Pak-Americans Call for Comprehensive Investigation

 

Washington , DC : The Pakistan American Democratic Forum (PADF), a US-wide grassroots organization, has voiced its “utmost disappointment,” both with the mandate and the membership of the three-member committee appointed by Pakistan Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, to begin investigation into the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

The Committee will be headed by Mr. Abdul Rauf Chaudhry, Cabinet Secretary, and other members of the committee are Maj. Gen. Sajjad Ghani, Vice Chief of General Staff and Mr. Fayyaz Tooru, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Peshawar, the capital of northwest Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, the statement said.

“There are two problems with this committee,” PADF Founder Dr. Agha Saeed said. “One, the committee members are too close to the administration they are expected to investigate, and two, their mandate is limited to ‘determine whether the then Director General, Military Intelligence gave an order to police official(s) for washing/cleaning of the crime scene of the murder of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto.’

This is clearly a skirting of the UN injunction given in paragraph 260, which stipulates that “the Pakistani authorities should ensure that the further investigation into the assassination of Ms Bhutto is fully empowered and resourced and is conducted expeditiously and comprehensively, at all levels, without hindrance.”

The mandate given to this committee is neither “comprehensive” nor it empowers them to investigate "at all levels."

Renewing its demand for the formation of a fully-empowered Judicial Commission of Inquiry to conduct comprehensive criminal investigations, the PADF has put forward Terms of Reference for the proposed Judicial Commission of Inquiry to find PM Benazir Bhutto’s murderers.  

 

Recommended Terms of Reference:

1.    The Pakistani Parliament shall institute a Judicial Commission of Inquiry consisting of judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts of Pakistan.

2.    This Judicial Commission shall have full responsibility and full authority to conduct a comprehensive criminal investigation for the purpose of finding the planners, perpetrators, financiers, abettors, and executioners of former Pakistani Prime Minister Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and other victims, and bringing them to justice.

3.    The Judicial Commission shall submit its report to the parliament within six months from the start of its activities. The entire report shall be released to public on the same day.

4.    NO one shall have the authority to delay or cause to be delayed either the working of the Judicial Commission or a timely release of its report.

5.    The Parliament shall provide the Judicial Commission with the necessary facilities, personnel, and resources to enable it to discharge its mandate.

6.    In the conduct of its inquiry, the Judicial Commission shall enjoy the full cooperation of the Zardari-Gilani Administration. The Zardari-Gillani Administration shall comply with the requests of the Judicial Commission for assistance in collecting the required information and testimony, and shall provide immediate and unimpeded access to all persons of interest including Mr. Zardari and his close associates.

7.    The UN investigators have noted in the Executive Summary of their Report that “Some relevant senior officials were not made available to the Commission” by the Zardari-Gilani Administration.  Now, all those “relevant senior officials” must be made available to the Judicial Commission.

8.    The Parliament shall request the UN investigators to share all their relevant data, minutes, and documents with the Judicial Commission.

9.    The Parliament shall, in particular, guarantee to the Judicial Commission:

(a)  Freedom of movement throughout the territory of Pakistan, including facilities of transport;

(b)   Free access to all places and establishments relevant to the work of the Judicial Commission;

(c)   Freedom of access to all sources of information, including documentary material and physical evidence, freedom to interview representatives of governmental, as well as other institutions and, in principle, any individual whose testimony is considered necessary for the fulfillment of its mandate;

(d)   Appropriate security arrangements for the personnel, documents, premises and other property of the Judicial Commission;

(e)  Privileges, immunities and facilities necessary for the independent Conduct of the inquiry. In particular, members of the Judicial Commission shall enjoy the privileges and immunities accorded to experts on missions under article VI of the 1946 Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, and to officials under articles V and VII of the Convention.

10.  The Judicial Commission may approach third States with a request for cooperation in the collection of material or information relevant to the case and provision of expert personnel. In so doing, it may seek the assistance of any branch or department of Government of Pakistan without need for any further approval or authorization by any other individual or institution.

11.  The Judicial Commission shall have the power to issue subpoenas and warrants as well as to get the Interpol and other relevant international agencies to issue red-warrants for the arrest and/or repatriation of those persons of interest who may be currently residing overseas or may leave Pakistan to avoid being investigated.

 

 

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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