to protect herself. Although the PPP had no standard operating procedures
regarding security, she devised ad hoc security drills and, according to her closest
aides, frequently wore a bullet-proof vest. However, she was also determined to
campaign vigorously and openly, often interacting with crowds, thus exposing herself
to potential attackers.
76. Despite considerable and valiant efforts by individual PPP members to protect
Ms Bhutto, the PPP as an orga nization was inadequate to handle the challenges.
There was no person in overall charge of the PPP’s provision of security. As a result,
the PPP’s security for Ms Bhutto was characterized by a lack of direction and
professionalism. However, the Commission reiterates that the responsibility for
failing to protect Ms Bhutto lies with the Government of Pakistan.
Liaquat Bagh security arrangements on 27 December
77. A public meeting at Liaquat Bagh, an open park located in Rawalpindi, was set
for 27 December as part of Ms Bhutto’s hectic campaign schedule. Rawalpindi, a city
of some three million people, is located in the province of Punjab about 30 kilometers
from Islamabad. The Pakistani Army is headquartered there. Liaquat Bagh is
bordered by Liaquat Road to the north, Murree Road to the east, and Press Club Road
to the south. Adjacent to Liaquat Bagh, on the Liaquat Road side, an outer gate leads
to a general parking area; a second, inner gate, leads to a VIP parking area.
78. The Rawalpindi district administration and police held one formal meeting with
the local PPP committee to prepare for the public meeting. According to the minutes
of the meeting made available to the Commission, it was held on 25 December and
was chaired by the District Coordinating Officer (DCO), Mr Muhammad Irfan Elahi,
the highest-ranking civilian bureaucrat in the district. The PPP side was led by Mr
Zamurrud Khan, the local PPP committee chair. A number of senior police officers
were also present. The participants discussed the Code of Conduct for the Liaquat
Bagh public meeting as well as issues relating to the management of the public
79. The local PPP committee members said that they understood the local
administration to be responsible for all security measures for the Liaquat Bagh public
meeting. Nevertheless, the PPP undertook to secure the stage where Ms Bhutto
delivered her last speech and stationed its workers at key entry points to the park to
identify people and assist the police in maintaining security.
80. The Rawalpindi District Police prepared a written plan dated 26 December 2007
for security arrangements to cover two political meetings scheduled to take place the
next day (“Security Plan”), one of which was at Liaquat Bagh for the PPP, which Ms
Bhutto was to attend, and the other, at Gujar Khan, organized by PML-N, which Mr
Nawaz Sharif was to attend. The Security Plan for Ms Bhutto was more complex in
that it envisaged security for Ms Bhutto’s convoy by an Elite Force unit under the
supervision of Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Ashfaq Anwar, which was to
establish a box formation around Ms Bhutto’s vehicle during movement. The police
said that the Elite Force unit formed a box around Ms Bhutto’s vehicle at the
Faizabad junction, which is the jurisdictional limit between Islamabad and
Rawalpindi. The Commission, however, believes that this did not occur.
81. The Security Plan listed a number of police officers responsible for various
sectors in and around Liaquat Bagh. SSP Yaseen Farooq was responsible for overall
supervision and was assisted by SP Khurram Shahzad. A command post was to be
established at a building on the edge of Liaquat Bagh, called Rescue 15, used by local
emergency services. City Police Officer (CPO) Saud Aziz – the police chief of
Rawalpindi, DCO Irfan Elahi and members of intelligence agencies were present at
the command post during the meeting.
82. The Security Plan provided for two security cordons at the PPP event: an inner
cordon securing Liaquat Bagh and an outer cordon covering the area surrounding
Liaquat Bagh, including Liaquat and Murree Roads. According to the plan 1,371
police officers were to be deployed at Liaquat Bagh. Three walk-through gates with
metal detectors were placed at the public entrances to the park. The plan also
provided for the deployment of police constables on the rooftops of the buildings
surrounding Liaquat Bagh. According to the plan, these constables were supposed to
carry automatic rifles and binoculars. However, none of the seven constables
interviewed by the Commission had binoculars; they were not even aware that they
were supposed to have carried them. The police were also expected to conduct
random searches of people attending the meeting. According to the police, the park
was closed to the public by the Special Branch, who swept it for explosives and
handed it over to the police at 0700 hours on 27 December.
83. The Commission finds that the Security Plan was flawed as it placed inadequate
focus on Ms Bhutto’s protection and concentrated more on the deployment of police
for crowd control. Furthermore, it was not implemented properly. Video footage and
photographs examined by the Commission raised questions as to the number of police
officers deployed at Liaquat Bagh. PPP officials who accompanied Ms Bhutto do not
recall an Elite Force unit box around Ms Bhutto’s vehicle on the way to the event,
only a traffic escort. These and other matters related to the Security Plan’s
implementation are discussed below.
C. Assassination Timeline
84. In order to ascertain the timeline of the assassination, the Commission reviewed
extensive video footage and hundreds of photographs, obtained from the Government
of Pakistan, open sources and professional photographers. It also met in London with
members of the Metropolitan Police (Scotland Yard) team that investigated aspects of
the assassination. The Commission closely reviewed the analysis behind Scotland
Yard’s full report3 and interviewed Scotland Yard officers on their methodology and
85. On the evening of 26 December 2007, Ms Bhutto arrived in Islamabad by road
from Peshawar in the North West Frontier Province and went to her family’s
residence, Zardari House. She had a campaign event in neighbouring Rawalpindi
scheduled for the next day. On the morning of 27 December, Ms Bhutto left Zardari
House for a meeting at the Serena Hotel in Islamabad with Mr Hamid Karzai, the
President of Afghanistan. She returned to Zardari House in the early afternoon and
remained there until her departure for the event.
The Day of the Assassination: 27 December 2007
Departure from Zardari House for Liaquat Bagh
86. Around 1400 hours, Ms Bhutto left Zardari House, for Liaquat Bagh, in a
convoy of vehicles. The convoy consisted of a black Toyota Land Cruiser used by
Mr Tauqir Kaira, followed by Ms Bhutto’s white armoured Land Cruiser and two of
Mr Kaira’s vehicles on either side of Ms Bhutto’s vehicle. The latter two were a
Mercedes-Benz van on the right and a four-door double cabin vehicle on the left.
Immediately behind those vehicles were two Toyota Vigo pick-up trucks, positioned
side by side. A black Mercedes-Benz car was behind these Vigos. This Mercedes-
Benz, from Zardari House, was bullet-proof and served as the back-up vehicle for Ms
Bhutto. The two Vigo pick-up trucks were also from Zardari House.
87. Mr Kaira was inside the lead vehicle with his security men. Accompanying Ms
Bhutto in her vehicle were Mr Javed-ur-Rehman (driver, front-left seat), SSP Major
(ret) Imtiaz Hussain (front-right seat), Makhdoom Amin Fahim (senior PPP member,
second row-left seat), Ms Bhutto (second row-centre seat), Ms Naheed Khan (senior
PPP member and political secretary of Ms Bhutto, second row-right seat). Seated in
the back of the vehicle on two benches facing each other were Senator Safdar Abbasi
(senior PPP member, rear-right bench), Mr Shahenshah (rear-left bench, facing
3 A team of analysts and investigators from Scotland Yard traveled to Pakistan on 4 January 2007 to “assist
the local authorities in providing clarity regarding the precise cause of Ms Bhutto’s death”. For more
details on the Scotland Yard report, see paragraphs 188-196.
Senator Abbasi) and Mr Razaq Mirani (personal attendant of Ms Bhutto, rear-right
bench next to Senator Abbasi and to his left). Mr Kaira’s two vehicles on either side
of Ms Bhutto’s Land Cruiser carried his men. The Vigo pick-up trucks carried
members of Mr Chaudry Aslam’s security team. Riding in the black Mercedes-Benz
car were the driver, PPP official Mr Faratullah Babar in the front passenger seat and,
in the rear passenger seat from left to right, two PPP officials Mr Babar Awan and Mr
Rehman Malik and General (ret) Tauqir Zia.
Arrival at Liaquat Bagh
88. Ms Bhutto’s convoy reached the Faizabad junction at about 1415 hours,
according to the Rawalpindi District Police, who were to assume responsibility for
security of the convoy. According to the police and the Security Plan, an escort was
to be provided composed of a traffic police “pilot” jeep, a regular police jeep leading
the convoy and three Elite Force Toyota pick-up trucks protecting Ms Bhutto’s Land
Cruiser on three sides. People in Ms Bhutto’s vehicle claim, however, that there was
no such escort except for one traffic police vehicle.
89. At about 1456 hours, Ms Bhutto’s convoy turned right at the Murree Road –
Liaquat Road junction and headed towards Liaquat Bagh. Video footage shows Ms
Bhutto’s convoy driving from the Murree Road - Liaquat Bagh junction to the inner
security gate leading to the VIP parking area at Liaquat Bagh. The footage shows Ms
Bhutto standing through the roof escape hatch of her Land Cruiser and waving at the
large crowd around the vehicle while it moved slowly on Liaquat Road.
90. Both ASP Ashfaq Anwar who was the supervisor of the Elite Force unit and
Inspector Azmat Ali Dogar, the unit’s commander, told the Commission that they
accompanied Ms Bhutto all the way to the back of the stage according to the Security
Plan. However, video footage and pictures show that as Ms Bhutto drove on much of
Liaquat Road, her vehicle was flanked only by her private security vehicles. The
Elite Force vehicles were nowhere near her vehicle. In fact, the Commission has
identified Inspector Dogar among the crowd some distance from Ms Bhutto’s vehicle.
Contrary to the police assertion, there was no police-provided box formation around
Ms Bhutto as she arrived at the rally, and the Elite Force unit did not execute their
duties as specified in the security deployment. Furthermore, the Commission does
not believe that the full escort as described by the police was ever present.
91. At about 1516 hours, Ms Bhutto’s convoy stopped for a few minutes at the
inner gate of the parking area waiting for that gate to be opened, during which Ms
Bhutto remained standing through the escape hatch. The police and some PPP
members disagree as to the reason for the delay in opening the gate. While the PPP
asserts that the police did not have the key to open the gate, the police said that they
did not want the large crowd following Ms Bhutto to get into the VIP parking area.
Altogether, Ms Bhutto stood through the escape hatch for the approximately 20
minutes it took to drive from the Murree Road – Liaquat Road junction to the gate of
the parking area. This calls into question the claim of the Rawalpindi District Police
that they were surprised when Ms Bhutto emerged from the escape hatch on her way
out of Liaquat Bagh.
92. Once the convoy passed through the inner gate, at about 1531 hours, it drove
through the VIP parking area to the rear of the stage. At least the following three
vehicles were in the VIP parking area: Ms Bhutto’s Land Cruiser, Mr Kaira’s lead
vehicle and the black bullet-proof Mercedes-Benz car. Temporary wooden stairs had
been built for the rally to access the rear of the stage directly from the parking area.
Ms Bhutto climbed the stairs, went to the stage to wave to the crowd and took her seat
before addressing the crowd.
93. Near the rear of the stage, a scuffle broke out between some workers of the PPP
and police who tried to prevent them from climbing to the stage. This created tension
between PPP workers and the police officers posted in that area. Accounts given by
PPP representatives and the police with regard to the degree and nature of this event
differ significantly. The police state that the dispute was minor and was settled
immediately, whereas some on the local PPP side claim it was serious and led to
bitter reactions from the police during the rest of the rally. They say that the police
felt insulted and became more passive in their security role. The Commission finds
that the police were indeed passive in their provision of security and believes it
unprofessional if the Rawalpindi District Police reduced their level of alert to any
degree as a result of wounded pride.
Exit from Liaquat Bagh
94. Several thousand people attended the event. Ms Bhutto was joined on the stage
by a number of national-level PPP leaders and all of the parliamentary candidates
from Rawalpindi district. The crowds were enthusiastic, and PPP leaders and
activists considered the event to have been a great success. They say Ms Bhutto gave
a strong and rousing speech, one of the best of her campaign, and describe her as
having been radiant that day.
95. The public gathering concluded and, at about 1710 hours, Ms Bhutto descended
the wooden stairs and entered her Land Cruiser. The occupants of the Land Cruiser
and their seating positions were the same as for the trip in to Liaquat Bagh. The
composition of passengers in the black Mercedes-Benz car also remained the same.
96. The black bullet-proof Mercedes-Benz car was the first to leave the parking
area. It is not clear how much distance there was between this vehicle and the rest of
Ms Bhutto’s convoy at the moment of the blast. Credible reports range from 100
meters to 250 meters. Some of those in the car said that they were close enough to
Ms Bhutto’s vehicle to feel the impact of the blast. Others at the site of the blast have
said that the Mercedes-Benz left Liaquat Bagh so quickly that it was nowhere to be
seen when the blast occurred. Indeed, the Commission has not seen this vehicle in
the many video images of the exit area it reviewed. Despite the acknowledgement of
some occupants of the vehicle that they felt the impact of the blast, the Commission
finds it incredible that they drove all the way to Zardari House, a drive of about 20
minutes, before they became aware that Ms Bhutto had been injured in the blast.
They should have stopped at a safe distance when they felt the blast so as to check on
Ms Bhutto’s condition, the condition of her vehicle and whether the back-up vehicle
was required. Indeed, as the back-up vehicle, the Mercedes-Benz car would have
been an essential element of Ms Bhutto’s convoy on the return trip even if the
occupants of that car had confirmed that Ms Bhutto had been unscathed in the attack.
97. Mr Kaira’s vehicle was the next to leave the inner parking area after the
Mercedes-Benz car, with Ms Bhutto’s vehicle right behind it, followed by another of
Mr Kaira’s vehicles. The two Vigo pick-up trucks then followed from the outer
parking area located between the inner and outer gates.
98. At 1712 hours, Ms Bhutto’s Land Cruiser exited from the outer gate. Crowds
of people who were already on Liaquat Road drew closer to the vehicle as it began to
turn right onto Liaquat Road. In addition, many people left the park, swelling the
crowd around the Land Cruiser, contrary to the police assertion that they did not
allow anyone to leave the park before the departure of Ms Bhutto’s convoy. Ms
Bhutto emerged through the escape hatch of the vehicle and started waving to her
supporters. When the vehicle approached the central road divider, it was slowed
further by the crowd.
99. Major Imtiaz, who was sitting in the front seat of the Land Cruiser, said that he
was worried that the convoy was being slowed down by the crowd. He wanted to call
CPO Saud Aziz by cell phone, but he did not have the CPO’s direct number. Instead
he called CPO Saud Aziz’s operator and the operator at the police station in Multan,
another town in Punjab Province (where Major Imtiaz had recently served). The
Commission finds that this lack of preparation was a major flaw in the security
arrangements and reflects badly on the professionalism of Major Imtiaz who should
have had full and rapid access to the Rawalpindi police command.
100. Questions remain as to the nature of the crowd that gathered around the Land
Cruiser. Passengers in the Land Cruiser and some local PPP members recalled that
they were mostly PPP workers, and they did not see any strangers or irregular
movements among them. The Rawalpindi District Police and other PPP members,
however, suggested that a group of people had deliberately stood in front of the Land
Cruiser to prevent it from moving. Regardless of the accuracy of either account, it
remains that the police did not control the crowd outside of Liaquat Bagh. As a
result, the attacker was able to get as close as he did to Ms Bhutto’s vehicle.
101. The Rawalpindi police authorities and some PPP workers dispute the exact exit
route agreed for Ms Bhutto’s convoy. The Rawalpindi District Police and DCO Elahi
claim that the planned route for the convoy was to turn right onto Liaquat Road and
then left onto Murree Road, retracing the convoy’s entry route. Only in case of an
emergency was the convoy to make a left turn after exiting from the outer gate; a
decision to take the emergency route had to be made by the senior police officer in
charge of security on the scene. Some local PPP workers who attended the
preparatory meeting with the police disagree with this account. They claim that the
original plan was to make a left turn onto Liaquat Road and that the minutes provided
by the DCO, which did not indicate this left turn, were inaccurate. In any event,
photographs show two stationary police vehicles on Liaquat Road blocking the left-
side drive lane where the left turn would have been made. As a result, even in an
emergency, it would have been impossible for Ms Bhutto’s convoy to make a left turn
and use the escape route unless those police vehicles were quickly moved. The
Commission learned that these vehicles were official vehicles of senior Rawalpindi
police officers. The Commission finds it irresponsible that these vehicles were
parked in such a way as to block the emergency exit route.
102. The Rawalpindi District Police claim that police vehicles from the Elite Force
unit headed by ASP Ashfaq Anwar were waiting outside the outer gate to escort Ms
Bhutto’s convoy and that they were about to go into a protective box formation when
the attack on Ms Bhutto took place. However, forming the box at this point was
impracticable given the narrow width of Liaquat Road and the number of people who
had already started to surround Ms Bhutto’s vehicle. In any event, video footage
shows very few uniformed police on the scene available to push back the crowd to
create space for the box formation. Furthermore, video and photographs taken shortly
before the blast as well as Commission interviews indicate that the Elite Force unit
was not in position to go into a box formation. The Elite Force unit was in place
neither for the entry nor the exit of the convoy and did not afford the protection they
were tasked with, thus failing spectacularly in their duty.
103. Overall, video and photographic materials as well as the Commission’s
interviews establish that there were very few police deployed outside the outer gate
and on Liaquat Road as Ms Bhutto’s convoy attempted to depart the scene.
104. From the exit, Ms Bhutto’s Land Cruiser started to make a right turn onto
Liaquat Road. As it slowly approached the central divider on Liaquat Road, the
crowd began chanting slogans. There is some dispute over whether Ms Bhutto made
the decision to stand up on her own or was urged to do so. Before she stood up, Ms
Bhutto asked Ms Naheed Khan to make a phone call to Mr Nawaz Sharif, PML-N
leader, to convey condolences for the deaths of some of his supporters who had been
shot during the PML-N rally earlier that day. It had been reported that the shooting
incident occurred between supporters of the PML-N and those of the PML-Q parties.
105. While Ms Khan was trying to reach Mr Sharif, Ms Bhutto stopped her and
asked Senator Abbasi, who was sitting in the rear seat, to chant slogans to the crowd
using the vehicle’s loudspeaker. Ms Bhutto then stood on the seat and appeared
through the escape hatch, with her head and shoulders exposed.
106. Ms Bhutto waved to the crowd. The vehicle continued to move slowly into its
right turn onto Liaquat Road. At this point, a man wearing dark glasses appeared in
the crowd on the left side of the Land Cruiser. Around 1714 hours, while the vehicle
continued into its right turn, the man pulled out a pistol, and from a distance of
approximately two to three meters, fired three shots at Ms Bhutto. According to
video analysis conducted by Scotland Yard, the three shots were fired in less than one
107. The Commission examined video footage taken from a back angle, which
shows Ms Bhutto’s dupatta, her white head covering, and her hair flick upwards after
the second shot. However, there is no evidence of a link between the second shot and
that movement. After the third shot, she started to move down into the vehicle.
108. After the third shot, the gunman lowered the gun, looked down and then
detonated the explosives. At the time of the blast, the gunman was near the left rear
corner of the vehicle. Video footage shows that at the time of the explosion, the Land
Cruiser was still making the right turn. The Scotland Yard team’s analysis shows that
it took 1.6 seconds from the time of the first shot to the detonation of the bomb.
In the Land Cruiser
109. Ms Naheed Khan recalled that immediately after she had heard the three
gunshots, Ms Bhutto fell down into the vehicle onto her lap. Ms Khan said that she
felt the impact of the explosion immediately thereafter. The right side of Ms Bhutto’s
head came to rest on Ms Khan’s lap. Ms Khan saw that Ms Bhutto was bleeding
profusely from the right side of her head. She noticed that Ms Bhutto was not
moving and saw that blood was also trickling from her ear. Makhdoom Amin Fahim
recalled that Ms Bhutto fell heavily and showed no sign of life after falling.
According to Scotland Yard’s video analysis, the flash of the blast appeared just over
two-thirds of a second after Ms Bhutto disappeared from view.
110. No one else in her vehicle was serious ly injured.
Transfer to the Hospital
111. After the explosion, Senator Abbasi told the driver to drive to the hospital
(initially having in mind a hospital in Islamabad). Although all four of its tires were
punctured by the blast, the Land Cruiser managed to drive along Liaquat Road for
approximately 300 meters towards the junction with Murree Road where it turned
left. As the Land Cruiser moved along Murree Road, it became increasingly difficult
for the driver to manoeuvre on the metal rims of the wheels. The Land Cruiser made
a U-turn at the Rehmanabad junction, located approximately four kilometres from the
Liaquat Road-Murree Road junction, in order to get to the other side of the road
where Rawalpindi General Hospital (RGH) was located. The occupants of the Land
Cruiser recalled that at this point there was only one traffic police vehicle ahead of
the Land Cruiser. No other vehicles were visible – neither the bullet proof black
Mercedes-Benz car nor any Elite Force unit vehicle. Following the U-turn, the Land
Cruiser stalled. The party had to wait for some time on Murree Road until a private
vehicle that belonged to Ms Sherry Rehman arrived and took Ms Bhutto to the
At Rawalpindi General Hospital
112. Ms Bhutto was received by the Accident and Emergency Department of the
Rawalpindi General Hospital (later renamed Benazir Bhutto Hospital) at around 1735
hours. In the resuscitation room, she was treated by Dr Saeeda Yasmin. At this time,
staff was busy in the resuscitation room treating victims of the shooting at the Nawaz
Sharif rally earlier that day.
113. Dr Saeeda told the Commission that Ms Bhutto was pale, unconscious and not
breathing. There was a wound to the right side of her head from which blood was
trickling and whitish matter was visible. Ms Bhutto’s clothes were soaked in blood.
Dr Saeeda immediately began efforts to resuscitate her. Dr Aurangzeb Khan, the
senior registrar, subsequently joined Dr Saeeda to assist. Both doctors said that they
did not observe any other injury. As there was no improvement in Ms Bhutto’s
condition, she was moved to the Emergency Operating Theatre located on the level
above the ground floor to continue resuscitation efforts.
114. At around 1750 hours, Professor Mohammed Mussadiq Khan, the hospital’s
senior physician, arrived and took over. The doctors still had not detected a pulse. At
1757 hours, Professor Mussadiq opened Ms Bhutto’s chest and carried out open heart
massage. These efforts were unsuccessful.
115. At 1816 hours, Professor Mussadiq stopped resuscitation efforts and declared
Ms Bhutto dead. He ordered all the men to leave the room so that the female doctors
and nurses could clean the body. Only medical personnel had been in the operating
room throughout this process.
116. Dr Qudsiya Anjum Qureshi cleaned Ms Bhutto’s head, neck and upper body
and checked Ms Bhutto’s body for further injury. She saw no wounds other than the
one to the right side of her head and the thoracotomy wound. Ms Bhutto was next
dressed in hospital clothing and her clothes given to her maid. The doctors stated that
they had not seen her dupatta. The dupatta remains missing .
117. On three different occasions, Professor Mussadiq asked CPO Saud Aziz for
permission to conduct an autopsy on Ms Bhutto, and the CPO refused each request.
On the second request, CPO Saud Aziz is reported to have sarcastically asked the
Professor whether an FIR had been filed,4 a matter that the CPO should know, not the
Professor. DCO Elahi, who was also present outside the operating room, supported
CPO Saud Aziz’s position. The authorities however deny that the CPO deliberately
4 In Pakistani police procedure, an FIR (First Information Report) is a record of the criminal complaint
which is registered at a police station and initiates an investigation.
refused to allow an autopsy. They insist that they wanted to get permission from Ms
Bhutto’s family. As will be discussed below, the police’s legal duty to request an
autopsy does not require permission from a family member.
118. Because he could not obtain police consent to carry out an autopsy, Professor
Mussadiq called in X-ray technician Ghafoor Jadd, who took two X-rays of Ms
Bhutto’s skull with a portable X-ray machine. He did this without notifying or
seeking the consent of CPO Saud Aziz. Though not present at the time, a radiologist
examined the X-rays the next day.
119. Ms Bhutto’s death certificate was completed and signed by the senior registrar,
Dr Aurangzeb, who recorded the cause of death as “To be determined on autopsy”.
120. An ISI officer, Rawalpindi Detachment Commander Colonel Jehangir Akhtar,
was present at the hospital through much of the evening. At one point, the ISI Deputy
Director General, Major General Nusrat Naeem, contacted Professor Mussadiq
through Colonel Jehangir’s cell phone. When asked about this by the Commission,
Major General Nusrat Naeem initially denied making any calls to the hospital, but
then acknowledged that he had indeed called the hospital, when pressed further. He
asserted that he had made the call, before reporting to his superiors, to hear, directly
from Professor Mussadiq that Ms Bhutto had died.
121. Ms Bhutto’s body remained in the operating room until it was placed in a
wooden coffin and removed from the hospital at about 2235 hours that evening and
transported to the nearby Chaklala Airbase. Ms Naheed Khan signed for Ms Bhutto’s
body at the hospital. At around 0100 hours on 28 December, at the Chaklala Airbase,
the remains were transferred to her husband, Mr Asif Ali Zardari, who had flown
from Dubai and who signed an acknowledgement note to that effect. Following this,
Ms Bhutto’s body was flown to her home town Larkana, in Sindh Province, for
The Day after the Assassination: 28 December 2007
122. On the morning of 28 December, the doctors who treated Ms Bhutto were
convened at the hospital by DCO Elahi who requested that they submit a report
concerning the treatment given to Ms Bhutto. DCO Elahi instructed the doctors to
bring the original to him directly and further instructed that neither hard copies nor
electronic copies of the report should be retained. A request for such a report had
never been made before or after this incident. The report was prepared and submitted
to DCO Elahi. On the afternoon of 28 December, Professor Mussadiq Khan gave a
brief press conference on the orders of the DCO who received his instructions from
the Home Secretary of Punjab Province. Senior Punjab officials told the Commission
that this issue was discussed at a cabinet meeting of the government of Punjab.
123. On the evening of 28 December, a separate press conference was held by the
Ministry of Interior in which the Government, through Brigadier (ret) Javed Iqbal
Cheema, spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior, set out the cause of death as well as
who was responsible for the attack. The main points of this press conference and the
controversy it generated are discussed below.
124. In the afternoon of 28 December, Ms Bhutto was laid to rest in her family’s
mausoleum at Gahri Khuda Baksh in Larkana. Her death was followed by enormous
grief and anger among her supporters. There was widespread violence throughout
Pakistan over several days following her death.
D. The Criminal Investigations
125. This section discusses the criminal investigations into the assassination of Ms
Bhutto and those who died with her. It also addresses government actions which
impacted on the investigations, including two press conferences, the involvement of
intelligence agencies and the PPP’s interaction with the investigative agencies.
The hosing down of the crime scene
126. Soon after the blast outside Liaquat Bagh on the evening of 27 December, CPO
Saud Aziz left the crime scene for Rawalpindi General Hospital; SSP Yaseen Farooq
followed shortly thereafter. The most senior Rawalpindi police official remaining at
the crime scene was SP Khurram Shahzad, who continued to take instructions from
CPO Saud Aziz by telephone. The management of the crime scene and the collection
of evidence by the Rawalpindi police during this time have generated considerable
127. Video footage immediately following the blast shows shock, fear and confusion
among the people at the scene and little police control. The crime scene was not
immediately cordoned off. The police did collect some evidence. Officers from
intelligence agencies, including the ISI, the IB and MI, were present and also
collected evidence, using, as one Rawalpindi police officer noted, better evidence
collection equipment than the police. Within one hour and forty minutes of the blast,
however, SP Khurram ordered the fire and rescue officials present to wash the crime
scene down with fire hoses. He told the Commission that the police had collected all
the available evidence by then. Police records show that only 23 pieces of evidence
were collected, in a case where one would normally have expected thousands. The
evidence included mostly human body parts, two pistols, spent cartridges and Ms
Bhutto’s damaged vehicle.
128. According to SP Khurram and other senior Rawalpindi police officials,
including some who were not present at the scene, hosing down the crime scene was a
necessary crowd control measure. They claim that some at the scene, mainly PPP
supporters, were very upset when they learned that Ms Bhutto had died and that some
supporters were dipping their hands into the blood on the ground, believing it to be
Ms Bhutto’s, and rubbing it on themselves. SP Khurram asserted that the PPP
supporters could have become disruptive. Therefore, the police needed to wash away
the blood from the scene as a public order measure. SP Khurram and other police
officials also stated that there were reports of vandalism not far from the crime scene,
requiring the redeployment of the police who were at the scene. Once the crime
scene was hosed down, they claim, the crowd did disperse, going to Rawalpindi
General Hospital, which permitted the police at the scene to redeploy to those other
crowd control situations.
129. Others, including police officials familiar with the case, dispute the assertion
that there was a public order problem in Rawalpindi. They further disagree that the
presence of an unruly crowd would prevent the establishment of a police cordon
around the scene of crime and justify hosing it down. No one apart from SP Khurram
told the Commission that they saw anyone smearing blood on themselves. Even SP
Khurram, himself, ultimately told the Commission that he saw only one person doing
that. Sources have also pointed out that Rawalpindi was not a stronghold of the PPP
and that, therefore, the police allegations were exaggerated. Sources have noted also
that even at Rawalpindi General Hospital, where many PPP supporters were gathered,
the disturbance was minimal.
130. One eye-witness said that there were about 100 to 200 people present at the
crime scene after the blast and about 20 to 30 police officers. One police official
stated that there were about 40 police officers at the scene. The Commission finds
that SP Khurram had a number of options for controlling the crowd at the crime scene
short of the drastic measure of hosing down it down. He could have ordered the
police officers present to form a cordon around the immediate vicinity of the crime
scene; he could have redeployed any of the 1,371 police officers on duty; he could
have called for reinforcements. He made no attempt to do any of these things. Senior
police officials told the Commission that SP Khurram could, indeed, have redeployed
police officers or sought reinforcements and should have.
131. Many senior Pakistani police officials have explained to the Commission that in
law and practice, the ranking police official at the scene of the crime takes decisions
relating to crime scene management. SP Khurram asserted that he made the decision
to hose down the scene. Before issuing the order to the rescue and fire services, SP
Khurram called his superior, CPO Saud Aziz, to seek permission, which was granted.
Sources, including police officials familiar with the case, have questioned the veracity
of SP Khurram’s claim that the decision was his initiative.
132. CPO Saud Aziz’s role in this decision is controversial. Many senior Pakistani
police officials have emphasized that hosing down a crime scene is fundamentally
inconsistent with Pakistani police practice. While they acknowledge that there is no
uniformity of practice in crime scene management in Pakistan, the hosing down of a
crime scene is considered extraordinary. Indeed, with the exception of some
Rawalpindi police officials, nearly all senior Pakistani police officials have criticized
the manner in which this crime scene was managed. One senior police official has
argued that hosing down the crime scene amounted to “criminal negligence”. Several
senior police officials who know CPO Saud Aziz were troubled that an officer with
his many years of experience would allow a major crime scene to be washed away,
thereby damaging his reputation.
133. Sources informed the Commission that CPO Saud Aziz did not act
independently in deciding to hose down the crime scene. One source, speaking on the
basis of anonymity, stated that CPO Saud Aziz had confided in him that he had
received a call from Army Headquarters instructing him to order the hosing down of
the crime scene. Another source, also speaking on the basis of anonymity, said that
the CPO was ordered to hose down the scene by Major General Nadeem Ijaz Ahmad,
then Director General of MI. Others, including three police officials, told the
Commission that CPO Saud Aziz did not act independently and that “everyone
knows” who ordered the hosing down. However, they were not willing to state on the
record what it is that “everyone knows”. This is one of the many occasions during
the Commission’s inquiry when individuals, including government officials,
expressed fear or hesitation to speak openly.
134. Some senior Pakistani police officials identified further factors suggesting that
CPO Saud Aziz was not acting independently. They point out that, while the
deliberate hosing down of a scene is unheard of in police practice, it has occurred on
a few occasions, in each case when the military has been the target of such attacks
and the crime scene was managed by the military directly. Even CPO Saud Aziz,
when asserting to the Commission that there were precedents for hosing down a
crime scene, acknowledged that all the incidents which he posited as precedents
actually involved a military target. The police officials who point out this pattern saw
it as further indication that the military was involved in having the crime scene hosed
135. Some media reports tied the hosing down of the Rawalpindi crime scene to the
alleged washing of the crime scene in the October attack in Karachi. However, in
Karachi, the need to put out fires in the vicinity of the blast led to the presence of
water at the crime scene. The police collected debris from the crime scene and did
not in fact hose it down. The Karachi police actions, while flawed, led to better
preservation of the crime scene and better evidence collection, ultimately permitting
investigators from the FIA to recover the suicide bomber’s striker sleeve.
136. The extraordinary nature of the hosing down of the crime scene generated such
controversy that Punjab provincial officials recognized that some response was
necessary. A committee of inquiry was set up by the Chief Minister of Punjab, to
look into the washing down of the crime scene. The committee was composed of
three senior Punjab officials. The Commission requested meetings with these
individuals, which the facilitation committee was not able to arrange. No credible
reason was provided.
137. The Punjab committee’s mandate was limited to the following:
a. Inquire into the circumstances leading to the washing down of the scene;
b. Determine whether it was done with any male fide intention; and,
Determine whether it posed any difficulty in reaching a conclusion on the
cause of death.
138. The committee started work on 14 February 2008 and concluded its work the
next day on 15 February. While acknowledging that a crime scene should in
principle be preserved “at least till a detailed search and thorough forensic
examination” has been carried out, it accepted the Rawalpindi police explanation that
the decision to hose down the crime scene was formed by the investigating police
officer at the scene, SP Khurram, with permission from CPO Saud Aziz, on grounds
of public order. It further found that the decision was not made with any male fide
intention and that washing the crime scene did not negatively impact on the
conclusion as to the cause of death.
139. Several senior Pakistani police officials told the Commission that they did not
consider the Punjab committee’s findings credible. Indeed, it is difficult for the
Commission to credit the committee’s work. The terms of reference cast doubt on
that committee’s independence. The objective of crime scene management is the
collection and preservation of evidence with the overall aim of solving the crime. By
limiting its inquiry to the narrow question of whether washing the crime scene
impeded the reaching of a conclusion as to cause of death, the committee inexplicably
failed to consider the impact that hosing down the scene had on the broader criminal
investigation. It was only because of the persistent efforts of FIA investigators that
critical evidence was found in the sewers near the blast scene.
140. The very brief time spent by the Punjab committee in the conduct of its inquiry
further compels the Commission to question its findings. In short, the Punjab
committee constituted a whitewash of the actions of the Rawalpindi police in failing
to manage the crime scene and destroy evidence. Not surprisingly, the work of the
Punjab committee was counterproductive in that it further deepened the suspicion of
many in Pakistan over the conduct of the police on 27 December 2007.
Preservation of evidence
141. Even after the hosing down of the crime scene, questions continued to arise
over the preservation of evidence by the Rawalpindi police, particularly in the period
before investigators from the JIT started their work.
142. Ms Bhutto’s Land Cruiser was initially taken to the City Police Station by
Inspector Kashif Riaz some time after midnight early on 28 December and then taken
to Police Lines.5 In the early hours of 28 December, CPO Saud Aziz went to see the
Police Lines, together with others, including ISI officers, who were the first to
conduct a forensic examination of the vehicle. An investigating police officer on the
orders of the CPO, removed Ms Bhutto’s shoes and took them to the City Police
Station. Sometime thereafter, the shoes were ordered back into the car. This was
5 Police Lines is an administrative centre for Rawalpindi District Police that includes barracks and other
clearly interfering with the integrity of the evidence. Furthermore, while the vehicle
was parked at Police Lines, it was not properly preserved. The Commission was told
that during a visit by some JIT members, people were seen in the vehicle cleaning it
even though investigations were still on-going. When the JIT carried out its physical
examination of the vehicle, they did not find any hair, blood or other matter on the lip
of the escape hatch. Forensic analysis of swabs of the lip of the escape hatch later
carried out by the JIT and Scotland Yard also found nothing. It is impossible to
establish whether the interference with the vehicle resulted in the elimination of any
matter that may have been present on the lip, or whether there was no such matter in
the first place. It is clear, however, that such interference would have damaged any
forensic evidence present.
On the decision not to carry out a post-mortem examination
143. The Commission was told that CPO Saud Aziz on three occasions refused the
request of the doctors for permission to carry out a post-mortem examination on Ms
Bhutto’s remains. Pakistani law provides that in the case an unnatural death, the
police must have a post-mortem examination report as part of their investigations.
This requirement places the responsibility for initiating the examination on the police
and not the hospital authorities. Indeed, hospital authorities must get a request from
the police before proceeding. Numerous people interviewed, including all doctors
and nearly all senior police officers, have reiterated this rule. Even CPO Saud Aziz
himself acknowledged that this is the law in Pakistan. 6 Only a District Magistrate
may waive the need for a post-mortem examination. If the family of a deceased
person does not wish to have a post-mortem examination carried out, it must apply to
a judge for an order waiving the requirement.
144. Some people have suggested to the Commission that the practice is different
from the legal requirement. Due primarily to religious considerations, permission
from the family might be sought. There are sensitivities around conducting a postmortem
examination of a woman in Pakistani culture. However, due to the forensic
importance of the examination, the police might take steps to overcome any religious
or cultural objections. One senior police officer explained that, in his experience,
when family members have been reluctant to have a post-mortem examination, the
police have taken time to convince them to change their position because the postmortem
examination is so central to the conduct of any investigations
145. While denying that the doctors requested his authority for a post-mortem three
times, CPO Saud Aziz told the Commission that because of the importance of the
person of Ms Bhutto, he could not just have a post-mortem examination without first
seeking her family’s consent. He first sought the approval of the President of the
PPP, Makhdoom Amin Fahim for a post-mortem examination. Mr Fahim told him
6 Doctors have noted that autopsies were not normally conducted at RGH, but rather at District
Headquarters Hospital also in Rawalpindi. Had the police requested one or acceded to the doctors’ plea to
have one, Ms. Bhutto could have been moved to a different hospital for the post-mortem examination, or a
pathologist from another hospital could have gone to RGH.
that he was not in a position to give such approval and asked him to wait for Mr
Zardari who was on his way to Pakistan from Dubai. When Mr Zardari arrived at
Chaklala Airbase, the request for permission was made to him and he declined.
146. The Commission does not find that there are credible reasons for failing to carry
out an autopsy on Ms Bhutto’s. The body had already undergone invasive medical
procedures when the open heart massage was undertaken. Moreover, a post-mortem
examination limited to a complete external examination and not involving any
invasive surgery could have been carried out. Even that limited exam was not
conducted in this case. While one doctor did take a general look over the body, the
doctors admit that this did not constitute a proper external post-mortem examination.
147. It is odd that Ms Bhutto’s remains were moved to the Pakistan Air Force base
(Chaklala Airbase) in Rawalpindi before Mr Zardari’s arrival from Dubai. According
to sources, the body was taken from the hospital around 2300 hours, on 27 December.
The note signed by Mr Zardari accepting his wife’s remains is timed 0110 hours on
28 December. If the police were genuinely waiting for Mr Zardari’s permission
before requesting a post-mortem examination, they should have left Ms Bhutto’s
remains at the hospital. Instead they moved her remains to Chaklala Airbase, thereby
rendering such an examination more difficult. When questioned about this, senior
Punjab officials stated that the plan was to carry out the examination at the base
which also had medical facilities. However, the fact that Ms Bhutto’s coffin was not
taken to the medical facilities, but placed in a room at the base makes this assertion
148. There was a series of memos from CPO Saud Aziz and his superiors regarding
the absence of a post-mortem examination. The CPO wrote a memo to his immediate
superior, the IGP of Punjab, dated 27 December, but actually written in the morning
of 28 December, in which he reported that an autopsy could not be conducted because
her husband had refused to authorize one. The IGP then sent a memo, also dated 27
December (and written on 28 December), to the Home Secretary of Sindh Province
reporting Mr Zardari’s refusal and suggesting that the matter be taken up by the
Home Department of Sindh Province. On 28 December, a letter was written from the
Punjab Additional Secretary, Internal Security, to the Sindh Home Secretary,
requesting that the latter seek Mr Zardari’s permission to conduct a post-mortem
examination on Ms Bhutto’s remains prio r to burial.
149. The Commission finds the letter written by CPO Saud Aziz to be fundamentally
misleading. Nothing in the letter explains why the autopsy had not been carried out
earlier, during the preceding five hours while Ms Bhutto’s remains were at RGH.
Rather, the letter focuses solely on Mr Zardari’s refusal to approve an autopsy – and
portrays even that refusal in misleading terms. The letter is clearly intended to hide
CPO Saud Aziz’s fundamental failure to carry out his legal obligation regarding the
autopsy and, instead, to redirect blame for this failure to Mr Zardari. The effort to pin
responsibility for this failure on Mr Zardari is unacceptable. No autopsy had been
carried out even though five hours had passed since Ms Bhutto had been declared
dead. The body had been placed in a coffin and brought to the PAF airbase. CPO
Saud Aziz placed Mr Zardari in an impossible situation – one which almost
compelled Mr Zardari to refuse the request for an autopsy.
150. The subsequent letter by the IGP, Punjab reiterating the misleading summary of
events set out in CPO Saud Aziz’s letter reflects the willingness of his administrative
superior to further this shift of responsibility and perpetrate a cover-up of the true
reason behind the lack of a post-mortem examination.
151. In short, CPO Saud Aziz did not fulfil his legal obligation to order an autopsy.
Having failed in that regard, he sought to cover up his failing by putting Mr Zardari in
a situation designed to elicit his refusal of an autopsy. CPO Saud Aziz’s further effort
to cover his failings by writing a memo pinning blame on Mr Zardari was highly
improper. On their face, these factors taken together strongly suggest a preconceived
effort to prevent a thorough examination of Ms Bhutto’s remains.
152. CPO Saud Aziz, an experienced senior police officer, refused to allow a postmortem
examination. He certainly knew the requirements of the law and the practice
of law enforcement in such cases. He need not have waited for Mr Zardari. He was,
furthermore, aware of the importance and status of the person involved. All these
factors together support the view held by many Pakistanis that CPO Saud Aziz did
not act independently in this matter. CPO Saud Aziz’s insistence on justifying his
actions has made it difficult for the Commission to inquire any further and attempt to
unearth who might have been behind the decision.
On whether Ms Bhutto was shot
153. Although a number of PPP members asserted publicly and in private shortly
after the assassination that Ms Bhutto had been shot, none of the many PPP members,
both senior and low-ranking, interviewed by the Commission could confirm that
assertion. Some PPP members told the Commission that at least one of the doctors
had initially stated that Ms Bhutto had suffered gunshot injuries, implying that the
doctors must have deliberately altered their findings subsequently. The Commission
was unable to find any basis to support this view, however honestly held. Rather,
some doctors do indeed acknowledge that they openly discussed the possibility of
gunshot injuries early in their efforts to resuscitate Ms Bhutto, but excluded that
possibility in their final assessment. There is one doctor who arrived during the
evening at Rawalpindi General Hospital who continues to assert that there was a
gunshot wound. He was not, however, an examining doctor and does not base his
views on direct observation of a gunshot injury.
154. The Commission also interviewed some PPP supporters who had been injured
in the blast. None had received any bullet wounds, as previously reported in some
media reports. According to the police, over 25 people were also interviewed in the
immediate aftermath of the incident, and none received bullet wounds. They were
injured by ball bearings, but not bullets.
155. The Commission has not been provided with any credible, new information
showing that Ms Bhutto had received bullet wounds. A senior PPP official, who had
earlier publicly asserted that she had seen Ms Bhutto’s gunshot injuries, retracted that
statement when interviewed by the Commission. In fact, she had not seen Ms
Bhutto’s head wound and had been told to tell the media that she had seen bullet
wounds. The Commission found that, although her supporters may have justifiably
assumed that Ms Bhutto had been shot in the confusion surrounding the assassination,
the continued assertion that she had been shot, without evidence, as well as the
assertion of untrue eyewitness accounts, was and remains misleading. The
Commission recognizes that the confusion and urgency at Rawalpindi General
Hospital when Ms Bhutto was brought there would naturally have generated some
discussion among the staff there about the possibility of a gunshot wound. Such
discussions may have been misinterpreted by some as a medical finding
The Government Press Conference:
156. At about 1700 hours on the day following the assassination the government
held a televised press conference, conducted by Brigadier Cheema, the spokesperson
of the Ministry of Interior at which he announced that:
Ms Bhutto died from a head injury sustained when from the force of the
blast she hit her head on the lever of the escape hatch; and,
Mr Baitullah Mehsud linked with Al-Qaida was responsible, presenting an
intercepted telephone conversation between Mr Mehsud and one Mr
Maulvi Sahib in which Mr Mehsud was heard congratulating Mr Maulvi
on a job well-done.
157. The decision to hold the press conference was made by General Musharraf,
during a meeting on the morning of 28 December at a facility in General
Headquarters known as Camp House. That meeting, at which General Musharraf was
briefed on the intercept and on medical evidence, was attended by the Directors
General of the ISI, MI and the IB. Brigadier Cheema was summoned to a subsequent
meeting at ISI Headquarters and directed by the Director General of the ISI to hold
the press conference. In attendance at this second meeting, in addition to Brigadier
Cheema, were Interior Secretary Kamal Shah, Director General of the ISI, Director
General of the IB, Deputy Director General of the ISI and another ISI brigadier.
158. The Musharraf government asserted that the evidence for the cause of death
was clear. According to the government, video footage showed that the shooter’s
bullets did not hit Ms Bhutto. Based on the medical report indicating that she died of
heavy bleeding from a head wound on the right side of her head, the Musharraf
government set out its conclusion, through Brigadier Cheema, that she must have hit
her head on the lever of the vehicle’s escape hatch.
159. The press conference was met with widespread public scepticism and media
outrage in Pakistan. The PPP and others accused the government of a cover up.
Many questioned the sudden and timely appearance of the telephone intercept as well
as the speed with which its contents were analyzed and interpreted. Many also
challenged the view that Ms Bhutto had not been shot and questioned how quickly
that purported analysis had been done. Furthermore, many senior PPP officials
believed the government was suggesting, in an effort to demean Ms Bhutto, that she
had caused her own death by emerging from her vehicle. In short, the press
conference not only failed to provide credible answers to essential questions arising
from the assassination, it triggered widespread suspicion that government authorities
would not be conducting a genuine search for the truth.
The First Joint Investigation Team (Punjab-led)
160. On 28 December, Punjab authorities set up a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) for
the assassination. The JIT declared its work finished on 17 February 2008. This
section will provide an overview of the constitution, internal dynamics and focus of
the first JIT established shortly after Ms Bhutto’s assassination. It does not seek to
set out in detail the JIT’s findings.
161. Under the Anti-Terrorism Act, when a terrorist offence has been committed, the
establishment of a JIT is mandatory. The relevant provision is broad, defining a JIT
as an investigation involving one law enforcement agency working together with
other agencies, either law enforcement or intelligence. With other types of crimes, it
is usually the provincial police that has primacy in the investigation of a crime, and
for the Federal Capital Territory of Islamabad, the Federal Government takes the lead.
But in terrorism cases, either the provincial police or the Federal Government can
initiate a JIT. When initiated by a province, the provincial government takes the lead
in selecting the team members. Due to the expertise of the Special Investigations
Group (SIG) of the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA), the FIA generally assigns
some of its officers from that section to the JIT. 7 When a JIT is set up by a province,
a notification is sent to the FIA inviting the assignment of SIG staff to the team.
162. The JIT was headed by Mr Abdul Majeed, Additional IG (AIG) for Punjab. In
addition to police officials from Punjab, the JIT included three senior members of the
FIA, including an explosives expert, a senior CID police officer at the rank of DIG,
an expert on forensic photography and nine middle ranking police officers. At the
time the JIT was established, AIG Majeed was out of the country and, for the first two
days, the JIT was headed by the next most senior police officer on the team, the
DIG/CID in Lahore, Mushtaq Ahmad Sukhera. DIG Sukhera and his team started
work on 28 December 2007.
163. On the evening of 28 December, members of the JIT went to Police Lines
where they met CPO Saud Aziz. Rather than proceeding directly to the crime site,
7 The FIA was established under The FIA Act 1975. It has powers to investigate all offences that are set
out in the Schedule to the Act, including terrorism. Expertise in the investigation of terrorism cases rests
with the Special Investigation Group (SIG) within the FIA. The SIG was established after 11 September
2001 and became operational in April 2003.
CPO Saud Aziz laid out tea for the JIT investigators in a conference room. While the
JIT members were still in the conference room, the television aired the press
conference given by Brigadier Cheema. According to a credible source, at the end of
the press conference, the CPO rhetorically asked the JIT members what they intended
to investigate, since the perpetrator had been identified. When the JIT members
pressed to visit the crime scene, CPO Saud Aziz, noting that it was already dark,
stated instead that he would arrange for a visit to the scene in the morning. The
source noted above interpreted these actions as a means of hindering the JIT
investigators’ access to the crime site.
164. On 29 December, the following day, the JIT investigators returned to Police
Lines where they were able to inspect Ms Bhutto’s vehicle. They discovered early in
their inspection that there was no blood or tissue on the escape hatch lever that would
be consistent with the gaping injury to Ms Bhutto’s head, suggesting strongly to the
investigators that Ms Bhutto had not hit her head on the lever.
165. Following that inspection, rather than taking the investigators directly to the
crime scene, CPO Saud Aziz hosted a lunch that went into the late afternoon, at the
end of which he again, according to the same source cited above, indicated that it
would be dark by the time the team arrived at the crime scene. It was only at around
1700 hours that the JIT investigators were taken to the crime scene at Liaquat Bagh.
The Commission finds it inexplicable that the investigators were not in a position to
conduct on-site investigations until two full days after the assassination. Such
conduct further hampered the gathering of evidence and, at the very least, was
contrary to best practices.
166. Once at the scene, the investigators could see that it had been hosed down.
Despite the late hour, they spent seven hours there. They followed the water current,
including wading through the drainage sewer and collected evidence from the debris.
They were able to recover one bullet casing from the drainage sewer, later established
through forensic examination to have been fired from the pistol bearing the bomber’s
DNA. The JIT members left the scene around midnight. The Rawalpindi police
provided security for them, and the road was cordoned off during the entire time. The
next day, the team returned to continue the search. Upon their request, the scene
remained cordoned off and the road closed. They eventually recovered other
evidence in the course of their crime scene examination, including the partial skull of
the suicide bomber from atop one of the buildings near the site.
167. On 31 December, AIG Majeed returned from his trip and took over the
leadership of the JIT. This change at the JIT’s helm resulted in a shift in the internal
dynamics of the investigation. Mr Majeed effectively sidelined the senior and more
experienced officers who had started the investigations and dealt directly with the
most junior investigators of the JIT. Two senior officers invited into the JIT from the
Sindh police decided to return to Sindh after only two days with the JIT. Much of the
work carried out by the JIT from this point was led by information Mr Majeed
received from the intelligence agencies, which retained sole control over the sharing
of information with the police, providing it on a selective basis.
168. The scientific analysis of the suicide bomber’s remains by the Scotland Yard
team established that he was a teenage male, no more than 16 years old. According to
the JIT’s investigations, this young man was named Bilal also known as Saeed from
South Waziristan. This was established through the links that the accused persons
admitted having had with the bomber and the ISI telephone intercept of Baitullah
Mehsud’s conversation with Maulvi Sahib.
The accused persons
169. Five persons were arrested by the JIT: Aitezaz Shah, Sher Zehman, Husnain
Gul, Mohamad Rafaqat and Rasheed Ahmed. In addition, the JIT charged Nasrullah,
Abdullah, Baitullah Mehsud and Maulvi Sahib as “proclaimed offenders”. Baitullah
Mehsud was killed in a drone attack in August 2009, and Nasrullah is reported to
have been killed in an attack in FATA.
170. The Commission will not address in any detail the case against these
individuals. It notes generally, however, that the accused are alleged to have served
as handlers and logistics supporters of the suicide bomber, or as persons who were
knowledgeable about the plans to assassinate Ms Bhutto but failed to provide such
information to the police. The charges against them include aiding and abetting
terrorism, murder and concealing information about the commission of a crime.
171. The JIT focused its efforts on investigating the alleged role of these low-level
individuals. Little to no focus was placed on investigating those further up the
hierarchy in the planning and execution of the assassination. In particular, the JIT did
nothing to build a case against Mr Mehsud, treating the contents of the intercept
presented to the public by Brigadier Cheema as determinative of his culpability. AIG
Majeed told the Commission that he saw no need to establish the authenticity of the
intercept or the basis for its analysis, including the voice identification and the
interpretation of the conversation as a reference to the Ms Bhutto’s assassination.
The Commission finds this approach to the investigation contrary to best practices
and inconsistent with a genuine search for the truth.
172. The Commission notes also with some concern the discrepancy in the detention
record of some of the accused persons, particularly in light of the well-known
controversy over extra-judicial detention by intelligence agencies prior to their arrest
by law enforcement agencies.
173. The then-government’s assertion that Baitullah Mehsud was behind the
assassination of Ms Bhutto was premature at best. Such a hasty announcement of the
perpetrator prejudiced the police investigations which had not yet begun. Other flaws
in the JIT’s approach to investigating Baitullah Mehsud’s alleged role in the
assassination are also inconsistent with a genuine search for the truth.
174. The communication intercepted by the ISI is purported to be a telephone
conversation between Emir Sahib (said to be Baitullah Mehsud) and Maulvi Sahib.
In it, the two speakers congratulate each other on an event which Brigadier Cheema
asserted was the assassination. The ISI asserts that they already had the voice
signature of Baitullah Mehsud and were in a position to identify his voice on the
intercept. In the English translation of transcript of the intercept, Emir Sahib at some
point asked Maulvi Sahib: “who were they?” Maulvi Sahib replied: “There were
Saeed, the second was Badarwala Bilal and Ikramullah was also there.” Mehsud
asked: “The three did it?” Maulvi Sahib replied: “Ikramullah and Bilal did it”. The
conversation did not mention Ms Bhutto by name. The Commission is not in a
position to evaluate the authenticity of the purported intercept. Any further
investigation into Ms Bhutto’s assassination must include steps for such
175. It is not clear how or when the intercept from the ISI was recorded. A former
senior ISI official told the Commission that the ISI had been tracking Baitullah
Mehsud’s communications closely and was, therefore in a position to identify his
voice. Furthermore, he asserted that the ISI had been tracking Taliban-linked terrorist
cells that were closely pursuing Ms Bhutto, targeting her at a series of successive
public gatherings. According to this ISI official, it was one of these cells which
finally assassinated Ms Bhutto in Rawalpindi.
176. The ISI was highly confident of the accuracy of its investigations, much of
which were based on the analysis of intercepts, through which it was possible to
identify each cell and also the link of each of these cells to Baitullah Mehsud. On the
basis of its investigations, the ISI detained four persons for involvement in the
Karachi bombings within two weeks of that attack. According to the former ISI
official cited above, int errogations confirmed their intercepts analysis. The
Commission is not in a position to assess the credibility of this information from the
ISI. However, this information does raise important questions, which are addressed
177. There are media reports that Mr Mehsud denied responsibility for the
assassination. Mr Saleh Shah Qureshi, Senator from South Waziristan, told the
Commission that Mr Mehsud had categorically denied any involvement in the
assassination attempt of 18-19 October and the subsequent assassination of Ms
Bhutto on 27 December, questioning also the authenticity of the telephone intercept
ascribed to Mr Mehsud. The JIT took no steps to investigate the veracity of any such
denial. Rather, some government officials from that time told the Commission that
any such denials would have no credibility, implying that such investigative steps
would not be worthwhile.
178. After the arrest of the five accused persons, the JIT essentially ceased
investigating the possibility of other perpetrators, particularly those who may have
been involved in planning or directing the assassination by funding or otherwise
enabling the assassination. The JIT even ended its efforts to identify the suicide
Persons accused by Ms Bhutto in a letter dated 16 October 2007
179. On 16 October 2007, Ms Bhutto writing from Dubai to General Musharraf,
identified three people she considered a threat to her security: (i) Brigadier (ret) Ejaz
Shah, Director General of the IB at the time of the assassination, (ii) General (ret)
Hamid Gul, a former Director General of the ISI, and (iii) Mr Chaudhry Pervaiz
Elahi, Chief Minister of Punjab until 22 November 2007.
180. The Ministry of Interior responded to Ms Bhutto in a letter dated 6 November
2007, stating that the threats she related had “neither tangible basis nor is there any
evidence to support the perception” contained therein. The Commission spoke with
two of those named in the letter and others close to them, all of whom hold the view
that the letter was baseless and politically motivated. With respect to Ms Bhutto’s
close aides, none of those who met with the Commission affirmed having seen the
letter before it was written, and they had varying interpretations of its contents and
intentions. One believed that the letter was intended to put political pressure on
General Musharraf by naming two people closely associated with him and putting
him on notice of her concerns. Other sources, including a former high-ranking
foreign official, thought the men posed genuine threats to her security, linking them
to the Establishment and its long-standing enmity towards the PPP and the Bhutto
family. The Commission received no information of specific threats that they may
have directed against Ms Bhutto.
181. In the course of their investigations, neither the Karachi nor the JIT
investigators interrogated or interviewed any of these people. Karachi and JIT
investigators explained that they could not summon and interrogate them on the basis
of Ms Bhutto’s accusations, without more information. Ms Bhutto made indirect
reference to these individuals in the FIR she filed in Karachi after the attack on 18-19
October. However, while the FIR referred to the 16 October letter, it did not provide
the names, nor was a copy attached. Nor did any PPP member provide the names to
the investigators. These factors were raised by Karachi and JIT investigators in
explaining to the Commission why they declined to approach these three men.
182. While recognizing that Ms Bhutto and other PPP members were not
forthcoming with the police on this issue, the Commission believes that police
investigators should nonetheless have invited the three individuals to meet with them,
on a voluntary basis. The names of the three individuals had been widely circulated
in the press, as Karachi and JIT investigators acknowledged.
PPP interaction with the investigations
183. The relationship between the PPP and the Pakistani police was characterised
by mistrust on the part of the PPP. This was evident in their lack of co-operation with
the Karachi police following the attack of 18-19 October 2007, and their lukewarm
attitude towards the Rawalpindi investigations.
184. Apart from Major Imtiaz, the JIT never interviewed the people in the car with
Ms Bhutto at the time of the incident. When asked about this, AIG Majeed explained
that those persons had been summoned to be interviewed, but they refused to appear.
However, some members of the JIT acknowledged that, while they could confirm that
the letters summoning PPP members for interviews had been sent, they did not have
any confirmation that they had been received. In general, the limited efforts of the
JIT to reach out to the PPP are highlighted by a comparison to the efforts of the
Karachi police after the October attack. There, although relations between the
Karachi police and the PPP were tense, bordering on antagonistic, the Karachi police
made efforts to accommodate PPP concerns by, among others things, replacing the
initial lead investigator at the PPP’s request.
185. PPP members deny that the police contacted them, asserting that they would
have appeared if contacted. To underscore that willingness, they point out that when
contacted by Scotland Yard they did, in fact, respond. In addition, they point out that
they had spoken to several media outlets about the assassination and related events.
They maintained that having been so close to Ms Bhutto, it was only natural that they
would want the truth regarding her death to come out.
186. At the same time, several PPP members explained to the Commission that the
PPP did not have faith in the integrity of the investigations and that, as a result, they
did not cooperate with the police. Some senior PPP members acknowledged to the
Commission that the PPP had, accordingly, adopted a policy against cooperating with
the Karachi police investigation because the police had refused to register their FIR.
This distrust of the police by the PPP was reflected also in Ms Bhutto’s efforts to
lodge a second FIR following the Karachi attack.
187. The Commission recognizes that the PPP distrust of the police investigations in
both Karachi and Rawalpindi contributed to the party’s unwillingness to cooperate
with the criminal investigations. However, the PPP’s refusal to cooperate with the
Karachi and Rawalpindi investigations was not constructive. The Commission notes
that PPP members clearly did not have to wait to be formally notified to talk to the
police. As in any law enforcement matter, PPP members were free to take the
initiative to speak to investigators.
188. Following discussions between the United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon
Brown and General Musharraf, it was agreed that a team of forensics experts and
investigators from the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command (SO15)
would carry out a limited investigation to assist the Pakistani police investigation into
Ms Bhutto’s assassination. The team’s work resulted in a confidential report.
189. The terms of reference for Scotland Yard’s assistance, agreed between the UK’s
Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Interior Ministry of Pakistan, were made
public through a statement issued on 11 January 2008 by the British High
Commission in Pakistan. The main objective of the Scotland Yard team was “to
assist the local authorities in providing clarity regarding the precise cause of Ms
Bhutto’s death”. According to the Scotland Yard report, a team of experts and
investigators arrived in Pakistan on 4 January 2008 and spent two and a half weeks
carrying out their investigation. The British High Commission in Pakistan released
an executive summary of the Scotland Yard report on 8 February 2008. The main
body of the report has not yet been made public.
190. According to the summary, the team’s key findings included the following:
although not possible to “categorically…exclude” the possibility of a
gunshot wound, the available evidence suggested there was no gunshot
Ms Bhutto died of a severe head injury caused by impact in the area of the
escape hatch lip as a result of the blast; and
the same individual both fired the shots and detonated the explosives.
The summary notes that the “task of establishing exactly what happened was
complicated by the lack of an extended and detailed search of the crime scene, the
absence of an autopsy….” However, it goes on to assert that “[n]evertheless, the
evidence that is available is sufficient for reliable conclusions to be drawn.” This
latter comment has been seized upon by some Pakistani officials as support for the
performance of the Rawalpindi District Police in the crime scene management and as
support for their failure to allow the autopsy. It is unfortunate that the poor
performance of the Rawalpindi police was excused in the executive summary.
191. Since only the executive summary is public, critical elements of the Scotland
Yard report are not widely known. In the Commission’s view, it is important to note
that, in the Scotland Yard team’s view, there was no forensic examination of the
crime scene by the police on 27 December 2007.8 The team found chaos and
confusion understandable in the “immediate aftermath” of the blast and during the
evacuation of casualties, but noted that there was never any organized or structured
scene control or forensic examination that evening. For what evidence was collected,
the Rawalpindi police often did not note their original location accurately. The
Scotland Yard team was told by one police officer that the scene was searched for 45
minutes. Scotland Yard found that the scene was hosed down “within an hour” after
the blast and, as a result, the “opportunity for a thorough forensic examination was
8 The Scotland Yard team makes no reference to the collection of evidence by intelligence agencies.
192. Dr Nathaniel Cary, the pathologist appointed by Scotland Yard, confirmed that
the force of the blast caused Ms Bhutto’s fatal injury. However, Ms Bhutto did not
suffer her injuries from hitting the latch of the escape hatch, as announced in the
Ministry of Interior’s press conference on 28 December 2007. Rather, Dr Cary
asserted that her head struck somewhere on the lip of the escape hatch opening.
While Scotland Yard’s finding was arrived at after investigation, the Ministry of
Interior’s was conclusory.
193. As noted above, officials at the time sought also to invoke the Scotland Yard
report to excuse the failure to conduct an autopsy. The report does not offer any
support for that failure. Rather, the report cites Pakistan’s Criminal Code of 1898 (as
amended by Act II 1997, section 174(3) which mandates that a police officer shall
submit a body for an autopsy and notes that Dr Aurangzeb had written that the cause
of death was “[t]o be ascertained by autopsy.” The team’s executive summary noted
that “[t]he task of establishing exactly what happened was complicated by [among
other things] the absence of an autopsy.” Furthermore, the summary expressly
explains that Dr Cary was unable to categorically exclude the possibility of a gunshot
wound because of the “limited X-ray material, the absence of a full post mortem
examination and CT scan.”
194. A number of officials from the Pakistani government at the time of the
assassination and a number of police officials from the Punjab police have sought to
cite the Scotland Yard report as support for, or ratification of, the Rawalpindi police’s
security arrangements for Ms Bhutto or its management of the crime scene on 27
December 2007 and other actions or inactions of the Rawalpindi police and
government officials at that time. There is no factual or logical basis for such
assertions. The Scotland Yard team stated clearly that they were not reviewing the
security arrangements for Ms Bhutto and that identification of those responsible was
not within the team’s terms of reference.
195. Given its extremely narrow mandate, much of the context in the Scotland Yard
report was – as Scotland Yard emphasized – taken on good faith from the Pakistani
police. That good faith was, in many respects, abused by officers of the Rawalpindi
District Police, particularly with respect to security arrangements. The Commission’s
inquiry shows the accounts of the Rawalpindi police provided to Scotland Yard to be
196. At the request of the Commission, the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI)
conducted a review of Scotland Yard’s investigation of the cause and manner of death
of Ms Bhutto. Based on its analysis of the Scotland Yard report, the NFI prepared its
own report for the Commission in which it concluded that there were no important
inconsistencies in Scotland Yard’s investigation.
The further investigation: second JIT (FIA-led)
197. In October 2009, 18 months after the PPP government had come into power in
Pakistan, the Ministry of Interior initiated further investigations, for which a JIT was
formed, in order to investigate aspects of the case not covered by the first JIT. This
JIT is federally led, with officers of the FIA/SIG leading the investigation, which is
currently ongoing. The Commission will not comment in any detail on the work of
this second JIT.
198. The Commission does note, generally, that this second JIT has been more
rigorous in carrying out its investigations. The investigators have been vigorously
pushing certain areas of the investigation and appear to have made some further
progress. Nevertheless, it is unclear to what extent even this investigation will be free
to conduct an unfettered pursuit of the truth, including in freely investigating those
who may have borne the greatest responsibility for the planning and execution of Ms
III. Threats, Responsibilities and Possible Culpabilities
199. A determination of criminal responsibility for planning, organizing, funding,
supporting and carrying out the assassination can only be made by the competent
authorities of Pakistan. This Commission has neither the authority nor the means to
reach such conclusions. Indeed, if it were to do so, it could jeopardize future
prosecutions or make it difficult for future accused persons to receive fair trials. This
section, instead, assesses hypotheses regarding possible culpabilities of individuals
and entities that appeared to pose threats to Ms Bhutto. In addition, this section
reviews the performance of those who were responsible for Ms Bhutto’s security and
the investigation of her assassination. This section also reviews the role of Pakistan’s
intelligence agencies in this case.
A. Threats and Possible Culpabilities regarding the Assassination
200. The Commission’s inquiry has resulted in a picture of the significant threats
that Ms Bhutto faced on her return to Pakistan. In her writings and speeches, and in
discussions with her colleagues as described to the Commission, Ms Bhutto was
outspoken about her perception of the threats posed to her.
201. The conditions in Pakistan that resulted in threats to Ms Bhutto must be
understood against the backdrop of Pakistan’s recent history. Under the military
dictatorship of General Zia ul Haq from 1977 to 1988, a once secular military was
aligned with political Islam, and jihad was used as a tool to recruit and support
insurgents fighting against the Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan. The
Pakistani military organized and supported the Taliban to take control of Afghanistan
in 1996. Similar tactics were used in Kashmir against India after 1989. These
policies resulted in active linkages between elements of the military and the
Establishment with radical Islamists, at the expense of national secular forces, and the
entrenchment of religious extremist and other militant groups in the tribal areas and
Punjab. Ms Bhutto’s return from exile in 2007 occurred against this backdrop.
Therefore, a discussion of the threats to Ms Bhutto and of the forces that felt
threatened by her potential return to power in Pakistan must include the following:
Al-Qaida, Taliban and local jihadi groups and elements of the Establishment.
202. The Musharraf Government and Ms Bhutto disagreed on much, but they both
identified threats to her arising from Islamist extremist groups. Ms Bhutto had
concerns that Al-Qaida might have reason to do her harm. Her public positions
against Al-Qaida-inspired Islamist violence, on the need to check extremism in the
tribal areas, and on the perception among many that she was acting on behalf of the
United States, are factors that could have made her a target for Al-Qaida and allied
groups. She asserted in her 2007 book, Reconciliation, that Usama bin Laden funded
the ISI’s attempt to oust her first government in 1989 through a no-confidence motion
in parliament. A close associate remembered that during the election campaigning,
Ms Bhutto told her, “Usama bin Laden would take out a lot of money to have me
203. Al-Qaida posed a general threat to all Pakistani politicians, including Ms
Bhutto, who were not in line with their thinking. But as her return to Pakistan neared,
and as she vigorously campaigned for the election, the threat to her increased and
became specific. The Al-Qaida threats to Ms Bhutto were relayed to her by the
Pakistan Government and United Arab Emirates authorities.
204. After the Karachi attack, on 23 October, senior PPP leader and Ms Bhutto’s
lawyer, Mr Farooq Naek, received a hand-written letter at his office from a person
claiming to be the “head of suicide bombers and a friend of Al-Qaida” and
threatening that Ms Bhutto would be assassinated in a gruesome manner. Mr Naek
notified the Supreme Court, urging that the threat be passed on to the government
with a request to strengthen Ms Bhutto’s security.
205. Further indications of the Al-Qaida threat to Ms Bhutto emerged two days after
her death when Al-Qaida spokesman Mustafa Abu al Yazid claimed responsibility for
her assassination in a telephone interview with Asia Times Online. He stated: “We
have terminated the most precious American asset who vowed to defeat mujaheddin.”
Al Yazid said that Al-Qaida had ordered the assassination, which was carried out by
operatives of Lashkar e Jangvi, a Punjab jihadi group with a strong anti-Shia bias.
Al-Qaida stood to gain from the political destabilization of Pakistan that followed her
assassination. Given the above, the Commission believes that the competent
authorities of Pakistan should vigorously pursue the possible role of Al-Qaida in Ms
The Pakistani Taliban and other local jihadi groups9
206. The Pakistani Taliban is an agglomeration of Pashtun militant Islamist groups
operating in the tribal areas. They are closely aligned with the Afghan Taliban, and
with Al-Qaida. Several of these groups banded together in late 2007 to form the
Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) under the leadership of Baitullah Mehsud, a Taliban
commander from South Waziristan. Beginning initially as a support network for the
Afghan Taliban and Al-Qaida in Pakistan’s tribal areas, the Pakistan Taliban became
an actor in its own right after General Musharraf was perceived to have sided with the
United States’ anti-terror efforts. As a result, the Pakistani Taliban now constitutes a
significant threat to Pakistan’s internal stability.
207. The jihadi organizations are Sunni groups based largely in Punjab. Members of
these groups aided the Taliban effort in Afghanistan at the behest of the ISI and later
cultivated ties with Al-Qaida and Pakistani Taliban groups. The Pakistani military
and ISI also used and supported some of these groups in the Kashmir insurgency after
1989. The bulk of the anti-Indian activity was and still remains the work of groups
such as Lashkar e Taiba, which has close ties with the ISI. A common characteristic
of these jihadi groups was their adherence to the Deobandi Sunni sect of Islam, their
strong anti-Shia bias, and their use by the Pakistani military and intelligence agencies
in Afghanistan and Kashmir.
208. Given this background, it is not surprising that they posed a threat to Ms Bhutto
and what she stood for. Ms Bhutto was not only a modernist politician and the leader
of a major secular party, she also spoke out strongly and publicly against the
extremist Islam espoused by these groups. She was supportive of the United States
approach to terrorism, and it was open knowledge that the United Kingdom and
United States were aiding in her return to Pakistan. And despite her differences with
General Musharraf, she had supported his crackdown on militants, including in the
Red Mosque episode in July 2007. Indeed, she had repeatedly castigated General
Musharraf for doing a half-hearted job on the terror front. Many believe that Ms
Bhutto’s gender was also an issue with the religious extremists who believed that a
woman should not lead an Islamic country. She was perceived as a Shia, at least by
some militants, because her mother and husband are Shia.
209. Just before Ms Bhutto’s return to Pakistan in October 2007, a newspaper report
quoting Senator Saleh Shah Qureshi of South Waziristan, noted that Baitullah
Mehsud had threatened to welcome Ms Bhutto with a wave of suicide bombers. The
report was emphatically denied by Senator Saleh Shah. However, several sources in
Pakistan have told the Commission that Baitullah Mehsud presented a credible threat
to Ms Bhutto. Along these lines, two of Baitullah Mehsud’s aides, when escorting a
British Broadcasting Corporation journalist in South Waziristan in early October
9 The term jihadi is understood in Pakistan to denote those groups that fought against the Soviet Union in
Afghanistan, and later carried out actions in Kashmir. Several of these groups and their splinters have
established links with Al-Qaida and the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban.
2007, said that they were convinced that Ms Bhutto’s impending return to Pakistan
was part of a power-sharing deal with General Musharraf that was meant to
strengthen the already strong pro-Americanism of the Pakistani Government. “She is
actually a Shia, so what else can we expect”, one of the aides told the journalist,
according to the BBC report.
210. Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud was also blamed for the
assassination by the government of General Musharraf in its 28 December 2007 press
conference. Former senior intelligence officials told the Commission that in
November and December, they had been tracking multiple suicide bomb cells that
targeted Ms Bhutto in Larkana, Mardan, Peshawar and Rawalpindi. Senior officials
of the current Pakistani government have expressed their belief in Mr Mehsud’s
involvement, although they continue to believe that he was part of a larger
211. Taliban and Al-Qaida culpability was also supported by Mr Michael Hayden,
the Director of the United States Central Intelligence Agency. He alleged in a
Washington Post interview on 18 January 2008 that Ms Bhutto was killed by fighters
allied with Baitullah Mehsud with support from Al-Qaida’s terroris t network. The
United States Government did not permit the Commission to meet with United States
intelligence officials to ascertain the basis for Mr Hayden’s assertion.
212. These factors alone are insufficient to gauge possible Taliban and jihadi
culpability for Ms Bhutto’s assassination. Nevertheless, almost no one the
Commission has interviewed, including Ms Bhutto’s PPP colleagues, deny that the
militants (Taliban and jihadi groups) posed a threat to Ms Bhutto. One retired
general, quite critical of the Musharraf regime, admits: “Baitullah Meshud would be
one of those who would have wanted [Ms Bhutto] killed.” The Commission believes
that the competent authorities of Pakistan should aggressively pursue the possible role
of the TTP and Pakistani jihadi groups in Ms Bhutto’s assassination.
Threats from the Establishment
213. The Establishment is generally used in Pakistan to refer to those who exercise
de facto power; it includes the military high command and the intelligence agencies,
together with the top leadership of certain political parties, high-level members of the
bureaucracy and business persons that work in alliance with them. The military high
command and intelligence agencies form the core of the Establishment and are its
most permanent and influential components.
214. Ms Bhutto, through her writings and public statements, was outspoken as to the
sources of the threats she faced; key among these were elements of the Establishment,
whose tactics and reach she knew well. She and many others held the military and
the intelligence agencies responsible for a number of “dirty” campaigns against her
when she ran for office in the 1980s and 1990s, as well as for orchestrating the
sacking of her governments. She believed that the policies she advocated – a return
to civilian rule and democracy, human rights, negotiations with India, reconciliation
with the non-Muslim world, and confrontation with radical Islamists – threatened the
Establishment’s continued control of Pakistan.
215. Ms Bhutto’s relevant policy proposals, including those laid out in the PPP’s
Manifesto for 2007, called for restrictions on the power of the military and
intelligence agencies. She proposed bringing them under civilian, democratic
controls, with provisions for transparency and control of the military budget and
spending. She vowed publicly to use reforms to rid the intelligence agencies of
elements driven by political or religious motives. Some of the positions taken by Ms
Bhutto that touched Establishment concerns included:
Her publicly stated position on the need to eliminate all remnants of the
military-militant nexus. Her proposal was to eliminate the military and
intelligence ties to the Taliban and jihadis, although many in those
institutions still publicly regarded these groups as important foreign policy
tools to advance national interests against India in the sub-region. In this
vein, Ms Bhutto denounced the military’s various truces with Taliban
militants in Swat and the tribal areas, arguing that they amounted to
Her independent position on the urgent need to improve relations with
India, and its implications for the Kashmir dispute, which the military had
regarded as its policy domain.
Her frequent denunciation of the role of the military and the intelligence
agencies in domestic politics.
The perception of her willingness to accommodate Western concerns.
While the military and others in the Establishment were willing to
cooperate with the United States, United Kingdom and other Western
states, Ms Bhutto was portrayed as overly pliant.
Her alleged willingness to compromise Pakistan’s nuclear programme and
allow greater Western access to it. The military has kept a tight grip on its
nuclear secrets and its persistent refusal to allow international access to Dr
A Q Khan, the Pakistani nuclear scientist who sold nuclear weapons
knowledge to other countries. Ms Bhutto had said that she would give the
International Atomic Energy Agency access to Dr Khan, although her
statement was twisted in some media stories.
216. Many sources interviewed by the Commission believe that the Establishment
was threatened by the possibility of Ms Bhutto’s return to high public office and that
it was involved in or bears some responsibility for her assassination. Their analysis is
based on years of observation and knowledge of how the Establishment works,
although they do not offer any specific evidence with regard to the Bhutto
217. Several of these sources spoke of the existence of elements within the
Establishment who saw her return to an active political life in Pakistan as a threat to
their power. These elements included, in particular, those who retain links with
radical Islamists, especially the militant jihadi and Taliban groups and are
sympathetic to their cause or view them as strategic assets for asserting Pakistan’s
role in the region. The development of these organizations and the spread of Islamist
extremism, which marginalized secular democratizing forces, was promoted during
the General Zia ul Haq military regime (which overthrew the civilian government
headed by Ms Bhutto’s father and later executed him); the ISI cultivated these
relationships, initially in the context of the Cold War and the anti-Soviet war in
Afghanistan in the 1980’s and later in support of Kashmiri insurgents. While several
Pakistani current and former intelligence officials told the Commission that their
agencies no longer had such ties in 2007, virtually all independent analysts provided
information to the contrary and affirmed the ongoing nature of many such links.
218. Ms Bhutto’s own concerns about threats to her by Al-Qaida and other militants
resulted in part from her knowledge of their links with people who had worked with
or been assets of the ISI. She feared that the authorities could activate these
connections, using radical Islamists to harm her, while hiding their own role in any
attack. This was the basis for her allegations against Lt. General (ret) Hamid Gul and
Brigadier (ret) Ejaz Shah, in her 16 October letter to General Musharraf. Gul was
Director General of MI under Zia ul Haq and then Director General of the ISI when
Ms Bhutto was Prime Minister in 1988-90. Although he was retired, Ms Bhutto
believed he still maintained his former close ties with the militant jihadis. Brigadier
Ejaz Shah, Director General of the Intelligence Bureau in 2007 and a former ISI
officer, was a member of General Musharraf’s inner circle. When Omar Saeed
Sheikh¸ the main accused in the Daniel Pearl murder case, was cornered in 2002, he
requested to surrender to Brigadier Shah. Some believe this was because of Brigadier
Shah’s reported intelligence connections with Mr Sheikh; Brigadier Shah vigorously
denied this and told the Commission that the surrender was facilitated through family
ties in their home community.
219. Militants of particular concern to Ms Bhutto and others included Qari Saifullah
Akhtar, one of the founders of the extremist Harkat ul Jihad Islami (HuJI), whom she
accused of involvement in a failed coup attempt against her in 1995, during her
second government. Mr Akhtar, who was living in Pakistan when Ms Bhutto
returned from exile, was reportedly one of the ISI’s main links to the Taliban regime
in Afghanistan and is believed to have cultivated ties to Mr bin Laden, who lived in
Afghanistan during that period. Ms Bhutto believed that Mr Akhtar was connected to
the Karachi attack against her in October 2007. Mr Akhtar’s one-time deputy Ilyas
Kashmiri, who had ties with the Pakistani military during the Afghan and Kashmir
campaigns, had been a senior aide to Mr bin Laden’s deputy Ayman al Zawahiri.
220. It was such links and connections between elements in the intelligence agencies
and militants, which most concerned Ms Bhutto and many others who believed that
the authorities could activate these connections to harm her. Given their clandestine
nature, any such connection in an attack on her is very difficult to detect or prove.
221. Ms Bhutto also emerged as a potential threat for General Musharraf, as she
increasingly challenged his plans to maintain his hold on power, first by returning to
Pakistan to campaign, then by focusing on the potential for election rigging, and
finally by campaigning directly against the military dictatorship during the weeks of
martial law. Some believe that he became increasingly angry at Ms Bhutto for
criticizing him and his regime so strongly, after having engaged in negotiations with
him. Along the same lines, General Musharraf’s allies, the PML-Q were also
threatened by Ms Bhutto, as they had the most to lose if the PPP were to win the
elections and displace them from their majority position in Parliament.
222. Over the course of her campaign in Pakistan before her assassination, Ms
Bhutto developed the view that General Musharraf was the main threat to her safety.
As she saw it, his government was not providing the security she was warranted and
deserved due to the threats against her and her status as a former prime minister. An
email she sent to her United States-based adviser, Mr Mark Siegel, stressed her
security concerns and stated: “I have been made to feel insecure by Musharraf and his
223. The Commission believes that the criminal investigation of both attacks against
Ms Bhutto, first in Karachi and in Rawalpindi when she was killed, must include a
focus on those who may have been involved, not only on the direct operational level,
but also in their conception, planning and financing. In this regard, the pertinent
authorities should follow all leads and explore all reasonable hypotheses in this
regard, including the possible involvement of those who form part of the
Other hypotheses of culpability
224. The assassination of Ms Bhutto has led to a proliferation of hypotheses
regarding possible perpetrators. These include other governments and Bhutto family
members, close associates and security aides. The majority of these hypotheses do
not assert any basis in evidence, with some seeking to do no more than name persons
believed to have benefited in some way from Ms Bhutto’s death, including those
closest to her. The stubborn persistence of these hypotheses is attributable almost
entirely to the abject failure of the government authorities at the time to carry out an
investigation with vigour and integrity. The Commission need not address each of
these many theories in turn. It is sufficient to note that the proper response is an
unfettered criminal investigation – a meaningful search for truth – which has thus far
Security provided by the Pakistani authorities
225. The Pakistani Government failed in its responsibility to protect Ms Bhutto. Her
status as a former prime minister and a leading political candidate and the existence
of credible threats on her life should have prompted an effective security response.
226. There was no overall federal security plan to safeguard Ms Bhutto. The federal
nature of the organization of the Pakistani police made the establishment of a
uniformly high level security programme difficult, but this does not absolve the
federal Government of responsibility.
227. Provincial police did not receive from the Ministry of Interior security
instructions for Ms Bhutto like those provided for the protection of other former
prime ministers. As a result, security provisions for her varied from election rally to
election rally depending on the capacity and motivation of the provincial and local
police. In addition, the effectiveness of the police security plans relied to a great
extent on the supplemental security provided by the PPP. There was no overall
security plan to provide protection to Ms Bhutto between campaign events.
228. The provision of security equipment from the authorities for Ms Bhutto was
inadequate, and the equipment provided often did not work.
229. The Pakistani authorities identified threats to Ms Bhutto and urged her not to
return to Pakistan. There is little evidence of efforts by the authorities to act against
those threats. Given the seriousness of the threats identified by the Government and
the dangerous individuals and institutions presenting those threats, the federal
response to the danger to Ms Bhutto was extremely inadequate. The federal
authorities took on no effective responsibility for her security, merely passing on
threat warnings to Ms Bhutto and provincial authorities, and agreeing to the
appointment of Major Imtiaz as a liaison between the authorities and the PPP.
230. The appointment of Major Imtiaz as a liaison between the authorities and Ms
Bhutto proved to be insufficient. There was little support for Major Imtiaz by the
federal or local authorities. Since he travelled with her most of the time, he was not
able to work effectively with federal or local authorities to plan security arrangements
in advance or receive adequate information from them. Major Imtiaz’s appointment
gives the impression of federal support, but it was ineffectual.
231. At Liaquat Bagh, on 27 December 2007, security for Ms Bhutto by the Punjab
police was ineffective, insufficient and passive. Her assassination could have been
prevented with proper security. The security plan was not adequate, and there is little
evidence that it was even implemented. The plan called for the deployment of 1,371
police, but the Commission does not believe that the number of police actually
deployed came close to that figure. The performance of the police demonstrated a
lack of seriousness of purpose, a lack of leadership at the top and insufficient
commitment among the ranks.
232. On Ms Bhutto’s departure from the rally, the police did not control the crowds
outside Liaquat Bagh and coming from within the park. As a result the crowd was
able to surround her vehicle thereby slowing it down. Video footage and photographs
show very little police presence at this time. The delay in the departure of Ms Bhutto
from the scene is due to the crowds blocking her car. The Elite police unit that was
supposed to provide a “box” security for Ms Bhutto’s vehicle were not immediately
present to do so. The police had a responsibility to ensure that the departure
proceeded quickly and smoothly, and that if the primary route was blocked, an
alternative route could be used. That the only alternative route was blocked by
parked police cars is inexcusable. Their failure to clear Liaquat Road to allow for a
rapid departure from the rally was a critical failure.
233. There was no emergency plan in place in case of an attack. Once the attack
occurred, chaos ensued. Her vehicle was not accompanied by a police escort to get
her to a hospital quickly. It is extraordinary that her vehicle was stuck alone on
Murree Road until the arrival of Ms Sherry Rehman’s car which took her to the
hospital. Save for the people in her vehicle, Ms Bhutto was alone, without police
escort or support from the back up armoured vehicle that was supposed to be part of
234. The inadequacy of the Rawalpindi District Police’s security arrangements for
Ms Bhutto is further underscored when compared to those of the Karachi police for
Ms Bhutto’s arrival there on 18 October 2007. The event of Ms Bhutto’s return to
Pakistan clearly had a higher profile than the Rawalpindi public gathering. However,
that difference cannot account for the fundamental differences in the security
arrangements. Unlike the Rawalpindi District Police, the Karachi police engaged in
an extensive series of meetings with the PPP to develop security arrangements
cooperatively. The Karachi police also had a more coherent written security plan,
which emphasized coordination with PPP security elements, and integrated them into
the plan. The seriousness of purpose with which the Karachi police made their
security arrangements was also reflected in the concrete efforts they undertook to test
the efficacy of their security plan. These efforts included a full rehearsal of the
security plan on 17 October 2007, involving thousands of police officers.
Security provided by the PPP
235. The PPP was forced, by the nature of the threats to Ms Bhutto and a perception
that the authorities would not adequately protect her, to devise supplemental security
236. While the PPP did not bear responsibility for Ms Bhutto’s security, its own
provision of security was characterized by disorganization and a lack of
professionalism. Each senior PPP official the Commission spoke with on this issue
described the PPP security arrangements differently. Even though Mr Rehman Malik
claimed that he was not an adviser on physical security, the letters he wrote to
authorities, and his liaison role with security and intelligence agencies shows that he
was deeply involved in the overall management of Ms Bhutto’s security. His
departure from the scene at Rawalpindi after the attack allowed her damaged vehicle
to become isolated. The rapid departure of the only back up vehicle, in which Mr
Malik and other senior PPP leaders rode, was a serious security lapse. After moving
a safe distance away from the scene of the attack, the occupants of the vehicle should
have waited to see for themselves if Ms Bhutto’s vehicle was able to depart safely
and if there was a need for a back up vehicle. As the back-up, their vehicle would
have been a necessary part of the convoy whether Ms Bhutto’s vehicle was damaged
237. Major Imtiaz did not provide leadership after the attack, although he was
assigned to the team precisely for this reason. It is understandable that others in the
vehicle would be overwhelmed by the shock of the attack, but as the lead security
professional in the vehicle, he would have been expected to provide leadership at that
The criminal investigations
238. There was not an effective or active criminal investigation of either the Karachi
or the Rawalpindi attacks. This is inexplicable in terms of the basic principles of
effective police work and contrary to the legal responsibilities of the relevant
239. There is no evidence that the Rawalpindi police made any attempt to seal the
crime scene in the aftermath of Ms Bhutto’s assassination despite the purported 1,371
strong police deployment. The decision to use a fire hose on the crime scene within
one hour and forty minutes of the attack – allegedly because of civil unrest and in
order to prevent rioting – is not acceptable, and effectively destroyed evidence. This
destruction made it extremely difficult if not impossible to gather more DNA
evidence than the minimal amount already gathered. This massive loss of evidence
did irreparable damage to the crime scene. Contrary to the 23 pieces of evidence
gathered by the police, attacks of this type would typically result in the collection of
thousands of pieces of evidence.
240. The Commission is not convinced that the decision to wash the scene was made
by CPO Saud Aziz alone. The attack was too significant and the target of the attack
too important to Pakistani society to make such a decision solely on his level.
Sources told the Commission that CPO Saud Aziz was constantly talking on his
mobile phone while at the hospital. In the Commission’s view, he has not adequately
explained who called him during that time. Other sources have provided credible
information about the intervention of intelligence agencies in the case. Whoever was
responsible for this decision, and for whatever reason, acted in a manner that is
contrary to the most basic police standards and hampered the proper investigation of
241. The handling of other important items of evidence, most significantly the
failure to preserve the vehicle in which Ms Bhutto rode and other vehicles for
technical examination prevented the gathering of important evidence.
242. The absence of an autopsy caused serious damage to the investigation. The
lack of a clear cause of death established by an autopsy severely affected the
credibility of the Government among the general public and has given rise to wide
speculation as to the cause of Ms Bhutto’s death. CPO Saud Aziz again appears in a
setting in which he seems to have been able to impede the effective investigation of
the crime. Again, it is unlikely that a police officer of his level could make such
significant and ultimately destructive decisions on his own and wield such power.
CPO Saud Aziz maintains that he did not deny any requests for an autopsy.
243. The Government press conference of 28 December 2007 – the day after the
assassination and the day that the Joint Investigation Team was formed – prejudiced
the investigation and eroded public confidence. This problem is especially acute
because Pakistan was led by a military government in a society in which the military
has significant and broad authority. The Commission concludes that the decision for
the press conference was made by General Musharraf.
244. The investigation of the JIT, apart from the first few days after the attack, was
characterized by inaction.
245. After the early actions of the members of the JIT, particularly by the Federal
Investigation Agency members, the JIT relied almost exclusively on information
received from intelligence agencies without follow up police work. They did not
engage in the most basic police procedures, such as interviewing the occupants of Ms
Bhutto’s vehicle. Even if those persons and others within the PPP did not wish to
cooperate with the authorities, the Pakistani police had the means to summon
participation, and it is surprising that they did not, given the seriousness of the crime.
246. There has been essentially no communication between the Karachi police
officials investigating the Karachi attack and the Rawalpindi police officials in the
JIT investigating the assassination. The two police investigations remain
unconnected, despite the need for full communication and cooperation in these linked
247. The Commission is concerned that its existence enabled the authorities
responsible for the investigation to slow their activities. For example, the
Government, which has been in office since April 2008, only commenced the futher
investigation in October 2009. The Commission’s effort to determine the facts and
circumstances of Ms Bhutto’s assassination is not a substitute for an effective, official
criminal investigation. These activities should have been carried out simultaneously.
Ms Bhutto was killed more than two years ago. A Government headed by her party,
the PPP, has been in office for most of that time, and it only began the further
investigation, a renewal of the stalled official investigation, in October 2009. This is
surprising to the Commission.
Role of intelligence agencies10
248. A number of knowledgeable and credible persons with whom the Commission
spoke cited the pervasive reach, control and clandestine role of intelligence agencies
in Pakistani society. In the course of this inquiry, the Commission encountered
abundant confirmation of this not only in law enforcement matters, but also in various
aspects of the country’s political life during 2007.
249. Particularly noteworthy was the intense involvement of intelligence agencies in
criminal investigations. While it is often necessary, especially in terrorism cases, for
intelligence agencies to provide significant assistance to police investigative
authorities, in the investigation of Ms Bhutto’s assassination, the role of intelligence
agencies far exceeded an assisting role, with the effect of subordinating law
250. The agencies, and in particular the ISI, carried out parallel investigations into
both the Karachi attack and the assassination in Rawalpindi. A former intelligence
official with direct knowledge of the matter told the Commission that the ISI had
conducted its own investigation of the Karachi attack and had successfully detained
four men who provided logistical support for the attack. None of the police or other
civilian officials interviewed by the Commission regarding Karachi reported any
knowledge of such detentions. The same source told the Commission that ISI agents
covering Ms Bhutto’s meeting in Liaquat Bagh on 27 December were the first to
secure her vehicle and take photos of it after the attack there, among other actions.
One very prominent and directly knowledgeable former government official informed
the Commission that the ISI was, in fact, responsible for the investigation of Ms
Bhutto’s assassination. Others have asserted that the Intelligence Bureau had and still
has a significant role in the investigation.
251. Members of the JIT that investigated Ms Bhutto’s assassination all but admitted
that virtually all of their most important information, including that which led to the
identification and arrest of those suspects now in prison, came from intelligence
agencies. The Commission is satisfied that this was the case given that there is little
10 Pakistan has three major intelligence agencies. The Intelligence Bureau (IB) is the main civilian
intelligence agency and focuses on domestic intelligence; however it reports to the Prime Minister rather
than the Minister of the Interior and has generally been led by a high-ranking military official. Military
Intelligence (MI), is the section of the Army specialized in intelligence and reports to the Chief of Army
Staff. The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) draws on the intelligence capacity of the three military service
branches, in addition to its own more autonomous capacity; considered to be the pre-eminent agency
among the three, nominally it reports to the Prime Minister, but generally its effective practice has been to
report to the Chief of Army Staff.
indication that the JIT considered any other hypotheses, followed leads or developed
its own evidence beyond the framework set by those agencies.
252. Several high-ranking law enforcement officials expressed concerns to the
Commission that resources to build investigative capacity, especially in terrorism
cases, have gone to the intelligence agencies, while police resources and capacity lag.
Indeed, in the aftermath of the attempts on General Mus harraf’s life, the capacity of
the ISI was strengthened to allow it to engage more effectively in such investigations.
This tendency has led to a distortion and imbalance in the functions of these
institutions and presents a challenge for the future in ensuring the democratic rule of
253. Given the historical and possibly continuing relationships between intelligence
agencies and some radical Islamist groups that engage in extremist violence, the
agencies could be compromised in their investigations of crimes possibly carried out
by such groups.
254. Wiretapping can, of course, be a legitimate intelligence and law enforcement
tool. Yet in its efforts to determine the provenance and authenticity of the phone
intercept used to implicate Baitullah Mehsud in the assassination of Ms Bhutto, the
Commission received credible information regarding the systematic wire- tapping by
the ISI and the IB not only of suspected terrorists and other criminals, but also of
politicians, government officials, journalists and social activists. These activities are
not authorized or overseen by judicial authorities and are not in keeping with the
operations of such agencies in a democratic society.
255. Beyond their involvement in criminal investigations, the Commission
encountered a far-reaching presence of intelligence agencies in several key aspects of
the tumultuous events of 2007, which formed in important part in shaping the
circumstances and context of Ms Bhutto’s return to Pakistan. This pervasive
presence at times called into question the ability of other institutions to exercise their
full, independent mandate and functions.
256. The electoral process was one such area. The involvement of intelligence
agencies, and specifically the ISI, in influencing electoral outcomes in past elections
is well-documented and was confirmed to the Commission by a former senior
intelligence official. Ms Bhutto had her own concerns and reportedly asked General
Musharraf that ISI interference in the elections be curbed as part of guaranteeing free
and fair elections. The day after her July meeting in Abu Dhabi with General
Musharraf, an aide to Ms Bhutto was sent secretly to Islamabad on her behalf to
review the work of the firm hired to create the new electoral lists; his site visits for
this purpose were facilitated directly by General Kayani and other ISI staff. The
former senior intelligence official also explained that in 2007 the ISI had guaranteed
that there would be no rigging. While by all accounts, the 2008 elections were “the
most fair” in recent Pakistani history, constitutionally, the task of safeguarding the
electoral process is the role of the Pakistan Electoral Commission.
257. The deep and direct involvement of the ISI, through its most senior leadership,
in the political negotiations between General Musharraf and Ms Bhutto in all of its
stages and the role of all of the intelligence agencies in efforts to sack the Chief
Justice and influence the composition of the Courts are additional examples of their
258. This pervasive involvement of intelligence agencies in diverse spheres, which is
an open secret, has undermined the rule of law, distorted civilian –military relations
and weakened some political and law enforcement institutions. At the same time, it
has contributed to wide-spread public distrust in those institutions and fed a
generalized political culture that thrives on competing conspiracy theories.
IV. Main Findings
259. The Commission has come to the following findings:
After nine years in exile, former Prime Minister Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto
returned to Pakistan on 18 October 2007, during an exceptionally violent year,
marked by sharp increases in violence carried out both by Islamist extremists
and by the state. She returned in the context of a tenuous and inconclusive
political agreement with General Pervez Musharraf, as part of a process
encouraged and facilitated by the governments of the United Kingdom and the
United States. While their discussions included the issue of an eventual
power sharing arrangement, the final terms were never agreed. Indeed, the
Commission received no compelling evidence that, by the time of her
assassination, either Ms Bhutto or General Musharraf believed that she or he
still needed the support of the other to achieve their ultimate political goals.
Ms Bhutto was murdered on 27 December 2007 when a 15 and a half
year-old suicide bomber detonated his explosives near her vehicle as she was
leaving the PPP event at Liaquat Bagh. No one believes that this boy acted
alone. A range of government officials failed profoundly in their efforts first
to protect Ms Bhutto and second to investigate with vigour all those
responsible for her murder, not only in the execution of the attack, but also in
its conception, planning and financing.
Responsibility for Ms Bhutto’s security on the day of her assassination
rested with the federal Government, the government of Punjab and the
Rawalpindi District Police. None of these entities took necessary measures to
respond to the extraordinary, fresh and urgent security risks that they knew
The federal Government under General Musharraf, although fully aware
of, and tracking, the serious threats to Ms Bhutto’s security, did little more
than pass on those threats to her and provincial authorities and were not
proactive in neutralizing them or ensuring that the security provided was
commensurate to the threats. The federal Government failed in its primary
responsibility to provide effective protection to Ms Bhutto on her return to
The federal Government lacked a comprehensive security plan for Ms
Bhutto, relying instead on provincial authorities, but then failed to issue to
them the necessary instructions. Particularly inexcusable was the
Government’s failure to direct provincial authorities to provide Ms Bhutto the
same stringent and specific security measures it ordered on 22 October 2007
for two other former prime ministers who belonged to the main political party
supporting General Musharraf. This discriminatory treatment is profoundly
troubling given the devastating attempt on her life only three days earlier and
the specific threats against her which were being tracked by the ISI.
Ms Bhutto’s assassination on 27 December 2007 could have been
prevented if the Rawalpindi District Police had taken adequate security
measures. The security arrangements for Ms Bhutto by the Rawalpindi
District Police were ineffective and insufficient. The police’s security plan, as
written, was flawed, containing insufficient focus on Ms Bhutto’s protection
and focusing instead on the deployment of police for crowd control purposes.
In many respects, the security plan was not implemented. Although the plan
called for deploying 1,371 police officers, the actual deployment did not
approach that number. Among other failings: the police co-ordinated poorly
with the PPP’s own security; police escort units did not protect Ms Bhutto’s
vehicle as tasked; parked police vehicles blocked the emergency route; and,
the police took grossly inadequate steps to clear the crowd so that Ms Bhutto’s
vehicle would have safe passage on leaving Liaquat Bagh. The performance
of individual police officers and police leadership was poor in areas of
forward planning, accountability and command and control.
The additional security arrangements of the PPP lacked leadership and
were inadequate and poorly executed. The Commission recognizes the
heroism of individual PPP supporters, many of whom sacrificed themselves to
protect Ms Bhutto. However, Ms Bhutto was left vulnerable in a severely
damaged vehicle that was unable to transport her to the hospital by the
irresponsible and hasty departure of the bullet-proof Mercedes-Benz which, as
the back-up vehicle, was an essential part of her convoy.
The Rawalpindi District Police’s actions and omissions in the immediate
aftermath of the assassination of Ms Bhutto, including the hosing down of the
crime scene and failure to collect and preserve evidence, inflicted irreparable
damage to the investigation. The collection of 23 pieces of evidence was
manifestly inadequate in a case that should have resulted in thousands. The
one instance in which the authorities reviewed these actions, the Punjab
committee of inquiry into the hosing down of the crime scene was a
whitewash. Hosing down the crime scene so soon after the blast goes beyond
mere incompetence; it is up to the relevant authorities to determine whether
this amounts to criminal responsibility. Furthermore, CPO Saud Aziz
impeded some Joint Investigation Team investigators from conducting on-site
investigations until two full days after the assassination. The failure of
provincial authorities to otherwise review effectively the gross failures of the
senior Rawalpindi police officials and deal with them appropriately
constitutes a broader whitewash by Punjab officials.
The deliberate prevention by CPO Saud Aziz of a post mortem
examination of Ms Bhutto hindered a definitive determination of the cause of
her death. It was patently unrealistic for the CPO to expect that Mr Zardari
would allow an autopsy on his arrival in Pakistan at Chaklala Airbase nearly
seven hours after his wife’s death and after her remains had been placed in a
coffin and brought to the airport. The autopsy should have been carried out at
Rawalpindi General Hospital long before Mr Zardari arrived.
The Commission is persuaded that the Rawalpindi police chief, CPO Saud
Aziz, did not act independently of higher authorities, either in the decision to
hose down the crime scene or to impede the post-mortem examination.
The Government press conference conducted by Brigadier Cheema on 28
December 2007, the day after the assassination, was ordered by General
Musharraf. The Government’s assertion that Ms Bhutto’s death was caused
when she hit her head on the lever of her vehicle’s escape hatch and that
Baitullah Mehsud and Al-Qaida were responsible for the suicide bomber were
made well before any proper investigation had been initiated. This action preempted,
prejudiced and hindered the subsequent investigation.
An unequivocal determination as to the cause and means of Ms Bhutto’s
death would have required an autopsy. The Commission has uncovered no
new evidence to suggest a gunshot injury to Ms Bhutto. Instead, a senior PPP
official who publicly purported soon after the assassination to have seen
indications of a bullet injury admitted to the Commission that she did not have
direct knowledge of such an injury.
Ms Bhutto faced serious threats in Pakistan from a number of sources;
these included Al-Qaida, the Taliban and local jihadi groups, and potentially
from elements in the Pakistani Establishment. Notwithstanding these threats,
the investigation into her assassination focused on pursuing lower level
operatives allegedly linked to Baitullah Mehsud. The Commission finds it
disturbing that little was done to investigate Baitullah Mehsud himself, Al-
Qaida and any individuals or organizations that might have worked on,
supported or otherwise been involved directly or indirectly in the planning or
execution of the assassination. Investigators also dismissed the possibility of
involvement by elements of the Establishment, including the three persons
identified by Ms Bhutto as threats to her in her 16 October 2007 letter to
The Commission has identified other significant flaws in the Joint
Investigation Team investigation led by the Punjab Additional Inspector
General Abdul Majeed. It lacked direction, was ineffective and suffered from
a lack of commitment to identify and bring all of the perpetrators to justice.
This delay further hampered the gathering of evidence. Despite indications
that there are links between the Karachi and Rawalpindi attacks, there has
essentially been no communication between the investigators on those two
The investigation was severely hampered by intelligence agencies and
other government officials, which impeded an unfettered search for the truth.
Despite their explanation to the Commission that they do not have a mandate
to conduct criminal investigations, intelligence agencies including the Inter-
Services Intelligence agency (ISI) were present during key points in the police
investigation, including the gathering of evidence at the crime scene and the
forensic examination of Ms Bhutto’s vehicle, playing a role that the police
were reluctant to reveal to the Commission.
More significantly, the ISI conducted parallel investigations, gathering
evidence and detaining suspects. Evidence gathered from such parallel
investigations was selectively shared with the police. What little direction
police investigators had was provided to them by the intelligence agencies.
However, the bulk of the information was not shared with police investigators.
In fact, investigators on both the Karachi and Rawalpindi cases were unaware
of information the ISI possessed about terrorist cells targeting Ms Bhutto and
were unaware that the ISI had detained four persons in late October 2007 for
the Karachi attack.
More broadly, no aspect of the Commission’s inquiry was untouched by
credible assertions of politicized and clandestine action by the intelligence
services – the ISI, Military Intelligence, and the Intelligence Bureau. On
virtually every issue the Commission addressed, intelligence agencies played
a pervasive role, including a central involvement in the political negotiations
regarding Ms Bhutto’s return to Pakistan and the conduct of the elections.
The Commission believes that the failures of the police and other officials
to react effectively to Ms Bhutto’s assassination were, in most cases,
deliberate. In other cases, the failures were driven by uncertainty in the minds
of many officials as to the extent of the involvement of intelligence agencies.
These officials, in part fearing involvement by the intelligence agencies, were
unsure of how vigorously they ought to pursue actions that they knew, as
professionals, they should have taken.
V. Concluding Remarks
260. It is essential that the perpetrators of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto be
brought to justice. The Pakistani authorities should ensure that the further
investigation into the assassination of Ms Bhutto is fully empowered and resourced
and is conducted expeditiously and comprehensively, at all levels, without hindrance.
261. The Commission found that the performance of the Pakistani police was
severely inadequate to the task of investigating the assassination of Ms Bhutto and
lacking in independence and the political will to find the truth, wherever it may lead.
The Pakistani authorities should consider conducting an independent review that
would fix responsibilities and make those individuals found seriously wanting
accountable for their actions or inactions.
262. The Commission found that security arrangements for Ms Bhutto were fatally
insufficient and ineffective. In this regard, as well, the Pakistani authorities should
consider conducting an independent review to determine responsibilities and hold
accountable those individuals who seriously failed in their duties. In addition, the
Government of Pakistan may wish to consider a review of its security arrangements
for all persons who require the highest level of security and consider measures to
assign responsibility, with accountability, to an office at the federal level that would
work with local police to implement the standing order and standard operating
263. In light of the deeply flawed performance and conduct of many of the police
officials involved in the events addressed in this report, the Commission believes it
would be appropriate for the Government of Pakistan to consider undertaking police
reform measures consistent with the principles of democratic policing and operating
in a structure of accountability for protecting the rights of the individual, as set out in
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
264. Pakistan, like any other state, needs strong and effective intelligence agencies.
However, the autonomy, pervasive reach and clandestine role of intelligence agencies
in Pakistani life underlie many of the problems, omissions and commissions set out in
this report. The actions of politicized intelligence agencies undermine democratic
governance. Beyond the recent steps that have reportedly been taken to curb the
involvement of intelligence agencies in political matters, the democratic rule of law in
Pakistan could be greatly strengthened with a thorough review of intelligence
agencies based on international best practices in this area.
265. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto occurred against the backdrop of a history
of political violence that was carried out with impunity. To address this issue,
Pakistan should consider establishing a transitory, fully independent Truth and
Reconciliation Commission to investigate political killings, disappearances and
terrorism in recent years and to provide victims of political assassinations and
terrorism material and moral reparations. The United Nations principles for the