Prosecutor assassinated in Pakistan
ISLAMABAD — In an attack that shocked this usually sedate capital, gunmen shot to death the Pakistani government's top prosecutor Friday morning in a case accusing former military ruler Pervez Musharraf of involvement in the 2007 assassination of ex-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, police said.
The gunmen opened fire on Chaudhry Zulfikar's car as he was leaving his home en route to an anti-terrorism court in nearby Rawalpindi for trial proceedings in the Bhutto case. The shooters used either a taxi or motorbike in the attack, police said in conflicting reports.
The assailants escaped, and authorities said the motive for the attack was not known.
“The police are not aware of any threats being received by the state prosecutor,” said Irshad Abro, a senior police official.
Zulfikar's slaying was a rare episode of violence in the capital, which has so far seen none of the bombings or other attacks against secular politicians waged by the Taliban. The group has warned people not to vote in the May 11 national election — which will bring the first transfer of power between elected governments in Pakistan's 65-year history — saying it is against Islamic law.
In January 2011, Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province, was assassinated by his bodyguard at an upscale market. In May 2011, an Islamabad-based investigative reporter, Saleem Shahzad, mysteriously disappeared; his body was found about 100 miles away in a still-unsolved killing that U.S. officials linked to the Pakistani intelligence service.
Musharraf, who ruled Pakistan for nine years before going into self-exile in 2008, returned in March in an ultimately futile bid to run for prime minister. He has been under house arrest for more than two weeks, facing allegations in various cases linked to his tenure.
In the one unfolding in Rawalpindi, prosecutors allege that Musharraf was culpable for Bhutto's murder for not providing her with enough security. He has denied the allegations.
At the time, Musharraf's government blamed the Taliban for the fatal attack on Bhutto, a two-time prime minister. Bhutto's son, Bilawal, who now leads the Pakistan People's Party, has alleged that Musharraf was behind it.
Proceedings in the case have been bogged down for years, and resumed only recently with Musharraf's return.
Speculation was rife Friday that Zulfikar was killed to disrupt that case, but, as is common in Pakistan, that was just one conspiracy theory among many.
“The head of the prosecution service is going to be leading any number of sensitive cases at any one time,” said Salman Akram Raja, a noted lawyer.
Although reluctant to engage in what he called “pure speculation,” Raja offered this: “Maybe it was to send a signal that whoever was behind Benazir's assassination, that they are still around.”
Zulfikar also headed the prosecution of Pakistani militants accused in the three-day massacre in Mumbai that killed 166 people, including six U.S. citizens.
Indian and U.S. authorities blamed that attack on Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based group they allege is headed by Lahore religious scholar and cleric Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, who has denied involvement.
The trial of the seven men suspected in the Mumbai attack has dragged on for years, as well. Pakistani courts have repeatedly refused to accept evidence from Indian authorities. Saeed continues to preach freely and has the backing of the Pakistani government and courts, which both say there is no credible evidence tying him to the Mumbai operation.
Pakistan's main military intelligence agency helped create Lashkar-e-Taiba to wage attacks on Indian forces in the disputed territory of Kashmir, but it now disavows any control over or connection to the group.
Musharraf, a retired four-star general who also served as president, is also facing treason charges in a Supreme Court case connected to the dismissal and arrest of scores of senior judges as part of his bid to hold onto power late in his tenure.
Friday's assassination of the prosecutor took place in a middle-class neighborhood. Police said Zulfikar suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and head and died on the way to a hospital. His bodyguard was also severely injured.
A woman on the scene was killed when hit by Zulfikar's car after it came under fire from the attackers, police said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- ISIS waterboarded Foley, other hostages
- U.S. student’s body found beside forest in Jerusalem
- Fate of anti-government protest lies in Pakistani military’s hands
- China tells U.S. to cut back surveillance
- Toronto mayor, as volunteer football coach, made players roll in geese droppings, school board papers allege
- Russian tanks inside Ukraine
- U.N. fears 20,000 will be infected with Ebola
- Colombia drug lord’s most loyal assassin courts Hollywood upon early release from prison
- IMF chief investigated for negligence in 2008 case in France