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Head of Benazir case probe team changed

February 11, 2011

ISLAMABAD, Feb 11: The head of the Joint Investigating Team (JIT) of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), which is probing the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, is being changed, according to sources.

The sources told DawnNews on Friday that the incumbent head of the JIT — Khalid Qureshi, an independent-minded grade 20 officer of good reputation — is leaving the post to attend a Staff College course in Lahore.

Mr Qureshi was heading the team by virtue of his appointment as director of the Special Investigation Group (SIG) of the FIA and was supervising investigations into two most important cases being probed by the FIA, the Mumbai attacks and the Benazir assassination.

The sources said the authorities could have waived off for Mr Qureshi the requirement of attending the course, especially because he was lagging behind his batch mates in terms of seniority due to his deep involvement in the cases mentioned.

However, Mr Qureshi's attitude towards his work may have contributed to the refusal on the part of his superiors to grant him the waiver, according to the sources.

Recently, he took the bold decision of putting the name of former president Pervez Musharraf on the list of accused in the Benazir assassination case, without first informing the government bigwigs. He did so purportedly to avoid political pressures and machinations in the case.

The sources said that another grade 20 officer of the police group, Wajid Zia, has been appointed by the FIA to look after the affairs of the SIG. He would be the ex-officio head of the JIT.

Mr Zia's last appointment was as director of the FIA's economic crimes wing. He is known for his reserved and low-profile nature.

Mr Zia has the distinction of being a member of the UN's Hague Tribunal on Yugoslavia.