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Police probe again hits difficulties

September 21, 2013

ISLAMABAD, Sept 20: Police investigation into the charge of murder registered against the former president Gen Pervez Musharraf relating to the bloody military operation in Lal Masjid has again run into difficulties.

Dawn learnt on Friday that two of the five-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT), constituted by the Commissioner of Islamabad a week ago for the purpose, do not want to be part of the team, and, as a result, the JIT may be dissolved.

No official word was available why DIG (Headquarters) Khalid Khattak, who heads the JIT, and SP Mohammad Jameel Hashmi were unwilling to investigate Gen Musharraf for murdering Lal Masjid cleric Abdul Rasheed Ghazi and his mother Sabiha Khatoon, as charged by a son of the cleric, Haroon Rasheed.

Lal Masjid spokesman Ihtisham Ahmed claimed to Dawn that DIG Khattak had broken the news to people of the mosque who met him two days ago to complain that Haroon was being “pressured” to withdraw the case against the former president and army chief. “But the DIG would not share his reasons with us. We then met IGP Sikandar Hayat who confirmed Khattak’s unwillingness and offered to meet at some convenient time to discuss the constitution of a new JIT. Today SP Hashmi too informed us of his unwillingness,” said the spokesman, speculating that both “might be under pressure”.

But the Lal Masjid official himself would not share the source of the alleged “pressure” on complainant Haroon to withdraw his case.

Meanwhile, police sources indicated that SP Hashmi wished to be taken off the investigation involving Gen Musharraf because he already had his hands full with cases of terrorism and murder. Otherwise, Hashmi has the reputation of a competent investigator, according to the sources.

A police officer confided on the condition of anonymity that DIG Khattak was suspended after a departmental inquiry into the murder of Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan leader Azam Tariq at Tarnol in October 2003 gave adverse remarks about him.

Khattak was Additional Superintendent of Police Islamabad at that time, holding the additional duties of an SSP who was on leave. Since then, he has not been assigned any operational position and been confined to the administrative side of the police force where he earned his ranks, said the officer.

Haroon had moved the Islamabad High Court about four months back to direct the reluctant police to book Gen Musharraf for the killing of his father and grandmother.

On July 12, the court ordered the city police to register the murder case if “it was a cognizable offence”.

Accordingly, the police sought the opinion of the law ministry. But the federal authorities, like the police, also hesitated, allegedly fearful of the high profile of the accused.

Finally, on September 2, the court directed the police to register the murder case.

Another difficulty the police faced in registering the case was that they had registered a case of ‘abduction’ of Sabiha Khatoon on June 6, 2012, as directed by the Supreme Court on a complaint of Lal Masjid imam Maulana Abdul Aziz, her son and brother of the slain Abdul Rasheed Ghazi.

Maulana Aziz had complained that his mother had been missing since July 10, 2007 – that is three days after the military operation in the Lal Masjid.

Despite repeated attempts, DIG Khattak was not available for his comments.