Monday, June 16 1997

Benazir to lift the shroud of secrecy off Murtaza murder


ISLAMABAD, June 15: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has a bagful of secrets to tell the nation, but she would let it out only after celebrating the 50th anniversary of the country's independence.

She would like to tell how her Government was sacked by President Farooq Leghari, how her estranged brother Mir Murtaza was killed and about the role of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in the country. But only after August 14, Pakistan's independence day.

Bhutto, who made the promise in an interview to the Pakistan Times of Lahore, disclosed that she had intended to make Aftab Sherpao the President, but ISI chief Gen Javed Ashraf Qazi told her to make Leghari instead.

Accordingly, Leghari was elected President. (Sherpao was rewarded the post of the Chief Minister of the North-West Frontier Province after Leghari sacked the Muslim League incumbent.)

She said the ISI was under the Prime Minister for mere namesake. The Prime Minister was not in a position to sack anyone in the agency even if he or she knew that it was hatching a conspiracy against the Premier, Bhutto said.

After Leghari was elected the President, she started getting reports that he was planning to remove her. When confronted with such reports, he always denied them. But after August 13, 1996, his hostility became transparent, she said.

Though the Intelligence Bureau is under the control of the Prime Minister, it could not be used for spying on the President. Declining comment on Murtaza's murder, she said she would disclose some facts after August 14. Bhutto had alleged before the three-man tribunal which inquired into the murder that President Leghari was behind it. But the tribunal, in its report on Monday last exonerated the President.

Copyright © 1997 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.





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