Musharaf says Zardari behind murder of wife Benazir

Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf who escaped punishment in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case, today claimed that his civilian successor and former president Asif Ali Zardari, was responsible for the killing of his wife Benazir Bhutto.

Zardari had the most to gain from the assassination of the country's first woman prime minister, he said.

Benazir Bhutto, the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) chief and a two-time prime minister, was killed along with more than 20 people in a gun and bomb attack in Rawalpindi's Liaquat Bagh during an election campaign rally on 27 December 2007, when she was 54.

In a video message posted on his party's social media page, Musharraf claimed that Zardari was also responsible for the murder of Benazir's brother Murtaza.

"He [Zardari] was involved in the assassinations of Benazir and Murtaza Bhutto," Musharraf said, adding that he wanted to directly address Benazir's children Bilawal, Bakhtawar and Asifa Bhutto, the people of Sindh province and the people of Pakistan.

The former president and army chief was last month declared a fugitive by an anti-terrorism court, which ordered seizure of his property in connection with the Bhutto murder case.

Musharraf accused PPP co-chairman Zardari of ''having the most to gain from Benazir Bhutto's murder''.

''Asif Ali Zardari is responsible for the Bhutto family's demise and is involved in the deaths of Benazir and Murtaza Bhutto,'' he said. ''Every time there is a murder, the first thing that needs to be seen is who has the most to gain from the death. In this case, I had everything to lose as I was in power and the murder put my government in a difficult situation,'' he said.

''There was just one person that had everything to gain from Benazir's assassination and that was Asif Ali Zardari,'' Musharraf said, adding that it was his analysis of the case.

''Zardari was in power for five years. Why did he not look into the case, why was the investigation not active - because he was involved in Benazir's murder,'' Musharraf alleged.

''The evidence is clear that Baitullah Mehsud and his people were involved in the murder, but who had asked them to target Benazir Bhutto - it could not have been me, the group hated me and the feeling was mutual.

''It is a known fact that I wanted Mehsud dead and so did the government of Pakistan, after his group had attempted to kill me,'' Musharraf said.

Zardari, on the other hand, had a great relationship with the then Afghan president Hamid Karzai, a link he could have used to influence Mehsud and his people, he claimed.

''The charge they are levying against me is that I did not provide Benazir adequate security - something I was not responsible for. The only question I have is, who took the decision to create a hatch in the roof of a bullet- and bomb-proof car?'' he said.

He said Benazir had a heavy security detail and had got into her car unharmed, before someone called her incessantly and got her to wave to the people out of the hatch.

There was no immediate reaction in the Pakistani media from the Bhutto family.

Musharraf, 74, who came to power in a bloodless coup in 1999, has been living in Dubai since last year when he was allowed to leave Pakistan on the ground of medical treatment. He was slapped with a slew of court cases after returning from five years of self-exile in Dubai to contest the general elections in 2013, in which his party won just one seat.